Dan Matarazzo says he’s always been a “tinkerer,” someone who enjoys hands-on activities and investigating how things work.

Matarazzo, a product designer and exhibit designer at Liberty Science Center before becoming a teacher at Boonton High School four years ago, obviously is a man of many talents.

Never did Matarazzo, a teacher of technology and design, a dream that he’d be recognized for what he’s most passionate about.

During the summer of 2017, Matarazzo received notification that he was selected as a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by The National Society of High School Scholars. The award honors educators whose devotion and passion inspires their students to develop as scholars, leaders, and citizens.

“It was very much a surprise,” Matarazzo said. “I didn’t expect it at all. I got the notice in my mailbox here at school. I had no idea that I was nominated. It’s a very nice honor.”

Syed Ahmed, a 2017 graduate of BHS, nominated Matarazzo, who helped with a project that was entered in the Panasonic Creative Design Challenge last spring. Ahmed and two of his classmates, Victor Eftimoski and Jovan Luna, created a robotic device intended to be used on an automobile assembly line. Their project made it to the finals held at NJIT.

“I had Syed in robotics club,” Matarazzo said. “I provided a lot of last-minute assistance on the project. So did another teacher and club advisor, Vicki Cornell. We were glad we could help.”

The National Society of High School Scholars seeks to advance the goals and aspirations of high-achieving students through unique learning experiences, scholarships, internships, international study and peer networks. The society awards $2 million in scholarships annually and is constantly looking for new ways to provide lifetime learning and growth opportunities for academically talented and accomplished student leaders as well as the educators who support them.

“Dedicated educators who exhibit a commitment to excellence deserve our highest praise and appreciation,” said NSHSS president James W. Lewis in a press release.

Matarazzo teaches classes in Web and graphic design, programming, gaming and tech survey. He is also an advisor for Cook, Eat, Learn, a food sciences club.

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