‘Remarkable teacher’ dies when SUV slams into tree before school, Florida officials say

·3 min read
Courtesy of Marion County Public Schools

A 31-year-old high school English teacher was killed when he suffered a “medical event” and lost control of his vehicle, according to officials.

John Gibb, who students and colleagues remembered as a “remarkable teacher,” died in a crash the morning of Tuesday, March 21, near Lake Weir High School in Ocala, Marion County Schools told McClatchy News in an email. Ocala is about 80 miles northwest of Orlando.

The crash occurred just after 8 a.m. less than 2 miles from the school, according to a news release from Florida Highway Patrol.

He was driving when he suffered a “medical event” and his SUV crossed a center median and continued onto a shoulder before striking a sign, a fence and a tree, the release says. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Troopers did not have information about what kind of medical event he suffered.

Gibb taught English and journalism at Lake Weir High School, according to his biography on the school’s website. He was also a mock trial and debate coach, a freshman class sponsor and a yearbook adviser. He was in his seventh year teaching with Marion County Public Schools.

Before teaching, he worked in radio production and newspaper reporting and interned at a radio station in Sydney, Australia, his bio says.

Gibb’s former students on Facebook described Gibb’s impact on their lives.

“Rest In Peace to one of the BEST teachers to ever exist,” one person wrote. “Not only was he an amazing teacher but an amazing person in general. He always made his class so interesting, and he was always so kind and funny.”

Others posted about their special memories with Gibb, including activities and field trips.

“I’ll never forget when he took us to see the Beauty and the Beast play, when we performed a mock trial in a real courtroom, or when we made a conga line around him at the 2019 homecoming dance,” wrote another student, who called him the “hardest working teacher I ever knew.”

Another described him as a “remarkable teacher.”

“Your teaching was super contagious, even for those that didn’t even want to learn or be at school,” the student wrote. “... Thank you for for not only being an amazing teacher, but also your advice you would give us. I will never forget the impact you had on my life.”

Gibb also chronicled his adventures as a teacher on his Facebook page.

“I am such a wonderful teacher. I just sent out a Remind message to my freshmen — a reminder to read chapter 20. I then supplied them with a link to all the questions and answers. When they click on the link, they are going to be Rick Rolled,” he said, referring to an internet prank that causes the music video for Rick Astley’s 1987 hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up” to pop up when the user clicks a link that appears to be for something else.

“So far, only one has responded with ‘You’re so annoying.’ Lol,” he wrote.

Gibb was recognized by the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program, which rewards excellence in teaching, in February and was a finalist for Marion County Teacher of the Year in 2023, according to a spokesman for Marion County Public Schools.

In a speech he gave at the Golden Apple awards gala on Feb. 4, he said, “Whatever you do in life, make sure it is meaningful, and purposeful,” according to the Public Education Foundation of Marion County.

Lake Weir High School Principal Colleen Wade said in a statement that his impact on students was “immeasurable.”

“His excitement for teaching turned contagious, and his enthusiasm in the classroom often changed perceptions of the traditional teacher,” Wade said. “Mr. Gibb’s passion changed students’ lives, and he was treasured by our school. That’s how we will remember this Golden Apple teacher.”

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