Written by Jane Gutsell
When I sat down recently with Libby Alspaugh and asked her to share what she considered most special about Greensboro Day School, she replied, “It was being able to provide our children –and then later our grandchildren – with the best possible education, which allowed them to broaden themselves not just academically but in many ways, knowing that they would go off to college well-prepared for every challenge.” One cannot be in conversation with Libby for long before the word “family” becomes the most important theme. So let us back up to the fall of 1971.
At the beginning of that school year, three Alspaugh children entered the Day School: Anne in the 6th grade, Elaine in the 4th, and Andy in the 1st. During that time Libby helped out on a volunteer basis with whatever needed to be done but primarily with the then all-school library, which was located where the Head of School’s office is now. Everything – all classes, the lunchroom, and library – were in that one building. Libby had earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and a teaching certificate in social studies from Greensboro College, but did not have any classes in library science. In the summer of 1973 her youngest Michael entered the Kindergarten program when acting headmaster Jack Wenrick called her and said, “Libby, our librarian has just resigned and school will open in a week. What should I do?” To which she replied, “Jack, don’t worry. I can open the library while you look for a permanent librarian.” All on her usual voluntary basis. Now all four of the children are there, and days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. “Jack,” she asked, “how is the search going?” “Well, we’re trying.” So fairly soon after that she took matters into her own hands and proposed that she come on as Lower and Middle School librarian permanently while taking classes at night and during the summer in order to get a Master’s in Library Science from UNC-G. It took three and half years to accomplish this, and Libby went on to be the Lower School librarian until she retired in 2003. Even then she continued to actively substitute for another 10 years! The best thing, she says, about subbing is that the lessons plan are already made and “no faculty meetings!”
In addition to her full-time position at school, Libby, at the instigation of Kathy Davis, took on coaching girls from 8 – 12 years of age for the Greensboro Youth Soccer League, all the way through coaching her granddaughter Savannah’s team. Many of her players were GDS students, and her teams achieved many state championships.
Libby was known fondly by teachers and students by another of her many roles, the ‘Tooth Fairy’. Countless alumni recall the number of teeth Libby pulled during her time in the lower school. If there was a tooth that needed some help, Libby knew just how to get it out!
During her long tenure at the Day School, Libby taught all four of her own children and four of her grandchildren. She has known so many children and children of children and their friends and families that she is always running into people she knows as a result of her connection with the school. Consequently, Greensboro Day School “has remained a wonderful constant in the lives of the Alspaugh family.” GDS is truly her family in unique and special ways.
Libby and her husband Jim made a trip to California to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They toured the wine district but truly enjoyed tracing the old missions down the coast. And that was 10 years ago! Today her main concentration has been following the careers of her children and the lives of their nine grandchildren. She has also been delving seriously into the genealogies of both her family and Jim’s so that the younger generation will have important knowledge of their family history. This effort has re-connected her with many cousins who are now also in the process of adding bits and pieces to the stories.
She volunteers a lot at her church, Westminster Presbyterian. Knowing how much she enjoys projects, they are always giving her plenty to do. She loves staying active, but after two busy careers, Jim and Libby are happy to be able to garden and read, while at the same time enjoying the more settled, quiet, lovely life they have now. “We have,” she says with pleasure and conviction, “been given the gift of time.”