Life’s an ongoing lesson for acclaimed educator Nancy Giberson
They say teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions, and after 40 years in education, Solana Beach resident Nancy Giberson knows there’s truth in that. She has helped to shape many young lives as a teacher, coach, principal and, ultimately, assistant superintendant for the San Diego County Office of Education — a position she retired from last year.
After earning her degree at the University of Colorado, Giberson earned her graduate degree in education at SDSU and her doctorate in human behavior and business at the United States International University. She was also a fellow in MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a visiting practitioner at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
Giberson’s distinguished career includes a stint at Torrey Pines High School, where she served as principal from 1988 to 1991 and coached the girls volleyball team though three undefeated seasons from 1974 to 1979. She also served as assistant superintendent for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, and before that worked for the Cherry Creek (Colo.) and La Mesa-Spring Valley (Calif.) school districts.
Giberson’s outstanding work in education has earned her many honors, though most recently, the California County Superintendents Education Services Associations awarded her with the 2010 Steering Committee Star, an award for those who have played a critical role in fulfilling the committee’s goal. Now that she’s retired, Giberson is enjoying her “eternal summer” here along Solana Beach’s coastline, and though she’s no longer actively engaged in public education, it will always have a very special place in her heart, she said.
1. What brought you to this neighborhood?
I’m a fourth generation Californian, raised along the beautiful, chilly coast of Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz County as an ocean swimmer, beach volleyball and over-the-line player.
2. What makes this town special to you?
I have been a Solana Beach resident since 1974, with 20 years in the San Dieguito school district. The community and local parents are passionate about the education of our children — and the schools, though struggling financially, are second to none. In that regard, I see us as a model for the rest of the nation.
3. If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract, or improve in the area?
I would drastically reduce traffic from the freeways with a much more active, state-of-the-art rapid transit system that would provide service to high volume places like the airport and all the central hubs of cities in San Diego County, then California, and then the USA.
4. Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by educators and leaders developing in others a passion for learning, especially in service of society.
5. If you hosted a dinner party for 8, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
This could be very interesting. The most inspiring class I took at Harvard’s School of Business was studying decision-making of leaders. Since then, I’ve had so many questions for Jimmy Hoffa and Coco Channel, so I’d start with those modern-day guests. And then to hear about their life and leadership, from their perspective, I’d add Evita (Eva) Peron, Cleopatra, and the 19-year-old Joan of Arc. To facilitate the conversation, can you imagine including ancient spiritual teachers and philosophers, like the Buddha and Muhammad? As the eighth, let’s add the courageous explorer Marco Polo. Wow, what to serve for dinner?
6. Tell us about what you are currently reading.
Today, it’s “Nemesis” by Peter Evans. It’s about Aristotle and Jackie Onassis, the love triangle among the Kennedys and the tragedies that occurred when the rivalry spiraled out of control.
7. What is your most prized possession?
8. What do you do for fun?
At the top of my list is traveling, particularly internationally, to explore and play with friends and family. I’m fortunate to have had these opportunities from a very early age.
9. Please describe your greatest accomplishment.
I used to say things like completing a rope climb up the face of Half Dome, or coaching undefeated seasons for the varsity volleyball girls at Torrey Pines High School. But now it seems much simpler then tangible wins. It’s in the eyes of others, and it comes when giving or receiving, often for no apparent reason.
10. What is your motto or philosophy of life?
To a large extent we create our own choices, our destiny and our influence on the destiny of others. The trick is recognizing and acting on choices. There are great one-liners I’ve latched on to over time. They come from sources as varied as personal mentors to bumper stickers. They read like, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken; being average scares the hell out of me; keep your laws off my body; and, are you kind?”
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