News And Events

News And Events

2022 TLab Scholars Reunion

On September 21, 2022, forty former Drey Scholars with invited colleagues and members of the ESU Board gathered to enjoy our returning Drey Scholars' around-the-table discussion of their experiences this summer in the United Kingdom. Scholar Chair, Reta Jackson, introduced Lizzy Brannan and Matthew Nash-Brown, who traveled to London to participate in "Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance" and Jessica Furiosi and Gerry Precil, who both attended Oxford University's program on "History, Politics and Society," and last but not least, Kris Kahn, who traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, to attend classes in Contemporary Scottish Drama as well as plays at the International Fringe Festival. These scholars were chosen back in 2019 and have the distinction of being named Drey Scholars for four years due to the pandemic.

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Fall Dinner Guests of Honor

Our 2022 Drey Scholarship Award recipients joined us as our Guests of Honor for the dinner program on October 18, 2022, at the Winter Park Racquet Club! This is the first year that Kenneth Holman received our UCF scholarship, and Devin Johnson is holding this honor for the second year in a row! They were both accompanied by Andrea Borwczak, Ed.D., Professor and Director, UCF School of Teacher Education.

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Beaming With Pride

The Central Florida Branch is proud to announce that Vice President Ginger Bryant is the recipient of the Creativity in Programming Award from the English-Speaking Union of the United States. Ginger was chosen by a national committee to receive this Membership Recognition Award in its inaugural year. E-SUUS asked branches to nominate a member who represents creative excellence in the development and/or administration of an E-SU program. After frequent meetings and a thorough process, the selection committee chose Ginger for her leadership and organizational talents in taking our Regional National Shakespeare Competition to a level recognized as a model of excellence.

Socky O'Sullivan, Ginger Bryant, and Jan McClure

We are also bursting with pride to announce that Donna Miller is the recipient of the National ESU Lifetime Achievement Award. During almost forty years as a member of the Central Florida ESU, most spent as the chair (and fierce guardian) of the committee deciding how our funds from the Drey Endowment should be used, Donna Miller has overseen the distribution of over three million dollars to programs for teachers and students throughout Central Florida. She has also been a patron of the National ESU and served as a member of its Finance Committee. During these decades, few individuals have done as much for education and our community.

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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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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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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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Save The Date!

Please join us on Monday, February 21, for the annual English-Speaking Union's Shakespeare Competition. This year we are returning to a live format for competition with events beginning promptly at 4:00 p.m. Our venue for the event is Orlando Shakes, and we will be complying with their COVID protocol. Face masks are required for all of those who enter the building, regardless of vaccination status.

This year, 20 competitors will present their memorized monologues and sonnets as they compete for an opportunity to represent the Central Florida ESU Branch in New York. For 2022, the National Competition in New York will be held in a hybrid format. The semi-finals, as in 2020 and 2021, will remain virtual via recorded performance from our branch champions. 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.

The Central Florida ESU panel of judges for this year will be 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: former Professor at Rollins College. Come rank your personal favorites and see how your votes compare with the judges' deliberation. Refreshments will be served in the lovely outdoor Darden Courtyard on the property, under an air-conditioned tent. We wish our 20 contestants from three counties the best of luck!

-       Ginger Bryant, VP Shakespeare Competition

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Winter Dinner Highlights

On January 24, 2022, Central Florida ESU members met to dine and dance the night away with the delightful tunes of The Buzzcatz, Ricky Sylvia, and a five-piece band as their soundtrack.

"It was one of the best ESU dinners ever!" says Barbara Hughes, Branch President, while recalling the evening of delightful food, company, and entertainment!

UCF scholars, Devin Johnson and Daniel Edelen, were our honored guests. As our first Jessie Drey UCF Scholarship recipients, they represent yet another way that the Central Florida ESU is supporting passionate educators!

(left to right) Daniel Edelen, Jessie Drey UCF Scholarship Recipient; Curtis Proctor, UCF Director of Advancement College of Community Innovation and Education; Barbara Hughes, ESU Branch President; Devin Johnson, Jessie Drey UCF Scholarship Recipient; Socky O'Sullivan, ESU Branch Executive Vice President.

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Central Florida ESU Gives Away $100,000 in Scholarships to Celebrate 100 Years of Service!

(Left to Right): Malcolm Butler (School of Teacher Education Professor and School Director), Curtis Proctor (School of Teacher Education Director of Advancement), Pamela "Sissi" Carroll (UCF Dean of the College of Community Innovation and Education), Barbara Hughes (Central Florida E-SU President), Reta Jackson (Central FL. E-SU Scholarships Committee Chair), Jan McClure (Central FL. E-SU Education Committee Chair), Brett Carrier (Central FL. E-SU Communications Chair)

Orlando, Florida - September, 2021- During this unprecedented time, when CNBC reported that one in four teachers considered quitting at the start of the school year, the Central Florida Branch of the English-Speaking Union has donated $100,000 to the UCF College of Community Innovation and Education. To honor both founding member Jessie Drey and The Centennial of the English-Speaking Union of the United States, 1920-2020, the Central Florida Branch is establishing The Central Florida English-Speaking Union Jessie Drey Memorial Scholarship program to support and encourage practicing Central Florida educators to remain in the profession as they pursue graduate studies at the University of Central Florida. 

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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.