Homeland Park Primary School, Anderson, South Carolina

“If the community isn’t coming into our school, why don’t we take the school into the community? Let’s have a parade!”

This was the brainstorm of Christie Payne, Principal of Homeland Park Primary School in Anderson, SC.

Christie had learned about Choose2Matter and hoped that her students would “internalize that they are important and have a contribution to make.”

The school recently held its third annual “Dream Big Parade.” Students walked in colorful T-shirts that read “You Matter.” The Fire Department and the high school band, cheerleaders, football players and color guard also marched. Community members and district officials stood along the parade route, clapping and cheering. Read this news article about the parade


Sunshine Heights Primary School, Sunshine West VIC 3020, Australia

“We are one, though we are many. And from all the lands on earth we come.”

This refrain was heard throughout Melbourne, Australia on a beautiful April morning. It was sung by a flash mob of students from Sunshine Heights Primary School, who had descended on Federation Square to show their unity, despite hailing from 45 different cultures.

Read this report on Harmony Day 2014.

Watch this video documentary of Harmony Day 2014, and this video of “the sequel” held in April 2015.

The Principal sent us this Tweet, attributing this sudden outburst of unity to the school’s adoption of Choose2Matter as its theme for the year.


McAllen High School McAllen, Texas, USA

This is a Tweet that changed an entire community, for good.

Albert Canales, Principal of McAllen HS in Texas, listened to a conference speaker discuss how #Choose2Matter transformed his school, and was moved to send this Tweet. Teacher Jennifer Rodriguez then introduced Choose2Matter to some of her students, who quickly embraced it.

This Storify of Tweets tells the story of how the McAllen students stepped up and into their role as Choose2Matter Ambassadors, sharing the message throughout the community. We visited McAllen in December 2015 to encourage the students’ efforts. Students even persuaded Mayor Jim Darling to declare McAllen a city in which “Everyone Matters” at his State of the City Address, during which he played this video clip of the students’ work.


Carlton Comprehensive Public Highschool, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada

Carlton made “You Matter” the school theme, initially just for the 2013-2014 year – but it has remained at the heart of the school ever since. The school painted the You Matter Manifesto on its main staircase and painted giant depictions of each of the tenets of the manifesto high on its walls.

The school explained, “we want all of our students to know that they are our primary focus and number one concern…. ‘You Matter’ reminds us to focus on the very thing that drove many of us to become teachers – people – our students and our colleagues. Sometimes we may get caught up in the day to day business of school and life; it’s not that we forget our students and colleagues matter to us, we just become so busy with important tasks that we forget to show or tell others how important they are to us.”

A year after the school adopted ‘You Matter’ as its theme, Vice Principal Jeff Court reviewed the results of a study of students and noted that Carlton students, “said they felt more connected with their schools, and they felt safer at their schools, in comparison to other students in the province and the nation.”

In 2016, we visited Carlton twice and worked with 450 students who selected themselves to spread the Choose2Matter message throughout the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division. We will return in October 2016 and again in March 2017. Watch the video below, of our work there!


Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria

Oluwakemi Olurinola is an educational technologist and the driving force behind the Nigerian Microsoft Innovative Educators Group, whose goal is to inspire and empower these educators to become innovative solution providers and change agents. We have Skyped with this group and are planning to visit them soon to discuss how to spread the Choose2Matter movement across Nigeria.

Oluwakemi’s email signature? “Olurinola kemi,” or “I choose to matter.”


RM Bacon Elementary School, Millville, New Jersey

One summer, Dr. Spike Cook watched the You Matter TEDx Talk and knew he had found his theme for the upcoming school year. He played the talk for faculty and shared You Matter cards and some other ideas.

Staff member Leigh Simpson upped the stakes, suggesting an opening day, red-carpet welcome for students and parents. Read this blog post describing the entire campaign, and watch the YouTube video of the Red Carpet Entrance, below.




Rampart High School, Colorado Springs, Colorado

“It was a specific memory or something that we said…..It made us feel really important. Some kids got cards about stuff that happened they thought nobody remembered, and it made them really happy.”

This was how one student reacted to receiving one of 130 personal letters sent by English teacher Brittni Darras to every student in each of her classes. Brittni was moved to do this upon learning of a female student’s suicide attempt. Brittni sent a note to the girl in the hospital. The girl asked her mother, “How could somebody say such nice things about me? I didn’t think anybody would miss me if I was gone.”

Brittni realized “I was way too close to losing another student to suicide,” and started her letter-writing spree. See her Facebook post and this news article to learn more.


Mott Hall Bridges Academy, Brooklyn, New York

“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”

“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”

“How has she influenced you?”

“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”

This was the conversation between Brandon Stanton, the founder of  Humans of New York, and Vidal, a 13yo student at Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

Brandon published this conversation to Humans of NY’s 11+ million fans. Brandon then interviewed Ms. Lopez, and the story grew. Soon, Vidal and Ms. Lopez appeared on the Ellen Show and visited the Oval Office, and the public raised $1.4 million to support Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

How did this impact Ms. Lopez, who brought this all on by telling her students, one-by-one, that they matter? She told her students:

I have something to admit. Before this happened, I was about to give up. I was broken. I didn’t think my scholars believed in themselves enough to care. Even though I always tell you that you matter, up until that moment when I read Vidal’s comments, I didn’t feel like I mattered.”

Most of us will never learn this in such a public way, but as we explain in this blog post, when you tell people they matter, they believe you, even if they don’t show it at first, if at all.


St. John’s School District, St. Augustine, FL

Sean Farnum is an elementary school teacher in St. Augustine, FL. Near the start of a school year, he “thought of a photo project with pictures of kids holding signs saying things like, “I want to be valued,’ and ’ have a voice.’” He then realized there was no better model for this than the You Matter Manifesto. He then pitched it to his students and they took over.

They made a set of cards, one for each tenet of the manifesto, and then recorded a slideshow of them holding the cards. We show the resultingYouTube video everywhere we go!


Euclid Elementary School, Mount Prospect, IL

“I will be your teacher this year. We haven’t met yet, but every day this summer I’ve thought about the amazing group of 5th graders that will cross the threshold of my classroom in just a few weeks:

  • I’ve thought about challenging you.
  • I’ve thought about embracing your differences.
  • I’ve thought about your strengths.
  • I’ve thought about your weaknesses.

And I have a secret that I can’t keep in for another few weeks. You are all geniuses.”

Ohio teacher Arin Kress was inspired by Choose2Matter to write two letters to students in her upcoming class, telling them how much they mattered and how excited she was to discover their genius.

We published the letters, and they received 40,000 hits within a month, with thousands of teachers writing similar letters to their students.

Assistant Principal Christie Collins and the staff at Euclid Elementary School produced this video of them reading similar letters and shared it with students and their families over the summer.

Never have students felt more welcomed on their return to school.