A Look into the Lee Family

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Interim Headmistress Liza Lee’s children talk about her personality and lessons learned.

Disciplined, passionate and down-to-earth. Words Matt Lee used to describe his mother, Interim Headmistress Liza Lee.

Matt Lee, a food and travel writer, along with his brother Ted Lee are hosts of the TV show Southern Uncovered. For him, these three words reflect both Liza Lee’s personality and actions.

Disciplined:

Because Liza Lee has been a working mother her whole life, she feels that Matt decided on this trait because she has had to give her children equal time. Matt believes that she is both organized and demanding and keeps everything around her tidy. “Ted and I are rarely permitted to cook in her kitchen because we always make such a mess of it!” he said. For daughter Caroline Lee, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Lafayette College (and once a Hockadaisy herself), her interest in inequality and civic engagement has been greatly influenced by her mother’s fairness and practicality.

Passionate:

Liza Lee has always loved school and feels very passionate about her work.

“She loves her work and gets 100 percent into it. I also think compassion is a big part of her passion for her work,” Matt said. “She has a great capacity for listening to people’s needs, understanding them, and trying to find solutions.”

Her daughter agrees. “She absolutely adores Hockaday girls– even after being retired, she is so excited to get to school that she has been going in to work as early as 6 a.m. Mom has worked at a lot of schools, but if you scratch her, she bleeds green and white,” Caroline said.

Down-to-Earth:

“Believe it or not, for someone who’s very demanding and disciplined, she can also be easy-going and go-with-the-flow.” Matt said. However, at first, Liza Lee was not exactly sure why he decided on this trait. Nonetheless, she believes that she has been forthright with them. “I think I have always tried to tell them the truth and always tried to tell them what was on my mind so that would make them say down-to-earth,” she said. Furthermore, Caroline credits her mother for the frankness she has with her students.


Perspective and Hospitality.

The significance of having friends and family around the dinner table is something that Matt and Ted will always remember.

“Because we grew up in Charleston [S.C.]— a city that people like to visit — we had house guests all the time,” Ted  said.

Not only did he get to learn about guests from all over the world, he learned perspective from seeing how they responded to Charleston. Liza Lee’s family lived in one of the oldest houses in the city that was on the national trust. Thus, the state department or mayor would ask them to host dinner for important guests. She hosted dance companies and chamber music groups during the Spoleto Festival, a major performing arts festival in Charleston.

Liza Lee wanted her children at the table when they entertained even when they were children. Matt admitted that it annoyed them when they were children. “But dining with them became more and more enjoyable the older we became because we were incorporated into conversations with adults, listening to their stories and discussing current events,” he said.

Regardless, Liza Lee insisted they help clean up each time.

 “Matt one day said, ‘Mom! I think the only reason you had children was you wanted household help,’ “And I said, ‘No Matt. I had children and I wanted them to be with me always but if you’re going to eat with my friends you have to help me! And that’s the last I heard of it. I’m sure it wasn’t the last he thought it,’” she said.