Meet Liz Spratley!

Danny Stock

As part of our ongoing series, Meet out GDS Faculty and Staff, we are excited to present: Meet Liz Spratley!

Read the Q&A below to learn more about Liz, one of the GDS 4th grade homeroom teachers.

Years at GDS?
Four, going on five.

What you love about GDS:
I remember the first time I came to GDS and as I walked through the halls, I saw groups of first grade students working together, independently along the hallway. Supplies scattered the carpet and each small group was actively collaborating on their task. I couldn't tell what the project or product was supposed to be at the time because each group was making it their own. I love GDS because these moments aren't just saved for Friday afternoons or right before Spring Break. They occur every day and are encouraged by passionate, driven, growth-minded educators. I love my colleagues, who are thought partners, sharing knowledge, experiences, and lessons openly all in support of our students.

Why you teach/do your job:
Teaching is my purpose and my passion. Every year I welcome a new group of students and spend the year as a detective—learning to understand who they are, how they think, what they love, how to support them, how they react to my teaching style...my learning never stops. I can teach the same lesson each year and it is never the same because my students help guide the discussions and the process. Teaching inspires my creativity, and, even in moments where I feel overwhelmed or as if I am failing, my students keep me moving forward.

A favorite lesson to teach or favorite part of your job:
My favorite project in 4th grade is probably the ancient time travel journals. Throughout the year, students learn about ancient cultures and write journal entries imagining what it would be like to travel to the places and time periods. They compile each journal entry into a hardcover book that they illustrate. I love this project because it allows students to demonstrate their knowledge in a creative way and is also a sort of time capsule of writing through the year. They can see how they develop as writers as the year progresses and have a keepsake they can look back on.

Other GDS activities or roles the GDS community may not know about?

  • Member of the LS Curriculum Coordinators team

  • Led GDS 360 Running Club

  • Completed SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) in 2020-21

  • Member of a cross-divisional working group led by the counselors and Director of Student Life and Wellness Bobby Asher focused on anti-racist practices at GDS

  • Liz began her GDS teaching career in 1st grade

Your teaching or work style in three words or phrases:
a pinch of structure, a dash of creativity, and a sprinkle of humor

A top hope/wish for your students and/or colleagues:
I hope my students feel seen, heard, and valued. I hope they know I will never stop trying to be better for them.

Personal passions/hobbies/pastimes
I love to run (especially with my dad). I enjoy drawing, reading, and wish I kept up with yoga more consistently. Singing and acting are hobbies I miss and hope to be involved in again someday soon.

Various favorites…?
My favorite musical is Wicked (also a great book!) I love everything by the Indigo Girls.

Something you made, created, accomplished you can proudly share?
Photos from the (pre-pandemic) GDS Running Club and the 4th grade trip to Camp Letts!

Family and/or pets?
My husband, Cotter, and I added a puppy and a kitten to our home this year. Nipsey is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and she is a great running partner. Bruce is a short-haired tabby cat, and he's great at running away from Nipsey.

One thing about yourself your students/colleagues/others probably don't know...
In 2017, I acted in Rockville Theater's production of Almost, Maine. It was my epic return to the stage after college. I love acting and singing.

One thing on your life "bucket list" you've already accomplished:
We bought a house last year!

One thing on your life “bucket list” you have yet to accomplish:
Running a marathon

With a tip from Liz, we reached out to get a testimonial from a colleague. Here’s what they said:
From 4th grade teacher Payal Sangani:

There are just too many things to say about the wonderful Liz! Liz is a phenomenal teacher, colleague, and friend. She brings so much love and care into every interaction and lesson with her students. She spent countless hours reorganizing and reimagining the fourth grade Humanities curriculum with the GDS mission and our students in mind. When she walks down the hallway, you often hear a chorus of "LIZ!" as her former students and Running Club participants are her biggest fans. It is truly a testament to how Liz makes her students feel seen and cared for. As a colleague, she always makes time to listen, collaborate, and share. She has such a witty sense of humor and keeps us laughing and motivated, no matter the circumstance. We are so lucky to have Liz in our GDS community.

Chair of counseling services Meryl Heyliger: 

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Liz for the past four years from my positions as a colleague, a GDS parent, and friend. She is truly a gift! Liz has a great sense of humor, and is caring, insightful, and fun. Emil '29 said that he loved having her for 1st and 4th grades. She gives so much to her students and their families and seems to have an endless amount of positive energy, even when things are challenging. I’m a definite fan!

A little acrostic from Meryl about Liz
L - lively and loving
I - insightful and interesting
Z - zest for life