People are often defined by what they do. Long time teacher Geneva Gearing is no exception is no exception to that.
For Gearing, life is a song, a dance or maybe even a ballgame.
It always has been. And while she made her exit from teaching nearly 20 years ago she is still in the game.
Before beginning the career with Campbell County schools that spanned three decades, Gearing tried her hand in the business world.
The University of Tennessee alum, with majors in physical education and office administration, said she began her life in the workforce working with numbers in an office in Oak Ridge.
“I guess I’ve always worked with figures,” Gearing joked as she made reference to physical education post she held at LaFollette High School and later Campbell County High School.
It was during those years that the veteran educator was able to use her love of song, dance and sport to leave an indelible mark on the hundreds of students she crossed paths with.
“Music is the world and I think it made me close to my students. It never really seemed like work to me,” Gearing said of the relationship she had with her classes.
The love Gearing had for her profession was unmistakable to students like Martha Cain Freeman.
“Geneva Gearing was the kind of teacher who students felt comfortable around. We could talk with her, laugh with her, even cry with her and feel like she was actually listening and understanding those feelings. Her career as an educator was more than a job, it was her life, and she got right in there and lived it,” Freeman said.
It was the love of students like Freeman and so many others who Gearing said leave her with so many joyful memories of her days in the classroom.
One such recollection of a particularly rowdy class brought both a chuckle and a tear to her eye.
“The students were being unruly one day and I just walked out. When I walked back in they were singing ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’,” Gearing said with a twinkle in her eye.
In addition to sharing her love of music, Gearing also passed on an appreciation for dance and sport.
“I taught warbling and waddling,” Gearing laughed as she described the chorus and physical education classes she taught.
A self-described tomboy, Gearing said she has always enjoyed sports.
“My life has always revolved around sports,” Gearing said of her life before and after she was married to University of Tennessee football player and famed Jacksboro High School football coach Paul Gearing.
“He was the best friend I ever had,” Gearing said of her late husband.
Now several years into her retirement Gearing shows no signs of slowing down.
These days her jam packed schedule is filled with walking, line dancing, collecting tickets at Campbell County High School football and basketball games and even the occasional substitute teaching gig.
Gearing’s zest and enthusiasm make it easy to see that her life will continue to have an impact on students far into the future.
“She is one of the most positive people I have ever met. Whatever challenges have come her way, she has handled them with dignity and with a smile on her face,” Freeman recalled.
According to Freeman, several former chorus members who sang under the direction of Gearing have expressed an interest in organizing a reunion chorus. The group would rehearse some of the favorites of high school chorus days a few times and give a concert in her honor.
Former students interested singing some of the old favorites, may contact at 562-0816 or 566-4429 for more information. An organizational meeting will be held to determine a time and location for rehearsals.