Dr. Gibson takes charge

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

JACKSON – A career teacher is behind the superintendent’s desk in Northampton County.

Dr. Kathi Gibson, who took over as head of the school district July 5, described herself as a teacher and a person who wants to serve.

&uot;I’m a teacher,&uot; she insisted. &uot;I always have been and I always will be. I can teach right now.

&uot;I don’t ever want to be in a position to ask someone to do something I can’t do myself,&uot; she added.

Gibson said her desire to be part of lives of children would lead to her being in the classrooms of Northampton County Schools for the majority of her time.

That was her habit when directing the Weldon City Schools for the past two years, she said, and would continue to be her modus operandi.

&uot;I am what some would consider a different kind of superintendent in that I will be in the classrooms of the schools 80 to 90 percent of the time,&uot; Gibson said. &uot;What gets monitored gets done.&uot;

The new superintendent said there was a day when superintendents and indeed principals could be managers, but with No Child Left Behind and other mandates, that was no longer the case.

&uot;Curriculum has taken a front seat, and rightly so,&uot; Gibson said. &uot;That’s right down my alley.&uot;

Indeed much of the new leader’s career has been spent in developing, monitoring and teaching curriculum.

After teaching English at East Montgomery High School and Richmond Senior High, Gibson was promoted to Supervisor of Title I Reading and Math in Richmond County Schools. She later served as Director of Federal Programs for Scotland County before returning to Richmond County as an Assistant principal at Richmond Senior and later Washington Street Elementary.

Gibson was then named Director of Instruction for grades kindergarten through 12 in Richmond County before becoming principal of Ellerbe Junior High School. When she was tabbed to that position, Gibson became the first African-American female to be a junior high school principal in Richmond County.

Following that time, Gibson was chosen Assistant Superintendent in Cumberland County Schools. After a short time, she was promoted to Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction becoming the district’s first African-American female to hold the post. She held that post until being named Superintendent of Weldon City Schools.

Gibson said she took the post in Northampton County because it offered her the opportunity to touch more lives.

&uot;It is my desire to broaden my horizons,&uot; she said. &uot;I always want to serve students and families. I see this as an opportunity to touch more lives and do what I believe is my calling, touching children and helping their lives.&uot;

Gibson admitted their had been much transition in Northampton County Schools, but said she had a different way of viewing change.

&uot;Our philosophy will be to always find the person who is best qualified for the job,&uot; she said. &uot;If they are only here two or three years then they will do their best for that amount of time.

&uot;I want those people to build capacity along the way,&uot; she continued. &uot;Principals come and go. Leaders come and go. If they build capacity in teachers and others as they go, what they accomplish doesn’t fall apart because teachers continue to teach in spite of the change.&uot;

One of the questions raised by some board members in their deliberations concerning Gibson coming on board was her ability to retire in three years. When asked about that, Gibson was direct.

&uot;I want to be here as long as we are seeing progress, as long as test scores and student achievement are moving in the right direction,&uot; she said. &uot;Retirement is nothing I’m looking at in the near future, but it’s always good to know you have 30 years and can.

&uot;I love my work and what’s disheartening is I’m so passionate about what I do and some people don’t know that and think I have hidden motives.&uot;

Gibson said there are a lot of counties between Richmond and Northampton and stressed she chose to come to eastern North Carolina.

&uot;I chose to come to eastern North Carolina, not because I had to, but because I chose to,&uot; she said.

Gibson earned her PhD from the University of South Carolina in 1996 after having received an Ed.S degree in Educational Administration from South Carolina State University in Orangeburg.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her master’s at University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

She is affiliated with the National Association of University Women, the American Association of School Administrators, the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, the American Association of Curriculum Developers and Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.