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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

Lilley’s Literary Legacy

Lilley leaves an indelible mark on Trinity after 26 years
Lilley having fun with her advisory as they show their appreciation.

   When Susan Lilley was in high school, Trinity Preparatory School had just opened. While she chose not to attend, her two brothers did. Little did she know, she would spend more time here than either of them did.

   Her first memories of Trinity are when her brothers would receive a pink slip in the mail. At the time, a pink slip meant that you were in trouble for either grades or behavior.

   “The most dreaded moment in our house was if… I saw a thing from Trinity with a pink slip in it,” Lilley said. “I was like, Whew, I’m gonna be gone tonight… it is a classic wait until your dad gets home, and there will be some fireworks.”

   However, she remembers her brothers’ time at Trinity as being very fun. Whether it was sports games or the Renaissance fair where everyone would dress up in a Shakespearean outfit and play games in the quad, she always liked the idea of Trinity.

   After she finished her master’s degree in literature, she worked as a corporate writer at Tupperware where she was the head of the company’s publications, running a newsletter and the monthly magazine for the sale’s force. However, after a while, she wanted a change.

   “I just got tired of writing about plastic bowls and the people who sell them,” Lilley said. “So there was an opening at UCF for an instructor which I was qualified to do with my master’s and I got the job.”

   At the University of Central Florida, she fell in love with teaching and the freedom she was afforded. As long as she met the goals for her students, she could switch books, so she would not have to do the same thing everyday. Teaching brought a variety that her old job did not.

   As her daughter entered middle school at Trinity, there was also an opening for an English teacher. After getting the job, she quickly had to learn how to adjust from teaching college students to teaching high schoolers.

   “It was rough at first, but I grew to really love it. I just love that age group,” Lilley said. “With college students, everyone’s got this mask of sophistication like I know what I’m doing, even though I really don’t. In high school, people tend to have their hearts on their sleeve. And there, in such an interesting stage of development, it’s just really fun when they learn things with the light in their eyes.”

   Lilley has taught tenth grade English, eleventh grade English, creative writing, Christianity and film, and AP English Literature. Her favorite class to teach is AP Lit because she wants to spread her love of literature and develop her students into lifetime writers. Inside the classroom, Lilley brings to life the books her students read.

   “Miss Lilley made [Richard III] super dramatic, and she played the drama of the storyline up,” English teacher and Lilley’s former student Hannah Schlutter. “Every time she wore a flowing black cape or shawl, and then she would use that as part of the drama of class. I always loved that. I thought it was so funny.”

   Not only has Lilley left a mark inside the classroom, but she has excelled outside the classroom. She, along with one of her students Molly Mae, started a literary magazine at Trinity called “Skylight.” She also was the student council sponsor. While it was stressful, she has fond memories of being the sponsor. One of her memories was when the seniors wanted to break the world record for longest paper clip chain. They stayed up all night in the library together, clipping paper clips. While they did not break the record, they managed to make a paper clip chain that stretched around the track.

   Even though she is not student council sponsor anymore, recently, she has become the English department chair. Her favorite part of being department chair is being able to visit all the English classes.

   “It’s so impressive to see what people are doing in their classes,” Lilley said. “I learn something every time I go into another class and observe, and it makes me really proud of what we do here in education. It has been a real joy. It’s brought me closer to department members and in a really interesting way. I love supporting them and what they do, and it’s just been a real pleasure because we have such a strong team.”

   Lilley’s success is not only confined to Trinity. While teaching at Trinity, she has also taught a night class at Rollins once a week. Not only did she teach traditional classes, but she also taught the adult program at the school. This program allowed her to see people come back and finish a degree that they had not been able to before; she watched them reach their goals and also be a good role model to the younger students. 

   Lilley was also the first poet laureate of Orlando. As a literary citizen, she was able to learn new ways to support creative writing and poetry within her community. For Trinity’s 50th anniversary, Lilley curated a poem about the school. Asking many alumni to share stories of something they learned at Trinity, Lilley then compiled the stories into a poem titled “I Learned It Here.”

   While she is retiring after 26 years at Trinity, one thing she will continue to remember is her advisories.

   “I’ve just been really lucky to have incredible advisory groups,” Lilley said. “I only go to prom when my advisory is seniors. A few advisories ago, they bought me a little tiara, so I could be their prom queen. It was hysterical. Here’s this teacher with a prom queen crown on. Advisory has been a special relationship for me. And I keep up with a lot of that after they’re gone on to having beautiful lives.”

   She has left a literary legacy at Trinity through her teaching. Her favorite part of teaching is to get student’s different perspectives on books. She encourages them to think beyond the text in front of them.

   “She made us think beyond the text more so than I probably had ever done,” Schlutter said. “She challenged us in ways that I didn’t know that I could accomplish but then once I did it, she just kind of looked at us and was like see I told you.”

   Her plans for retirement are to write a lot more and go on many adventures. This summer, she and three other writers will go on a writing retreat in New Hampshire where they write all day then at night, they cook, laugh and play cards. She also wants to do a road trip to New Orleans and visit countries such as Ireland, Spain or Italy.

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About the Contributor
Abby Hernan, Opinions Editor
Abby Hernan is currently a senior entering her second year on staff as opinions editor. In her free time, she enjoys binging reality TV, playing with her dogs and being with her friends.  Contact her at [email protected].

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