Everyone Matters is a national effort to celebrate individual differences and uniqueness.
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind’s participation in the nationwide (and even worldwide) event has become firmly rooted in the school’s culture thanks to the efforts of Deaf Elementary Assistant Principal Heidi Jordan.
The first campus celebration included Deaf Elementary students exclusively in April 2014, and it featured the unveiling of the wooden “Buddy Bench.”
Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind carpenter David Law and grounds keeper Greg Peacock constructed the Buddy Bench, which continues to enable new friendships, strengthen existing friendships, and help students make amends if problems arise.
Everyone Matters has evolved considerably since the first celebration. Activities are no longer confined to one special event in April, which now include Deaf Middle School and Deaf High School students.
Some things have changed; some haven’t.
Everyone Matters continues to be an affirmation of uniqueness and respect for differences, aligned with the Positive Behavior Support principles embedded throughout the entire school year.
This school year’s national Everyone Matters activities emphasize self-awareness, compassion and respect, kindness and service, and empowerment.
Last October, during the annual kick-off, students painted and took home self-portraits with a focus on their unique traits (self-awareness).
Activities that emphasize “compassion, respect, kindness and service” included creating Valentines and place mats for seniors who are part of the Meals on Wheels program.
“Empowerment” has been embedded in the 7 Habits campus initiative. Students have been given many opportunities to develop and display leadership qualities. For example, during the quarterly Honor Roll Fridays, students take active roles in running the assembly rather than adult staff as before.
In keeping with a new tradition begun last year, students in the Deaf Elementary, Deaf Middle and Deaf High schools paraded to Kirk Auditorium to view a slide show featuring their “I Am” posters.
Creating these posters has been a consistent anchor for Everyone Matters activities.