This month’s Page Turner is Bondy Shay Gibson, the superintendent of Jefferson County Schools. Beyond the traditional basics of reading, writing and math, the superintendent must be creative and nourish relationships with staff, teachers, parents and of course, students. Her choices of reading material are indicative of her method of steering the district through a variety of daily adventures.
Dr. Gibson has 24 years of experience in education and human services. In that span she has served as a public school teacher (both elementary and secondary), a provider of mental health services, a director of workforce development, a civil rights officer and an education administrator at the county and state level. In each of these roles, her mission has been to give individuals the tools to build a better future for themselves and their families.. She is grateful for those experiences as a foundation to serve the Jefferson County community. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Florida State University, a Master’s degree in special education from West Georgia University, and a doctorate in educational administration from Nova Southeastern University.
What book(s) are currently on your nightstand?
A: “So you want to talk about race” by Ijeoma Oluo, “Churchill: Walking with Destiny” by Andrew Roberts, and “Salvation Lost” by Peter Hamilton. I always have a couple of different books going at the same time.
What genres do you especially enjoy reading?
A: Science fiction is a favorite. I like the idea that we are always pushing the boundaries of what humanity is capable of becoming. Historical fiction and non-fiction because I always learn something deeper than the shallow facts of who, what, when, where.
Where and when do you like to read best?
A: I read a little most every night. If it is day then a rainy, cold afternoon on the couch reading a book with some hot tea is the best.
Which book most impacted your career?
A: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran most impacted my life and, by extension, my career. He has an amazing ability to convey the heart of the human experience with clarity and a beautiful turn of phrase at the same time. Great reminders at every turn about the basic wants, needs, joys and sorrows of every human being that we seem to be forgetting these days in a rush to judge.
Who is your favorite fictional character?
A: When I was a child it was Aslan from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. Since I have grown I don’t have one.
Which three authors (living or dead) would you invite to a dinner party? What would you ask them?
A: Kahlil Gibran, Mark Twain, Roald Dahl, and CS Lewis (I know you said three, but I just couldn’t narrow it down any further). They all had an amazing insight into human nature. I’d ask how they came by it.
What childhood memories about reading stick most in your mind?
A: Reading in class instead of paying attention to the teacher. There were LOTS of notes home to my parents, which I try to remember when I get the same ones regarding my son (smile)…
If you had to name a book that made you who you are today, what would it be?
A: The Prophet. I named my son (middle name) after the author so there is a lot of homage there.
Which five books would you take with you on a desert island?
A: The omnibus of Roald Dahls’ works, the Narnia series, The Prophet, the Inheritance Cycle, and Raising Holy Hell (a fictional biography of John Brown that is just a phenomenal read).
Is there book you’ve read & liked that you’re embarrassed to admit? Guilty pleasure?
A: I’m never embarrassed to be curious about something. I don’t like romance novels so I never succumbed to the 50 Shades phenomena. I do like to read a lot of teen novels so I know what they are into. Some of them are utterly ridiculous and some of them are amazing and I wish they had such a wide variety when I was younger. Maybe vampire stories or Wonder Woman comics (both of which I love to read) would come the closest to guilty pleasure.
What do you plan to read next?
A: I never know! I always go to the new book section and just let things jump out at me.