Liz Haff joined us this year after a 25-year teaching career in Maryland, where she also served on several committees focused on parent family connection and student relationships. In addition to her wealth of experience, Liz's academic résumé includes a Montessori teaching credential in Early Childhood (2 1/2 to 6 years old), a Master of Science in curriculum instruction from Western Maryland College, and a bachelor's degree from State University of New York at Binghamton.
Liz partners with Shyla Butler in our Primary 2 classroom. While 2022 may be her first year at GMS, Liz already feels like family. Her warmth and intentionality shine through our interview for this Faculty Spotlight.
GMS: How did you learn about Greensboro Montessori School?
LH: Last school year, I knew I was looking to return to Montessori education. I also found the city of Greensboro which seemed to be everything I was looking for in a place to live. I asked myself: “I wonder if there is a Montessori school in Greensboro, so I typed Greensboro Montessori School into my Google search, and there you were!
GMS: We wish we we could thank our SEO strategy for that perfect Google result, but you guessed our School's name on the first try! What made you choose to join our School?
LH: Greensboro Montessori School basically swept me off my feet. I discerned it to be a heart first school, and one in which I very much want to be a part of now.
GMS: We're so happy you're here. You’ve spent the last several years teaching elementary students, yet you've chosen to join our Primary team. What do you love about Primary-age students?
LH: So much. Mostly it’s the openness that I most love about this age. Every time I meet and become friends with people in the age group of 3-6 especially, I feel as if I am communicating with people who are awake: interested in learning, curious about the world, and in love with life.
GMS: You just reminded anyone who knows a 3- to 6-year-old how magical this age truly is. Now that we know why the age group inspires you, what is it about Montessori that you love?
LH: Choice, for sure. I am sort of obsessed with choice. It is such a wonderful experience for humans to choose what to read, think, touch, see……. It is our ability to choose that helps define us and create us. I believe in providing choice to students and watching how they respond.
GMS: What are you excited to learn from your students, and what are you excited to bring to them?
LH: I am looking forward to getting to know a new group of people: their likes and dislikes, what makes them laugh, and how I might help them better navigate their world. I will bring respect to them: for how they see the world, and how I might help them learn from it.
GMS: It's hard to change topics after that answer, and we have to know: did anyone else move with you from Maryland?
LH: My husband Tom and our dog Darby (pictures below) moved to Greensboro with me. It has been a great adventure already as we explore the Greenways together, and the little eateries.
GMS: Do you have your own children?
LH: I do! Yay! I have three Montessori children! They are all adults now pursuing their passions in the world. Jim lives in Atlanta and is a martial arts instructor and a musician who performs every weekend in Macon, Georgia! Andrew is my second born son who is a middle school history teacher who teaches in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a Fulbright scholar who taught in Vietnam for a while. He loves harping and singing as hobbies when he is not teaching. My daughter Caitlin is an attorney who attended NYU in New York City. We are great friends and our favorite thing to do is laugh together and be silly.
GMS: We can't wait to meet them! Now, it's your turn to tell us more about you. What are your hobbies?
LH: I love writing, I blog regularly. I love laughing. I have enjoyed singing since I was very young, and I have been a member of many singing groups. Darby and I love to walk the greenways and admire the trees of Greensboro.
GMS: I overheard our director lower school, Missy McClure, mention a faculty and staff talent show recently. Maybe we could all hear you sing one day. In the meantime, it’s a Friday afternoon, and you need a pick-me-up. Do you reach for a salty snack or a sweet treat?
Sweet and salty treats are awesome. I also adore peaches and olives.
GMS: Of all the places you’ve traveled to, what is your favorite destination and why?
LH: My most favorite place is the beach, and Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina in particular. I used to love riding the waves over and over again. Now I love to take my chair down to the water’s edge and dream my dreams.
GMS: If you could travel anywhere you’ve never been before, where would it be and why?
LH: I would like to go to all the toy stores in the world, especially ones where a lot of the toys are out to touch and not wrapped up in plastic.
I also want to see Lake Superior with my daughter-in-law Katherine. I love wild natural places, with hopes of seeing wild animals.
GMS: Okay, so the next toy store you have visit is Toys & Co. in Greensboro. We think you'll have tons of fun. Speaking of fun, what is one fun fact about you that we wouldn’t learn about you without asking?
LH: I have a twin brother whom many people call Uncle Jim. I adore him, and he makes me laugh more than anyone in the world. He wrote a play and it had a debut in New York City for a week! When we were in high school we performed in "Mame." I was Mame and he was my nephew, Patrick. That experience was Awesome!!!!!
GMS: Other than Dr. Maria Montessori, who would you like to meet from history and why?
LH: I would love to meet Frederick Douglass because I am so inspired that he taught himself to read when he was young. I am impressed by Great Ideas and anyone who can express themselves in writing well!
GMS: We have adored this interview. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
LH: I am very happy to be a part of Greensboro Montessori School. Everyone I have met is encouraging, kind and joyful. I know this is where I am meant to be.
GMS: In concluding out interview, we realize we didn't ask you about your extensive volunteer work. We know how humble you are, so we're going to share for you. While working in Maryland, you supported both your local community and those from afar. You raised $1,500 for tsunami relief for people in Indonesia in 2018, and during the height of pandemic, you and Tom assembled 100 care kits filled with toys to help children experiencing trauma. (We used the picture you shared with us from this work as you blog's header image.)Thank you for your caring and generous spirit.