Purposeful Programming: How do we do it?
GiGi’s provides purposeful programming for all ages. We have an amazing team of highly qualified and passionate volunteers who lead our programs. This month, we’re going to shine a spotlight on Grace Gibbs, a teacher who runs our Saturday LMNOP program. She is also the Math Tutoring Coordinator and Vice President of the Board.
Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I grew up in a small town in Michigan. I moved to Chicago about 8.5 years ago shortly after graduating from college to pursue musical theatre. My husband and I instantly fell in love with the city and can’t see ourselves leaving anytime soon!
What is your educational background?
I have Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Central Michigan University. About 6 years ago I went back to school to become a teacher and received my Masters of Education from DePaul University.
Tell me about some of your experiences with kids.
I was a nanny for 5 years, and I’ve been a teacher for 4 years. I have taught first, second, and third grade. Despite the current climate of education, I really love being a teacher. There are of course days that are harder than others, but there’s really nothing better than seeing that light blub come on after a student has been working hard to learn something new.
How did you get into teaching?
In essence, I’ve been a teacher from a very young age. I have 8 younger cousins and my family has always joked that they were like little ducklings following me along. I began babysitting at age 10, and after college became a nanny for two fabulous families. After spending some time in the city perusing acting, I decided that the time was right to go back to school.
What are you currently doing outside of GiGi’s?
I keep my self pretty busy outside of GiGi’s. In addition to teaching, I am a tutor for two wonderful young ladies through the organization RefugeeOne. I’m in two book clubs and enjoy spending time with my husband and our 3-year-old lab mix puppy!
How did you get involved with GiGi’s?
I was a nanny for a little one, Emma, for 4 years. We started taking Emma to literacy tutoring here at GiGi’s and her mom, Maria Pradd, joined the board. Shortly after, Maria encouraged me to join the board as well. I began as a member of the programs committee and eventually went on to co-chairing the programs committee.
I am the coordinator for the math tutoring program, and I run Language, Music N’ Our Peeps (LMNOP). The tutoring program, which is free for all families, helps enforce what students are working on at school. LMNOP promotes language development through sign language & music. I also am also a member of the events committee and serve as Vice President of the Board.
Tell me about a great moment during one of your programs.
Math tutoring didn’t really catch on and become a core program until I took it over around 2 years ago. We started with about 3 students, but this last session we placed over 10! We are always looking for more tutors as we often have a long waitlist for students wanting math tutoring. Last year, I co-chaired the 2nd Annual Get Down With Down Syndrome Dance Marathon. It was a huge success and a great event to be involved with.
What would you like to be doing in the future for GiGi’s?
Next year I’ll be president of the Board of Managers, so I hope to continue raising awareness in the community to continue further our already growing Playhouse. I’d like to see us reach more families in the city through the development of a mobile Playhouse!
And now for a fun question! What is your favorite music to listen to?
The Hamilton soundtrack has been on my iPod on a continuous loop for several months!