Gibson loves role as substitute teacher

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 17, 2001

Lavon Gibson is not your typical hero. She spends almost every day working as a substitute teacher at Robert Lewis Middle School in Natchez.

&uot;I get along with everybody so it’s real nice,&uot; she said.

Gibson, who has a business degree from Alcorn State University, said she first began to work for the district as a long-term substitute teacher at Central Alternative School. This took place about two years ago.

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&uot;A teacher came to me and asked if I would take her place,&uot; Gibson said.

The job led to another long-term substitute position and now Gibson substitutes nearly every day at the middle school.

She also volunteered during the school’s student orientation this year and assists with other school activities.

&uot;She’s just a good person,&uot; said Cynthia Smith, principal at Robert Lewis Middle School. &uot;And it’s not something we’ve come to expect from her. It’s just something that she automatically does.&uot;

Gibson knows substitute teachers have a history of being harassed by students but she says she has never had a problem.

&uot;When you go in and let the (students) know you’re here for business and not fooling around the kids respect you more,&uot; she said.

She expects the students to complete their work &uot;no ifs, ands or buts about it.&uot;

&uot;They know that I’m strict and I mean business,&uot; Gibson said.

As a substitute teacher, Gibson must often prepare herself to teach subjects that are not in her background. The secret she says is extra study.

&uot;Read a lot – take my books home and read,&uot; she said.

And the more time she spends in the classroom, the more she learns about her subjects, Gibson said.

She laughed when asked if she ever planned to find some other sort of work.

&uot;They won’t let me go,&uot; she said jokingly about the staff at the middle school.

But she is not sure she would wants to leave because she loves her students.

&uot;I have a lot of fun here,&uot; Gibson said. &uot;I laugh a lot.&uot;