Veteran teacher and administrator Gregory Wu was awarded the prestigious Ashby Award on Tuesday, recognizing him as the top educator in Ridgewood for the 2012 school year.
The Ashby Award was established in 1966 to honor former Superintendent Lloyd W. Ashby and his wife, Lois. The recipient is selected from nominees submitted by staff members and it's considered the highest honor an educator can receive in the district.
"I have always been honored and proud to be part of the Ridgewood Public Schools," Wu, an assistant principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, told Patch Wednesday. "Working with such talented people has always driven me to offer everything I have ... and being recognized by my colleagues to this degree is an indescribable feeling."
In his recognition speech Tuesday, Superintendent Daniel Fishbein said teachers who nominated Wu, a 16-year vet in Ridgewood, found him to be wholly dedicated to students and is also an inspiration to teachers as well.
"The recipient is a big proponent of 'paying it forward' and infuses that attitude of caring and giving into everything he does in his building," Fishbein said, quoting one teacher.
Others, according to the superintendent, said Wu is a "model of ethical and professional integrity in dealing with students, parents and colleagues."
As a teacher at Ridgewood High School, a colleague said, Wu pressed students to master the fundamentals, but also focused on community service projects and utilizing a mix of guest speakers, interdisciplinary activities and thought-provoking classroom discussions.
He runs a homework club from his office and created another club that challenges students to help care for the middle school.
Another teacher lauded Wu for developing strong, personal connections with his students but also setting high goals for students and holding them accountable for their actions.
"The connections he makes with students are frequently connections they carry long after they leave him, and bring those students back to him after they leave," Fishbein said.
Teachers found the assistant principal to be a staunch advocate for their array of needs to maximize educational opportunities for students, Fishbein said.
"When you sit down with him, you don't feel that he's your boss, you feel that he's your colleague," one teacher said in summation, according to Fishbein. "He is a true renaissance man: energetic and willing; creative and eager; respectful and supportive; honest, dedicated, flexible, understanding and proud of his students, his staff and his school."
The award will only drive Wu to aim for new heights, he said.
"As an administrator, getting this award makes me want to work harder and better for the teachers so they can continue to do what they do best – teach our kids."
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