Matt Gibson left his position as a middle school principal to take a job that would allow him to have a bigger impact on more students.
As the executive director of federal programs and professional learning, Gibson oversees and directs all federal programs and grants that the Bartow County School System receives and helps educators continue increasing their knowledge.
“As educators, we model what we teach to students by learning being a lifelong activity,” he said. “As the professional learning director, I am able to provide, plan and coordinate these learning activities for our teachers, administrators and staff. I work closely with school administrators to support the initiatives that have been developed in their local school-improvement plans to continue raising the level of student achievement throughout our system.”
Name: Matt Gibson
Occupational title: Executive director of federal programs and professional learning for Bartow County Schools
City of residence: Cartersville Education: Bachelor of Science in middle grades education from Reinhardt University, Master of Education in middle grades science education from The University of West Georgia and educational specialist in leadership and supervision from Jacksonville State University.
Family: Wife, Cassie Gibson, a local real estate agent with Asher Realty; son, Luke Gibson, 9, and daughter, Reese Gibson, 7, both students at Mission Road Elementary.
DTN: When did you become the executive director of federal programs and professional learning for Bartow County, and why did you want that position?
MG: I became the executive director in April of 2017. I applied for the position to positively impact more schools and more students.
DTN: What do you enjoy most about your job and why, and what do you like least about it and why?
MG: I enjoy all the aspects of working alongside teachers and administrators in supporting student achievement. When you can walk into a classroom and see the innovation and passion in a teacher’s instruction following a professional-learning activity, you can’t help but find pride in the work that has been accomplished. It is difficult to find the time and financial resources to provide all that is needed to staff and students.
DTN: When and where was your first teaching job, and what positions have you had since then?
MG: I began my education career in Murray County as a middle school teacher. I have also taught high school and middle school in Bartow and Douglas counties. I was a middle school administrator in Douglas County for four years and served as the curriculum coordinator and school improvement specialist in Douglas County for three years. While in Bartow County, I have served as the principal of Kingston Elementary and Woodland Middle School.
DTN: What do you think is/are the best thing(s) about the Bartow County School System?
MG: The staff of the Bartow County School System is tremendous. We have so many dedicated teachers, administrators and staff members who care deeply for students. The teaching and learning that occurs in our school system is second to none, and our staff is always striving to better educate our students through innovative practices and professional learning.
DTN: What kinds of changes would you like to see occur in Bartow County's schools in the next five years?
MG: I see the changes in education in general and including Bartow County as promoting individual learning opportunities for students. Bartow County is leading this shift with the amount of opportunities we offer to students through programs such as the Bartow County College and Career Academy, dual enrollment, Move on When Ready and so many other programs. The focus on career exploration and development begins at the elementary level in our district to provide students with the opportunity to not only explore opportunities but to understand and receive guidance in the path to achieve their goals.
DTN: What would the title of your autobiography be and why?
MG: I have always enjoyed the humor of Lewis Grizzard so I would attempt a title in his honor — and fail miserably — such as “Bury Me at the Beach Because all the Other Good Spots are Taken” or “Uga Lives a Better Life Than Me — Where Did I Go Wrong?”
DTN: If you were stranded on a deserted island for a year, what three non-technological items (not people) would you have to have with you and why?
MG: I am a very practical person, and I love the beach so my items would be simple: toothbrush, sunscreen and a multi-tool.
DTN: How would you describe yourself in three words?
MG: Committed, consistent and honest.
DTN: If you weren't an educator, what career do you think you would have pursued and why?
MG: This is a difficult question to answer. I always knew that I wanted to be an educator because of the great educators that made a difference in my life. I would have probably pursued a career in management. I enjoy working with people in bettering an organization, and outside of education, management is the area where that goal would be accomplished.
DTN: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
MG: I have won a lot of trivia contests. It still amazes me every time I play how much I remember about things that most people would never concern themselves with. My wife often states that I have way too much useless knowledge.
DTN: Do you have a bucket list, and if so, what is the one thing you most look forward to accomplishing?
MG: I do not have a bucket list, but I do have a list of golf courses I want to play. Unfortunately, I have not checked many off the list yet, but it includes many of the courses most golfers want to play: Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, TPC Sawgrass and that one in Augusta that is everyone’s dream.