INFLUENCER OF THE WEEK: Reilly Dougherty, Children’s Lighthouse of Winter Garden.

Ms. Reilly was recently named Teacher of the Year at the school.

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Reilly Dougherty was named Teacher of the Year for the 2021-22 school year at Children’s Lighthouse of Winter Garden. She said she found out during Teacher Appreciation Week so she was already feeling the love, but her students and their families showered her with even more accolades. She is a lead teacher, and her class is made up of 2- and 3-year-olds. Her students learn letter and number recognition, days of the week and months of the year, as well as how to hold a writing utensil, how to go potty, how and when to wash hands and some life things you sometimes forget need to be taught.


What brought you to your school?

I was actually brought to Children's Lighthouse by my co-worker, KayC! She and I had worked together at a school in Tallahassee, and her son had started at Children's Lighthouse, so when she heard I was moving home to Clermont she said that she applied and I should too!


What do you love most about your school?

The thing I love most about this school is how appreciated the administration makes us feel. I have worked places where staff appreciation wasn't the best, so it's a nice change to come to work to a "thank you" gift on a random Tuesday afternoon!


What is your motivation?

I am going to go with the basic answer on this one and say my motivation is definitely the students! The bonds you create with the kids is just unmatched, and you really can't describe it unless you experience it yourself. They become a part of you and your life, and it is truly the reason I love what I do.


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing something click for a child or when you can see that they really did learn what you have been teaching all week. Looking back at the end of the school year and seeing the progress your students have made from Day 1 is an amazing feeling. 


What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to read, actually! My mom owns Sunshine Book Co. in Clermont, so I have an endless supply of books. I also like to shop, usually at the farmers markets or local places! My dog keeps me company in all my spare time!


Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

Over the years I had lots of favorite teachers! One that has always stood out in this question and I am still in contact with is my drama teacher from high school, Mr. Santo. I think high school years are so important when it comes to shaping who you are as a person, and he made an impact on everyone who had him! You can talk to anyone who was in his classes, and I promise they will have some great memories or stories with him!


When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

When I was a child I wanted to be lots of things, lol. I think the most consistent was a photographer! I loved taking pictures of things or people or myself even.


What is your favorite children’s book and why?

There are so many great children's books; I think having a favorite would be unfair to the other ones! “Where The Wild Things Are” is such a great classic! I also love “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.” I remember reading this with my grandma, and a student of mine in Tallahassee had the whole book memorized. It was very adorable!


What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are basically the same as what I do in my spare time. I like to read, shop, spend time with friends and my dog.


If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

If I could have any superpower, I think it would have to be teleporting. I think it would be so cool to just pop over to Europe if I wanted or go see family in another state. Imagine how much you could save on travel fares?


If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

This question is so hard because music is so amazing and my favorite song changes all the time. I think if I could only listen to three artists or bands it would have to be Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Jhene Aiko.


What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student? Any favorite snacks or special treats you remember?

My favorite lunch in elementary school was those mac-n-cheese sticks! Not like normal mozzarella sticks, but they came in twos, and if you know what I'm talking about you know! I also remember always wanting the strawberry milk, weirdly. 


What is your favorite holiday and why?

My favorite holiday is probably Christmas. I feel like everyone is just more happy and cheerful during the holiday time in December. 


Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?

My best friends in school somewhat changed throughout the years — you know the joys of girls and growing up — but sophomore year of high school I met my best friend, Destinee, and we are still best friends to this day. I am actually on FaceTime with her reading her my answers to these questions. 


What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?

My extracurricular activities changed depending on my mood; I was very all over the place. I did lots of different sports when I was younger. In high school, I was in yearbook and helped direct some of the plays for theater. I won a senior superlative and that was for "Most Likely to Take a Selfie" — it was very on-brand for 2016 me. 


How long have you been at your school and with OCPS?

I have been at Children's Lighthouse since July of 2021, so almost a year now! Before this I lived in Tallahassee, Florida, and taught at a school there!



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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