BRICK – Lake Riviera Middle School teacher Gary Paxton was named the winner of the Excellence in Education Award, which is presented annually by the 10th Legislative District to an elementary, middle school or high school teacher who best exemplifies commitment and dedication to classroom teaching.
Assemblyman Dave Wolfe presented the award to Paxton in his classroom on Thursday morning, and said that after reviewing Mr. Paxton’s credentials, it was clear that he is held in high regard by his students, colleagues and the administration.
“Mr. Paxton has proven to go above and beyond for his students and parents while earning the admiration of his fellow colleagues. He is a reflection of the outstanding level of education at the Brick Township School District and the State of New Jersey,” Wolfe said.
As a graduate of Thomas Edison State College, Paxton also earned his Master’s Degree from New Jersey City University.
Paxton has taught at the 950-student school since 2006 after working as an engineer. Some of his accomplishments include writing and winning grants to advance the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program for his students.
He is also a leader for the Kettle Creek Crusaders, a weekly environmental club for Lake Riviera students.
Acting Superintendent of Schools Dennis Filippone said Paxton represents everything that’s good in educators today.
“He gives his students his time before and after school, and he’s an advocate for the environment,” Filippone said.
“He really pushes his kids to their limits in an engaging way,” he said. “We’re very, very proud of Gary and everything he’s accomplished, and everything he will accomplish.”
Lake Riviera Principal Dr. Alyce Anderson said Paxton authored a grant for NJ Sustainable Schools and is the recipient of a Brick Hero award.
“Because of his volunteer work with the Kettle Creek Crusaders, he is getting the little ones out to be active for the environment,” Anderson said during the presentation.
Paxton said support for teachers “starts at the top with principal and administration. This award goes to the students I have. They really drive a lot of what we do.”
Paxton teaches the STEM curriculum to 6th graders for a five-week exploratory cycle; to 7th graders for a 10-week cycle; and to 8th graders for a full marking period. He estimated that some 60 percent of the school’s 300 8th graders take his STEM class.
The STEM curriculum includes a 3-D printer that turns 2-dimensional designs into 3-dimensional objects. Students are able to design video games and learn coding in Paxton’s class.
“The students are super into the printer, so that got me to seek out the grant. A lot of kids have interest in it, so they thrive,” Paxton said after the ceremony.
“It’s great for them, I’m just the facilitator helping them along,” he said.
The 10th Legislative District includes Senator Jim Holzapfel, and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and Dave Wolfe.