When I was in the 7th and 8th grade I had a social studies/P.E. teacher, Mrs. Gibson. She was a stern, overweight (and yet taught PE) black woman. At the time, I was scared shitless of her.
But I’ve remembered her all these years for two reasons. Reasons that have really had an effect on my life and who I am. I would imagine this woman is probably no longer living. She was older then, though at my age I probably thought 30 was old. LOL
The first lesson I learned was that hard work pays off. Seems simple, doesn’t it? I was in 8th grade before I realized that by doing my homework, I could achieve good grades. Sad, but true. My mother’s view on schoolwork was always, “As long as you bring home a C, that’s good enough.” Good enough? No, it wasn’t. I was an intelligent child. I should have been encouraged.
On a day I stayed home from school sick, I did the worksheet that Mrs. Gibson sent home with a friend or sibling. I actually sat down, read the book, filled in the worksheet. Turned it in the next day. I missed two. TWO. I received an “A.” I’m not even sure why it was her class I chose to make this change in schoolwork. I think it had to do with my fear of her. Whatever it is, it was in her class that I learned to do my school work.
The other HUGE lesson I learned was about being a woman and having your own opinion. This would have been in the late-70’s. I remember her saying that even her husband didn’t know who she voted for because it wasn’t his business. It was hers. I don’t remember why she said it. I don’t remember anything else about that day other than this statement.
It was then I realized that you could have an opinion. Even if you were black, overweight and a woman.
Thirty years later I still think of Mrs. Gibson. I wonder where she is. I wish she could know the impact she had on my life. It was that point in my schooling that everything changed.
I went on to graduate my senior class valedictorian.
Sooo, if anyone knows Mrs. Gibson from Twining Elementary at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota…