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On the Foundation of One Big Rock

As an alum, a parent of an alum, aunt of alums, sister of alums and best friend of an alum, it would be an understatement to say that Highlands has had a positive influence on my life.

You see, my first memory of Highlands is through the eyes of my three older sisters coming home with fun and exciting adventures to share. I could not wait to get there.

Being the youngest, it was fun to have my mom all to myself, so starting with only half a day at kindergarten was fine with me. Then, first grade came and the full day was certainly an adjustment, but my first grade teacher Mrs. Tanner was there with the kindness and support to make it all better! She was incredibly fun, but also expected us to behave and learn. Those reading groups, circle time, and the responsibility given to us to choose our activities or next book to read made it ok to spend all day at school and I began to really love learning. It also helped me to develop the independence that Highlands continues to instill today.

To think that many years later, I would walk my own daughter Elizabeth into 1st grade with Mrs. Tanner as she embarked on her own Highlands journey is truly amazing. It is one of my husband’s favorite anecdotes to share about Highlands. We could not have been more fortunate than to entrust our daughter to my own 1st grade teacher! The sense of community that stories like this provide to Highlands families is invaluable and makes this school more like a home.

Elizabeth and I are both a little timid by nature, but nothing gets you out of your shell like being on stage. My stage was in the old hot gym; her stage was the wonderful Spencer Center. Back then, we would have an event called modern dance, and everyone, usually in groups, would come up with a dance routine. Some of us were good at that and others of us were not, but we all practiced hard and performed together. Whether dancing on stage in the gym or saying that one line in a play in the Spencer Center, we grew a bit more comfortable each time. Again, what a great confidence builder—dispelling the fear of not only being on stage, but also trying new things.

There are many more examples of how wonderful an institution Highlands is—including everyone’s favorite art teacher Mrs. Arn who always encouraged us to step out and try new ways of expressing ourselves through art. No matter if our clay cat looked more like a blob with ears, her enthusiasm was contagious as she demonstrated how to (literally) make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. What a gift it was to have her teach our daughter as well, and now I have the privilege and pleasure to serve on the Board of Trustees with her.

There are other traditions unique to Highlands, some are long past. Climbing the Big Rock, 2:00 PM Friday dismissal, juice and crackers duty or leading the pledge are all Highlands memories that I will keep forever. As our campus grows to meet the needs of 21st century learning, the landscape will change, (except the Big Rock of course) the teaching tools will evolve and our Fridays end at 3:00. What remains constant is celebrating every child as a unique individual and guiding them into the future with the self-assurance to make decisions, learn freely and grow wholly! Being a Highlands student gave two naturally quiet children the tools to step out, take risks and adjust to an ever-changing world with a degree of confidence built on the foundation of one Big Rock.

Midge Miller

Highlands School Board of Trustees


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