Serving as president of the Mississippi Association of Educators Kevin Gilbert ‘94, ‘96, strives for continuous improvement of education in the Magnolia State. MAE is an 8,000+ member organization that advocates for “Great Public Schools for Every Child,” by empowering members, providing services, and promoting parental/community involvement. “The MAE believes that a quality public education is a right, and should be available for all students to enjoy," Gilbert said.
The Joliet, Ill., native and Ridgeland, Miss., resident graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi with a both B.A. and M.A. degrees in political science, and is currently earning an Ed.D. in educational leadership at Mississippi College. “My political science background has come in quite handy in my present position since I spend a lot of time at the Mississippi State Capitol talking with legislators about ways to improve public education in Mississippi.”
During his time at Southern Miss, Gilbert worked as a student equipment manager and graduate assistant for both the Golden Eagles baseball and football teams: “Because of my involvement with athletics, I enjoyed going to games; especially, the women’s and men’s basketball games.” Gilbert was also a member of the student Eagle Club and the Mu Xi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., where he served a parliamentarian. After graduation, Gilbert gained over 14 years of educational experience throughout the state.
Upon his election as president to MAE in 2007, Gilbert has served as the chief executive officer for the organization. “My responsibilities also include being principal spokesperson and interpreter of education and organizational policy; furthermore I represent MAE at local, state, and national meetings.” Gilbert also advocates at the state capitol on behalf of children and public education: “I have sat on panels, served on committees, been quoted in newspaper articles, done television and radio interviews; in addition to having the opportunity to be involved in critical advocacy and discussion around a wide range of educational issues.”
For Gilbert, Southern Miss played a major role in his future; the cultural differences Gilbert experienced upon moving from Illinois had discouraged him. “I moved to Mississippi from the North and immediately came in conflict with what I perceived to be some cultural differences that didn’t make me feel comfortable here. I was determined to leave and head back north.” Instead, Gilbert came in contact with the Southern Miss community, which changed his mind: “Professors, coaches, and other people helped me to realize that my perception of Mississippi was all wrong. I began to have a greater appreciation for differences and I learned to truly appreciate this state. My time at Southern Miss was more than an educational experience – it was cultural experience.” Using his experience as an inspiration for working in education, Gilbert strives to recreate the positive atmosphere in today’s education system. “I have now developed a passion for making sure all education experiences are similar to the one I had, which is another influence on my advocacy work.”
As for his future, Gilbert will complete his term as president of the MAE in July 2013 and will continue to seek other leadership positions that will allow him to continue his advocacy work on behalf of children and public education. Mr. Gilbert is at home in Ridgeland with wife Andrea Hoskins Gilbert ‘94, and sons Kristopher and Kameron.