Storyteller Danny Stock Leaves GDS after 15 Years

Photo by Olivia Brown.

On Oct. 6, storyteller and former second-grade teacher Danny Stock left GDS after his fifteenth year at the school.

Stock said he was leaving GDS to explore “personal and professional growth at the intersection of teaching, learning, storytelling and creative expression.”

At GDS, Stock created posts for the GDS website and social media and wrote for the magazine and newsletters. He also organized picture-day photos and general photography for the school and made videos with the Hopper mascot, admissions videos and more. Before taking on his role as storyteller in 2018, Stock was a second-grade teacher for ten years.

When teaching second grade, Stock’s classroom was in the basement of the MacArthur Boulevard campus. It was in that basement that he first began taking photos of his students out of a fear that no one else in the community would know what the second-graders were doing because the classrooms were isolated from the rest of the building.

Despite the isolation, Stock explained that he “came to love the fact that it was all second grade all the time down there, and it was its own ecosystem of teaching and learning second grade.”

One of his proudest contributions to the lower school was his role in creating the Identity Project. In the project, students learn about different aspects of their identities by interviewing family and friends, drawing and bringing in any objects or artifacts that represent themselves. He created it “as a way to teach kids essential academic skills through the lens of the thing that they know best in the world, and the thing they should know best about, which is themselves.” He added that he hoped it would help them “develop respect for each other.”

History teacher and cross-country coach Anthony Belber said he appreciated how Stock interacted with his students, two of whom were Belber’s children. “I always appreciated the care he showed towards them and that he took the time to get to know them as individuals,” Belber said.

Using the training he got from taking photos of his classes, Stock transitioned from teaching to the job of storyteller in 2018. 

According to Stock, the job had existed for only four years before he stepped into the role. He said the role was “fairly dormant, and mostly invisible at least to me and my colleagues.” When he applied, he came into it with the intention to create a more comprehensive record of the community.

Stock said his job was to tell “the stories of teaching, learning, creating, performing, competing and community life.”

In his position, he interacted with many students of all grade levels. Whether he was visiting classrooms or documenting events, multiple students said that he always made sure to acknowledge them. Stock said that although he missed the deeper connections he had with his second-graders, as storyteller he appreciated getting to know more students. 

Senior Clara Wartell, who was in Stock’s second-grade class, said she had always seen him around the building in middle and high school. “He’s been through my schooling experience,” she said. 

Wartell added that whenever she sees a photo of herself posted on the website or Instagram, the first thing she thinks of is that “Danny Stock was there that day to take my picture,” she said. “He’s very involved in the school. People really recognize him for that.”

Sophomore Lina Colla was also in one of Stock’s second-grade classes. “He never forgets a face, which is really nice,” she said. “He’s still interested in my life, even though he doesn’t teach me anymore.”

Director of Student Community Programming and high school science teacher Bobby Asher emphasized Stock’s positive attitude, saying that he would always “figure out how to say yes” to any task given to him.

Of all the projects he created as storyteller, Stock said he is proudest of his first admissions video. With a voiceover by two students and “cheeky” sarcasm, he thinks it embodies a quote from GDS’s third Head of School, Gladys Stern: “The work of GDS is serious, but we do not take ourselves too seriously.”

Making sure that his work was never too serious was important to Stock, and he said that “wackiness and ridiculousness” were a good way for the videos he made to resonate with the community.

After leaving, Stock will still remain a part of the GDS community as a parent with two children attending the lower school.

“I’ve been here so long that you love and appreciate the people who just give to the community,” Asher said. “They make the whole community a better place, and then he’s one of the people who just gives his entire self to this community.”