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Highland Staff Enjoys Surprise Faculty Lounge Update

New Year, New Faculty Lounge Since 1963

Highland High School faculty and staff returned from the winter break to one more holiday surprise: an updated faculty lounge, all courtesy of school families and community businesses. 

Spearheaded by local realtor and Highland mom, Michelle Mitchell, the goal of the glow-up was to create a dedicated space for faculty and staff to relax, reinvigorate, and reconnect with one another. 

“After the fire and the bond not passing, I felt like Highland, and specifically the teachers, needed a win,” explained Mitchell. “The staff needs to know they are loved and appreciated, not just by parents like me, but by the community businesses that we partnered with to complete this project.” 

Inspired by the idea for a major makeover, Mitchell worked first to get approval from Highland’s administration with a commitment to clear out the room. She then reached out to her go-to contact list of doers and solidified a plan. Mitchell described how within one day, she had fulfilled the entire list of wants and needs to complete the makeover. 

“I know just the right people to ask,” Mitchell said. “They are the ones who will never say no to supporting teachers and education.”

Mitchell utilized the winter break to coordinate donations for all materials, supplies, furniture, and labor for the project, which was completed covertly just in time for school to resume on January 2. 

The big reveal came with a bow on top, with the room decorated from top to bottom in festive décor and gift cards labeling all of the individuals and businesses who contributed to the project.

“We got back from break to such an amazing surprise,” said Dr. Brad Wallace, Highland High School Principal. “It was packed in here all day. We haven’t really ever had anyone use this space so it was awesome to see teachers in here mingling and see how much the effort was appreciated.” 

After earning the trust of Highland’s administration, Mitchell said she felt a little bit of pressure to avoid letting anyone down. 

“I didn’t want to overpromise and under deliver, but I think it turned out to be a great space that staff can call their own,” she said. 

The element of surprise evoked some emotional responses from staff members.

Highland’s Bursar, Shelley Huelsman, who has worked at the school for twenty-eight years, said, “We had this amazing parent and her magic elves come in over Christmas break and surprise us all. I walked in and was just in awe.” 

Huelsman described how special it was to come in after break to see everyone from teachers and paraprofessionals to substitutes and sign language  interpreters congregating in the revamped lounge.

“We had such a gathering in here all throughout the day,” she said. “Thank you to everyone who made our faculty lounge such a warm and cozy space.” 

Mitchell explained that her hope with sharing this story is that it might spark an effort within the community for people to recognize their children’s teachers for the hard work and dedication that they put in everyday to help with their educational success. 

“As a community, we need to come together to prioritize public education,” she said. 

Watch the video tour of the improved faculty lounge. 

The email note that accompanied the gift included a list of contributors. The note read:

“From your loving community of local businesses and Highland families, we hope the entire staff at Highland High School will enjoy this room as a space to relax, a space to enjoy each other’s company and to also know that we see and appreciate you for all of the time, effort and energy you put into educating our children. You deserve to be recognized and to know that you are valued and hopefully you feel loved and spoiled in this new space.”

Signed, “With grateful hearts, 

Isaac and Michelle Mitchell / Patriot Real Estate 
Nick Hottmann Art / Wall Murals 
Maple Street Sit-N-Sleep
State Farm Insurance / Aaron & Amy Moore / HHS parents 
Evans Dental & Stellar Outcome/ Evans family / HHS parents 
Denise Lane / Ellis Elementary School Principal / school parent 
Chad and Marlow Harding / Patriot Real Estate / HHS parents 
Daren Almond / First Colony Mortgage / HHS parent
Jeff & Amber Tingey / HHS parents 
Justin & Heather Jones / Sage Builders / HHS parents 
Johnathon & Tiffany Hunt / Barrie’s Ski & Sports / HHS parents 
Dustin & Megan Reno / Pocatello Wellness Clinic / HHS parents 
Nick and Lauren Hale / HHS parents 
Wheatley Funeral Home 
Lish Sprinklers / Scott and Missy Lish / HHS parents 
Highland Corporate Sponsors”

  • Fire
  • HHS
  • Highland
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