Five teachers celebrate their 20th anniversary at Highlands High School


Chelsie Cooley

Staff who are celebrating their 20th-anniversary at Highlands High School.

     Highlands High School 20 years ago was a completely different scene. There was no air conditioning on the warm days and little to no heat on the colder days.  Teachers brought loud fans on warm days, so students can learn in a more comfortable environment.  The walls were bright yellow inside of the brick facade. 

     20 years later, the building on the outside looks the same. However, Highlands has a heating and cooling system, along with equipment for all classes.

     Something else that has stayed the same throughout these years – five teachers. 

     During the 2021-2022 school year, five Highlands High School teachers are celebrating their 20-year teaching anniversary. Over those years, each teacher has found a teaching style that fits them and their classes to create a strong environment for learning.

     Government Teacher Kym Grillot came to Highlands High School through former HHS Social Studies Teacher Kent Juett. As a spot opened up, Juett recommended Grillot for the position. Over the years, Grillot has learned and gained new skills for teaching, she has matured as a person and as a teacher in these past 20 years. 

     “I think that throughout my career I have become more knowledgeable about a lot of things: my social studies content area, what makes my students tick, how society evolves and changes over time, and how to use the newest technologies in a meaningful way.”

     Guidance Counselor Laura Schnitzler’s journey to Highlands was a little bit different. She moved back to the Tri-State area to begin working on her master’s degree at Xavier University. As a teacher, setting goals is important to improve and grow in your profession. 

     Schnitzler has reached a lot of life and teacher goals she had set for herself in the past. 

     “My expectations and goals were to do the best I could do and to improve every year. I also had a goal of becoming a school counselor. I was able to reach this goal in 2013.”

    For Spanish teacher Krista Meadows, teaching at Highlands was returning home as she was a graduate from HHS. She taught for six years at another school before coming back to teach here.

     “I wanted to help students love English and Spanish classes the way I did in high school.  I am always working to make my classes fun and rewarding. I have taught [many students their] first Spanish classes who have also dedicated their lives to the language. So I have hopefully had a positive impact on some students.”

     Business teacher Jamie Richey had a similar experience to Meadows, as she also was an HHS graduate returning home. After graduating from college at Western Kentucky University (WKU), she applied for multiple teaching jobs in Northern Kentucky until she found Highlands, which at the time had a teacher and basketball coach opening. Richey always tries to keep a positive attitude and has a good outlook on things.

      “I always try to make connections with all my students and always try to say, ‘hi to them as they come into my room. You never know when one of your students is having a bad day and a simple hello could help them.”

     Family and Consumer Science Teacher Ahren Wagner has been a part of the HHS staff for 20 years but technically, this is her 21st year due to her one-year leave of absence.

     “I decided to take the Highlands job because I felt a strong pull to the school and tradition, even though it was only for one year and other job offers were for a longer commitment.”

     Each teacher has seen the building through many renovations and new appliances.

    Wagner said, “When I started at HHS, we did not have air conditioning, and [the] heat was iffy on most days.  So physically, the building has changed in many ways.  The tradition is still the same.  We have high expectations of our students and we enjoy our school traditions.”

     However, some things stayed the same. 

     Grillot said, “We still cheer at the football games; we still celebrate the drama and music department performances; we still work hard at being the best teachers and learners we can be, and we still try to create great memories that seniors can take with them when they ‘leave the nest.”’