Michael Zaba

Art teacher Michael Zaba was awarded the Milken Educator Award on Wednesday during a surprise ceremony at Louis Toffolon Elementary School in Plainville.

PLAINVILLE, CT (WFSB) - The governor surprised an elementary school teacher in Plainville with a national award on Wednesday.

Gov. Ned Lamont presented the Milken Educator Award to art teacher Michael Zaba during an event at the Louis Toffolon Elementary School.

The event took place at 9 a.m. 

“Connecticut has the finest teachers in the country who dedicate themselves to improving the lives of their students so they can achieve success as adults,” Lamont said. “Mr. Zaba exemplifies what we look for in a teacher and we are grateful to have him as a role model for our students.”

Zaba's name was not released prior to the event, as it was a surprise to both the teacher and students.

Lamont was joined by Milken Educator Awards senior vice president Dr. Jane Foley, state Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell and other local officials.

"Great teachers like Michael Zaba have a tremendous long-term impact on their students," Foley said. "By artfully submerging them in process and creation, Zaba empowers them to think creatively in their studies and beyond. We are proud to welcome this visionary teacher as a Milken Educator."

In addition to the award, Zaba was given an unrestricted $25,000 cash price.

He was the only Milken Educator Award winner from Connecticut this year and was among 33 honorees.

“Mike Zaba is the perfect recipient for this award," said Lynn Logoyke, principal, Louis Toffolon School, Plainville Community Schools. "He is the kind of teacher every parent wants for their child. He is the kind of teacher every child wants in class. And he is the kind of teacher every principal wants for his or her school. Mike is talented, dedicated, kind, creative, reflective and humble. We are lucky to have him as part of our faculty at Toffolon.”

The award was created by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987 to recognize teaching excellence, the foundation said.

More information on Zaba's award can be found here.

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