Longtime Gwinnett teacher and ‘heart of the school’ dies at 59

Geri Flanary with, from left, her nephew Cael Flanary, niece Harper Flanary and nephew Blake Flanary. 
Source: Hurst-Scott Funeral Home
Geri Flanary with, from left, her nephew Cael Flanary, niece Harper Flanary and nephew Blake Flanary. Source: Hurst-Scott Funeral Home

Geri Flanary, who taught for 24 years at Duluth High School and served in several leadership roles on campus, died Friday at age 59 after a brief illness.

Flanary taught Advanced Placement world history and chaired the social studies department at Duluth High. She was best known for spearheading the school’s Care Team for students in financial crisis, providing everything from toiletries, backpacks, pantry staples, and holiday meals to eyeglasses to prom dresses.

“She was like a one-person benevolence ministry,” Principal Eric Davidson said. “She was, to a large degree, the heart of the school.”

ExploreMore stories about Gwinnett County Public Schools

Under Flanary, the Care Team ramped up over the past year as the coronavirus pandemic destabilized families economically, Davidson said. More than half of the 2,600 students at Duluth High come from families with low enough incomes to qualify for subsidized school meals, according to state data.

Flanary also managed the school’s Advancement Placement program and ran American Red Cross blood drives on campus for years, Davidson said.

She was the Gwinnett County Public Schools teacher of the year in 2003 and won districtwide Student Teacher Achievement Recognition awards in 2007 and 2015. The Georgia Council for the Social Studies four years ago gave her the Gwen Hutcheson Outstanding Educator Award. Flanary also won the Rochelle Olifson Teacher of Impact Award from the University of Southern California.

“We have 180 teachers here, and you could ask any of them and they would be able to tell you something they learned from Geri,” Davidson said.

Over the years, many students credited Flanary with mentoring them and helping them get into prestigious universities.

The school is providing in-person and digital counseling services for students, and planning a celebration of life service for next week.

Geri Flanary. Source: Hurst-Scott Funeral Home
Geri Flanary. Source: Hurst-Scott Funeral Home

Credit: Hurst-Scott Funeral Home

Credit: Hurst-Scott Funeral Home

Teachers say Flanary would have wanted them to continue celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week, which began Monday.

“There’s a lot of emotion but there’s a lot of positive memories, and we want to keep it that way,” Davidson said.

Flanary was born and raised in Richlands, Virginia. She earned bachelor’s degrees from Longwood College and Virginia Commonwealth University, a master’s in education from Georgia State University and an education specialist degree from Piedmont College.

She lived in Lawrenceville and is survived by her partner, Jim Mullins, stepdaughter Emily Mullins, two brothers and their families.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that checks in Flanary’s honor be sent to the Duluth High School Care Team, 3737 Brock Road, Duluth, GA 30096, attention Ciji Thomas.

A graveside service will be held Tuesday morning in Virginia. Hurst-Scott Funeral Home in Richlands, Virginia is in charge of arrangements.

ExploreRead and sign the online guestbook for Geri Flanary

In Other News