Two New Jersey teachers have been named recipients of Milken Educator Awards and the $25,000 that comes with it.

The Milken Educator Awards likens themselves to the Oscars or Grammys for educators. There were a total of 60 winners nationwide. The awards target “early-to-mid career education professionals for their already impressive achievements and, more significantly, for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.”

Taylor Matyas, an instructional coach at Laura Donovan Elementary School in Freehold, was one of the winners; she mentors and supports Donovan’s teachers through modeling, coaching and professional development. Focused on improving and accelerating student achievement through quality curriculum and instruction, she observes in classrooms, collaborates with staff on collecting and analyzing data, researches best practices and contributes to the curriculum.

Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Jane Foley said, “Her creativity in the classroom, collaboration with students and parents, and dedication to using data to bring best practices to life for her students are what make her our latest Milken Educator Award recipient. We are proud to celebrate her today!”

Donovan Principal Jennifer Benbrook told the Asbury Park Press that Matyas is “the model teacher who serves as that model for all of our staff.”

The other New Jersey winner was Sarah Mae Lagasca, a music teacher at Arts High School in Newark. According to the award, she has reimagined the school’s vocal arts program, increasing student proficiency in music theory, composition, sight-reading, vocal technique, music history, recording and production technology, marketing and branding, and personal artistic growth.

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