News & Blog

Welcome our New Faculty for the 2021-2022 School Year - plus - Recent Promotions

Highlands School

We are pleased to welcome the below new faculty to the Highlands community! Also, keep scrolling to learn more about a few recent promotions on our team.

Denny Bardos, Director of Admissions and Enrollment
I am thrilled to be joining the Highlands family as the new Director of Admissions & Enrollment! For 24 years of my 26-year career, I have worked in enrollment management: 17 in higher education and 7 years in 2K-12th grade education. I find the entire admissions process to be incredibly rewarding, from welcoming new families to helping them become acclimated to their new community, all while getting to know them along the way. While I am very passionate about enrollment management, I am a team player and look forward to helping out the Highlands team in any way that I can.
I absolutely love children and enjoy bringing smiles to their faces. My wife, Amanda, and I have three children of our own: Daniel, a college graduate who is living/working on his own; Breana who will graduate from Drury University in December of 2021; and Brandon who will be in 8th grade in the fall of 2021. My family and I enjoy watching the many athletic competitions in which Brandon participates.
What drew me to this position at Highlands was not only the administrative team and everyone I met during the interview process, but I love the fact that Highlands has children from ages 6 weeks through 8th grade - how wonderful it will be to watch a child grow for fourteen years and build relationships with those families. Even in my short time here, it is clear to me why Highlands was rated as one of the top 50 schools in the country by Highlands’ diverse community and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion also is a hallmark that places it among the leading schools in the country. I look forward to adding more families to our already diverse community.

Eve Espy, 2nd Grade Teacher
My name is Eve Espy, and I am so excited to introduce myself as the newest 2nd grade teacher at Highlands School. I grew up in Dothan, Alabama, and attended college at Auburn University, where I graduated with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. After college, I moved to Albany, Georgia, where I lived for over 20 years before moving back to Dothan to take care of my parents. This summer, I moved to Birmingham to be closer to my grown children. My oldest daughter, Emily, lives here in town with her husband, Buddy. My oldest son, Miles, lives in Cullman, and my youngest son, Michael, is a senior at Auburn.
When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with family, playing with my grand-dog Penny, going to the beach, and cheering on the Auburn Tigers (War Eagle!). I have enjoyed exploring my new hometown this summer, and I am looking forward to getting involved with a local church and various organizations within the community.
This will be my 23rd year of teaching, and I am so happy to be joining the Highlands family. Over the years and throughout my teaching career, I had heard great things about the Highlands School. After speaking to the administration and stepping foot on campus during my job search, I immediately was drawn into the school and “The Highlands Way.” I felt at home when visiting Highlands and knew this is where I wanted to continue my career. I am so excited for this new chapter in my life, and I am looking forward to meeting more of the Highlands Family.

Kayla Gober, Associate Teacher
Hello! My name is Kayla Gober. I reside in Dora, Alabama, and graduated in December of 2020 with my degree in Early Childhood Education. I have always worked in an environment that allowed me to be with children and make relationships with parents. I knew a place that gave me the opportunity to help mold a child’s life is where I wanted to find my occupation. When I am not working, I find enjoyment in baking. However, planning my upcoming wedding has taken up most of my free time!
Highlands School gave me an opportunity to be a tiny part of their community during the spring semester and allowed me to substitute. During that time, I understood what the Highlands community was all about. The children always come first in everything. Their education, mental health, and social development is the top priority in everything Highlands does. I knew that I wanted to work somewhere that valued their students, their families, and their employees. Highlands School is that place and I am excited to be a part of this upcoming school year!

Lucy Holt, Infant/Toddler Teacher
Hello, my name is Lucy Holt. I’m excited to be returning to the Highland School and Community! As they say, “There’s No Place Like Home!” Let me give you a little glimpse into me. I am a retired Medical Laboratory Technician from Laboratory Corporation of America after 33 years of work. I also worked at Detroit Medical and Surgical Center for 3 years and at Baptist Medical Center for 3 years with the practice for Dr. Eagan, Daily, and Garcia. I studied Biology at Alabama State University and attended Krainz Woods Academy for Medical Technology in Detroit, Michigan.
I am the Associate Pastor at Evangel Life Church where I also am the leader of the OutReach Ministry. I have a Feeding Program where we provide Brown Bag Lunches twice a month to the community and around the city. I also have a Clothing Ministry for whoever needs clothing. I am the Sunday School teacher of the Women Department.
I am the mother of three children  - one son and two daughters - and grandmother to two handsome grandsons. I also have two sisters. I love to read and do puzzles of all kinds, but my favorite thing I like to do is helping others!
I guess you can say Highlands chose me. I was recommended by a very close friend to call Michelle because she is looking for someone to work in the afternoon.  Well, it took me about a year before I did, and it was love at first sight! I loved the atmosphere of our first meeting. It was a match made in heaven.  The diversity of the school is absolutely phenomenal and working in the Family Center watching babies develop into well-rounded boys and girls learning different cultures from the cradle to eighth grade is priceless! My most prized possessions are my babies and their parents!

Jaime Paquette, 4th/5th Grade Math Teacher
Hello, my name is Jaime Paquette. This year will be my 8th year teaching. My experience has ranged from teaching secondary Math and Science at an American school in China for two years to teaching 9th grade Algebra 1 at a charter school in Texas for three years to moving to Alabama and teaching 8th grade Math. When the pandemic hit, I faced many changes, but I was so grateful for the opportunity to teach 2nd grade Math and Social Studies at Advent Episcopal School in Birmingham. I loved seeing where Math starts, and I am so excited this year to come back to where my heart lies; that is Math education. I studied Math Education at Texas State University and graduated with a certification in 4th-8th grade Math. I feel like I have landed right where I am meant to be and that is teaching 4th and 5th grade Math at the Highlands School.
Birmingham has been a blessing to me. I enjoy getting outside, paddle boarding, hiking, yoga, and meditation. This summer I am working on my yoga RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) 200-hour certification. I also grew up dancing and figure skating. I, on occasion, skate at Pelham and keep up with it as a hobby. I moved here two years ago and live with my dear friends that led me here. I have one fur baby that has been through many journeys with me.
I was drawn to the Highlands school for several reasons. One of them being how perfectly my experience seems to have lined up for this position. Second, being my personal value of diversity that I see reflected at Highlands School. Not just the value of diversity in life experience but in that it "encompasses many dimensions, including race, religion, ethnicity, culture, gender, and socioeconomic background." I am so excited to continue my teaching journey at Highlands with you all teaching 4th and 5th grade Math for the 2021-2022 school year.

Lou Phillips, Associate Teacher
I grew up in the community of Delta on a farm near the big Tallapoosa River in east Alabama. As a boy scout, and later Eagle Scout, I enjoyed exploring the woods and creeks that were on our farm. I graduated from Southern Union before starting at JSU where I was involved with the Writer’s Club. I worked my way through undergrad in the grocery business. 
I taught 2nd Grade in Georgia for 11 years before moving onto teach 1st Grade for two years. After my wife, Paula, and I got married in 2015, we moved to Warrior, Alabama to be close to her family. We’ve been married for 6 years and have two cats, Patches and Ellie, and a beagle named Andy. 
I am proud to have been a part of the Highlands community for a few years already as an EDP/Summer Camp counselor and a substitute teacher. I have seen the love and support the teachers and faculty have for the children. They work hard to help the children which are their highest goals and I love being a part of that.

Lindsey Scoggins, Counselor
Hi! My name is Lindsey Scoggins and both my daughter Katherine, who will be entering the Highlands 4K program, and I are extremely excited for the amazing opportunity to join the Highlands community. I was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and moved to the Birmingham area in 1998; my family has been here ever since. I attended The Alabama School of Fine Arts majoring in Visual Arts. After graduating from there, I attended Auburn University and later completed my undergraduate degree in Family and Child Studies through American Public University System. 
I received my first teaching experience while working at United Cerebral Palsy’s Preschool Hand in Hand; while there, I discovered my love of working with children and families. I continued my education through Capella University, completing my internship at a clinic specializing in working with students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and earning my Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. After graduating I worked with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health as a school-based therapist. I was placed in three different school districts and at five different schools delivering individual therapy, family therapy, and behavioral interventions to students and their families.
My daughter and I moved back to Birmingham earlier this past fall and I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to become the temporary guidance counselor at Cherokee Bend Elementary. I have a passion for working with children and families and believe the school system presents a fabulous environment to understand and be integrated into multiple dynamics of a child's life. I am thrilled to be coming on board with a school that holds such high regard not only for a child’s education but for their well-being as a whole. 

Laurie Watson, Associate Teacher
I grew up in Birmingham, attending school in Vestavia Hills. I graduated from Auburn University, UAB, and the University of Alabama. I am truly a life-long learner!  After teaching in an elementary classroom for 13 years in Vestavia, I went back to school and earned a master's degree in Library Science. I finished my career in public school as a librarian in an elementary setting. I retired after 25 years and have worked at Highlands as a substitute and associate teacher since then.
I am so excited to be working with the talented teachers and the wonderful students at Highlands this year! Highlands is truly a special place to learn and work. My nephew, Tristin, is in fifth grade and has been attending Highlands since 4K. We love being part of the Highlands family!


Mya Phillips, 3K Teacher
Hi, I’m Mya and I am so proud to say that I will be one of the new 3K teachers this year! I started my journey at Highlands last year as a 4K aide, and instantly felt right at home! Rachel, Angela, and Eleanor taught me so much in such a short time, and now I can spread that knowledge and joy they shared with me with my 3K kiddos. I currently hold an Associate degree in Sociology and will be graduating next year with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. Some of my hobbies include mud riding, gardening, baking, and just spending time with my nephews, who always keep me on my toes.
I am honored to work as one of the 3K teachers here because I have always had a passion for children. While going through my journey I want to do more than just teach, but help my students become model citizens in the world. Since walking through those doors, I have always been treated like a part of the Highlands family. It is truly a school that focuses on the advancement of academic achievement and makes it a goal that every child is in a safe, accepting, and loving environment.

Kellye Allen, Assistant Director of Admissions & Enrollment
I have been a part of the Highlands Community as a parent (12 Years), Kindergarten Associate (3 years), and Learning System Management Coordinator/Admissions Associate (2 years). I am so excited for this new opportunity as the Assistant Director of Admissions and Enrollment here at Highlands. I love everything about this school – the students, faculty, staff, parents, and campus. This school has been a part of my family for 16 years, and I can’t imagine my life away from Highlands.
My background is in counseling psychology. I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. After graduating, I worked at the Federal Prison in Lexington, Kentucky in their dual diagnosis program for 5 years until I had my first child. I was a stay-at-home mom for 14 years with my two children, Peyton (19) and Clay (16). Both of my children went to school at Highlands, and during that time, I was involved in every aspect of this school  - even as PA President. After my daughter graduated from Highlands and went off to boarding school at Chatham Hall, I decided it was time to go back to work, and what better place to go than Highlands where my son was still in school. Peyton is going to be a sophomore at Barnard College/Columbia University and Clay will be a junior at Homewood High School.
In my spare time, I enjoy reading, going to the pool, working in my yard, listening to music, exercising, and walking my pug, Olive. I look forward to this next adventure at Highlands!
Lisa Camp, Director of EDP & Summer Camp
Hi, I’m Lisa Camp! I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and I am proud to call Birmingham, Alabama home! I moved here over three years ago to form a more lasting bond with my son, his wife, and my two grandchildren. In the process, my daughter-in-law’s family has become my extended family! Family is always first and foremost. That is what makes being at Highlands so special, the Highlands Community and the close connections with the families.
Before coming to Highlands, I was the Director of Curriculum at Crème de la Crème Early Learning Center of Excellence in Alpharetta, Georgia. I earned that position with more than twenty years of experience as a classroom teacher in grades ranging from six weeks to the eighth grade. Most of my experience has been in grades from 4-year-old Pre-Kindergarten to 1st Grade. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Education from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
Just as Highlands takes learning to a higher degree, it is my hope to take fun to a higher degree as well! I am looking forward to forming a more lasting bond with the families of the Highlands Community as the Director of the Extended Day Program and Summer Camp. I know, as a parent and a grandparent, that these awesome children at Highlands are your greatest asset, and therefore, our greatest asset. I will do my very best to help solve any after-school or summer camp issues you may have.

Gabe McCool, Dean of Students 4th-8th Grade
Greetings, Highlands families! I have been working at Highlands for nearly 16 years and have worn many hats, my main role being the Director of the Extended Day Program and Summer Camp. I am a member of the administrative team and have been involved in our character education initiative since 2011 and more recently served as the chair of our social-emotional learning (SEL) committee, which sparked me to earn a certificate in SEL Leadership through Rutgers and the College of St. Elizabeth. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Psychology and my master’s in Counseling at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Prior to coming to Highlands, I helped run a small business facilitating teambuilding and leadership training programs using challenge courses, outdoor education, and experiential learning for school groups, businesses, and college leadership programs.
I have always been interested in and committed to the character and social-emotional development of our students. I believe it is essential and one of the most important things we can do to help our youth succeed. I am looking forward to my new role as Dean of Students at Highlands and am excited to be a resource for teachers and parents. But most importantly, I am excited to work side by side with our students to help them be the best they can be. My hope is for them to learn more about themselves and others by building relationships, learning leadership and conflict resolution skills, and developing a sense of belonging and inclusion.
I have two children here at Highlands. Cara is in 7th grade and Jensen is in 3rd grade. They have been here since they were about 12 weeks old, and I have loved having them here with me. My husband, Denver, is a lieutenant for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. We love being outside, working on home improvement projects, and watching movies!

Gabe will be working closely with our Associate Head of School, Robert McGehee, in supporting student services in 4th -8th grade. Gabe will also continue to provide support to the EDP program to ensure a seamless transition.

Highlands School, 4901 Old Leeds Road, Birmingham, AL 35213, (205) 956-9731
Highlands School's 'whole child' approach to education and commitment to academic excellence, creative expression, and leadership development prepare and motivate students in grades 4k through 8 to make a positive difference in an ever-changing world. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Highlands School holds dual accrediation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Southern Associations of Independent Schools (SAIS).

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