Educator, Nancy Gibson’s classroom is nothing like other learning environments. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic causing multiple changes within the educational system, she has found a way to connect with students.
The spotlight is on Gibson, as we honor her as the Racine County Eye Educator of the Week. Gibson is a theater educator and director at Case High School, 7345 Washington Ave. She has been teaching at Case High School since 1994.
She says, “I direct diverse populations using theater, team building, art, music, dance and mentorship to increase personal development, personal resilience and community.”
While she is not from Racine, this Canadian/American has dedicated her adult life to our community. Gibson has had the privilege to meet many students and also collaborate with other educators. She acknowledges that Max Feiler and Elizabeth Steege have contributed greatly to the success of Case High School’s Arts department.
“You don’t have to look very far into Case High School to find excellence,” says Gibson.
She’s not wrong, around every corner there are students and faculty making success happen. Gibson, this year, like every other educator, has had to go more than the extra mile to instruct her courses. Given that Gibson’s extra mile during a regular school year was more than most, you can only imagine what she has done to support her students in the arts, during a pandemic.
In the past, she says, “I’d spend Monday through Saturday with the kids. I’d teach until the end of the school day and then start rehearsal right after ‘til 6-9 p.m. at night. ”
This year COVID-19 changed the landscape of theater all over the country. At Case, adjustments were made to meet the needs of theater students. This meant Gibson giving herself even more to the program, but she says, “these students deserve so much and the work they did this year is a credit to their tenacity.”
The Show Must Go On
Her impact as an educator goes beyond the screen, but this year, that’s how their show is taking place. Gibson enjoys interacting with her students in a tactile environment, remote teaching has been a new curve for her to navigate.
She says, “Theater students learn through connection with the curriculum and each other, it’s physically interactive.”
Over the summer some theater students met via Zoom with Gibson and decided to take a different approach. The result was a movie based on true stories that focuses on identity. “It was tremendously challenging and equally rewarding,” says Gibson. “I hope people will take advantage of the opportunity to watch our youth in action.” Their movie, Remotely Me, is now viewable on Youtube here.
The bright side to this is that their audience reaches beyond Racine.
Connecting with others through the arts is not a new concept to Gibson. For many years, Gibson and the theatre program have been involved in workshops and participating in the International Thespian Festival.
Remotely Me, viewable here, shares five student’s stories and their discoveries as they come to terms with their identities. This show was co-written, filmed, and edited by the student actors. This experience was funded by the RUSD Office of Extended Day.
This production follows suit with initiatives that Gibson created when she began her career. According to the spotlight piece written in the Educational Theatre Organization, Gibson created the Conflict Resolution Crew (CRC) and the Break The Hate Habit Projects. The goal of these projects was to bring diverse populations together. Gibson and her student leaders have presented these workshops all around the state at various conferences, as well as in various places in America and in Germany.
In all that Gibson does, her goal is to provide youth with an opportunity to expand their lives using theater.
More than a Job
Gibson’s career is more than just something that pays the bills. Being an educator is a part of who she is. Teaching students remotely has brought difficulties, such as engagement, but with as much experience as Gibson has, she’s working through challenges that come her way.
She says they create shows to create a conversation and then invite the audience to be part of it. “Student created pieces carry a different kind of weight and are specific to the challenges and successes to our kids,” she says, “We want conversations to travel beyond the walls of the classroom. All shows are different, but student-led and student-written shows are my favorite.”
When interviewed by the Racine County Eye, Gibson credits her success to the inspiration and education she has received from her students. For many reasons, Gibson is honored at the Racine County Eye Educator of the Week.
Nancy Gibson’s approach to education and the arts is appreciated by the Racine County Eye. If Gibson has had a positive impact on your life, please share your remarks in the comments section.
Nominate an Educator
What better way to honor a person in our community than to nominate them to share their story? If there is an educator, you know who is making an impact on students, nominate them to be the next Racine County Eye Educator of the Week.