Remembering beloved educator Loraine A. Gibbs

“My mother instilled in me to trust and fear God and fear no one else; to trust yourself, to look to God for all the answers, and He will be with you. These were the words by which Loraine A. Gibbs lived.

Loraine Agatha Jackson Gibbs (Submitted Photo)

Loraine Agatha Jackson Gibbs was born in Christiansted, St. Croix on November 4, 1950, to Beatrice Pearl Jackson and Lauritz Emmanuel Gibbs. Loraine lived with health issues for many years and succumbed to them on May 16, 2022.

Loraine grew up in D. Hamilton Jackson Terrace and Company Street with her mother and brothers, Victor and George (aka Ali). Mrs. Bea regularly took Loraine to mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church. With a public education background, Loraine attended Christiansted Elementary School, Elena Christian Junior High School, and Central High School.

As a youngster, Loraine had a strong work ethic as she helped her mother bake bread every morning. They sold bread, sweet bread, lozenges, peanuts and fudge all over Water Gut. In high school, Loraine worked at the Alexander Theater in the Sunday Market Square as an usher.

Miss Catherine Smith, Mrs James, Mrs Sergeant and Mrs Schuster were some of the teachers who helped shape Loraine’s development. Loraine graduated from high school in 1968 and was inspired by Doreen Christiansen to attend Morgan State College, now Morgan State University. At Morgan State, she met Virgin Islanders Janet Williams Lake, Myrna and Pearline James, as well as Dr. Larry Larsen, to name a few. It was at Morgan State that Loraine began her journey to becoming a teacher. Through hard work and determination, Loraine earned a bachelor’s degree in vocational education in three and a half years and returned home to Sainte-Croix.

Ms. Gibbs’ first teaching assignment was at Elena L. Christian High School, where she taught home economics to students in the professional program. Later, she taught vocational training at St. Croix Central High School. She was promoted to chair of the vocational education department. Mrs. Gibbs proved to be an educator who showed love, discipline and guidance to her students. In preparation for heading the Virgin Islands Department of Education, Ms. Gibbs returned to her beloved Morgan State University to pursue a master’s degree in educational administration and leadership.

It was inevitable that Ms. Gibbs would be promoted to vice-principal at John H. Woodson High School under James Rodgers and later under Basil Williams. After a few years, Ms. Gibbs was promoted to principal at John H. Woodson Jr. High School with vice principals Vaugh Hewitt and Doris Brodhurst rounding out her administrative team.

Loraine Gibbs mothered two generations of students. Most of her former students, staff and colleagues remember Mrs. Gibbs’ love and fairness. Carmen Charles-Charlery said, “She was our mother away from home.”

Gene Stone said, “Thank you for the canoe you gave me at school. Thank you for keeping me on track in my young life growing up.

Shay Walt said: “She was a great educator. Her legacy lives on in the lives of the children she touched…mine included.

Karen Heywood said, “The fastest woman in heels you’ll ever meet.”

Through Ms. Gibbs’ hard work and commitment to educating St. Croix students, she rose through the ranks of the department to become assistant superintendent, then island superintendent of the St. Croix school district under the Schneider/Mapp administration. Lorraine Gibbs can be considered the “Crème de la crème” of educators combining her pragmatic discipline, astute management skills and strong instructional leadership. Ms. Gibbs had professional affiliations with Phi Delta Kappa, the St. Croix Educational Administrator Association and the American Federation of Teachers. After retiring, Ms. Gibbs became principal of Marriot High School in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Gibbs was not just an educator, but a lover of people, politics, fashion and casino entertainment. She shared her kindness, her wealth and her wisdom with many people and with the young people of the Sainte-Croix community. During the Holy Cross Crucian Christmas Festival, when parades were still held in Christiansted, she prepared a series of Crucian delicacies for the parade-weary onlookers, and all were welcome.

Loraine’s love of politics has inspired her to support many gubernatorial and senator candidates. She was chief of staff to former Senator Alicia “Chucky” Hansen. She was proud to keep abreast of the political fray in the community. To that end, Ms Gibbs ran as a senatorial candidate on an educational platform in 2000.

“Loraine has always been intact from head to toe,” said Anastasia Stacy Rivers. Her impeccable style was on display in her clothes, jewelry, shoes, and furnishings in her Company Street home. Her fashion sense not only included her wardrobe, but Loraine was also a fashion and wedding commentator at fashion shows for Essence of Tropics, the brainchild of designer Dorette Pemberton, and for many weddings in Sainte-Marie. Cross. Loraine was a speechwriter and wardrobe consultant for many Miss St. Croix Queen contestants. She was an accomplished seamstress with a keen eye for fashion design.

For many years, Loraine struggled with health issues related to diabetes and eventually became a dialysis patient. Life under these circumstances was difficult, but Loraine kept her contagious smile, continued to love God, her family, her godchildren and her friends, and she continued to frequent the casino.

“In the months leading up to his death, at the end of each visit, we would nudge our elbows and say, ‘until we meet again,'” Charlene Joseph said.

“Rest in peace – generous, outspoken and powerful queen – until we meet again.”

Funeral services will be Friday, June 3 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Christiansted
Start of viewing at 9:30 a.m. Service at 10:30 a.m.

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