Sara Bowen Gibbs dedicated her professional life to the teaching of mathematics to Tift County students. In her will, she provided for a $40,000 endowment to the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence to establish its 11th Academic Chair, which will benefit local math teachers and students forever.
Over the 24 years of the foundation’s existence, 628 grants totaling $399,656 have been awarded to allow teachers to put their best ideas into practice.
Gibbs made the provisions for the “chair” back in 2005 through her friend and attorney Greg Sowell (former foundation board member) and Foundation Executive Director Mike Brumby. It was her firm decision that the gift remain anonymous for the remainder of her life. The Sara Bowen Gibbs Mathematics Chair will generate its first grant this spring.
Current Foundation Director Carla Miles had this to add about her former teacher: “I was in the eighth grade at Tifton Junior High when I fist met Sara Gibbs. I was very fortunate to have had her for eighth grade math. She was a little dynamo — she walked fast and talked fast. She taught math with that same exuberance and knew how to make it important, as well as interesting, to her students. She didn’t demand respect, she earned respect, and we all loved her. My relationship with Ms. Gibbs didn’t end in the eighth grade. She continued to be a positive influence on me as we maintained a close relationship until the time of her death. She was a lady in every sense of the word and an extraordinary woman whom I loved and respected. I am so happy that her wonderful legacy lives on.”
The following is a description of the “chair” as it appears in the foundation’s Academic Chairs brochure:
“In accordance with her wishes, the Sara Bowen Gibbs Mathematics Chair was endowed posthumously in 2012 through her estate. As the foundation’s 11th Academic Chair, it will generate annual grants to provide opportunities for students to develop their mathematical skills. Sara was a native of Tift County, born, raised and educated in Ty Ty. She began her higher education at Georgia State Women’s College in Valdosta and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in mathematics from the University of Georgia. She was elected to Phi Kappa Phi and was named an honorary scientific by Xi Phi Xi. All of her life, she was an avid University of Georgia fan.
“Sara Gibbs believed that mastery of mathematics created exciting opportunities for students, and her entire teaching career was dedicated to helping students achieve success with numbers. Her commitment to help each student feel satisfaction and pride in learning perfectly complemented her considerable instructional talent. Quick of foot, mind and wit, she taught Tift County eighth graders math for 30 years. Along the way, she was selected as the Tift County Teacher of the Year.
“Sara was an active member of First Baptist Church most of her life, serving as a teacher and administrator for more than four decades. Above all, Sara was known for her loyalty to family, church, friends and students. This chair resoundingly and perpetually reflects her commitment to education in Tift County.”