Jones County’s retiring school superintendent was celebrated by his peers, family and friends in a tribute that started unexpectedly to the honoree.
On his final day on the job, May 28, Charles Gibson was lured to the gym of Gray Station Middle School about a supposed problem with its floor. The look on his face when he entered to find a room filed with cheering educators left no doubt of his genuine surprise.
It took the superintendent a minute to compose himself as he took in what was about to take place, before he walked to the fron of the room. The standing ovation of the audience was but the first of many for the day.
Assistant Superintendent Geneva Braziel started the celebration program with a welcome, and the colors were presented by the JCHS Army JROTC. Braziel read a proclamation from the City of Gray, commemorating the superintendent’s 37 years as an educator and declaring May 28 Charles Gibson Day.
Remarks started with Gibson’s family led by his wife, Carla, who put together a quilt of shirts depicting significant portions of her husband’s education career. The family presented the quilt to the honoree.
Carla recalled the first year her husband taught in Jones County. She said he started at the old high school, and he did not have a room.
“He used a shopping cart to move his books and supplies as he went from room to room. But he never complained,” she said.
The family’s remarks were followed by a video made by family members, friends and former players who were not able to attend the celebration.
Former Superintendent Linton Jordan took a moment to thank the people of Jones County for their support and opportunities yo over the years.
“The job of superintendent is different from others,” he said. “Charles, you have fought the good fight and finished the race. God bless you.”
Former Superintendent William Mathews was the next speaker.
“Leaving something you love is difficult,” he said.
Mathews joked about having an ego and that he expected Jones County to shut down when he retired.
“The day Chuck Gibson was announced as the next superintendent, I had the utmost confidence in him for the job,” he said.
The speaker then spoke directly to Gibson.
“You have what it takes to be successful in anything you did, but thank God you chose ur education,” he said.
Following a lunch break, the audience was entertained by a game of serv family feud between the One Team Family and One Heartbeat Family.
Over the next hour, Gibson listened to tributes and received gifts from Jones County agencies, Jones County Sheriff’s Office, Gray Police Department, Jones County/Gray Chamber of Commerce, Parrish Construction, Robertson Lioa Roof and many school departments.
Gibson had the last word.
“I’m honored and humbled. God is good,” he began.
The honoree thanked his wife, who he said held the most important position, and said she uplifted and encouraged him over the years.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my family. I’ve robbed from my family but they will get all of me ice now,” he said.
Gibson said he followed 50 years of leadership from Jordan and Mathews. He added that it was because of John Trimnell that he ended up in Jones County.
“Cecil Patterson and Charlie Smith were old school and did it the right way,” he said.
The honoree said he confessed that he worked with the finest people on earth. He said it was good to be part of a team.
“I want to continue to be part of it; it’s part of me,” he said. “I appreciate and love you; class dismissed.”
Gibson was hired by Trimnell and started at the high school teaching sociology and health while coaching football and girls’ basketball. He was the first teacher at the high school to participate in the In School Suspension (ISS) program, to implement outdoor education classes, and he taught the school’s first Youth Leadership Class.
Gibson became an assistant JCHS principal in 2000, and he had been at the high school for 21 years when he was named JCHS principal in 2007. He served as principal until he was named superintendent in 2015.
Improvements in the school system under Gibson’s leadership include the addition of the JROTC, Jones County College and Career Academy, purchase of 15 new buses and three special education buses, strategic alignment for the system, increased collaboration with city and county, implementation of K-12 virtual academy, mental health agencies added to support schools, full time nurses at every school, sale of bus lot to City of Gray, collaboration with JCSO and safety enhancements in school lobbies, two-way bus radios and updated video surveillance at all schools, upgrades at the JCHS football field and recreation complex and a healthy budget and fund balance.