Melissa Matz, a seventh grade mathematics teacher at Lakeside Junior High School in Clay County, was selected as the 2023 Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year from among nearly 185,000 Florida public school teachers. Ms. Matz will serve as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education, elevating and celebrating the teaching profession by promoting the contributions of Florida educators.  

After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education, she attended the Great Florida Teach-In, an annual job fair hosted by the Florida Department of Education, where she was recruited to teach in Clay County. This began Melissa’s 18-year career positively impacting students’ lives.   

Melissa Matz is passionate about teaching mathematics and inspires students to see math all around them. She builds confidence by creatively incorporating real world examples into her lessons and connecting math concepts to everyday life. Ms. Matz continuously monitors the progress of her students and celebrates small victories while working to meet larger goals.  

Melissa’s love for teaching math goes beyond the classroom. She helped develop the district’s curriculum map for Algebra and 7th grade math and served on the math textbook adoption committee. As the department head, she developed a collaborative professional learning community that resulted in the highest standardized test scores in Clay County for 7th grade math for the past three years. After three years of teaching Pre-AICE Algebra, she saw a need to expand the math course selection to include pre-algebra. As a result, enrollment in the Pre-AICE/Cambridge program doubled in size.  

Melissa is dedicated to both her school and her community. She raises awareness of water conservation as a member of the St. Johns Riverkeepers and shows her love of open water swimming with the Duval Ocean Swimmers. Ms. Matz also participates in Lakeside Ladies, a mentoring program that supports students as they transition to high school and helps connect them to the community. 

Melissa is committed to building a rapport with each of her students, becoming their champion in and out of the classroom, and motivating them to give it their all. 

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