Lilia Whitehouse is a science teacher at Water Spring Elementary. She is in charge of teaching science to four different classes of fifth-graders. In addition, she also sponsors the school’s Garden Club and manages the edible garden and the butterfly garden. Whitehouse was recognized recently as an Orange County Public Schools Hero Teacher.
What brought you to your school?
I saw that Water Spring Elementary was hiring its inaugural staff, and I was interested in starting at a brand-new school.
What do you love most about your school?
It is very hard to pick one thing! We have a supportive administration, student-focused staff and a wonderful community.
What is your motivation?
Our students! Every day they motivate me to learn more and be the best I can be.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is watching my students grow. Being a fifth-grade teacher, it is incredibly rewarding to watch them find their voice and carve their own place in the world.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my free time I enjoy reading, dancing and hiking.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
My sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Kennedy, saw my “quirks” as gifts and encouraged me to dive into my interests and find ways to blend them into my education. Instead of scolding me for writing stories and poems, she entered them in contests, encouraged my writing and shared my work with others.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a marine biologist, because I loved the ocean and water. As I grew older, I realized that I enjoyed these things more as hobbies.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
“Tuck Everlasting” was my favorite book as a child. It was the first time I read something that used such beautiful figurative language, and it was my first taste of magic realism, my favorite genre.
What are your hobbies?
In my spare time, I play video games, hike, read, bake and take ballet classes.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love the ability to speak every language.
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
It is very difficult for me to choose just three, but it would be any that I could dance to.
What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student? Any favorite snacks or special treats you remember?
My go-to lunch was avocado and tomato sandwiches. They are still a favorite. My mom was an avid baker and would always include a sweet treat in my lunch.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Halloween! I love dressing up and making costumes with my partner each year.
Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?
I have three friends I’ve known for almost 30 years. We met at age 4 at ice-skating class, Girl Scouts and school. Despite living in three different states, we are all still very close and plan yearly trips together.
What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?
I was very busy as a student! In school, I was involved in speech, theater and crew, the newspaper, and student council. I was also on the swim team, badminton, track and field, and was a cheerleader.
What does it mean to you to be selected as an OCPS Hero Teacher?
It was a big surprise but I am incredibly grateful. To me, it means that I am doing all I can to support and educate my students.
Position: Science teacher
Time at school: Three years
Time with OCPS: Five years