Artist Spotlight: Jonathan Gibbons achieves harmony between music and teaching


Photo Courtesy Jonathan Gibbons

Religion teacher Jonathan Gibbons (second from left) performs with his a capella group “Sixtus” at a benefit for St. Joseph’s House this past January. St. Joseph’s House is a daycare for disabled children.

While most teachers spend the weekend grading papers and planning assignments, new Honors Philosophy teacher Jonathan Gibbons spends his free time belting out classy tunes with his a cappella group Sixtus.

“I first began really singing in high school,” Gibbons said. “The music teacher found out I was doing Frank Sinatra impressions and asked me to join this magical singing group; that was my first experience on stage. Then I went on to do musical theater, and my favorite role was Jean Valjean in ‘Les Misérables’.”

After that, he went to Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland and received his Bachelors of Arts and International Studies.

After two failed attempts to start an a cappella group, Gibbons didn’t think it would be a possibility. It wasn’t until he went to seminary school that he met Levi Hartle, David Gaines, and Joe Goldsmith. Together, the five men formed Sixtus, after Pope Sixtus IV.

The group originally started out as a fun side project, but they soon gained the attention of a wider audience. When playing open mic at a coffee house, “people started to ask us if we had CDs,” Gibbons said.

From there, they decided to go on tour during their spring break, going to to different parishes and schools and talking about vocation. Their most recent performance was in January at St. Joesph’s House for Disabled Children.

Gibbons describes the music stylings of Sixtus as diverse. “We are very mixed. We sing rap, country, jazz, sacred, and gospel music,” Gibbons said.

However, Gibbons realized that seminary wasn’t for him and decided to leave in 2013.

“We have continued to perform since we left seminary,” Gibbons said. “One of our guys was ordained a priest, one a deacon, and the other is still in seminary.”

The philosophy teaching position at JC is the first teaching job Gibbons has ever had, and being in seminary made him want to pursue that profession.

“I’ve had an interest in teaching, I’ve realized now, all my life; especially philosophy. I’ve always had a deep interest in deep questions,” Gibbons said. In fact, when he was eight years old he said he began questioning dreams versus reality, one of the major questions in the study of philosophy.

Gibbons is very optimistic about his new position.

“I enjoy students getting excited about pursuing the truth and wisdom. I hope to get to know the community. It all seems very welcoming and generous to not feel so overwhelmed,” Gibbons said. “I’m hoping to discover who I am as a teacher and be the best I can be. I expect to learn a lot from my students, and I look forward to that. I think my students will be teaching me as much as I’m teaching them. I believe there is a story to be learned by every person’s life.”

Despite the new demands placed on him as a first year teacher, Gibbons plans to continue to participate in his a cappella group. Sixtus will be participating an a cappella competition in March, and their music, including their album “In Living Collar,” can be purchased on iTunes.

Lauren Fabiszak is an A&E editor for The Patriot and