Dr. Phyllis Alexandra Gerard
Dr. Phyllis Alexandra Gerard was born 60 years ago on the small island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands. She is the youngest of four children and proud of her Afro Caribbean Latin American Heritage. Dr. Gerard graduated from St. Croix Country Day school in 1980 and then made her way to Bradley University located in Peoria, Illinois. There she met her lifetime mentor, Dr. Richard L. Hayes who resides just up the road in Athens, Georgia. Dr. Hayes has been a motivating force and a staunch supporter as she pursued her bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1984 and master’s degree in Community Counseling in 1987. Dr. Gerard sought employment in the city of Chicago where she was able to secure a counseling position in a school-based medical clinic. Richard T Crane High School, located on the West side of Chicago would teach her critical lessons about serving students with a myriad of needs. During her four-year tenure, it became increasingly clear that she loved working with high school students but the impact she was having seemed limited. A phone call to her mentor and his wife helped solidify her plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at The University of Georgia. Dr. Hayes served as her major professor and influenced her desire to pursue a career in education. At first, the plan was to become a professor. She was interviewed by Dr. Francis Davis who served in a top position of the Human Resources Department in the Gwinnett County Public School system. While being interviewed on the UGA campus, Dr. Davis offered her a position in a high school setting in Gwinnett. The year was 1998. Soon Dr. Gerard would hear from Judy Rogers, a revered high school principal and educator. During the interview at the old Norcross School building on Beaver Ruin Road, Ms. Rogers asked her to commit to remaining at Norcross for five years. Desperate to secure employment in a school setting and even more desperate to replace her then 14-year-old Volkswagen Jetta, she agreed, and the rest is history. Dr. Gerard has now served at Norcross for 25 years in the Counseling Department and contends that this group of colleagues are by far the best group she has had the pleasure to work with. She continues to show up for the Norcross student body every day. It is often difficult work, but work she finds so incredibly rewarding. She calls her kids her “babies” or her “peoples” and delights in making them smile. Dr. Gerard’s daily task is to help students make better choices as they weather their own personal storms while still identifying future paths that will lead to successful educational and/or career choices. Dr. Gerard knows that she is close to the end of her career. Her father, a brilliant man, shared something profound with his youngest daughter that stuck with her during her adolescence. He admonished his three daughters and one son to work hard, but to step aside if they could no longer function in the job as optimally as they had before. This is how you honor those around you. You allow the best and the brightest to step in, accelerate the institution they are associated with, and step aside knowing you have done good work. Dr. Gerard believes very strongly in Norcross High School. It is where committed teachers work and coach the children she so adores. She gets to witness their brilliance every day and knows the school will continue to challenge, support, and elevate all the students who choose to attend.     

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