At its 18th annual Freedom Fund Awards Banquet, the Vineland Chapter of the NAACP honored NJEA Associate Director Gary Melton Sr. with the Education Award for his tireless work in public education and his community. The Sept. 15 event was held to present scholarships to students and recognition to community members.
In his remarks, State NAACP President Richard Smith spoke of the uses and abuses of power. Citing as a positive example the successful election of Gov. Phil Murphy, a longtime NAACP member and a former member of the executive board, Smith reminded his audience that an informed, enfranchised and active electorate can still determine elections.
Melton echoed this theme by focusing on the proper use of power in the classroom, dedicating his acceptance speech to the need for restorative disciplinary practices in New Jersey public schools so that, “our school discipline code does not resemble the New Jersey State Penal Code.”
“Only when our schools institute these practices,” Melton insisted, “will we be a society that is what it claims to be: a society that truly cares for its children.”
Prior to his employment with NJEA, Melton worked as an Atlantic City Public Schools teacher for more than 20 years. He served as Senior Vice President and Negotiations Chair of the Atlantic City Education Association, and as a Director of the National Education Association. Melton was also the chair of the NEA Black Caucus and a member of the NEA Ethnic Minority and Affairs Committee, Conference Alignment Team, and Empowered Educator Committee.