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Parent Perspective: Gabrielle Matese

Christina Coffman

Gabe Matese has worn many hats in the Highlands School community over the past 12 years – parent, PA President, Room Parent, and many more. Her two daughters, Nora and Tess, have been proud Blue Devils since they both started in 4K. In a few weeks, her youngest daughter, Tess, will graduate from Highlands before heading north to St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire in the fall. Gabe reflects on what she’ll miss most about the Highlands community.

Names and Ages of Children: Nora Barton (age: 17; class of 2019) and Tess Barton (age: 14; class of 2022)

What are your children up to now? Nora is a junior at Indian Springs School. Tess will be a freshman at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire in the fall.

Favorite Highlands memory: We’ve had so many wonderful experiences at Highlands but the one that first jumps to mind is Nora’s 4K play the first year we were at Highlands. What the teachers were able to do with the kids in their performance far exceeded our expectations—the play was delightful, and it was amazing to see what the kids accomplished! The student who cracked me up with his well-delivered one line (“I’m a stink bug”) ended up being a lead in the middle school play 8 years later, so it’s also been wonderful to watch the kids grow up together.

Were you involved in the PA or in any other volunteer capacity? I started volunteering with the PA when Nora was in 4K and eventually was chair of multiple committees (Library, Room Parents, Teacher Appreciation) and served on many more, ending with serving as PA president in 2020-2021. 

What’s the best way for a new family to get involved? The two things that helped me the most were 1) getting involved in the PA—there’s many different ways to serve and you meet parents from all across the grades—and 2) the kids playing soccer in 4K and beyond. I think participating in (or going to support) any school sport would help you get to know the other families from your grade, and in those early years especially it’s a lot of fun (even if—hypothetically—your child is sitting on the field picking clovers and making crowns with their friend as the actual game goes on around them).

Advice for a new family just beginning their Highlands journey? Engage with the Highlands community—attend the PA meetings, go to school events like Fall Festival, Highlands Helps, and Spring Fling, organize a picnic for your grade—there are so many great people to get to know.

Three words that best describe Highlands: Welcoming, Supportive, Happy

What will you miss most about Highlands? I deeply appreciate the teachers Nora and Tess have had here, and the support and encouragement they have given my kids. I felt like they really knew and cared about Nora and Tess, in addition to what they were able to get my kids to accomplish academically. I’ll also miss the Highlands community—both the good friends I’ve made here and the people I may not know quite as well but who always made the school such a happy and friendly place to be.