Dr. Susan Gibbons is retiring after 17 years at the Block Island School

Sat, 02/19/2022 - 6:00am

Dr. Susan Gibbons is one of five teachers and staff that will be retiring from the Block Island School this year.

Growing up, both sets of her grandparents owned houses on the island, which allowed her to make a connection with the place. Visiting every summer, Gibbons
eventually decided to live full-time on the island in 2002.

Gibbons met her husband, Peter Gibbons, on the island. “We always wanted to live here year-round, and were able to make that happen once I got a job at the
school,” Gibbons said.
For 11 years she taught in the Physical Therapy program at University of Hartford before moving full-time to the island. Gibbons got her doctorate at the University of Connecticut in Human Development and Family Studies in 2002. According to Gibbons, “It was part of my teaching in physical therapy, since I would need a PhD to succeed long term in the university teaching setting.”

She then got certified to become a high school teacher and first started teaching in 2005, as the high school resource teacher, and then transferred to teaching high
school science. While Gibbons was a human resource teacher she took online classes to get certified in different science subjects. Gibbons teaches all of the high school science courses, including physical science, earth science, biology, chemistry, field biology, and human anatomy. “It was a challenge in that I took on the classes in addition to teaching full-time, although I did do some of them in the summer,” Gibbons said. “Teaching all the different science classes is difficult
because it means an extensive amount of planning every day, and each class that I teach requires different content, materials, and planning.”

Students specifically love the excitement Gibbons’ classes always have. “As a teacher I love her willingness to engage the class in all aspects of science. From taking us out on nature walks, to learning the birds on the island, to lighting helium gas on fire, there is never a dull moment in her class,” Senior Amira Veldman-Wilson said.

“I love working with a small number of colleagues and students so that we can all get to know each other really well. We function as a real community, almost as a family. It’s not always pretty, but we all value working together and need each other,” Gibbons said. “I also really value working with the nature programs and helping students to understand their roles as stewards of the island environment. I’ll miss teaching, my colleagues, and my students dearly, but it’s time for me to move on to a more flexible schedule and life!”
After Gibbons retires she plans, “to keep training and riding my horses extensively, spend more time with my granddaughter in Boston, fish and relax with my husband, spend time with friends, and travel.”
This is the first of a multipart series on teachers and staff retiring from the Block Island School this year.