Freeport – The first Principal of the Eight Mile Rock High School, veteran educator Urban Gibbs, who was born in St. Thomas, Barbados on November 11, 1939, passed away last evening.
The majority of Gibbs’ adult life has been spent on Bahamian shores, giving more than thirty years to the field of education.
After receiving his primary school education in his native country at the Holy Innocents Boys School, he entered the Lynch’s Secondary School and subsequently the Regal High School from which he obtained his Cambridge Senior School Certificate.
A strong believer in seeking education at its highest level, Gibbs entered Erdiston Training College, where he remained for two years, and, upon completion, was awarded a Teacher’s certificate. With that achievement, Gibbs served for ten years as an Assistant Teacher at various schools in Barbados, but departed in the early 1960s.
On learning from a friend and colleague that The Bahamas was in need of teachers, in 1961 Gibbs applied to the Board of Education in Nassau for employment. He was offered the post of Head Teacher at the Staniard Creek All Age School in Andros, a post he gratefully accepted. Along with his wife, Evangeline Headley (deceased), and their two sons, Gibbs moved to Andros with high hopes, but his welcome to the institution was met with challenges from the beginning. Nonetheless, the initial trials encountered by Gibbs did very little to stop him, as he made known his serious nature about positively impacting the education system and students throughout the Bahamas.
Determined to make a difference at the Staniard Creek All Age School, Gibbs never let up in his disciplinary style of teaching. In fact, he eventually became known for his cane, which he held beside him daily.
A transition from the Staniard Creek All Age School came about in the mid 1960s as Gibbs aimed to do more in his teaching profession. After spending only two years at the institution, Gibbs was informed of another position that had opened on Grand Bahama. The position called for a Principal at the Eight Mile Rock All Aged School, an opportunity which Gibbs did not pass up.
On reporting to Grand Bahama in 1964, Gibbs found himself in the Western part of the developing Grand Bahama, at the institution located in Hepburn Town, Eight Mile Rock. It was at that location that Gibbs spent four years, a time that was filled with trials and triumphs. Among the trials was an incident involving a fire at the institution that left students and teachers out of a learning facility for a short period. Ever persistent in his quest to educate the youngest minds, Gibbs went full force ahead with his teaching and leadership, and would ultimately experience a major development while serving as Principal.
In 1968, Gibbs and his students relocated from the school’s site in Hepburn Town to its current location in Pine Dale, Eight Mile Rock. At the Eight Mile Rock High School, Gibbs became a staple in the community, and was fully supported by its residents. Among Gibbs’ proudest achievements at the institution was his ability to work along with the community and teachers to put a playground in place for its students. Gibbs’ tenure at the government-run school lasted for eleven years. He departed in the early 1980s.
Immediately following his time at the Eight Mile Rock High School, Gibbs served at several other institutions. Principal of the Hawksbill Primary School, Vice Principal of the Walter Parker Primary School, Vice Principal of the St. Paul’s Methodist College, and Treasurer of the Principal’s and Vice-Principal’s Association were just a few of the positions held by the veteran educator.
Gibbs’ retirement came more than three decades following his entry into the Education Field in the Bahamas. At the time of his exit from the classroom, he had become a well-known educator and a well-loved member of the Grand Bahama Community.
He loved gardening at his home in Freeport, with his daughter, Dawne.
He was an active member of the Methodist church family, serving his God right to the very end.
Today we at BP offer our condolences to his family and pray that his soul enters the joys of rest eternal.
We report yinner decide!