Meet Elvina Tong!

Danny Stock

As part of our ongoing series Meet Our GDS Faculty and Staff, we are excited to present: Meet Elvina Tong!

Read the Q&A below to learn more about Elvina.

Primary Role: Web Manager 
Pronouns: she/her
Years at GDS: Two years down and four months into a new role 
 

Elvina with her family at GDS Art All Night, September 2022. Credit: Joyce DePass

What do you love about GDS? 
I’ve always been drawn to the GDS philosophy and I love the community.

Why do you do your job? 
I was a teacher for 18 years, spanning kindergarten through eighth grade, from homeroom to educational technology and robotics to broadcast journalism. I felt it was time for a change and came across (my current) role in Communications at GDS. It’s been a growth opportunity, and I am also gaining a different perspective on our School. I feel I can use my prior experiences, while stretching myself, to learn new things in support of the broader Advancement Team goals.

A favorite lesson to teach? 
One of my favorite lessons from when I was a classroom teacher was acquired from an amazing professor I had in graduate school. It is literacy-focused, can be taught to any grade, and uses Where the Wild Things Are as a primary text. 

A favorite part of your job? 
My colleagues, of course!

Your work style in three words? 
Detailed. Efficient. Humorous

Other GDS activities or roles that community members may not know about? 
I started at GDS during the pandemic as LMS Innovation & Computer Science Teacher and a 5th grade advisor .

A top hope/wish for your students and/or colleagues? 
As I mentioned, I love the GDS philosophy, even though it can sometimes sound idealistic or lofty. My wish for the GDS community is to live that philosophy, no matter how idealistic!

This was a visit to my hometown of NYC, when we decided to move to the U.S. after living overseas. We would move to the DC area a few months after this photo was taken.

Personal passions/hobbies/pastimes? 
I love seeing ballet or modern dance live. It’s been a long time since I’ve been because of having young children and a pandemic.

Something you made/created/invented/published/etc. that you are proud to share? 
I am proud of my role in expanding innovation in the Middle School curriculum by developing Hopper Studio and Hopper Quest with my colleague, Elvin Peprah. One program teaches maker and innovation skills, and the other allows students time to independently pursue topics related to their interests.

A few favorites…? 

Favorite band: U2 (so many concerts, I've lost count)
Favorite foods: sushi, dark chocolate, and ice cream
Favorite movie(s): The Princess Bride, Office Space
Favorite countries I’ve traveled to: Scandanavian region, Japan, France, Nepal

Tell us about your family and/or pet(s). 
My husband, Glen, is also an educator and just moved over to teach at GDS this school year (HS math). Our daughter, Amelia, is 7, and our son, Myles, is 4. Our doodle, Murray, is 10 years old. I’m an only child and my parents, while not in the DC area, visit us often. Everyone in our family was born in a different place (country, state, or city).
 

Elvina at the Great Wall of China with Murray.

One thing about yourself your students/colleagues/others probably don't know? 
I have been to every continent except Antarctica (so far!), and I taught overseas for eight years.

One thing on your life "bucket list" you've already accomplished? 
I don’t really subscribe to keeping a “bucket list” sitting around. When I want to do something, I’ll just do it. For example, I spent the first 21 years of my life in the same place, New York City. I wanted to push out of my comfort zone, so I began to go on travels alone. I bought a copy of 1000 Places to See Before You Die and started checking off places. This led me to seek teaching positions at international schools, which led me to meet my now husband and travel all over the world. For me, travel alone checks off so many things people would consider “bucket list” items. I guess my idea of a bucket list is to just live life the way I wanted to. I’ve met interesting people, who I’m still friends with to this day. I’ve taken countless photographs and tried amazing foods. I don’t have any regrets. 

One thing on your life “bucket list” you have yet to accomplish? 
Although I don’t believe in a “bucket list,” my retirement dream has always been to continue traveling, while also owning a bookstore with a cafe inspired by the places I visit.

With a tip from Elvina, we reached out to hear what a colleague had to say…
Fifth grade teacher Bryan Williams said, “Since the moment Elvina joined the GDS community she immediately became one of the most valuable members of our team. Her flexibility, enthusiasm, knowledge, and support helped us all navigate a difficult two-plus years during the covid pandemic. It has been a pleasure working with her as a colleague and getting to know her as a friend. Even though she is not officially working with the 5th grade anymore, she will forever be a part of our team." 

What I remember the most about living in and traveling around Asia - stunning architecture, color, chaos, construction. This was taken in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Denmark and Sweden were organized, clean, and calm. It was so soothing to my personality!


 

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