Teacher Appreciation: Liz Gross, Jackson Heights

Glens Falls City School District recognizes national Teacher Appreciation Week by highlighting committed and enthusiastic teachers from every one of our schools each day of the week! Read on for an inside interview with Liz Gross—one of the most dynamic teachers around our district.

group of students around a teacher smiling

Liz Gross graduated from dear old Glens Falls High School! For her undergraduate education degree, she attended SUNY Cortland, and then went on to Brooklyn College for her masters in early childhood education. This is her 22nd year teaching — her 6th year in Glens Falls. She began her teaching career in Cary, North Carolina, then spent a year in the South Bronx, and then the majority of her career in Brooklyn, NY. Prior to teaching third grade at Jackson Heights, she was an Intervention (RTI) Teaching Assistant at Big Cross for two years.

What makes your teaching and learning environment unique?
I have found that if I want my students to be engaged, they have to want to be engaged. I use a variety of techniques. I tell lots of stories. The kids tell me stories and tell me jokes. I listen to them. Children have a lot of important pieces of information to share. It is important to slow down and listen to them. I have created great relationships with my students. I also rely on humor. I hold high expectations for everyone. There is a lot of movement in the classroom. While everyone has an assigned seat, the students often get to pick a place around the room that best suits them for their work. Some children are lying on the carpet, some sitting on cushions, and some are at their desks. I also think it is important that the classroom be our room, not my room. We are a third grade family.

teacher working with two students in a classroom
Liz Gross teaches third grade at Jackson Heights Elementary school

What’s the best thing about GF Nation?
There are so many amazing things about GF Nation, it is difficult to pick just one. I grew up here, came back to raise my family here, and get to teach here. One of the best things about GF Nation is the feeling of togetherness that exists. Whether it is at a sporting event, a concert, or any school activity, the school community comes together and supports one another.

Describe your best lesson ever, or one you and students really enjoy.
Something the students and I enjoy daily is read aloud. I pick some really amazing chapter books that introduce the children to new authors, important ideas, and great stories. Through read aloud I am sneaking in some reading instruction without the students realizing it. The best part about read aloud is I typically end on a cliff hanger and the class never wants it to end there. We just started Escaping the Giant Wave. While reading, I ask the children to visualize what is happening in the story. We talk about the traits the characters exhibit. We make connections between that book and other items we have read. 

I don’t have one favorite unit that I teach. I enjoy everything; however, one huge third grade math concept that is exciting to watch the children grasp are the strategies to help them figure out multiplication facts.

Why do you think it’s important to teach the way you do?
I think it is important for me to teach the way I do because I make the children feel important. I give the students praise and encouragement when they are working hard on a difficult concept. I use their work to show examples of a concept we have been working on. I want the students to feel needed and to see that our classroom needs each one of us.