Learning With Liu

Kelly Liu Joins Parker’s Upper School Math Department


As students are walking through the third-floor hallway of Parker’s Upper School, they will notice that room 381 has a new smiling face inside. Joining the Upper School community this year, Upper School Math Teacher Kelly Liu has found a new home. 

When Liu was five years old, she moved to the United States from Guangzhou, China, and, since then, she has resided in Illinois. Liu received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics, as well as secondary education degree, from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC). 

Liu has always had a passion for both math and science. “I always really liked math and how it would give you a chance to problem solve and figure out why things work,” Liu said. “Also, I am a big astronomy nerd. I love stars in space, which is why I was debating math and science. Chemistry. Astrophysics. Astronomy. So cool. I love learning about black holes and how they work.”

Before coming to Parker, Liu taught at Central High School, Urbana High School, Neuqua Valley High School, and, most recently, The Chicago Academy For The Arts. This year, Liu will be teaching Algebra II and Applied Algebra II. 

From a young age, Liu was interested in pursuing a career in education. “I started trying to teach and getting into the position of being a teacher in middle school and high school, and then I realized that it was exactly what I wanted,” Liu said. “I student-taught at a lot of middle schools and high schools in Illinois.”

Since joining the Parker community, Liu has appreciated that Parker is a student-oriented school. “Right when I walked in, even in interviews and the first few weeks of orientations for new teachers, the first thing that popped up was like how much they want to try to be inclusive to the students, and give you enough information about your students that you are prepared to go in and know the group of people you have, what they’re all about,” Liu said. “It shows why people stay here for so many years: because they love you guys. And they want to make sure that you are all supported.”

When a new teacher comes to Parker, they have a mentor teacher for the year. Liu’s mentor teacher is Upper School Math Teacher Victoria Lee. “I’ve never been a mentor teacher before like this, and it is really good. It helps me to think about my practice when I’m helping her,” Lee said. “It’s also great that she’s a math teacher, that she is female, and that we get to have shared experiences.”

As a member of Lee’s advisory, senior Anya Landolt has enjoyed having Liu in their advisory this year. “Ms. Liu always welcomes us with a smile. She is a great addition to our advisory,” Landolt said. “She brings a lot of positivity and is helpful when any of us may have an issue.”

Sharing an advisory, many conversations, and advice with each other, Liu and Lee have developed a close relationship. “She’s so personable. She’s always so positive. She has so many great ideas and she meets the kids where they are at,” Lee said. 

Landolt believes that Liu and Lee work well together. “They seem very compatible and they truly bounce off each other and feed off of each other’s energy in advisory,” Landolt said. 

“When I walk down the hallway, and listen to her teaching sometimes, it is inclusive, and she has great examples,” Lee said, “I feel like she is thriving. She likes it. She’s smiling every day. She’s happy to be here.”

Liu plans on catering her lessons to the needs of her students. “I want to make class more group-driven and be able to add their interests into my lessons instead of just giving them a problem to work on for the whole time,” Liu said. 

Freshman Chloe Deutsch is one of Liu’s students. “I really like Ms. Liu, and I think she is a really good teacher,” Deutsch said. “She understands us not only as students, but as people, which makes it easier to learn from her. She is also very supportive and knows how to push us academically, and the right way, without too much pressure.” 

“She is good at engaging kids and engaging their competitive side, their intuitive side, and their wonder side, she’s really good at that, and dangling the carrot, and getting them excited, and then not disappointing,” Lee said. “She’s well prepared, she has a depth of knowledge of stuff, so she can keep coming up with different examples to make sure that she has reached her entire audience.”