Melissa Anne Matz, a seventh-grade math teacher from Lakeside Junior High School in Orange Park, Florida, has been named the 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year, beating out nearly 185,000 public school teachers in the state. Matz’s innovative teaching approach, which encourages students to step out of their comfort zones and take positive risks, impressed the selection committee.
Upon hearing the news, Matz said, “It is truly an honor to represent the thousands of amazing teachers across the state of Florida who work tirelessly every day to make a difference in the lives of our students.”
Melissa Matz is known for her passion for teaching math and her ability to inspire students to see math in their everyday lives. She incorporates real-world examples into her lessons and builds students’ confidence by connecting math concepts to everyday life. Matz also monitors and celebrates the progress of her students.
As the department head for math at Lakeside Junior High School, Matz developed a collaborative professional learning community that led to the highest standardized test scores in Clay County for seventh-grade math over the past three years. She also played a key role in developing the district’s curriculum map for algebra and seventh-grade math and served on the math textbook adoption committee.
Florida Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz Jr., praised Matz’s achievement, saying, “Melissa has risen to the top through hard work, passion, and putting her students first. I have no doubt she will represent Florida with excellence in the coming year, just as she has done in her classroom.”
As the 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year, Melissa Matz will receive a $20,000 prize from the state education department and a tuition waiver to pursue a graduate degree from Florida State University’s College of Education. She will also be able to provide a student of her choice with a two-year Florida College scholarship.
Matz plans to use her new platform to advocate for education and elevate the teaching profession. As the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education, she will work to raise public awareness of Florida’s outstanding teachers and the importance of education.
“It is our job as teachers to provide opportunities for our students to be successful and see their potential,” Matz said. “I am excited to represent Florida’s teachers and to continue to promote the incredible work that is happening in classrooms throughout the state.”