Twice-Told Tale

The Student News Site of Lake Highland Preparatory School

Twice-Told Tale

Twice-Told Tale

The History Behind the Historian

Dr. Brenda Walton
(Above) Dr. Brenda Walton (right) and Ms. Tara Bork (left) have seen the Calkins Library undergo major renovations over time. The two have worked at Lake Highland for several decades and are life-long friends. The posters in the background entail scenes from shared passions and adventures.

Dr. Brenda Walton, grade 9 Freshman Seminar and AP Literature teacher, is starting her 47th year of teaching here at Lake Highland Preparatory School. She began teaching here in 1977 when she was only 23 years old. In the past, Dr. Walton has taught English 11 and 12, grade 8 and grade 10 Composition, Humanities I and II, Literary Magazine, and Creative Writing, so she has seen her fair share of different students throughout the years. Ranging from teaching Freshmen to teaching Seniors, Dr. Walton claims, “Seriously, I like them both. It takes the younger ones longer to get my jokes . . . but they do eventually. There is a different kind of energy in the different grade levels, but both are fun.” 

When asked why she continues to teach at Lake Highland, she answers, “Good kids, great friends, connection to nature on campus. I laugh all day. Every hour, a new batch of kids comes into my room to entertain me. Plus, I get paid to talk about books. I also get to teach with many former students which is tons of fun.” Ms. Ginger Bryant, instructor of Newspaper I-IV Honors, College Preparatory English 11, and David Copperfield’s Project Magic, was even a former student of Dr. Walton. 

As a member of the Lake Highland family for so long, Dr. Walton comments on the changes she has seen at the school over the years. When she first came to Lake Highland, seven years after the school was established, the Highland House and the Source were, “Little old-fashioned houses.” Dr. Walton remembers when Highland House was full of sewing machines for the Home Economics classes. She adds that the old Lower School was housed in an apartment building from the 1930s! The evolution of the campus fascinates Dr. Walton, and she is settling into her new classroom on the fourth floor of the Porter Family Center for Innovation and Academics, overlooking the lake and City of Orlando. Before teaching in the Porter Center classrooms, Dr. Walton previously taught in the Calkins Library. Choosing which place she liked better was difficult as she says, “I loved my old rooms—I’ve been in many places in the last 46 years! I am trying to get my steps in to get to the fourth floor in Porter.  I love that I can see the steeple of the chapel on the Charles Clayton Campus. I feel as if I am in England looking out over the town. Someone (can’t remember who) came into my room and remarked that by seeing the steeple from here, ‘We are all one campus again.’ I liked that!” Dr. Walton mentions, “Change is hard, but it happens! Everything seems to work out eventually for the best. I am, however, interested in preserving the fascinating history of our school. I have been able to work as a school historian, and I have some amazing pictures and artifacts collected over the years!”
Along with her passion for teaching, Dr. Walton has a deep interest in the environment and nature. She likes the fact that, “We are focusing on our beautiful natural campus by taking care of the lake and encouraging wildlife.” When asked about a thing she could change about the school, she answered, “I have always said that if I ever win the lottery I will fund an animal sanctuary on campus. We can all go and take care of the animals during our free time.” If Dr. Walton did not work at Lake Highland, she would be interested in working in a garden center. She looks forward to seeing the osprey babies in the nest in the spring, saying, “We have a ‘bird’s eye’ view from Mrs. Tracy Bessire’s class!”

When reflecting on her years at Lake Highland, she mentioned how she particularly enjoyed the years 1993 to 1995. Dr. Walton remembers how the English Department was involved in several international projects, such as the “Save Keats House” initiative, and later, their connection with the movie Sense and Sensibility. Narrowing down her favorite memories at Lake Highland to one favorite was almost impossible. She could not pick one. Dr. Walton lists all of her special memories: “The dances in the gym in the 70s, working with Ms. Tara Bork and Ms. Sherry Parker on graduation, presenting student work at Cambridge Univerity with other LHPS teachers, laughing with Mrs. Cindy Wray, working in the various gardens we have had here, teaching Shakespeare and Keats and Austen and all the great writers!” 

When asked about her favorite memory of a teacher, Dr. Walton did not have a single memory that topped all others. She explained how working with her friends, Mrs. Michele McGinn and Ms. Bonnie Tripp, team teaching with Mrs. Tracy Bessire for many years, and now working with the 9th grade English team are all some of her favorite memories. However, on the contrary, her favorite memory with a student was working with Ms. Ginger Bryant on the Keats project. 

Not many know the history and nature of Lake Highland Preparatory School quite like Dr. Walton. The future is unclear, but for now, her years of teaching are continuing strong! This school will forever hold a special place in her heart.

(Above) Most may not know that Dr. Walton helped out with the movie Sense and Sensibility because of her involvement in the literary community. (Dr. Brenda Walton)
(Above) The poet, John Keats, is Dr. Walton’s hero. During the 1990s, his house, turned into a museum in 1922, was underfunded by the City of London and was dependent on public contributions. Led by Dr. Walton, the Lake Highland English Department and students contributed to the international Save Keats House appeal. They made t-shirts and coloring books, raising over $1500.00 to send to the fund. The house is now fully funded by the city of London and is in great shape. The LHPS community helped get it restored! (Dr. Brenda Walton)
(Right) Dr. Brenda Walton played an important role in organizing the English-Speaking Union and hosting its annual Shakespeare Competition here at Lake Highland and in the state of Florida. Her favorite book is The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. Advice from great philosophers and Finding Nemo are what motivates her. If there is something she could put on a bulletin board, it would be “Something wonderful is about to happen.”
(Dr. Brenda Walton)
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About the Contributor
Alyssa Wiboon
Alyssa Wiboon, Director of Media
Alyssa Wiboon, grade 11, is the Director of Media of Lake Highland Preparatory School's Upper School newspaper Twice-Told Tale, and Co-Editor of the Upper School literary magazine By Any Other Name, both nationally recognized by the American Scholastic Press Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. Alyssa is also the Co-President of her school’s club, Paws for a Cause, where she helps spread awareness for animals within local Orlando shelters. Outside of school, she enjoys Irish dancing, going to the beach, reading, and watching movies in her free time. With well over 100 service hours, Alyssa prioritizes helping local communities in any way she can, whether it be at her church or nearby food banks. In the future, she dreams of traveling around the world and creating her own blog, pursuing her love for writing, and being creative.

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