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Dr. Tonya Breland (NJ '06)


Teach Educators & Scholars Organization (A Leader in Educational Equity)
Burlington, NJ

At the time of the Award, Dr. Tonya Breland was:

Fountain Woods Elementary School
Burlington Township, NJ

Subject(s) taught: English/Language, Social Studies
Grade(s): 4

Biographical Information

Since receiving the Milken Award, Tonya Breland transitioned into school administration, where she served as Principal for four years. As Principal, she helped turn around the school and removed them from the state's list of Schools In Need of Improvement. She also leads her own educational consulting firm, Teach Educators and Scholars Organization (TESO). The mission has always been Tonya's personal mission to help students succeed. She does this two ways: by providing professional development and consulting services to schools and organizational organizations as well as provide tutoring services to students K-12. Tonya also served on the State's Professional Learning Committee, where she serves as Vice Chair. This committee advises the Commissioner of Education on issues related to Professional Learning throughout the state of New Jersey.  Tonya has most recently been appointed the Director of the Office of Professional Development at the New Jersey Department of Education.  Her experience providing professional development across the state was the impetus for her current role. At the time of the award, Tonya was a fourth grade teacher. As a fourth-grade teacher Tonya Breland piloted numerous innovative and effective programs at Fountain Woods Elementary School in Burlington Township. She volunteered to pilot a new social studies program, one component of which specifically targeted English as a Second Language (ESL) students. She was also selected by the district to pilot a reading program, for which she developed creative, engaging lesson plans and provided professional development for her peers. Mrs. Breland often integrated technology into her lessons, and arranged time for students and parents to learn together how to use eBooks (electronic books). Almost 90 percent of her students scored at or above the "proficient" level on the 2005 state assessment. As part of a black history program, Mrs. Breland's students researched famous black individuals, dressed up as the person they've researched, and shared their knowledge with classmates through speeches and musical performances. At the end, she awarded one student with a special "Oscar" award. Mrs. Breland's own outstanding performance as a teacher entitles her to a special Award of her own. 

Related Connections

Article: Milken Educators: Where Are They Now? (Part 2)

Additional Information


2021 Ed. D., New York University

2002 M.A., Nova Southeastern University

1991 B.S., Howard University

Professional Development/Training and consulting to schools, turn around schools, data analysis and usage, school climate/culture, working with students in poverty