A Retired Teacher’s Memories

Nancy Teague's Mustang

Written by Mrs. Nancy Teague

Dr. Larry Sorohan was my advisor in the School of Education at UNCG and he encouraged me to apply at this new school that was being opened in Greensboro for which he was on the Board of Directors. I admired him greatly so I did what he suggested, and the rest is history, as they say. I was hired to be the 2nd grade teacher for the opening year of the school in 1970, my first teaching job. While the school was being built on the north side of town on Lawndale Drive, it wasn’t completed, so we spent that first semester at Temple Emanuel. I had 7 students – 5 boys and 2 girls. Ted Welles, who was the first Headmaster, let me know that we had to increase enrollment or they couldn’t afford me (or any of the other teachers for that matter) even though my salary was somewhere in the range of $7,000 for the year! (That obviously went further then than it would now!)

My now infamous story from that first year is this: We didn’t have a library at Temple Emanuel but were only a few blocks from the Greensboro Public Library’s main branch downtown. I knew the value of kids choosing books for themselves to read so I piled all 7 kids (5 in the back seat and 2 in the front passenger bucket seat) into my new 1970 Mustang, and drove them downtown to the library. Will Griswold ’81 tells me that they fought over who got to ride in the front next to the gear shift because I would let them change it. Can you imagine doing such a thing these days? There certainly weren’t enough seat belts for everyone!

The second year of the school I had 15 second graders in the new building on Lawndale Drive. I particularly remember Jo Ellen Stewart, the experienced 1st grade teacher, who was so very helpful to this still new teacher. I also remember working hard to keep these kids challenged and engaged. I didn’t return to GDS the following year, choosing instead to finish my master’s degree at UNCG, and then continued my teaching career in Alamance County Schools.

In 1976, Tommy and I married and I became the step-mom to three GDS students, Lee, Heather, and Jason. Then we added our David to the mix and he entered kindergarten the year after Lee graduated. Jim Hendrix called Tommy a “recycled Dad.” When David was in 1st grade, Sue Mengert offered me a job as assistant to their new conceptual math program, DMP, for 10 hours a week, $100/week. I hadn’t planned to go back to teaching, but realized that I needed to get back to working with kids which I loved to do. Jim Hendrix said that obviously I wasn’t doing this for the money!

Over the years of being in classrooms with the master teachers at GDS and being immersed in the math program, I had a unique perspective on the total program, K-6. My role as an assistant morphed into the role that I kept for many years, that of Lower School Math Specialist (which also included working with 6th grade in the Middle School). It was the best of teaching jobs! And it led to being involved in the math education world outside Greensboro Day School. In the early 1990’s, 6th grade math teacher Carol Williams and I were chosen to participate in a statewide professional development project called Teaching Excellence and Mathematics (TEAM), which led to our doing workshops with K-8 teachers all over the state. We started a yearly math retreat that we called NCAIS TEAM for teachers in independent schools across North Carolina. We did presentations around curriculum and instruction that focused on students learning to understand the mathematics and not just memorizing facts and procedures. Greensboro Day School became known for its effective, progressive math program.

At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, it was time to retire. But Greensboro Day School is not a place that you can easily leave. I’m still involved with some consulting with teachers around the math program, have done some workshops with LS teachers, and am doing some curriculum writing for the Lower School to keep the power of the math teaching alive as the school grows and changes. Greensboro Day School has been a major part of my life and will always hold a special place in my heart.

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