February 14, 2018 4:00 pm

Nathan Gibbs-Bowling has unapologetically high standards for each one of his Lincoln High School students. The 2015 Pierce College Distinguished Alum makes it his own personal mission to create what he calls a ‘nerd culture’ in his government classes, where becoming an informed citizen is the norm.

As a result of his unique teaching style and classroom culture, he has earned the respect and admiration of countless students and educators around the country.

“I want students to leave my class knowing that being smart is a cool thing,” Gibbs-Bowling said. “I demand a lot from my students, and I want them to really own their learning.”

In 2014, Gibbs-Bowling won the prestigious Milken Educator Award and, only a couple years later, was named Washington state’s Teacher of the Year. He became one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award and had the opportunity to meet with President Barack Obama during a celebration in Washington, D.C.

“Obama’s administration had a lot of respect for our profession, and instituted many policies designed to create better outcomes for my student population – low income students and students of color,” Gibbs-Bowling said. “It was a very cool experience having the opportunity to meet President Obama.”

The recognition he has received over the past few years has given him opportunities to discuss education policy throughout the state and around the nation.

“I absolutely love what I do,” Gibbs-Bowling said. “I get to come to work every day and teach kids who look like me in the city I grew up in.”

He has traveled to Washington D.C. about nine times over the past couple years for various reasons, and takes his students along on the ride through a Twitter feed where he documents the experiences. “I just always try to show my students that even when I’m not with them in the classroom, I’m always thinking about them and they still matter,” he said.

Gibbs-Bowling earned his associate degree from Pierce College and says the experience helped him become a well-rounded person with a strong educational foundation. He admits he did not have the best high school career, but discovered his love for learning during his time at Pierce.

After graduating from Pierce, Gibbs-Bowling moved on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Evergreen State College.

Read about others who got their start at Pierce College >