, Muskogee, OK

February 4, 2013

FG to honor longtime school figure

On the board for 31 years, she’ll see her name placed on building

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— FORT GIBSON — Jere Gibson remembers those first thoughts in 1982, when Fort Gibson Superintendent John Harrison tapped her shoulder.

“I thought immediately, ‘What were my boys doing now,’” Gibson recalled.

But it wasn’t what her three sons were doing at school that caused that tap. It was what she could do for the school.

“There was a vacancy on the board, and it was an all-male board up to that time,” Gibson said, adding that Harrison wanted to know whether she could fill that vacancy. “I said I couldn’t do it until I checked with my husband.”

She checked, then accepted the position. In the 31 years since, Gibson has become a fixture on the board, even serving as its president since 1988.

Gibson’s name might well have become synonymous with Fort Gibson — in more ways than one. The school board voted recently to name the elementary school’s multipurpose building in her honor.

Gibson will be recognized Feb. 8 at a Fort Gibson basketball game.

Superintendent Derald Glover praised the stability Gibson brought to the board and the district.

“When you go to a school as an administrator, one of the things you look for is stability on the board,” he said.

Gibson recalled her reaction when the board approved the multipurpose building’s new name.

“It was a shock, I’ll tell you, but a very pleasant one,” she said.

She called the multipurpose building “a fantastic building. It can be used for so many things. Even the community can use it as a tornado shelter. Plus, there are all the things kids can do in it.”

The multipurpose building, which is between the Intermediate Elementary School and the Early Learning Center, features a computer lab, a library and a gym with a full basketball court and a stage. It was part of a $4.8 million bond issue passed in 2008.

The new building is one of many changes Gibson has seen during her years on the Fort Gibson board.

“Different buildings go up, there are different types of teaching, different types of children,” she said. “We didn’t have the teaching of Spanish or other foreign languages 31 years ago. But, when the world changes, the school changes.”

The Fort Gibson district is in a partnership in which school officials from China spend a year teaching and observing in Fort Gibson schools.

Gibson said she remains on the school board partly because she has grandchildren in the district. She also has a longtime commitment to the community.

“My husband and I never missed a ball game,” she said. “Our community is so supportive of the school.”

Gibson also has spent 25 years on the board of directors of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. She said the state board helped her make friends and contacts across the state. She said the information she takes back to the district has been helpful.

Her commitment to the school goes beyond the boardroom. She volunteers to read to elementary students and speak about service to the high school’s National Honor Society. She is also active in the American Legion, Fort Gibson Food Bank, Project NOEL, Community Ed and the United Methodist Church.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or