Debbie Lilley is set to retire from the school where she has taught for more than 30 years.
Name: Debbie Lilley
School: Central Catholic High School
High school alma mater: Copley High School until the middle of my senior year, then graduated from Upper St. Clair High in Pittsburgh, Pa.
College: Slippery Rock State College, PA – BS in Health and Physical Education; Ashland University – MS in Sports Science, and continued education for Intervention Specialist Certification (just recently acquired).
Family: Tricia, 35, lives in Seattle, married to Zach with 2 children, Lucas, 3 and Elena, 1; Brett, 33, lives in Chicago, married to Camille, 1 child on the way; Megan, 29, lives in Chagrin Falls, married to Jon, 3 dogs who are her children; Jenna, 22, graduated from Univ. of Oregon in 2018, played softball for the USA Womens National Team, and currently playing professionally for the Chicago Bandits.
Teaches: Health, ninth grade; life skills, 10-12th grades; career exploration, 10-12.
Why nominated: Debbie Lilley has been dedicated to the Central Catholic High School community for more than 30 years, providing assistance in whatever capacity was needed to ensure that our students are guaranteed the best experience possible. She has helped coach softball and volleyball, served as a class advisor and staged social activities for our freshmen and future Crusaders who are in junior high in our partner elementary schools. Those socials attract more than 200 students and have become favorite events in Stark County. Most importantly, she has taught classes at Central which encourage our students to pursue healthy and fulfilling lifestyles, teaching health, physical education, life skills, career exploration, and personal wellness courses.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: The best part is the students, because every day is different. I love creating my own environment, allowing me to be me and the students to be themselves and for them to share and grow in a respectful and flexible environment. I believe that my personality and expectations help to create that environment.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
A: The most challenging part is probably getting ALL students to accept responsibility for themselves — their work, their organization, their grades, and their communication skills — and help them to grow to be responsible, caring and contributing members of our community.
Q: What secret to success would you share with students?
A: Work hard, be persistent, set goals, be the person you want to be: “Who are you when no one is looking?” Integrity is important. We spend a lot of time talking about mental health, accepting oneself, being accountable, and setting goals.
Q: Your students would be surprised to know that you ... ?
A: I am pretty open with my students on my past — and present. Maybe that I am retiring from Central Catholic this year (after 39 years)? Some know, some probably don’t.
Q: What’s your hidden talent?
A: It’s not hidden. I love working with kids and being a MOM.
Q: If you weren’t a teacher, you’d be doing what?
A: I always thought I should have gone into the medical field. But if I weren’t teaching now, I’d be playing full time grandma.
Q: After a long day at work, what’s the best way to relax?
A: I usually collapse at the end of my days right now. I work at Julie Billiart School in Akron every day after I leave Central. I would say that I thrive on being busy and I like to make lists and cross things off, so total relaxation is difficult. If I sit down and put my feet up, I fall asleep.