Teacher brings out students' ability to excel

February 9, 2011 

CaTia Jackson Gilbert arrives early and stays late. She is pleasant, and her students know the rules and how much the learning process means to her. Education has always been the key to success for her, and she instills that in her students.

Gilbert grew up in Orangeburg, where church and school activities were very much a part of her life. Her fondest memories are participating in the choir and usher board at Andrew Chapel Baptist Church. You would think her parents, Robert and Janet Jackson, spoiled the older of their two children, and they probably did. But that part of their rearing is not noticeable. What is noticeable is CaTia's love for people.

While a student at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, she played basketball, volleyball and ran track and field. She earned an athletic scholarship to Savannah State College, where she majored in marine science and minored in chemistry. Learning and performance were not issues for her, but some challenges honed her determination.

"I don't know if I would have become a teacher, but (suddenly) one English teacher said to my mother, 'Mrs. Jackson, CaTia does not have the ability to understand English at this level,' " she said. "I had been successful throughout my school career, and it seemed as if this teacher could not see any good skills in me. ... Those words, 'you don't have the ability,' (brought out my) ability to rise and shine, shoot for the stars and not rest on my laurels as I became determined to 'have the ability.' "

Gilbert lives and worships in Dale, and she teaches seventh grade science at Whale Branch Middle School. Being out in the community allows her to interact with her students. She teaches seventh-grade science. She is demanding, making sure her students know the importance of learning and protecting their environment.

"My seventh-graders are egocentric; my goal is to make them see past themselves and look at the environment, view the changes that take place and eventually begin to see the changes in themselves. I want them to make the right decisions. I want them to know that they 'have the ability.' "

Gilbert believes she has the greatest job in the world. You can see her busily working with her students. But her sons, Greggory and Jayden, are ready for love and attention when she arrives at home. So planning is the key for Gilbert.

"Just as I plan for my students, I plan our meals at home. It is busy, but it is fun," she said.

Barbecup

Makes: 20 cups

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon dried minced onion or 1/2 cup chopped onions

2 (10-count) cans refrigerated biscuits

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown ground beef in skillet, stir until crumbly; drain. Add barbecue sauce, brown sugar and onions in bowl.

Separate biscuits. Place biscuits in muffin cups, forming into a cup shape. Spoon ground beef mixture into biscuit cups, sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 12 minutes.

Fruit Cobbler

1 stick melted margarine

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup any fruit, suitable for a cobbler

1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring

1 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place all ingredients into baking pan, stirring well. Bake until top is brown.

Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. E-mail her at features@beaufortgazette.com

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