After 26 years of memories, Mike Gibson retires from Salem High

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Photo by Shawn Nowlin
When Mike Gibson spoke at Salem High School, people listened.
Shawn Nowlin shawn.nowlin@ourvalley.org

Mike Gibson’s fingerprints are all over Salem High School. Since the fall of 1993, he has held many titles: Sponsor of the Visual Arts Club, Art Department Chairman, Advanced Drawing Art Teacher, Black History Month Committee co-sponsor and girls basketball and wrestling coach just to name a few.

After more than 40 years of teaching, including 26 at Salem High, Gibson has finally decided to call it a career.

“I have so many memories to last a lifetime. Some that stand out include sharing with my work wife Patty Pope and friends Julie Hamilton, Joe Wallace, David Wallace all of the Salem Museum Art Shows featuring the work of our students,” he said. “Seeing our kids go off to college and become art majors, serving as the DJ for our Homecoming Dances and Proms with my good friend Fred Campbell and dressing up as Batman and Robin for many pep rallies are additional memories that I will forever cherish.”

Gibson was born and raised in Salem. As a youth, he played sandlot football and baseball. Many of the guys Gibson’s childhood friends were depicted in the award winning movie, Remember the Titans. After graduating from Glenvar High in 1974, he went on to major in Art Education at James Madison University.

Gibson always knew he wanted to be a teacher ever since he was a teenager.

“When I graduated from college, art teaching jobs were hard to find, but I got lucky. I found this small school in a small school system, they had an opening. It was New Castle High School in Craig County, just over Catawba Mountain. I was so excited to be fresh out of college with this new position.”

By the time he came to Salem High, Gibson had taught in Craig County for two years and at William Byrd from 1980 through 1993. Over the years, technology changed the way Gibson taught in the classroom. “So much is difference from when I began my career. It was unfathomable to think about what a student could do with a computer in the early 90s. I’ve had so much fun implementing technology into my curriculum,” he said.

Gibson credits his family, most notable his wife Becky and father John, for what he has been able to accomplish over the years.

“My dad was a good artist and I often studied him drawing growing up,” he said. “My wife has been my most inspirational person. When I graduated from high school, she was my girlfriend at the time, and we would often sit and plan our futures together. I took her advice on becoming an art teacher and 41 years later, I’ve enjoyed a wonderful career.”

Gibson knows that he couldn’t be leaving Salem High on a more positive note.

“I could talk forever about my job. I have enjoyed being a high school teacher and coach because kids keep you young. It’s been a blast and I’m truly going to miss it,” he said. “There was no pressure to retire, it was my decision albeit a very difficult one. I’m blessed to have five grandkids – four girls and a boy. I’m looking forward to being more involved with their lives.”