For a man who has been described as a “cheerleader, drill sergeant and professor,” it is no surprise that social studies teacher Nathan Gibbs-Bowling at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, WA is considered the “best teacher in the state” by one of his colleagues. Perhaps equally impressive, though he isn’t a rock star or famous actor, his fans—also known as his students—have lauded his exceptional talents as a dynamic and engaging classroom teacher.
Gibbs-Bowling is known as a demanding teacher, not an “Easy ‘A’,” who is highly respected for his Advanced Placement Government and Advanced Placement Human Geography classes. His students skillfully re-argue famous Supreme Court cases where they develop their critical thinking, literacy and writing skills. An educator with high expectations for students at all levels, he is also an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) teacher who presents a senior seminar on successful college applications. Lincoln High School students come from a diversity of backgrounds and achieve an 88% graduation rate with 75% of them accepted to college. Graduates have received over $3 million in scholarships. Gibbs-Bowling lives in the community and strives to prepare young adults who will return to support the neighborhood in which they grew up.
As a founding member of the school’s Professional Development Leadership Team, he mentors teachers in classroom management. He created Teachers United, which researches issues, forms a position and brings education to the fore with community leaders and legislators. His expertise in instructional design is evident in the curriculum he co-developed on Tacoma history and the Washington state history curriculum he wrote based on primary source materials. And now Nathan Gibbs-Bowling has made history himself as his state’s Milken Educator Award recipient for 2013.
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