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Shaina Brenner

Shaina Brenner (NJ '22)


Elms Elementary School
Jackson, NJ

Subject(s) taught: General Elementary
Grade(s): 2

At the time of the Award, Shaina Brenner was:

Elms Elementary School
Jackson, NJ

Subject(s) taught: General Elementary
Grade(s): 2

Biographical Information

Elms Elementary School in New Jersey’s Jackson Township is a greener place thanks to second grade teacher Shaina Brenner. She spearheaded a new recycling initiative, acquiring recycling bins for every classroom and creating signage to show which materials can and cannot be recycled. Brenner created a student “Green Team” focused on improving the school’s environmental policies, including gardening, recycling and energy conservation. The team has promoted classroom energy audits, led schoolwide energy contests, and provided training, guidance, tools and resources to help students bring conversations about energy conservation home to their families. Students compost food scraps, contribute to a food sharing table and donate to a local food pantry, including produce grown in the school’s 500-gallon aquaponic garden. Brenner has helped add green topics to the curriculum, including water conservation, beach erosion and the importance of pollinators. Due in part to Brenner’s dedication to environmental projects, the U.S. Department of Education named Elms Elementary a National Green Ribbon School on Earth Day 2022, the only New Jersey school to receive the honor and the first in the county.

Brenner is known as an innovator with a passion for preparing her young students to thrive in a rapidly changing world. She goes to great lengths to create an accurate picture of each child’s strengths and areas for improvement, providing students with a rubric and individualized checklist with expectations for each unit. Brenner looks for opportunities to connect learners to the world around them. She started a postcard exchange with 49 second grade classrooms across the country, representing every state. Every postcard students receive becomes a cross-content lesson as the class discusses interesting facts about the writer’s state, including symbols, location, customs, food and slogan. Students color in the state on an oversized map that hangs outside her classroom along with the postcards, providing a learning opportunity for everyone who walks by. Brenner’s second graders thrive: For the past three years, 70% of her class ended the year reading above grade level, with 90% showing mastery of state math standards.

A leader in her building and district, Brenner has participated in or led committees on school improvement, math, Read Across America, climate and school culture. She has led professional development for K-2 teachers in the district on high frequency word instruction based on orthographic mapping. Brenner promotes cultural understanding in her classroom, as well as at schoolwide events where families celebrate and learn about the school community’s many cultures and traditions. The bulletin board displays she created to celebrate Elms Elementary’s history and staff members — complete with newspaper clippings, historical artifacts, photos, quotes and trivia — are loved by all.

Brenner earned a bachelor’s in communications from Rutgers University in 2007.

Press release: New Jersey Elementary Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Related Connections

Article: Spotlight: Shaina Brenner (NJ '22)

Educator Quote:

"My teacher Mrs. Nash really helped give me a voice and guide me in fourth grade....You know when you want to be a teacher. I wake up..." (read more)

Shaina Brenner In The News

How These Teachers Center Student Voice in Science Class
Education Week  |  Dec 27 , 2022  |  Bethesda, MD

N.J. School Board Salutes Award-Winning Educators  |  The Star-Ledger  |  Dec 08 , 2022  |  Iselin, NJ

Shaina Brenner LC'07 was Recently Honored with the Prestigious Milken Educator Award
Rutgers  |  Nov 15 , 2022  |  Newark, NJ

Ocean County Teacher Receives "Oscar Of Teaching" Award
The Jackson Times  |  Oct 28 , 2022  |  Lakehurst, NJ

NJ Students: Brenner Receives Milken Educator Award  |  USA Today  |  Oct 15 , 2022  |  Somerville, NJ

Milken Educator Award Comes as a Surprise to Jackson Township Teacher
New jersey School Boards Association  |  Oct 12 , 2022  |  Trenton , NJ

Elms Elementary School Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Milken Educator Award  |  Newspaper Media Group  |  Oct 11 , 2022  |  Pennsauken, NJ

WATCH --> NJ Jackson $25,000.00 Milken Educator Award
WMBC-TV  |  Oct 10 , 2022  |  West Caldwell, NJ

Jackson, NJ teacher Wins $25K Cash Award as Outstanding Educator
WOBM-AM  |  Townsquare Media  |  Oct 10 , 2022  |  Toms River, NJ

Jackson Township Second Grade Teacher Wins $25k Educator Excellence Award
Shore News Network  |  Oct 07 , 2022  |  Rutherford, NJ

Jackson Teacher Wins Prestigious Milken Award, $25K Prize
Daily Voice Ocean  |  Oct 07 , 2022  |  New York, NY

Surprise! Stunned N.J. Teacher Wins $25K ‘Oscars of teaching' Award
The Star-Ledger  |  Oct 07 , 2022  |  Newark, NJ

Additional Information


2007 B.A., Communication, Rutgers University