PITTSFIELD -- Lillian Quinn has been educating students at St. Joseph Central High School for 40 years -- 32 teaching English, the last eight as the academic dean.
However, she is best known for staging the school's annual spring musical, directing a cast and crew of 50 to 60 teenagers each March.
After 28 theatrical productions, Quinn, 78, remains committed to the young actors and actresses of the only Catholic secondary school in the county.
"The kids give me no choice," she said. "They are always asking, ‘What's our next musical?' "
For dedication and longevity at St. Joe's, Quinn on Wednesday night received a lifetime achievement award from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield. The veteran educator was one of five longtime Catholic school teachers and administrators to be honored at the diocese's annual Catholic Schools Achievement Dinner held in Chicopee.
"Besides the joy of teaching, it's been a journey of faith that has kept me going," Quinn said in an interview prior to the awards dinner.
"She's an amazing woman and well-liked by all the students," said John O'Brien, whose three children graduated from St. Joe's.
O'Brien's company, Crescent Creamery of Pittsfield, along with William Jones, chairman of the Catholic Schools of Pittsfield Board of Trustees, were also recognized on Wednesday by Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell.
McDonnell cited how all the honorees deserved to be praised for their work in area Catholic schools.
"While there is diversity of background, there is unanimity in their understanding of the important role that Catholic education plays in the wider community," McDonnell said in a prepared statement.
Crescent Creamery was one of two businesses to receive the Distinguished Community Leader Award. Co-owners O'Brien and Robert Keegan accepted the award on behalf of the 76-year-old family-owned company.
Jones, president of Berkshire Healthcare, and Sister Mary Reap, president of the College of Our Lady of the Elms, were the top honorees during the banquet.
A board member for four years, Jones has long been an advocate for Catholic education.The Jones' four children have attended Pittsfield Catholic schools, the youngest of whom attends St. Joe's.
"Our kids are a product of a unique culture of Catholic education," Jones said. "They were prepared well for college, career and [were] academically challenged.".