–by Mary Helen Darah
PUBLICATION DATE: Nov 1, 2020
Sylvania School District educator William Geha has received the Top Counselor of the Decade award by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP). Geha is being recognized for his knowledge and expertise as a trusted Certified Drug Counselor and prevention specialist for the past four decades. He was the recipient of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2018 and the ‘Top Drug Counselor of the Year in 2019’ by the IAOTP. Geha will receive his latest honor at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. A video featuring Geha will be played in Times Square.
Geha is a graduate of The University of Toledo. Throughout his career, he has impacted the community through his devotion to spreading a drug-free message both nationally and worldwide. He co-directed America’s Pride Prevention Team with Dr. Ken Newbury and is the Director of the P.E.A.C.E. project, which has grown to include over 1,200 student members. The project supports efforts in teaching respect for kids, especially victims of bullying. His main focus has been his work in drug prevention, anti-bullying programs, and working with the World Drug Conference. He also has found his work with the Navajos of New Mexico, the Cree Indians in Canada, and the Canadian and British Governments on prevention extremely rewarding.
The Sylvania educator was also recognized as the ‘Outstanding Professional of the Year’ by Oxford Who’s Who and ‘Industry Leader of the Year’ by Strathmore’s Who’s Who. He is a member of the Sylvania Community Action Team, Advisory Board of Lourdes University Department of Criminal Justice, and the Advisory Board Lucas County Heroin Task Force. He continues his work as a counselor with the Sylvania and Springfield School Districts and serves on the board of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Lucas County.
The honoree believes that his interaction with kids has been the most rewarding. “I have worked with amazing kids and have so many stories over the past 40 years,” he stated. “I have been in education since 1968 and served as a counselor since 1988. This has been a frustrating year but I am thankful that I have teams of kids that touch the lives of other kids in need in a very positive way. It gives me hope. I look at every day as a new adventure. I have students that I taught or worked with 40 years ago that reach out to me and recall experiences that we had together. It’s simply unbelievable.”
“This year has been especially difficult for the students he works with. Geha stated, “I think my biggest concern is that we have so many kids that are struggling in families right now. It is critical that I have one on one meetings with kids. Kids are missing interpersonal relationships. It’s easy to say that kids need to be back in school full-time, but they really do. They need to interact with other people. I still meet personally with kids and take appropriate safety precautions. I normally facilitate a workshop called ‘Project Hope’ but we are unable to hold those meetings due to the pandemic. High school students from Notre Dame, Northview and Southview, as well as college kids from the University of Toledo are reaching out to those kids in need since we can’t meet in person. I had 900 kids that received letters of support from them. In a normal year we do mentoring where my team goes to elementary and junior highs and meet with kids. It’s so unfortunate that it can’t happen at this time. I had one kid tell me receiving that support kept him going.”
Geha spreads, as he says, “positivity, light and love” and keeps to a simple mission. “My main goal is to try and give kids a sense of purpose,” he said. “I have them write stories and discover what they love to do. In many families they are never asked what their interests are. I want those kids to never give up and know that I will not give up on them.”
Geha plans to continue his work as long as he possibly can. “I love being a mentor and making a difference in people’s lives anyway I can,” he said. “I have a beautiful wife of 50 years, Elizabeth, who I love spending time with, four children and grandchildren. I have a wonderful family who continues to support my mission. I am blessed.”