Clint Gibson returns to his native eastern North Carolina to teach science at JPII. Gibson spent the last three years teaching physics and engineering and serving as faculty advisor for the robotics club at Trinity Hall School in Tinton Falls, NJ. He has also taught computer science, math, and physics at Commonwealth Academy in Alexandria, VA.
Gibson said he chose to join JPII because he could feel that the school is a caring community dedicated to education. “Fundamentally I believe that education is how we build peaceful, functioning, and progressive societies. I derive great satisfaction from knowing I help bring others closer to understanding and pursuing their own ambitions,” Gibson said. As a science teacher, Gibson shares the JPII philosophy that in order to learn science you must do science. “I think that students gain the most from being able to ask questions and have the freedom to investigate for themselves, which is why I try to have my classes be as lab-based as possible to give students an authentic experience,” Gibson said.
Gibson earned both a bachelor of science in physics and aerospace engineering from NC State University, a master of science in theoretical physics from the University of Helsinki, and recently completed his master of science in science education through Montana State University. After realizing his vocation in education, he completed teacher licensing courses at the University of Virginia. Outside of school, he loves reading, gardening, and being outdoors camping and hiking. He also enjoys aviation and is a licensed private pilot.
Anita Koen is a national board-certified teacher in mathematics who recently retired from North Carolina public schools but does not wish to stop teaching. She comes to JPII after teaching at South Central High School for the past 14 years. In 2013, Koen was named Teacher of the Year at South Central and was a finalist for Pitt County Teacher of the Year. At JPII she looks forward to the “positive atmosphere, being able to get to know my students, and helping them to enjoy math. Or, at least, feel less anxious about learning math.”
Initially teaching was a backup plan for Koen. “I really thought computer programming was what I wanted to do,” she said. “After my graduation from college, I had an internship at NASA in Hampton, VA but quickly found that it was a lonely job. I decided to apply for a teaching job back home and taught for three years.” With her husband in the military, she was able to be a stay-at-home mom for the next 12 years until the early 1990s when she began teaching again. “It was at this time that I realized that teaching was more than just dispensing mathematical information. It was a way to influence young people and it became a calling for me,” Koen said. Teaching became so much more than just a backup plan for her. “I feel that God put me in the classroom and placed a calling on my life. I became a teacher to help students grow and reach their potential, both mathematically and in life.”
Koen does not want her students to leave her classroom with only mathematical skills. “I do not wish to create mathematical robots who can only reproduce mathematical processes,” she said. “I wish to create mathematical thinkers, who understand how and why math works. I like to do this through discourse, student-to-teacher and student-to-student. I like for students to see how math works in the real world and to see its relevance to their life.”
Koen holds a bachelor of arts in mathematics with an emphasis in education from Mary Baldwin College and a master of arts in education with a concentration in secondary mathematics from East Carolina University. She is married to SFC (Ret.) Jeff Koen and they have three adult daughters who are all married and 10 grandchildren. In her spare time, she loves to read, garden, exercise (walking and dancing especially), spend time at the beach, and spend time with her family.
Kathy Lyles brings 26 years of experience teaching science (14 of those as a department chair) to JPII where she will teach conceptual and AP physics. Although she has lived in Pitt County for the past 11 years and is a parishioner at Saint Peter Catholic Church, Lyles comes to JPII after traveling to Wake Forest for 9 years to teach at Heritage High School. She looks forward to teaching closer to home and the family-like atmosphere at JPII that takes the whole child into consideration.
Teaching has been a life-long calling for Lyles who remembers wanting to be a teacher at the age of 5. “I taught my dolls,” she said. It was a calling that she tried to resist in college, but ended up switching majors at Virginia Tech University where she received her bachelor of science in education. “I believe what’s most important is to help a student grow and learn. All kids have a natural curiosity and truly want to learn. It’s important to get to know your student to help them tap into their desire to learn,” she said.
Lyles has lived in two other countries: Canada (high school) and Germany (middle school). She and her husband of 38 years Dell have three grown daughters and a couple of granddogs. In her free time she enjoys traveling, painting, and making pottery.
When asked why she enjoys teaching, she said, “No two days are ever the same. Kids say and do the most interesting things!”
From an early age, Zeke Zylis developed a love for learning about the Roman Catholic faith he was given through his parents, godfather, and priests. As he grew, his curiosity for the faith invited him into a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is this relationship with Christ and love of learning that has led him to teach theology at JPII.
Zylis is joining the JPII family because he is attracted to how the life of the community revolves around Jesus Christ. “I look forward to following where the Lord is challenging me to grow and continually forming me into who He wants me to be,” he said. Zylis first wanted to become a teacher while reflecting on the teachers in his life and how they formed him in the Christian values. “The first teachers are the parents; therefore, I believe teachers need to carry on the ideal Christian life from the home into the classroom. As a teacher, I cannot sit on my “high horse” pretending to know everything; I have to walk at their level and humble myself to allow for Christ to work.”
Zylis graduated from Catholic school in Florida and received his bachelor of arts in philosophy from St. John Vianney College Seminary. He is currently pursuing a master of arts in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. His parents, two younger sisters, and black lab Abby all live in Florida. In his free time, Zylis enjoys meeting new people, spending time with friends, and being outside either hiking, biking, or kayaking. He likes to end his day in silence with a holy hour, reading a book, or praying the rosary.