Miami-Dade County

Carvalho’s top honor another accolade for Miami-Dade schools

In the year since Miami-Dade schools won one of the nation’s top awards for large, urban school districts, the folks who run the classrooms and schools and oversee the 350,000-student system have been on quite the victory lap.

In January, Miami-Dade swept the state’s awards for top assistant principal and principal only a few months after a district educator won the award for Florida’s teacher of the year. And on Wednesday, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho completed the cycle by taking home the Superintendent of the Year award from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

Carvalho, who was chosen for the honor by past winners, will now represent Florida in competing for the same award on the national level.

“This has been a wonderfully gratifying experience, to be recognized for the work that I have so passionately enjoyed during my career with Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” Carvalho said Wednesday in a statement.

Carvalho, who began his tenure with Miami-Dade schools more than 20 years ago as a teacher at Miami Jackson Senior High, climbed the ladder and has run the district since the fall of 2008. Under his watch, a system once in disarray has received attention for a turnaround that began during a recession amid steep budget cuts.

Dropout rates have receded and graduation rates risen. Scores on state assessments have continued a gradual uptick. Minority students have thrived.

“He made his mark in Miami-Dade obviously, said State Sen. Bill Montford, CEO of the superintendents association. “But he’s made a mark statewide with his superintendent colleagues ... He has a national platform.”

In October 2012, Miami-Dade’s progress netted the district the Broad Prize for Urban Education, a prestigious honor given to high-performing, major school systems.

Carvalho has often shared credit, and in the past 18 months the Florida Department of Education has agreed, giving top awards to special education pre-k teacher Alexandre Lopes, and then Lakes Stevens Middle assistant principal Denise Barrett-Johnson and former Miami Edison Senior High principal Pablo Ortiz.

A department spokeswoman said it’s “the first we recall” one district taking all three honors back-to-back-to-back.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, said Carvalho “has done really a remarkable job in Miami.”

“This may look like a victory lap but the truth is it ought to tell people that any one or two honors that the system has received were not a fluke,” he said.