It is a testament to Debby Gibbs’s positive and nurturing influence that one of her students would nominate her for induction into the EdTA Hall of Fame.
Ms. Gibbs started her teaching career as an assistant to her own former teacher and mentor, Ruth Liveakos, and taught technical theatre for thirteen years at Tupelo (Mississippi) High School. When Ms. Liveakos retired, Ms. Gibbs took over as the school’s sole speech and theatre teacher. During the next seventeen years, she created separate theatre and speech classes and built a program that today features two full-time theatre teachers and a separate instructor for the public speaking classes.
Ms. Gibbs was the assistant sponsor of Thespian Troupe 1949 for thirteen years, and later the troupe sponsor for an additional seventeen years. She was recognized as Mississippi Thespian Sponsor of the Year in 1997 and 2001.
At the time of her induction Ms. Gibbs had been the Mississippi Thespian director since 1985. She expanded the number of Thespian troupes in the state from five to twenty-five. She also established the state Thespian conference, which started with three troupes and fifty attending students; under her leadership the attendance grew to eighteen troupes with over 350 participants.
A graduate of Harding University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech and theatre, Ms. Gibbs later earned a Master of Education degree in theatre at the University of Mississippi.
Brad Corban, the former student who nominated Ms. Gibbs, described her as “a great role model for me and many others. Her love for her work is seen in all that she does, and it is contagious. I can truly say that I will never take another course like theatre at Tupelo High School, and I will never have another teacher like Ms. Gibbs. She has touched my heart with her love and the love of theatre.”