You may know Caryn Gibson as the Delta County School District superintendent or you may recognize her from her family’s dairy farm, Webb Dairy/ Rocking W Cheese and Milk.
Either way, Gibson and her family have a long history with Olathe. As recognition of her dedication to the community, The Montrose Education Foundation recently named Gibson, class of 1982, the Olathe High School 2019 Distinguished Alumni.
According to the press release from the foundation, this award is earned by “past Montrose and Olathe high school graduates whose deeds and character demonstrate our (the foundation’s) purpose. We desire all our graduates to lead lives of personal achievement and commitment to their communities.”
Gibson grew up two miles outside of Olathe on a dairy farm, Webb Dairy. She is a fifth generation farmer to grow up in the Olathe area. Her ancestors homesteaded out of Pea Green and her family moved to the 2 miles corners, where the farm is.
“I enjoyed the small town atmosphere and everyone cared about everyone,” Gibson said. “That saying, ‘It takes a village,’ and it truly does. I had friends and their parents who were always looking after us.”
Her great-grandparents graduated from Olathe when the school was by the community center, her parents and her three daughters graduated from Olathe. The tradition and history her family has attending the school is pretty amazing, she said.
Attending a small school afforded her many different opportunities to get involved. Gibson said she was able to play in the band, play sports, she was head girl and was even a twirler.
Taking a variety of classes in high school one stands out — business with Mrs. Fields. A mock business was set up inside the classroom to get real world experience. Everything they did was real life, hands on experience. Fields would do things such as bring a telephone in the class and have students work on their telephone skills.
This class and an accounting class, also with Fields, made things real for Gibson which she enjoyed. Because of this class, Gibson said she became a business teacher.
After graduating high school, Gibson attended Western State College, which is now Western Colorado University, and graduated with a degree in business administration with an emphasis in education. She has a master’s in vocational education from Colorado State University, and earned her principal and administrator’s licenses in education from University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
“Her class kind of led my pathway to my future career,” Gibson said.
Having always wanted to be a teacher, Gibson, chalkboard in hand, would set her dolls up in her room to teach. While in collage she was able to fulfill that dream and blend her interest in business and education together.
Gibson started teaching at Fruita Monument High School as a business teacher and cheerleader coach. Although she played sports throughout high school, she cheered in college.
Soon her parents spoke to her about coming back to the family business in Olathe. She applied for a position at Delta High School and taught business here for 11 years. She was in the classroom for 15 years before she went into administration.
At that point she an assistant principal, financial aid director and then director of Delta Montrose Technical College. In 2010 she moved to the Delta County School District Office where she has served as the human resource director before becoming superintendent in 2012.
“I love kids and I love doing great things and helping kids grow, and I thought I could have a larger effect on more kids and help teachers,” Gibson said of her transition from the cassroom to administration. “I just thought I could do the greater good and help all.”
Gibson and her husband, John, have three girls. Gibson is still involved in the dairy business. She emphasised this is a family business with her parents, her brother and her husband all working in it. She helps when she can, but she main job is being the superintendent which she enjoys.
“Helping students and staff succeed,” Gibson said. “Everything we do is an effort for student success, and setting them up. So looking forward to all the graduations that will be coming along and giving them wings to go on and become whatever they want to do.”
Being involved in the community is of importance to Gibson and she has been a 4-H leader for 20 years, was recognized by the state for her support of FFA programs, received the National Citizenship Education Teacher Award through Veterans of Foreign Wars, and was recognized by Who’s Who America’s Teachers multiple times while being a breast cancer survivor.
“We’re all connected and if we all do good things for each other, we all win,” Gibson said. “We all have to live together and work together and we can celebrate together as well.”
Gibson said she is very honored and pleased to be a distinguished alumni. She said OHS has done great things for her and her children.
“It’s just such an honor and I (was) surprised, there are so many great people out there so it’s nice to be part of that,” Gibson said. “I really want to thank Olathe High School as well.”
Her advice for students graduating from high school: “Be present, believe in yourself, believe you can do it and never give up. … You never know where life’s journey is going to take you so you just keep moving forward and celebrate when you can.”
Monica Garcia is the news editor for the Montrose Daily Press.