ESU Central Florida Branch

President's Message

Professor Maurice O'Sullivan, Central Florida Branch President

Welcome to the home page of the Central Florida Branch of the English- Speaking Union.  We are a branch dedicated to the ESU mission; we pride ourselves in devoting our time and resources "to celebrate English as a shared language and foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members."

Since the Central Florida Branch was formed in 1960 by a group of Winter Park residents, it has greatly impacted lives. Through teacher scholarships, entertaining lectures with dynamic speakers, the Shakespeare Competition, and a host of additional national and local initiatives, our branch has rooted deep into the core of literacy and made a truly monumental investment in the community. We invite you to become acquainted with us by perusing this site as it showcases our commitment. Perhaps after viewing the many opportunities available to members, you might feel motivated to become one yourself! 

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News And Events

Our 2022-23 Central Florida Branch events have officially begun!

Please save the date for the following gatherings. Come celebrate and learn with us!


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Drey Scholars Reunion 2022

University CLub Library
September 21, 2022
4:30-6:30 P.M.

After two years in a COVID holding pattern, we finally have new scholar adventures to celebrate!

Please come catch up with friends, delight in a nibble or two, and share the stories that refuel teacher spirits as only the purest of professional development can!

Be sure to bring a friend or anyone interested in the $7000 Teachers Learning Abroad (tLab) Scholarship Program. You can also learn all about the English-Speaking Union. A reception with light supper will follow the program.

Winter Park University Club Library
841 N. Park Avenue
Winter Park, FL. 32789 


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ESU Central Florida Branch MEETINGS: 2022-2023 SEASON

ESU Central Florida Branch MEETINGS: 2022-2023 SEASON

All programs are on Mondays at the University Club of Winter Park unless otherwise indicated.
Monday, September 12, 2022, 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Professor Wayne Bowen, UCF - "Churchill and Spain in WWII."

Tuesday, October 18, 2022, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Dinner at Winter Park Racquet Club and entertainment by Michael Andrew

Monday, November 7, 2022, 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Professor Richard Aldous, Bard College - "The Iron Lady and the Gipper" How the iconic friendship between Thatcher and Regan ended the cold war.

Monday, December 5, 2022, 3:30-5:00 p.m. 

A special three-part presentation on the Evolution of Christmas

  • Part I: Why Christmas Is Celebrated on the Winter Solstice, Patrick Powers. 
  • Part 2: Customs of a Victorian Christmas 2. 
    Thanks to Prince Albert and Charles Dickens, Ann Hellmuth.
  • Part 3: Commercialization of Christmas by Department Stores, Michelle Levy
Tuesday, January, 17, 2023, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Dinner at Winter Park Racquet Club and entertainment by Gloria Cook, Concert Pianist

Monday, February 20, 2023, 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Shakespeare Competition at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Margeson Stage

Annually the Central Florida E-SU sponsors a Shakespeare Competition for Orange, Seminole, and Osceola County students in grades 9-12. Each student, who is a winner at his or her own school, memorizes and presents a Shakespearean sonnet and also a monologue from a collection of edited pieces provided by National. The Central Florida winner is then given an all-expenses paid trip to New York to compete in the National E-SU Shakespeare Competition. The event begins at 4:00 p.m. at Orlando Shakes with refreshments served at 5:00.

Monday, March 6, 2023, 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Barbara Perry, UVA - "The Kennedys in England"
Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch.

Monday, April 3, 2023, 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Julia Taddeo - University of Maryland - "From Mad George to Megabit" British Royal Scandals, Media, and History.

Monday, May 1, 2023, 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Ed Larson - George Washington's Second Revolution.

Our Annual General Meeting will precede our guest speaker, Ed Larson


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Shakespeare Competition 2022 Results

On February 21, sixteen students from the tri-county area arrived at Orlando Shakes to participate in The English-Speaking Union's annual Shakespeare competition. Contestants were vying for the opportunity to win $1,000.00, and a chance to represent the Central Florida Branch of the ESU in this year's National hybrid format.

The semi-finals, as in 2020 and 2021, will remain virtual via a recorded performance from our branch champion. However, the national finals will be held during a live competition in New York City on the weekend of April 23-26, 2022. Only the top 10 finalists will travel to New York City for an exclusive and fun-filled weekend. On the panel of judges this year, deciding who would represent our branch, were Anne Hering: Director of Education at Orlando Shakes, Donna Miller: former Program Coordinator for Orange County's Language Arts, and Dr. Maurice "Socky" O'Sullivan: Professor Emeritus at Rollins College.

The Winners

Left to right: Raina Grabowski, Kaylin Aguirre, and Laila Mahler

Raina Grabowski from University High School took First Place in the Shakespeare competition with her portrayal of Juliet from Romeo and Juliet and Sonnet 46 under the direction of her teacher, Mr. Keith Traver. Second Place went to Kaylin Aguirre from Freedom High School. Kaylin was coached by her teacher, Mrs. Angela Kahn, on her depiction of Julia from The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Sonnet 12. In Third Place was Laila Mahler who was trained by her teacher, Ms. Susan Lilley, at Trinity Preparatory School.

Other Honors

Ms. Susan Lilley was also the recipient of the Richard Burbage Award. Named after one of the most famous actors at The Globe Theatre, this award celebrates the work and dedication of teacher sponsors who have managed year after year to keep their students engaged, their involvement in our competition ongoing, and our audiences enriched. The final award of the day was The Love of the Bard Award. This award requires a teacher nomination and is an award given annually to one student who, "Exhibits determination, grit, fortitude, and a true passion for Shakespeare's works." Kaylin Aguirre from Freedom High School was the recipient of this $100.00 award.

We wish Raina Grabowski the best of luck as she advances to perform in the national competition this March.

Left to right: Ginger Bryant, VP Shakespeare Competition; Raina Grabowski, 2022 Shakespeare Competition First Place Winner; Barbara Hughes, Central Florida ESU President.


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The English-Speaking Union

Central Florida Branch

Central Florida Branch Landmark Photo

Welcome to the ESU

The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.

To find out more about our programs click here.