June 9, 2022 -- A lot of things have changed at Gearity Professional Development School over the past 35 years. The name, for one thing: what was previously called Belvoir Elementary was renamed in 1993 in honor of former principal and district superintendent Dr. Lauree P. Gearity. Eight different principals have moved through the school during those years. But one thing that hasn’t changed? Mrs. Deltha Gray, the school’s administrative assistant, who has been a constant presence in the lives of students, staff and families since she started working at Gearity in 1987.
Mrs. Gray, who retired this spring, has played many roles – from greeting visitors and managing the office to serving as part time nurse, guidance counselor, and even teacher “before they changed to the new math and I could still help,” she joked. “Working in a school is a different pace than being in a regular office. It makes the time go by quickly and you’re never bored.”
The time has gone by so quickly that the Gearity community now has former students who are the parents of current students. “It’s amazing to see them because you remember this little child as they were and now they’ve grown up. It’s also a wake-up call because that means I’ve aged too!” She feels a special sense of pride when alumni chose to send their children to Gearity because she knows they must have had a positive experience. “Even if it’s the smallest part I’ve played in their lives, it means something.”
Mrs. Gray is proud to have worked for a district that she says has braved many challenges. “No matter what circumstances arose, the district has always confronted them with professionalism and shown concern for staff, students, families and the school community as a whole.” The staff and students she’s met over the years have become her “family away from family” and have made an indelible impact on her life.
That fact is highlighted in a story shared by community member and former parent Steve Wertheim, who says that Mrs. Gray is a central part of the Gearity community. “She’s the first person to greet parents and children. She cares about them and loves her school.” When he returned to Gearity a few years back as a Many Villages tutor, “I walked into the office and without missing a beat, she said, “How are you, Mr. Wertheim? And how are Judith and Max?’” His children were 32 and 29 at the time! “That is Mrs. Gray in a nutshell.”
In recognition of her years of service to the community, the city of University Heights has officially declared June 1st to be Deltha Gray Day.