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Laura Donovan School teacher receives Milken Educator Award

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – An instructional coach in the Freehold Township K-8 School District has become the first teacher in the school district to receive a Milken Educator Award.

Taylor Matyas, an instructional coach at the Laura Donovan Elementary School, Stonehurst Boulevard, received the Milken Educator Award during a surprise assembly on April 1. Matyas was awarded $25,000 with the award.

Matyas was one of about 60 educators in the United States to receive the award for the 2021-22 school year and one of two educators so honored in New Jersey, according to a press release from the Milken Family Foundation, which presents the awards.

“We commend Mrs. Matyas on this well-deserved recognition,” Angelica Allen-McMillan, New Jersey’s acting commissioner of education, said in the press release. “She immerses herself into the curricula, then identifies numerous access points for students to make meaning of the content prior to personalizing their learning so they have the confidence to succeed. Ms. Matyas is representative of all engaging and passionate educators who strive daily to improve student outcomes.”

According to the press release, Matyas received the award for mentoring her school’s teachers through modeling, prioritizing professional development of staff, using technology to enhance the education of students, encouraging student-led learning, and having a commitment that extends beyond the school by leading extracurricular programs.

“It is truly an honor to recognize Mrs. Matyas as the recipient of the Milken Educator Award,” said Jennifer Benbrook, principal of the Laura Donovan Elementary School. “Mrs. Matyas is an extraordinary gift to our school community with her boundless dedication and energy for excellence in everything she does. When you watch her working with staff and students, you immediately see her magic that exudes from within.

“This is the same positive fire that transforms the work that happens within the school and throughout our district. She has the ability to inspire and lead transformation around teaching and learning each and every day.

“It says a lot when an educator receives such prestigious acknowledgment and, unlike most teacher recognition programs, it has no formal nomination or application process. The Milken foundation found this magnificent gem right here in Freehold Township and our district could not be more proud,” Benbrook said.

According to the press release, Matyas is a former student in Freehold Township and previously taught at the Joseph J. Catena Elementary School in the district.

“I am so incredibly grateful for this achievement and for every single person who was a part of the surprise,” Matyas said. “I would not be receiving this award without all of the amazing educators I have learned from and worked with over the years.”

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