Education advocates tie together to support Dollars for Scholars

VERO BEACH — There are some people who are born to nurture and inspire; and the best of them become teachers.  Darby Gibbons, a teacher and friend to hundreds of students, was the inspiration behind Thursday evening’s Dollars for Scholars Tie-Bration Celebration at Northern Trust Bank. A former English teacher and Academic Dean at Saint Edward’s School and a long-time Dollars for Scholars board member, Gibbons passed away in January 2009 but his legacy lives on.  His extraordinary collection of ties, many of which were distributed to friends after his death, was the impetus behind the Tie-Bration theme – embracing the things that tie us together.

Many of the guests were wearing their favorite “Darby ties” but the roomful of education advocates were also all tied in with his belief that everyone has the right to attend college and that money should not be a deterrent.

“Darby taught my children Ty and Tori,” said Jean Ueltschi.  “We became very fond of Darby for many reasons; mainly because of the way he nurtured our children and many others.  It’s wonderful to have an educator who is so well respected.  Everyone who was ever involved with him; parent, teacher or student, respected him.  He always went the extra mile.”

“Saint Edward’s has always had wonderful students.  That has been a common thread throughout,” said Margery Coupe, who has worked at the school for 31 years.

“It also has always had a strong faculty, and it’s getting better all the time,” added Michele Sternberg, who took over Gibbons’ position as Director of College Counseling and Academic Dean.  “Mike Mersky [Head of School] is very committed to that.”

Saint Edward’s English teacher Michele Scales was happily getting the latest news about Casey Carrington, a former student, from her mother Priscilla.

“I taught her daughter in third grade,” Scales said, noting with pride that Casey has since graduated from Harvard and is now an attorney in San Francisco.

During a brief presentation, Dollars for Scholars board member Sam Block asked of the gathering, “What is it that ties us all together?”

In answer, he noted that the three main threads were love of the community, its youth and education.  He went on to speak about how mentors, whether family members, teachers, friends or even total strangers, play such a profound part in our lives.

“You’re here; you’re mentors,” said Block.  “You have helped these students because you have invested in them.”

Scholarship chair Gaye Ludwig introduced Manhar Dalal, a 2007 Vero Beach High School graduate and a recipient of the prestigious Richardson Scholarship Award.  Dalal graduated in the spring from the University of Central Florida and is currently pursuing his graduate degree while also teaching mathematics at the Seminole County High School in Sanford.

Dalal spoke movingly about his father’s guidance, mentoring and support over the years adding, “I would not be a math whiz, math teacher or swing dancer without him.”

He also thanked Dollars for Scholars for giving him the opportunity to have such an incredible college experience.

“Some not only take care of their own, but others; strangers, people they don’t know,” said Dalal.  “They open their wallets not just because they can, but because they’re extraordinary people.”

Dollars for Scholars offers scholarship opportunities to students with financial need who demonstrate the desire and academic ability to succeed in pursuing a post-secondary education.  Since 1965, DFS has awarded $7.1 million dollars in need-based scholarships to 2,469 Indian River County students. {igallery 348}

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