She gave $1 million to Palisades Charter High School for classroom renovations and building a community pool. She was LAUSD’s oldest full-time teacher when she retired at 94 and one of the oldest ever in the nation.
She taught the children of Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum. And, her students included budding film director J.J. Abrams and a future production designer, Rick Carter.
It’s Abrams and Carter who have now immortalized their teacher Rose Gilbert as the tiny big-hearted, but stern alien, Maz Kanata, in the blockbuster movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Maz generously offers help to the heroes of the film, reflecting the teacher’s generosity, and looks a bit like her, too.
“I think it’s a wonderful tribute and appropriate for a local school hero,” said principal Pamela Magee who knew Gilbert well. “It’s nice that J.J. (Abrams) memorialized someone important to him in this way, and now other generations of kids who didn’t know her will discover her.”