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Making Great Strides: Somerville Second-Grade Teacher Lindsay Frevert Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Frevert from Van Derveer Elementary Is New Jersey's Sole Recipient

October 20, 2016

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — When Somerville's Van Derveer Elementary School second grade teacher Lindsay Frevert walked into a schoolwide assembly this morning, she had no idea she would be walking out with a prestigious Milken Educator Award, recognizing her commitment to her students and their families. Frevert is the newest recipient of the $25,000 cash Award, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching."

Frevert is the sole recipient in New Jersey this year and the first from Somerville Public Schools.

Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley, along with New Jersey Acting Commissioner of Education Kimberly Harrington and Somerville Public Schools Superintendent Timothy J. Purnell, presented Frevert with the Award.

"Lindsay Frevert's compassion for students and their progress both inside and outside of the classroom is exemplary," said Foley. "From working to accommodate the instructional needs of every child to encouraging her peers to support student families, Frevert is truly helping to shape students' futures and strengthen the community-at-large." 

"I am honored to take part in the recognition and celebration of Lindsay's service to her students," said Acting New Jersey Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington. "Lindsay's dedication to her school community and to supporting the learning and achievement of a diverse group of learners is deeply inspiring."

"Lindsay Frevert is a teacher of life who inspires everyone that she encounters to be better citizens and human beings," said Somerville Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Timothy J. Purnell. "She goes the extra distance to assist colleagues, community members, and students and has created a model classroom where learning is personalized, students are encouraged to take risks, and technology is integrated seamlessly."

Lindsay Frevert teaches children along the entire educational spectrum and adapts her instructional strategies to accommodate individual learning styles. Last year, 67% of the students in her class started out reading below grade level; by January, 78% were reading at or above grade level. That number increased to 95% by the end of the school year.

The Van Derveer School community has become a significant priority in her life. She has grown the school's Strawberry Festival into a large event that the entire community can enjoy. She reads with students before school, organizes Family Literacy Night, tutors students in all grades and serves as site leader and soccer coach for an after-school recreation program. She also created a variety show for Van Derveer's fourth- and fifth-graders and is responsible for revitalizing the middle school's softball program. For Community Investment Day, Frevert organized cross-curricular, multi-grade activities throughout the district celebrating students' civic engagement. For her colleagues, Frevert chairs the school's Fostering and Instilling Staff Happiness (FISH) committee and has organized events to boost staff morale like the Polar Bear Plunge.

Frevert routinely attends school plays, concerts, sporting events and award dinners to applaud the achievements of her former students. This unwavering support has left an immeasurable impact on her students. During a schoolwide reading contest modeled after the March Madness tournament, basketball players from Somerville's high school made a video for the younger students in which many named Frevert as the teacher who taught them to love reading.

Frevert's support and engagement extends to student families as well. After learning that one of her student's parents had cancer, Frevert organized a meal schedule for the teachers to provide food for the family. Frevert met daily with another at-risk student whose mother had died to ensure that the student received maternal attention. A few years ago, Frevert and a colleague traveled to Minnesota to help a family whose son was ill and receiving treatment there; Frevert, who had taught the boy's older brother, entertained the young patient to give his parents a break. When the family returned to New Jersey, Frevert provided home instruction for the boy until he was strong enough to return to school.

A respected change agent, Frevert advocated for new technology for the school's teacher evaluation system, volunteered to pilot the software, then trained her colleagues on its use. She became the resident expert in a new online literacy resource, adding it to her own instructional repertoire and sharing it with her peers. The grade-level leader, Frevert has presented at district in-service days on engagement techniques for math instruction, shares her own best practices in the school's Model Classroom video repository, and is frequently requested as a mentor for new teachers.

Frevert earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and psychology in 2005 and a master's degree in educational leadership in 2010 from The College of New Jersey.

To learn more about Frevert and to view photos and a video from today's award assembly, visit

The 2016-17 Award season marks the 30th year of the Milken Educator Awards. Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, Frevert's honor includes membership in the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top principals, teachers and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final approval by the Milken Family Foundation.

Past recipients have used their Awards to fund their children’s education or to further their own professional development. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of children.

Regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events are shared on MFF social media profiles at,,, and using the #MilkenAward hashtag. Details are also available on the Awards homepage at or can be obtained by calling MFF at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards
The Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation, is in its 30th year. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

Lynne Russo
(818) 903-6079 cell;
Jana Rausch
Director of Media and Public Affairs
310-570-4774 Office 310-435-9259 Cell