Drug counselor and retired teacher Bill Geha remembers the pain of being a kid who was told he would never fulfill his dream. “When I was growing up, I had a stuttering problem,” Geha, the drug counselor for Springfield and Sylvania Schools, said. “I couldn’t talk. Kids made fun of me and would mimic me.”
When he told his teacher about his career goals, she said he should just work in a factory because he’d never be able to talk in front of a group. That stung, but it didn’t stop Geha from working to overcome his speech impediment.
“I started calling the operator on the telephone to practice talking,” he said. “By 1990 I was at a world conference speaking in front of 15,000 people. Nancy Reagan was in the audience.” Geha met her at the event. She was a person he admired for her work in helping children.
Working with students over the years has led Geha to develop a great empathy for young people. He co-founded the America’s Pride Drug Prevention Team and the Peace Project (an anti-bullying campaign). He has no shortage of stories about the young people he has helped to overcome addictions and bullying experiences. Those students often stay in touch with him, sharing stories of their own successes in helping others.
“With kids that are struggling, I ask them what they love to do,” said Geha, 73, of Sylvania. “I have kids that have made poor choices or were struggling with bullying that today are leaders. I look for the best in all kids.”
Q & A With Bill Geha
What is the top thing on your bucket list? (laughs) I’ve done just about everything! (One of the things he’s proud of: being trained by one of the managers of The Beatles to be a mime, a skill he uses in workshops with youth).
Is there a part of your job you find particularly challenging? Things changing, like cocaine coming back now. The devastation of working with kids whose parents are struggling with addiction as well. I’m also on the suicide prevention committee for Lucas County, and it can be tough to hear about kids feeling so alone.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I have 14 grandkids. Our four children are all teachers. Every Sunday we have dinner together. It’s a great tradition.
What advice would you give to the younger you? Never give up.
Who would you most like to meet (living or dead)? Mother Teresa. She went into the ghettos and touched people’s lives.
What inspires you in your day-to-day life? The fact that so many kids I’ve worked with are doing well today.
To contact Geha about leading a workshop, efforts in
drug prevention or anti-bullying campaigns
email him at firstname.lastname@example.org