parent volunteer

Natalie Gibbs finds time to support children’s school as PAT president

Natalie Gibbs claims she’s not a very interesting person, but that could not be further from the truth.

The active community volunteer is currently serving as the Jackson Prep Parent And Teacher (PAT) president, a Sunday school teacher, alumni association board member and is the mother of two teenage boys.

A Mississippi native from Dekalb, she is a graduate of Kemper Academy, where she played second base in softball and point guard in basketball. She was also on the track and cheer teams.

“That’s one of the benefits of a smaller school,” she said. “Some of my favorite memories of high school are sports and some of the lessons you learn in sports.”

Although both of Natalie’s parents were Mississippi State University Bulldogs, she originally considered attending the University of Alabama, where she had a scholarship and her dorm room ready.

“I had a scholarship and a room lined up at Alabama, then I interviewed for a scholarship at State. In April of my senior year, I decided God was leading me to State,” she said. “I met my husband there and made lifelong friends there. So I’m very glad I went to Mississippi State.”

Natalie was graduated in May 1995 with a major in marketing. In June 1995, she began working at Trustmark Bank in downtown Jackson, and in July, she and her husband, David, married after dating for three years.

Natalie and David have lived in Jackson for 22 years now. “We both worked downtown and really moved here thinking we’d stay about a couple of years… I thought we’d move back to Tennessee, where he was from. But, we fell in love with the people here.”

Natalie’s original role with Trustmark was in their management training program, while David worked at KPMG, an accounting firm on Capitol Street.

“For a year, I worked downtown and spent time in every department of the bank, so it was a really great exposure to all aspects of banking,” Natalie said.

Natalie prides herself on being financially savvy and detail-oriented, making a job in finance a perfect fit.

After working in the management program for a year, she became a credit analyst and then worked in the corporate services area of the bank.

“That’s when online banking products were coming on, so I actually travelled around the state and helped different small businesses set up TrustNet as they started doing online banking. I really enjoyed that.”

 

After working at Trustmark for a few years, she moved into human resources at a workers’ compensation insurance company called Am Fed.

Soon afterward, Natalie and David had their two boys: Alex, now 16 years old and a junior at Jackson Preparatory School, and Will, 13 and an eighth-grader at Prep as well.

“As far as the corporate world, I’ve done some part-time stuff from home, but mainly I’ve just worked in volunteer roles since they were born.”

 

Not only was Natalie active at First Presbyterian Day School when her sons attended, but she is currently the Parent And Teacher (PAT) president at Prep and served as the vice president last year.

“I think the reason they kind of affectionally call it the PAT is because the Prep mascot is the patriots,” she explained.

At FPDS, Natalie was the treasurer of the Crusader Club and chairman of the Holiday Potpourri fund-raiser. She has also been involved with fund-raisers at Prep as well as the Global Leadership Institute (GLI), which coordinates speakers from Mississippi and outside of the state to tell students about potential careers.

Many fund-raisers are student-led, while the PAT helps coordinate details, and proceeds can go to school renovations or, most importantly, teacher bonuses and extra ‘wish list’ supplies.

“My mother and my grandmother were both teachers. I didn’t feel that God called me to be a teacher, but I have the most respect for teachers and just education. The whole time I was in school, my mother taught full-time. So, I think, when my boys were born, and I was not working fulltime, I just wanted to commit myself, my time, everything I could to their schools.”

After serving as the PAT president at Prep this year, Natalie said she’ll probably remain involved in her sons’ sporting events, as her oldest, Alex, will be a senior next year and her youngest, Will, will be a freshman. But she hopes to leave the PAT having made a difference for the organization and the school.

“I had a mentor at state who said, ‘A good leader is someone who makes a difference when they serve but then leaves the organization better than when they got there.’ ”

Alex plays football and baseball, while Will plays basketball, football and baseball.

“Thankfully I love sports and played a lot of sports myself growing up. So, we’re always at some type of game. I love this year as PAT president, but probably for the rest of my Prep career, I’ll help in the sporting aspects.”

Outside of Prep, Natalie serves as a third-grade Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church of Jackson, where she and her family attend each Sunday.        

“My mother and grandmother were both elementary school teachers, and I don’t feel God called me in that direction. I was always more financially-minded with spreadsheets and attention to detail,” she laughed. “But, I think just growing up — my mom taught talented and gifted, so she was always working on her projects — I always had that in the bank of my mind.”

Natalie says she doesn’t feel like she’s as good a teacher as her mother and grandmother, but she still loves it.

However, to attest to her abilities as a teacher, Natalie has been teaching since her oldest son Alex was born.

“I teach a third grade Sunday school class. They’re just so loving and sweet… I have helped in some capacity in Sunday school since my children were born, so that’s 16 years.”

For a short period of time, Natalie moved from Sunday school and helped teach Sunday night classes, but eventually moved back to teaching Sunday school.

“I try to help where I can. I want my kids to learn scripture, so that’s something I’ve tried to be a part of… I’m one of three (teachers). We have probably an average of 10 in the class (every Sunday).”

 

Natalie is also part of a Bible Study Fellowship, an international, nondenominational ministry that studies one book of the Bible every year, another demonstration of Natalie’s love for detail.

She learned about the group from a friend from First Baptist.

“We take a different book of the Bible and study it in depth. I’ve been involved in that for nine years… I’m a detailed person, so we just in depth take a passage of scripture every week… This is a great way to be around women of all ages, denominations, races. We’re all together studying the Bible, so that’s one of my favorite things.”

This year, the group is studying the book of Romans, but Natalie’s favorite book of the Bible is Proverbs, “just for the wisdom.” Natalie has been group leader for seven of the nine years that she has been a member of the Jackson class.

“Thousands of people in 40 countries around the world are studying the same passages in the Bible as the Jackson classes of men and women,” she said.

Natalie also loves to travel with her family. She and her husband have visited all 50 states and traveled to Europe for their 20th wedding anniversary. Her favorite state visit was a Disney cruise to Alaska.

When Alex was five years old, he asked his parents if they could travel as a family to all 50 states, making it a tradition for the family to pack up and go every year before he graduated from high school. So far, they’re on track to make that happen.

“So, my husband and I have now been to all 50 states, but our two sons have been to 49. So, we have one more state to go to with them. Our goal is to make it to Maine this summer… We’re the Griswolds, and we don’t mind getting in a car and driving long distances.”

Natalie and David prioritize saving money for their family trips, making priceless memories with their children.

“My husband and I are both financial people, so we’ll budget and save for those trips. We’d much rather spend money on trips rather than things and making memories with our boys.”

Besides being active in her sons’ school and extracurricular activities, her church and saving for family trips, Natalie says that if she ever has a day to herself, she enjoys reading a good book, taking a walk with a friend or spending time with her husband and two boys.

              

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