On Saturday, Sept. 15, the Vineland Chapter of the NAACP held its 18th annual Freedom Fund Awards Banquet, providing scholarships to students and recognition to community members in an event sponsored, in part, by NJEA. NJEA Associate Director Gary Melton, Sr. was honored with an Education Award for his tireless work in public education and his community.
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 could 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 to enshrine 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 assuming his position with NJEA, Melton worked as a teacher for more than twenty years in Atlantic City Public Schools, served as Senior Vice President and Negotiations Chair of the Atlantic City Education Association, and served 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.
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