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Beyond the classroom, Caroline teacher inspires students and community

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CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. -- When students arrive in U.S. History class at Caroline Middle School, the boys and girls never know which substitute teacher will fill-in. Sometimes it's Rosie the Riveter. Other days a Rough Rider. Perhaps a soldier? Maybe a suffragette?

The conventional way of teaching stops at Ms. Sara Gibson’s classroom.

A middle school teacher for five years, Ms. Gibson embraces the past and holds on tight.

"I love it. I love working with my kids," Gibson said. "I love being able to bring in the living history."

Ms. Gibson takes her students on a rollicking ride through the decades with a particular interest in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

"My lectures, you never know what is going to strike next," she said.

The 29-year-old teacher dresses up, invites aging veterans to speak and leads field trips to landmarks like the U.S. Marine Museum in Northern Virginia and the Virginia War Memorial.

Sara Gibson

"All of the things that she does to get it into our heads it is pretty impressive how she does her teaching," fellow teacher Ruth Judd said. "She has taught all of us. Not just the kids. She has taught the staff. She has taught for sure me."

"You can't not have fun in my classroom," Gibson said. "My kids ask me all of the time, 'Can we just stay in your classroom?' I’m like, 'No!'"

The ranks of Gibson’s History Club, yes, History Club are swelling. Her passion for the past and veterans is infectious.

"She makes it alive a lot and makes it fun. A lot of people think (history) is boring unless there in this class," student Megan Garcia said.

One of Sara’s biggest accomplishments sits just outside of her classroom.

In 2013, Sara spearheaded the county’s Korean War Memorial along Route 301. Students designed and helped dedicate this lasting tribute.

Sara Gibson

"The garden took off," she said. "It is amazing it really is. For me the heroes are the ones who served our country."

Sara Gibson is an educator whose lessons will last a lifetime.

A teacher who earns an “A” no matter which of her substitutes show up.

"I will remember this forever," student Kameron Freeman said. "This is my first year in a public school and this has been my best year."

Who is the hero in your life? Nominate them for Heroes Among Us

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.