Angela Hill features Alice Geoffray in "Quiet Heroes" news video, 1987
In 1972 when the doors closed at the Adult Education Center we knew our mom’s life would change but did not know how. The day of the closing, would this be the day the music died for her? No…it may have slowed her down for a bit but she quickly got back to business making a difference in other people’s lives as she embarked on other journeys—as State Coordinator of Career Education, as a graduate student earning her Ph.D., as an author of several textbooks used throughout Louisiana public schools, and as a leader of the vo-tech movement to name a few. In 1987, fifteen years after the AEC closing, WWL’s Angela Hill began a special series featuring Quiet Heroes. Another first for Alice Geoffray—as not only was this a new segment for New Orleans viewers—but she was the first person to be showcased. Angela Hill recognized her expansive career including her seven years at the AEC. As the camera focuses on newspaper articles and pictures from those years, you can spot some of the 431 students and a few of the school’s biggest supporters—Mr. James Coleman, Mayor Victor Schiro, Mayor “Dutch” Morial and Senator Fred Harris. From my recollection, this segment was aired on Mardi Gras day and widely viewed as people were off from work that day. Watching again, I loved seeing her poster “Learning Never Ends”, her describing her teaching philosophy, and her typing on the IBM Selectric typewriter as a pianist would play the piano. Enjoy the short video!
Alice Geoffray: I’ve just learned over the years that if you take it one step at a time you can get it done better.
Angela Hill: These three people have something in common. They do good things for others because they feel they can help and in their own special way they have already made an impact. Meet New Orleans Quiet Heroes. Tomorrow 6 and 10 on Channel 4’s Eyewitness News.
It has been said that success is not a destination, it’s a journey and Dr. Alice Geoffray has helped many put many people on that road. She is the first in our special series on Quiet Heroes.
Dr. Alice Geoffray is now director of special programs for the Orleans Parish School System. She coordinates all elective subjects, all vo-tech classes, all special cultural events. But Alice Geoffray’s career, her life, has been teaching students the importance of having a dream then showing them how to make that dream come true. She is the mother of career education in Louisiana.
Alice: You can just imagine when you see people get a job and see them succeed at a job and see them get better financially from a job it’s a joyous feeling to think that I had a little part in this.
Angela: Thousands of students have been touched by the works of Dr. Geoffray both in her concepts of vocational education and her philosophy of a total education.
Alice: Why can’t a plumber appreciate Shakespeare you know and why can’t a college professor be able to do electrical work? You know, why do we think that you either have to do one or the other?
Angela: What makes Alice Geoffray an amazing person is not only what she’s accomplished but how she did it. After marrying, having seven children, she suddenly became a single parent and worked three jobs while raising her family.
Alice: I went to Catholic Schools with the Dominican Sisters and you never dwelt on how hard your life was. You know you just did what you had to do and you offered it up to the Lord and it made everything seem easier.
Angela: So at age 46 she got her Master’s Degree and at age 54 her Ph.D. and in between spent 13 years teaching business education then 7 years directing the first adult education school in the city, a school which graduated 431 welfare women.
Alice: They were women who just never had a chance because when they were growing up and going through high school there was no hope of them ever getting a secretarial job.
Angela: The school’s success caused headlines on the Wall Street Journal and an invitation to Dr. Geoffray and three of her students to testify before a Congressional committee on Human Resources.
Alice: It was the kind of project I think that just caught people’s imagination.
Angela: It was the turning point in her career. When it closed she worked for the State for two years coordinating the direction career education was to take and writing five books that are now used in all of Louisiana Public Schools.
But today the drive to help students find direction in their lives has not diminished. A leader in the vo-tech movement, Alice Geoffray has just hit her stride. But her motivation remains the same.
Alice: That something I did made a difference in other people’s lives, that’s important to me.
Angela: This is Angela Hill.
Garland Robinette: What an inspiration.
Angela: Yes she is.