Sunday, February 22, 2009

RIP Mr. Tibbens

Today is the funeral for one of my favorite teachers of all time. The obit says this:
Vance Arnold Tibbens, 90, of 8 Robertson Street, died Friday, February 20, 2009 at Rex Healthcare. Mr. Tibbens was born in Clinton County, Pennsylvania on August 29, 1918 to the late Dalfus Tibbens and Bessie Gramley Tibbens. He attended Lock Haven State Teachers College. Mr. Tibbens taught Jr. and Sr. High School Math for 38 years in the Wake County Public School System. He was a member of Knightdale Baptist Church.
By the time I took his class in 8th grade Mr. Tibbens was a local legend. In fact, he had taught my mother (class of '58? '59?) at Knightdale High School before he taught me at Vaiden Whitley Middle School. It's amazing to realize now that he was 60 when he taught us. I knew that he was old, sure, but he was so on top of things.

Our class was a bunch of smarty pants, by definition -- we were the first kids to be offered Algebra I in the 8th grade. Looking back I'm sure we were obnoxious, but I definitely remember working very hard ... and I'm also still very good at algebra. Every time my students have issues with high school math I always sit down with them to try to help them out. (Calculus kids, you're on your own.)

I remember Mr. Tibbens was always a little gruff and formal -- I remember a suit with a vest everyday -- but never unkind. I also recall that he had little sayings and nickname, like "the peanut gallery" for those of us who sat in the back. He was a really good man and a great teacher, and I'm sorry I didn't let him know what an impact he had on me. Rest in peace, Mr. Tibbens.

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