Resident Spotlight: Michael Gilbert


Rhino and Zadye is a children’s story written by Michael Gilbert, which teaches children about the rhinoceros and the conservation of the species. Michael has devoted his life to educating others and parenting his four children while enjoying the sports of soccer and golf. His current goals are to continue writing for children and adults, increase his skills in photography, and improve his game of golf. As with all people, Michael’s life was shaped by the experiences of his childhood.

Michael was born in Brooklyn, New York. His grandparents and great-grandparents immigrated to America from England and Austro-Hungary. However, according to Michael’s great-grandmother, many ancestors perished in the Holocaust. The community of Brooklyn was comprised of Jewish families from Eastern Europe and Italian Catholics. According to Michael, “It was a nice blend of different cultures and religions.”

Unfortunately, Michael’s mother died when he was five years old. His father remarried, and a more stable life resumed for a while. At the age of thirteen, Michael was enrolled in a private boarding school near Princeton, New Jersey. Michael says the experiences at the Peddie School laid a solid foundation for his future life. Soccer became a favorite sport.
Following graduation from Peddie School, Michael enrolled in Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English composition in 1966. Michael moved to the South to enroll in a Master of Arts in teaching at Emory University, from which he graduated in 1967. The internship part of the program opened doors for a career in education.

Michael began his teaching career in the inner city of Atlanta. During this time, Michael participated in an administrative career program at the University of Georgia and was recruited into their Doctor of Education degree program, from which he graduated in 1973. Moving from Atlanta to Athens, Georgia, Michael served as an elementary school principal before moving to Savannah, Georgia as a central-office administrator in the schools. Following that work, he was hired into a Bilingual/Cross-Cultural Education doctoral program as a faculty member at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He also served as director of the Bureau of Educational Research and Field Services during his ten years at UCP. This was followed by thirteen years at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, and finally, fifteen years at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Michael retired as Professor Emeritus in 2013 and moved to North Carolina where he continued his consultant work.

Obviously, education has played an important role in Michael’s life. He has authored three books and multiple articles, and given many consultancies nationally and internationally. He has served as teacher and director of religious education in three congregations at various times while also holding other full-time positions in education. Becoming certified in communication and listening models resulted in a special emphasis in Michael’s work and research through the years. His focus was to improve preparation programs for educational leaders by including additional curricula on interpersonal relationships. According to Michael, this has not occurred to any degree as “Old ways are difficult to change.”

Michael has an extensive travel history. He says that many of his opportunities for travel were the result of his work. “It was a lot easier when someone else was paying the expenses!” admits Michael. His favorite countries are Portugal, Scotland, and Japan. The most fun was golfing and whisky tasting in Scotland. The most moving was the visit to the Wallenberg Memorial Garden at the Dohany Synagogue in Budapest. The memorial, according to Michael, resembles a willow tree with each leaf bearing the name of one of the thousands of Hungarian Jews who were killed by the Nazis. 

2005 Division 1 Soccer Match

Michael has loved soccer for most of his life. In addition to playing as a youngster, he refereed soccer for forty years. According to Michael, many soccer teams are coached or refereed by someone who has never played. Since 1990, Michael has given much time in assisting referees to improve their officiating skills. 

While living in North Carolina, Michael served as an advocate in the courts for children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. Michael says, “It was heart-rending to see the problems that resulted in the children being removed from the home. Often adoption seemed to be the best option. 

Michael is a father to four children, one son and three daughters, and grandfather to seven. His son lives in Memphis and his grandson Max will soon graduate from Lausanne Collegiate School. Max has been heavily recruited for his skill as a place-kicker. Look for him to be a starter on the University of Tennessee football team this Fall! Michael says, “I feel my greatest reward in life has been to see my children become independent contributing adults. I am so proud of all of them.”

Michael made the decision to move to Kirby Pines in 2022 because he wanted to be near his family and to relieve them from having to make decisions concerning his future care. Since moving to Kirby, Michael enjoys playing golf three days a week and playing poker with a group of Kirby Pines residents. He belongs to the Photography Club and enjoys using his iPhone along with a regular camera. 

Michael chose one of the beautiful Garden Homes as his residence. Free of house maintenance and yard work, Michael is able to enjoy the amenities of Kirby Pines.

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines.