Written by Valerie Vickers, 1982-2007

For me, science teaching and learning are best explored experientially. This philosophy was the cornerstone of my teaching over 25 years in the Middle School. My classes were multi-faceted with hands-on experiments, science projects and outdoor experiences that involved nature trails, butterfly and permaculture gardens.  Eventually technology played a large role as we compared rainfall studies in different parts of the US and did biodiversity studies on our own campus, including building our own GIS map. Community service like the Winter Walk for AIDS, building a structure for children with special needs at a nearby park and cross-curricular units such as our 7th Grade Population Unit brought the larger community into our classroom. Working with Guilford Soil and Water Conservation gave students the opportunity to hone skills in public speaking, art, and cooperative learning on Envirothon teams. I hope students remember the recycling programs and problem-solving we did as we proposed more sustainable solutions on our own campus. Our field trips to Umstead State Park, Morrow Mountain State Park, Camp Broadstone, Campbell’s Folk School and Green River Preserve are hopefully high points for many students who remember 6th and 7th Grade Science. These special experiences happened because of wonderful colleagues and a supportive administration.

Within the faculty, I was one of the catalysts for bringing a more sustainable vision to our school. The Student/Parent/Faculty Environmental Committee was established in 1989 and continued until 2007. Once a month, representatives from each division met to share ideas for making our campus more “green.”  Gardens, ponds and wild spaces were cultivated so that students could interact with nature. Ultimately, the Natural Learning Pond with boardwalks and an outbuilding were created with the help of NC State and NC A&T.  In addition, I also navigated a PhD program (supported financially in part by GDS) in Foundations of Education that culminated in a dissertation, Exploring Ecological Identity: Education to Restore the Human/Earth Relationship. I became involved in Greensboro Beautiful and the Advisory Committee for Sustainability for Greensboro.  I was fortunate to receive the Thomas Berry Award from the Greensboro Public Library in 2011 for my work.

Finally, I am also a parent of a son Hansen Grider who graduated in 2000. I am so appreciative of all his teachers, coaches and mentors who helped him grow in knowledge and wisdom for his future endeavors over the five years he attended GDS.

At GDS:
Junior Thespian
Honor Society
Headmaster’s List
Honor Board member
Thespian Award
Best Female Vocalist
Cum Laude

After GDS:
BS from Wake Forest University, 2004
Kappa Delta, Zeta Omicron Chapter President
Productions with Little Theatre in Winston Salem (Peter Pan, Chorus Line)
Master in Medical Science Wake Forest School of Medicine
PA degree from Wake Forest School of Medicine, 2010
James Franklin Wilson award, WF School of Medicine
NC Academy of PAs 2018, President
Avid Triathlete and Half-Marathoner

Most would remember Samantha’s time on the GDS stage, starting in middle school and growing in upper school to involvement in virtually every production as a lead character. That passion and love continued after graduation and included several musical productions at the Winston Salem Little Theatre including Peter Pan (role of Wendy), and Chorus Line (role of Judy.) It also included a small yet powerful production of Quilters at SECA. While not on the stage as of late, Samantha has pursued a career in Medicine at Wake Forest and has been a practicing PA in Internal Medicine, Section on Gerontology for the past 9 years. In that role she provides primary care for patients with all geriatric syndromes and has a very integral role in the Alzheimer’s Research Center. She has developed an expertise in the care of patients with dementia of all types and severity. In her spare time, she has led PAs at the state level, holding various leadership positions on the North Carolina Academy of PAs Board of Directors for the past 7 years including a recent 3 year Presidential term. Advocacy for the PA profession and patients is very important to her and has been a tremendous outlet for leadership growth and influence. When not engaged in professional ventures, Samantha loves working on her Triathlete goals and quest for the Half Ironman!

Written by Madame/Señora Kerensa Wooten

It has been a real struggle for me to decide what to include in a snapshot of wonderful memories about having had the true honor of teaching, learning, and working with such excellent students, families, faculty, staff, and friends at GDS. After many drafts of attempts, I have decided primarily to say thank you to all for the twenty years that I was gifted to work in the school teaching French and Spanish to 4th through 12th graders. As a retiree, I am beginning to discover the magnificent joys of such instances as having a parent say that while I did not teach her eldest child, she was happy to know that I was at the school looking after that student. Another moment I cherish is when an alumnus thanked me for a trip to Chile while he was passing through a foyer-full of current and past teachers and administrators on his way out of an alumni function. I especially enjoy moments when former students and current alumni are actually delighted to see me after one of their performances in a local theater, on campus, or in a grocery store, for they may not have been when they had to suffer through endless verb conjugations, the introduction to the subjunctive mood, or my stubborn insistence that they treat each other as human beings! iGracias a todos et merci beaucoup!

Written by Dr. Jane Gutsell, Upper School English Department, 1987 – 2012

In the fall of 1987, coming from a college teaching background, I naively assumed that teaching high school seniors would not be appreciatively different from college freshmen. My first seniors and I can look back and laugh now, but that first year was a little rough for all of us.  The willingness of the school’s administration, Ralph Davison and Bob Demaree most importantly, to give me time to find my way and the freedom to make my own way meant everything. It took a couple of years, but by then I was all in!  Greensboro Day School was the best thing that could have happened to me. And – teaching high school students for 24 years was and continues to be profoundly rewarding. I love hearing from so many of my former students and, best of all, seeing them at alumni events, such as the big one coming up in May to celebrate our school’s 50th Anniversary.

            Some of my favorite memories have to do with the personal, not to say idiosyncratic, touches I added to my regular syllabus. My second year I initiated the Yule Tree tradition, honoring the ancient European practice of celebrating the Winter Solstice. Right before December exams I set aside a day for a party to decorate the tree with ornaments depicting characters or scenes from the literature we had studied that semester.  Most popular were Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales and Hamlet, Grendel’s bloody arm and the dragon frequently graced the tree top! Over the years my bulletin boards became archaeological sites of saved ornaments, postcards, literary cartoons, and all kinds of memorabilia.

            In the spring, studying the Romantic poets, each section of AP Lit would use colored chalk to draw artistic illustrations of Coleridge’s mysterious and haunting “Kubla Khan.” Their pictorial depictions were very competitive with lots of clever and funny visual puns and double meanings. Even the students who claimed to have no artistic talent contributed good ideas.

            Also early on, having learned that seniors need extra R&R after college acceptances started rolling in, I established “Kindergarten Day,” when we could all regress to our kid-selves.  Students could come to class in “jammies” and bring stuffed animals or “blankies”. Sitting on the floor, they happily nibbled on Vanilla wafers, sipped from cartons of apple juice, and watched episodes of “The Muppet Show.” 

            At the front of my classroom stood a long table with tea cups, a variety of teas, and an electric kettle so that anyone wanting a nice, hot cup of tea before class began could have one. My room had a sofa and some chairs, some years a futon or two, and even a few old-fashioned bean bag chairs. Scattered about were my beloved stuffed animals – Benjy the Bengal Tiger, Roscoe the Gorilla, Molly the Moose, and many more. I loved my classroom. An ADHD kid’s nightmare I admit, but it was warm and cozy and relaxed – a virtually technology-free zone as well, where I hoped most of my students would feel unstressed and at home.

            In 1999 a new challenge came my way in the form of sophomores, an age group with which I had absolutely no experience. I wasn’t at all sure that I could even relate to them or adjust my teaching style to their needs. But I needed something new so I thought English 10 Advanced was worth a shot. And what fun those students were!  It was a wonderful growing experience for them and for me. I was able to try out new approaches to studying literature and could introduce completely different types of assessments. Their biggest project was a full-length, formal research paper on environmental issues such as endangered species or air or water pollution.  In addition to the paper, students had to make oral presentation of their findings. One young woman who had written on the degradation of the Amazon rain forest came to class dressed as a tree!  We hated saying goodbye at the end of the year, but then a year later as seniors they would come bursting into my room singing “Together again”! Good times.

            For many years Pat Horvath, Upper School Registrar, and I coordinated Senior Projects, one of the Day School’s most significant and successful programs. During those years, my favorite activity was going to see my senior advisees on-site at their individual projects. They were involved in such a great variety of experiences, from medical and legal to architecture and civil engineering to theater and art and so much more. Some seniors were approved for out-of-town projects and some even as far away as New York City and Panama. One year, while I was visiting my daughter at Columbia University, I actually did an on-site visit to the art gallery project in NYC. I have always considered this experiential education opportunity to be one of the most important benefits of being a Bengal!

            Wonderful memories too of co-coaching our High I. Q. and Quiz Bowl teams. It was fun traveling to competitions in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and at Duke, even as far as South Carolina. In 1994 and 2009 the teams brought home the coveted High I.Q. Championship trophy. What a treat to work with such enormously bright and talented young people!

            Talk about talent – I was fortunate in teaching the Creative Writing class for several years and in adding an Introduction to Philosophy elective to the department’s offering. Both of those relaxed workshop-style classes gave me an opportunity to experiment with non-traditional teaching methods. Yet another example of the freedom we teachers and our students enjoyed.

            Among my favorite and most challenging experiences was working with Linda Sloan and Ruthie Tutterow as the dramaturg/assistant director on many of our spring plays. I am proud to say that I talked Linda into undertaking her first ever Shakespeare play – the hilarious and transcendent A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After the success of that production, she and later Ruthie went on to Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, and the grand finale my last year before retiring, a Las Vegas version of A Comedy of Errors.  What a trip!  Some of the other productions I was gratified to help with were The Importance of Being Earnest, Tartuffe, The Cherry Orchard (Ruthie and I agree one of the most challenging of all), and a personal favorite Pride and Prejudice. The incredible talent of these young actors never ceased to amaze me. Being an integral part of GDS’ drama program was definitely one of the highlights of my life at GDS.

            The freedom to design my own curriculum within the overall expectations of the English Department’s program and particularly with regard to AP Literature and Composition was paramount to me. I could teach the literary works I loved and create assessments that suited my writing and critical thinking goals – never anyone else’s. My AP syllabus included works such as Gilgamesh, the oldest extant literary text in the world, and The Master and Margarita, a strange satire on Stalinist Russia – both very unusual readings for high school English classes, but my students loved them.

            When it came to technology, I was decidedly old school. My students were never allowed to use their laptops in class, and for a number of years they were required to write with FOUNTAIN PENS! Many of the students from those years remind me of their fountain pens with great fondness. They felt special. They were special. One of my young women even passed her pen down to her younger brother when he became a senior. 

            The freedom to be creative reached its height when the department instigated a program allowing a very select group of ninth-graders to enroll as sophomores in AP Language and Composition, which then placed them in AP Lit as juniors. The issue then became what this group of students would take as their fourth Upper School English requirement for graduation. That honor fell to me – and what an honor it was. I created a year-long study of the British Victorian period, my favorite academic field.  What a joy! The seminar-style course had a very demanding syllabus but also the fun of tea parties with scones and cucumber sandwiches and students learning to write thank you notes using dip pens and ink wells in flowery, 19th Century style.  My “Victorians,” as they liked to call themselves, dove enthusiastically into challenging works by such masters as Dickens, Tennyson, and Browning, but also important but seldom read authors such as Christina Rossetti and William Morris. We studied art and social culture and theater and philosophy.  We watched movies set in this period and went on a field trip to the UNCG Rare Book room.  It was as broad and as rewarding a course as I had ever been able to offer in any academic setting.

            If one were to ask my students about their favorite memories of my classes, I feel sure that many would say, “Northern Exposure”! I decided sometime around the turn of the century (how strange that sounds) to incorporate this award-winning television series as an example of contemporary culture.   “Northern Exposure,” heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell and especially Karl Jung, was deeply mythic and philosophical, full of literary references. Each episode usually contained three separate story lines. I would show a particular episode because its theme related to a reading we had just finished but without revealing its relevance. As homework, my students had to write an essay identifying the central theme uniting all subplots and the connection to the literary work and email it to me by the following day.  Some of the responses were brilliant!  I wish I had kept them all.  My students loved the characters and the universal themes – and the challenge of analyzing a TV show, of all things! Again, the Day School’s educational culture of trusting in its faculty to make good choices and create significant learning experiences made it possible for me to follow my occasionally oddball pedagogical instincts and preferences. 

            No stroll down memory lane would be complete without acknowledging the spirit of collegiality and friendship I found when I arrived that life-changing fall of 1987. The atmosphere of cooperation and support and sharing was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my previous educational environments. Many of those friendships are with me today and even cross divisional lines.  These wonderful men and women have celebrated with me when times were good and been there for me when they weren’t. We should all be so fortunate. They are the best! Thanks, GDS, for so many special memories.

Commemorating our 50th Anniversary, Mrs. Saake’s first graders set the goal of recognizing fifty acts of kindness in their classroom by November 1st—the 50th day of school. Whenever a student noticed a classmate doing something kind, they reported that act to their teacher and another link was added to their paper chain. The class was thrilled when their goal was met in just four weeks! They were so inspired that they have opted to keep going and reach a goal of 100 by the 100th day of school.

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.

At GDS:
National Honor Society
Math Club
Chemistry Club
Yearbook Editor
Cross Country

After GDS:
UNC Morehead Scholar
BS in Chemistry, UNC
MD, Duke University (Fullerton Scholarship)
Chief Resident, Vanderbilt University
Researched infectious diseases in Rwanda
Father of 3 daughters

Andy Alspaugh was a member of the first class at Greensboro Day School to complete the 1st through 12th grades. He has always embodied all three aspects of the school’s motto: Friendship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship. He has worked for Duke Medical School since 1996, combining clinical care with research and education in microbiology and infectious diseases. Andy has received numerous scholarships and awards for his work and research in infectious disease, has published research in numerous medical journals and textbooks, and served on the editorial board for three medical journals. He is a professor of the departments of medicine, molecular genetics, and microbiology at Duke. His specialties in infectious diseases has led to a career working with those with compromised immune systems, especially those with HIV/AIDS.

At GDS
Newspaper Editor
Literary Magazine Staff
National Honor Society

After GDS
BA (Cum Laude), Smith College
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, NYU
Assistant clinical professor, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Written and published 4 books
Mother of 3 children

Cynthia R. Green, Ph.D., a 1979 graduate of Greensboro Day School, is one of America’s foremost memory fitness and brain health experts. Cynthia is the founder and CEO of TBH Brands, LLC and Total Brain Health, a leading provider of cognitive fitness training programs and services. She is a recognized expert in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1996, Cynthia founded the Memory Enhancement Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. The success of this program led to the publication of her first book, Total Memory Workout: 8 Easy Steps to Maximum Memory Fitness. She has had numerous appearances on Good Morning America, 20/20 and Fox News; has been published in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Prevention, and Parenting, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

At GDS:
Founded first Operation Smile Club in NC
Head’s List every semester
Athlete of the Year (2 years)
Track Records: 4×100 relay, 4×200 relay, 4×400 relay
Homecoming Queen

After GDS:
BA in Economics, UNC
NC Statewide Humanitarian Award
Founded UNC’s first Operation Smile chapter
Founded FAIR CHANCE
Mother of 4 sons (married Alex Marshall ’93)

When Amanda Taylor Marshall ’93 graduated from Greensboro Day School, one of the most important things she took away with her was “giving back and getting involved.” And she has done just that. “There were many organizations that had strong leaders and addressed an important need, but were unable to make the most of grant money. They simply did not have the know-how, the guidance, or the human resources to grow and strengthen.” she says. That’s why she founded FAIR CHANCE in 2002.

FAIR CHANCE partners with small, community-led organizations working with families and children in Southeast Washington, DC. She provides them with the support necessary to strengthen their organizations so that they can better serve their clients. In short, they help organizations that do good, do well.