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Honoring Greenbriar Greatness-50 for Julia

Honoring Greenbriar Greatness-50 for Julia

Greenbriar Elementary has been serving children on the Northside of Indianapolis since 1968. Since opening its doors, generations of Grizzlies have enjoyed the close-knit family feel of the school and have been changed by the incredible educators who have graced its halls. Brian Akins, an alum who attended Greenbriar in the mid ‘70s, remembers the school being a “kid heaven” and used to accidentally call his favorite teacher “mom.” Akins fondly recalls the last day of school being “magical” as all of the neighborhood kids would ride their bikes to the Noble Roman’s on 86th and Ditch and celebrate the coming of summer.

Alumnus and Donor, Brian Akins, posing with his Greenbriar “Mom.”

As Akins graduated from elementary school and headed to Northview, a young teacher walked into Greenbriar, with her Grizzly teddy bear in hand, who would leave a lasting impact on the community—Ms. Julia Roberts. Julia enriched the lives of families, students, and colleagues at Greenbriar for thirty-four years. Her students describe her as “kind,” “full of fun,” and “devoted.” One student, with a huge smile on her face, says of Ms. Roberts, “She would let us have fun…but not too much fun, otherwise we would forget we were in school.” Amber Jackson, who now teaches for the township, had Ms. Roberts as her Kindergarten teacher and recalls, “You could just feel the time, energy, and love that she put into her classroom and students. I have so many vivid memories, thirty-three years later, of being in her classroom. I will be forever grateful for the kind of teacher she was.” Kathy Loggan, parent of two children who had Ms. Roberts, credits Julia for her children’ work ethic and teaching them that “failures are an opportunity for growth.” Kathy also fondly remembers that Julia filled her classroom with frog figurines because of her love for The Frog and Toad book series, and her children were always excited to help her add to her collection.  Ms. Roberts’s love of Greenbriar was not only experienced by her students, parents, and co-workers, but her family as well. Her daughters, Erica and Erin, say that their mother was never able to truly “leave Greenbriar” when she came home at night. Her love of her students and passion for their education spilled over into all avenues of her life.

Ms. Julia Roberts and her Greenbriar students

On the final day of school last spring, the Greenbriar family unexpectedly lost this pillar of their community. As stories of love and loss came pouring in, Greenbriar principal, Tim Blom, wondered what he could do to honor Julia and the impact she had on the lives of so many. With these intentions in mind, he created the “50 for Julia” campaign, a 50-day challenge to raise funds to create the “Julia Roberts Summer Opportunity Scholarship Fund.” This fund will provide resources for Greenbriar students to have summer enrichment opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford. At the end of the 50 days, if the campaign has been a success, Mr. Blom will strap Ms. Roberts’s grizzly teddy bear to his back and hike the 50 kilometers from his home in Fishers to Greenbriar Elementary.  In addition to the hike being a capstone for the “50 for Julia” Challenge, Mr. Blom has also partnered with Greenbriar teachers to challenge every student in the building to create a goal in one area in which they want to grow over the 50 days, ranging anywhere from academics to health. The celebration at the end of the 50 days will honor Ms. Roberts’s legacy, her embodiment of Grizzly greatness, and carry her spirit of love and dedication into the future. If you would like to join donors like Brian Akins, Kathy Loggan , and others in the “Julia Roberts Summer Opportunity Scholarship Fund” to put summer enrichment opportunities within reach for kids who need it the most, please visit https://50ForJulia.givesmart.com to make a donation.