"Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world".
- Nelson Mandela
Education is a key to success and knowledge is the power that no person can take away. Whether we are young or old, we have the freedom and tools to continue to build on the educational foundation that has been given to us. Having an excellent education is an astonishing feeling but when there are people in the field that truly care about you academically succeeding is a advantage. In the words of Nelson Mandela, "Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world".
Evelyn Gearries entered this world in Spring, on April 19th. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana she was destined to be a game changer in her community. She attended and graduated from Washington High School. Showing an interest in Biology at an early age, Gearries decided to attend Marion College where she received her Bachelors in Biology. She had her eyes set on Medical School receiving a scholarship to attend but her path took her another direction. While attending school, Gearries became more involved in Biology, Chemistry and Math: which sparked her interest in engineering and research. "My mom told me that I was all over the place, and needed to get a teaching license to at least keep a job", said Gearries. "When I graduated I was still unsure, I had received a scholarship for Med School but decided to teach to see how things would turn out".
"I was only a couple years older than the people I was teaching, so my department chair was worried about me being distracted by the guys".
Gearries began her educational career in the Indianapolis Public School system at Broad Ripple High School. "At Broad Ripple, I taught senior level Anatomy and Biology", Gearries stated when asked about her experience working for IPS. "I was only a couple years older than people I was teaching, so my department chair was worried about me being distracted by the guys". "I told him he had nothing to worry about, they didn't have a job". While at Broad Ripple, Gearries just didn't teach but she was busy with a lot of activities with the school. "I was a tomboy at heart and had played softball in college", stated Gearries. "When I got to Broad Ripple they needed an assistant softball coach so I tried it". Gearries also became the tennis coach, started the Booster Club and Gospel Choir at Broad Ripple called the Voices of Praise. " At that time gospel choirs were not allowed, I had a group of students who wanted to form an ensemble and we took the idea to the school board of IPS, and it was approved," said Gearries as she talked about the uplifting choir. "Voices of Praise was an inspirational music club".
"Working with teenagers, I want them to understand things they talk about would be in confidence with me".
Gearries had brought new things to Broad Ripple, but there was still more work for her to do in another school district. "My principal at Broad Ripple was in Human Relations in the township and had heard I had moved in Pike Township", said Gearries as she began telling me about how she became involved at Pike High School. "He asked me would I consider coming to Pike because they were revamping guidance for students and he knew I had a license". "I was working out my administrative license and so I came over 18 years ago as director of guidance". She quickly became assistant principal over guidance within a year. Gearries received her Masters in School services Guidance and Counseling and in Secondary School Administration from Indiana University School of Education. She understands how important it is to have the degree and credentials necessary for doing her job the correct way. "Credentials are so important, and I wanted to have the license and credentials to justify what I am doing", said Gearries. "Working with teenagers, I want them to understand things that they talk about would be in confidence with me".
"I never wanted to be that person over everything, just give me my couple lanes and I'll show you how to operate".
The youth are the future and Gearries realizes that preparing them for success is the best gift she can give to them. "Working in education has helped me build relationships with the students, and has helped me understand them", said Gearries. "Making a plan for the teens to get money for school and taking away the stigmas of not having the funds for them to go to school is what I am here for". "My commitment to them is if you keep your grades up, I am going to dig for every dollar that we find to get them in school". Gearries is now the Assistant Principal at the Pike Freshmen Center. "I never wanted to be a principal because they have a lot of meeting and I'm not always politically correct", said Gearries.
"All of my strength comes from the Lord, if I turn it over to him it's going to work in His will".
As a black woman, Mrs. Gearries has always understood that life would not be easy there would be challenges she would come up against. Being born to parents who were from the South, they wanted Gearries and her two siblings to have the best. "My parents were adamant about us being educated and speaking well", said Gearries. "My mom had two years of college and my dad didn't finish high school, however their goal for us was wherever there was an opportunity, we were going to take it". When attending Marion College, Gearries was the only African American female in the Science Department. "I can remember the nuns being very put off, they hadn't had any black students nor one that was a Presidential Scholar", said Gearries. "I had to really learn even with my Afro and dashiki I am going to show you what I am working with".
"If I could I do education entirely through your phone and somehow make it address school subjects, I would be sitting on billions".
Mrs. Gearries has been in education for 38 years and has seen things change but her message is still the same. "Kids might start off not knowing where they want to go but I am going to prepare them for as if they are going to get there", said Gearries. With the improvement of electronics and the rise of social media, sometimes it is a challenge to capture the attention of the youth. "If I could do education entirely through your phone and somehow make it address school subjects, I would be sitting on billions", said Gearries. When working with high school students and their parents there must be a relationship built out of respect and trust. "I think being consistent and letting them see I am here to help and not out to get anyone, however, you have to do your part as well has helped me in this position".
"My husband and I have committed to our children and it's paying off".
Mrs. Gearries has achieved many things in her life but her greatest achievement is her family. She has been married to her husband for 34 years and has two children together. "The things that my children are doing is just amazing", said Gearries as she smiled while talking about her children. She is also proud of the Pike freshman center. Gearries was one of the leads for the vision team of the freshman center. "Just hearing people being very focused on how to build the freshman center and the philosophy behind it, will be considered part of the legacy for me", said Gearries. She has been inspired by teachers who seen something in her and felt like she was gifted. One teacher that stood out particularly to her was an English teacher. "She had the best diction", said Gearries. Growing up Gearries said that she was shy and didn't like to speak but she wanted to speak well. "My English teacher spoke very well and I wanted to immolate her, I wanted you to hear every consonant like her".
"I believe that Fly girls have the ability to inspire".
Evelyn Gearries' statue is built with dignity and grace. When she opens her mouth to speak she catches your attention with her words filled with wisdom and boldness. She doesn't hold back on what she thinks and she is determined to make sure that our youth is prepared to succeed. She has stayed true to herself and continues to make the best out of every opportunity she receives. "I believe that fly girls have the ability to inspire and have the ability to use what we have".