Lawrence University Recognizes Two State Teachers as “Outstanding Educators”

APPLETON, WIS. — Robert Campbell, a physics and chemistry teacher at McFarland High School and Jason Gillette, a music teacher at Brookfield Central High School, will be recognized Sunday, May 3 as recipients of Lawrence University’s 2009 Outstanding Teaching in Wisconsin Award.

They will be presented a certificate, a citation and a monetary award by Lawrence President Jill Beck in ceremonies at the president’s house. In addition, their respective schools will receive $250 for library acquisitions.

Campbell and Gillette are the 51st and 52nd Wisconsin teachers honored for education excellence by Lawrence since the program was launched in 1985. Nominated by Lawrence seniors, recipients are selected on their abilities to communicate effectively, create a sense of excitement in the classroom, motivate their students to pursue academic excellence while showing a genuine concern for them in, as well as outside, the classroom.

Campbell joined the McFarland faculty in 2007 after spending eight years at Sun Prairie High School. He began is teaching career in 1995 at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield. He teaches Advanced Placement physics, physics and advanced chemistry at McFarland and taught AP chemistry at Sun Prairie. He served as coach of the academic decathlon team at Sun Prairie for seven years, leading the team to four second-place finishes at the state competition. He currently coaches McFarland’s academic decathlon team.

Lawrence senior Liz Marshall cited Campbell’s enthusiasm, inspiration and dedication in helping students reach their full potential in nominating her former teacher for the award.

“Dr. Campbell’s teaching style was clear and logical, but it was his ability to push students further than they believed they could go that made him a wonderful teacher,” Marshall wrote in her nomination letter. “He was my first high school teacher to push me past my academic comfort zone.”

Marshall, a classics major at Lawrence, said Campbell’s ability to inspire students to still work hard in subjects they weren’t necessarily interested in “is the greatest testament to his teaching ability.”

A native of Ellsworth, Campbell earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at UW-River Falls, and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Texas A & M University. He also conducted post-doctoral research in physics at Rutgers University.

Gillette, who began playing the saxophone at the age of seven, has served as director of bands at Brookfield Central since 1996, building the program from 83 students when he started to 175 today. He directs the school’s symphonic band, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, marching band and pit orchestra. He has led the various bands in performances in Dallas, London, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Orlando.

He was honored as the school district’s “Employee of the Year” in 2004 and was named “Music Teacher of the Year” in 2006 by Milwaukee jazz radio station WJZI.

Lawrence senior Alex Bunke, who played trombone in the Brookfield marching band, praised Gillette’s infectious passion in his nomination.

“Jason has a love of music that rubs off on his students,” wrote Bunke. “He demands excellence, but not in an overbearing or intimidating way. He knows how to draw the best out of you without making you feel inadequate or too pressured. He’s the kind of teacher you want to impress because you can tell it makes him happy.”

Outside the classroom, Gillette has performed professionally with a bevy of musical heavyweights, including Aretha Franklin, Kurt Elling, The Temptations, Martha Reeves and Josh Grobin, among others.

He holds a bachelor of music education degree from UW-Eau Claire.