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Hightstown Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Grace Norton Rogers Elementary's Taylor Trost honored during prestigious nationwide tour, becomes first Milken Educator Awarded in East Windsor Regional School District 

October 11, 2023

HIGHTSTOWN, N.J., A fourth grade teacher at Grace Norton Rogers Elementary received the surprise of a lifetime today when she was presented with a national Milken Educator Award. Taylor Trost was presented the prestigious honor by the Milken Family Foundation, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize and honors outstanding educators across the country for excellence in and out of the classroom.  

Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Assistant Commissioner of Education Kathy Ehling presented the Award at a schoolwide assembly in front of cheering students, proud colleagues, dignitaries and the media. Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities.   

"I am delighted to celebrate Taylor Trost today and welcome her to the Milken Educator Network," said Dr. Foley, who herself is a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. "Taylor's ability to bring lessons to life, her sustained commitment to student growth, and her demonstrated, positive leadership in and out of the classroom make her an outstanding representative of our national circle of excellence."  

This school year, the Awards will honor up to 75 recipients across the country as part of the Milken Family Foundation's Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. This season will reach $75 million in individual financial prizes spanning the length of the initiative and more than $144 million invested in the Milken Educator Award national network overall, empowering recipients to "Celebrate, Elevate, and Activate" the K-12 profession and inspiring young, capable people to pursue teaching as a career.   

"I congratulate Taylor Trost, an education innovator at Grace Norton Rogers Elementary School, on her Milken Educator Award," said Acting Commissioner of Education Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan. "Taylor captivates students with engaging, inclusive teaching methods and her creative approach results in impressive achievement gains in reading and mathematics. Taylor's leadership extends beyond the classroom, fostering mentorship and pioneering remote learning during the pandemic. Her dedication to ongoing communication with parents is a testament to her commitment to student success." 

More About Taylor Trost  

Innovating through Inclusion Creates a Big Impact: Trost's classroom is a hub of innovation and inclusivity, reflecting her commitment to ensuring that every student receives a high-quality education. Her fourth grade inclusion class is grounded in project-based learning where she sings songs and incorporates physical activity to keep her students engaged throughout the school day. Her approach pays off as her students show consistent achievement gains in reading and math as measured by state and district assessments. One memorable lesson involved the creation of a faux campfire in her classroom, complete with a fan and orange paper, to inspire students to write and share their own "campfire story" as part of a lesson to develop students' creative writing and public speaking skills. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she stepped up to help bridge the unexpected technology needs between the school and its families, working with the principal and the technology team to develop a remote-learning model, including virtual field trips, that was adopted by the school district.    

Leadership in the Classroom and Beyond: Outside of the classroom, Trost is a leader in her own right, stepping into the lead teacher role at the school during her second year of teaching. She supervises student teachers, mentors new teachers, and regularly invites peers to observe her classroom. Her innovative teaching methods, positive leadership and creative approach to education has earned the respect and trust of students and colleagues alike.  

A Focus on Relationship-building: Parents at Grace Norton Rogers Elementary regularly request Trost for their rising fourth graders. One of her classroom’s goals for parents is to "maintain open, accessible and supportive lines of communication." Key ways she has achieved this is by developing rubrics for parents to better understand their students' grades and hosting weekly calls to parents to more closely involve them in their children’s education.   

Education: Trost received a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and English literature from Rowan University in 2015 and master's in educational leadership from Montclair State University in 2023. 
More about the Milken Educator Award Journey: "The Future Belongs to the Educated"  

  • The honorees attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles in June 2024, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to broaden their impact on K-12 education.   
  • Honorees receive powerful mentorship opportunities for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy. Milken Friends Forever (MFF) pairs a new recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor; the Expanding MFF Resource and Explorer Program fosters individual veteran Milken Educator partnerships around a specific topic area; and Activating Milken Educators (AME) promotes group collaboration in and across states to tackle pressing educational needs.  
  • Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 
  • The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. Some recipients have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.      

    Follow the Milken Educator Awards tour and use the #MEA3K and #MilkenAward hashtags on: Facebook (MilkenEducatorAwards) | X (Milken) | YouTube (MilkenAward) | Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn) | LinkedIn (MilkenFamilyFdn) | TikTok (MilkenAward)  

    Visit or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772 for more information.   

    About the Milken Educator Awards 
    The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by Lowell Milken, 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. The Milken Family Foundation celebrates more than 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at