Matthew E. Younghans
Little Tor Elementary School
Clarkstown Central School District
New City, New York
Matthew Younghans prides himself on cultivating a culture of positivity and care at Little Tor Elementary School, where he has served as principal for the past seven years. Younghans tasks himself not only with supporting the academic growth of students but also their development as individuals and productive community members. When it was time to name the school’s tiger mascot, for example, Younghans organized a school-wide election to demonstrate principles of democracy and give students a voice in naming Stripes. Younghans is also a passionate advocate for SEL, having represented nine elementary schools on a district-wide research committee exploring the framework’s application across the curriculum. Emphasizing reflection, self-regulation, and restorative approaches to behavior and conflict resolution, the program has increased students’ emotional awareness and staff’s ability to identify needed social-emotional interventions. Younghans has also expanded learning opportunities for Little Tor students by shepherding the development of the school’s Innovation STEM Lab from concept to an everyday learning space that fosters critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. Younghans successfully lobbied for district and community support to secure the space and funding to create a fully functional space for exploration through project-based learning. Younghans is an active leader in state-level professional organizations and local nonprofits. He holds an Ed.D. from Seton Hall University, a Certificate of Advanced Studies from SUNY New Paltz, and an M.S. from the College of New Rochelle.