New staff

This year Highland has a number f new staff members. I was able to contact two of the new staff members and asked them questions to get to know them better.

image taken from the official Highland Park Senior High website

The first staff member I was able to talk to is Xue Xiong. Ms. Xue has been teaching for five years; this year is her first year at Highland. She is an ELL teacher, and she co-teaches in an English 10 class, teaches a push-in Algebra 2 class, and also is designated as a 1.5 Social Studies teacher. Before teaching at Highland, Ms. Xiong taught at Hiawatha Leadership Academy, a charter school in South Minneapolis.

When it comes to teaching, what Ms. Xiong enjoys most is connecting with the students, and creating lesson plans for her students to understand and access content. This year is her first year of teaching in high school. Something she doesn’t enjoy so much is grading, but she says she understands the importance of tracking where each of her students is at. Ms. Xiong’s hobbies outside of school include: reading, spending time with her family, and taking naps.

image taken from the official Highland Park Senior High website

The second new staff member I contacted is Joel Gullickson. Mr. Gullickson has been teaching for 20 years now. He teaches Woodwork and Product Design. Before teaching at Highland, Mr. Gullickson taught at Frunze School in Kazakhstan for 2 years, Harding High school for 20 years, International School Moshi in Tanzania for 2 years, and Lakeview South High School for 1 year.

When it comes to teaching for Mr. Gullickson, what he enjoys most is working with the students and writing curriculum. Something he doesn’t enjoy so much is grading. Mr. Gullickson’s hobbies outside of school include: music and film. He also is a beekeeper.


New Chinese teacher in 2017-18

This year, Highland Park Senior High has a new Chinese teacher, Ju-Chang Wang. Mrs. Wang teaches Chinese levels 2, 3, and Chinese Immersion 9. She is also a teacher for Study Hall. Mrs. Wang has been teaching for 19 years – she taught for 9 years in Taiwan as an elementary school teacher, and she has been teaching for the past 10 years in the Twin Cities area.

Before coming to Highland, Mrs. Wang taught at Central High School, and Forest Lake Area High School. Mrs. Wang enjoys teaching Chinese very much because teaching Chinese allows her to be creative and innovative to make learning Chinese fun.

Mrs. Wang also said that she loves working with students. She believes that everyone needs someone to believe in them so they can also believe in themselves. She says it feels great when she can be that person for young people.

Mrs. Wang is excited about this year, and she has no doubt that this year is going to be great. “I have awesome students and the best team working towards our common goals – to serve our students and strengthen the Chinese language program at Highland Park Senior High School.”

Retiring teachers

With the end of the year approaching, and summer just around the corner, many people are considering vacation. Some are considering a permanent vacation, or retirement. At Highland Park Senior High School, the people retiring from their jobs here are: Ms. Sherrod, the personal finance management teacher; Mr. Rios, a Spanish teacher; Ms. Harrison, the school nurse; and Ms. Ship, an assistant principal. They have all dedicated their valuable time and skills to teach kids and/or better the school, which is a very noble and nice thing to do. They will soon be leaving Highland Park to start a new chapter of their life, retired from their teaching jobs away from the school. This new chapter of retirement will begin on June 13th when school ends for staff, and will continue throughout the rest of their lives.

I interviewed a student who has one of these teachers and asked them how they felt about their teacher retiring. This student wanted to be kept anonymous for privacy reasons and when asked the question they said that, “I am sad to see them go, but happy for them.”

I’ve only met with a few of these teachers briefly, but I understand how and why they feel this way. I had a teacher of mine in middle school retire and I felt the same way. When I asked the student to explain a little more why they felt that way they did, they said, “I’m sad that I won’t have them next year, but at the same time happy for them to retire.” I see, and know where they are coming from, and completely agree with what they are saying.

I also asked this student how they felt about new teachers for next year, even though we both have no clue who or what to expect. They said, “I’m anxious to see what kind of person they are, and I’m also excited to know who it is at the same time.” I am also interested/excited to see who the new teachers are because maybe I will have them next year, or the year after. I hope that the new teachers will be just as good as the retiring teachers, which won’t be an easy thing to do.

At the end of the day, I’m just happy to have a teacher that enjoys their job and enjoys helping people. These teachers who are retiring have checked both of these boxes during their time at Highland Park Senior High School, and will be missed dearly for their hard work and dedication to this school. I wish them a happy retirement and give them thanks for all they have done to better our school and community.

Spanish Immersion social studies teacher

There are many Spanish Immersion teachers here at Highland, and one of them is Elizabeth Feinstein. Ms. Feinstein is the social studies teacher for the Spanish Immersion program; she teaches 9th grade World History and 10th grade Human Geography. This year is currently her second year teaching at Highland.

Ms. Feinstein started teaching because she likes people and likes being around people a lot. Her favorite thing about teaching is that she gets to see a lot of people everyday.

What she doesn’t enjoy so much, about teaching, is that teaching can be a lot of work and stressful.

I then asked her what she liked most about Highland, to which she replied that she really liked the level of school spirit. She doesn’t have anything she dislikes about Highland.

Some of her hobbies outside of school is doing any outdoor activities, and watching T.V. She likes being outside and doing activities outside of the home.

Great news at Highland

On Friday, March 24th, there was a college fair here at Highland. In the morning two students, Mason Corhouse and Vanessa De La Vega Meza, were presented with scholarships (Dease Scholarship ) to the University of St. Thomas, from a St. Thomas representative.

The Dease Scholarship Program was created by St. Thomas’ 14th President, Dennis Dease. He initiated this program to increase access to a St. Thomas education for students historically underrepresented at the school. These (full-tuition) scholarship are generally awarded to students of color, first generation students, and graduates from urban high schools.

I was able to ask our lucky winners some questions about the scholarship, and how they felt. This is what Vanessa had to say:

photo courtesy of Vanessa

Q: What did you have to do in order to apply for this scholarship?

A: Well in order to apply to the scholarship I first had to be accepted to St. Thomas. Then I had to fill out an application, and write some essays!

Q: Why did you pick St. Thomas?

A: The reason I decided to go to St. Thomas is because it really is such a wonderful school. I have family members who went to St. Thomas and they have always spoken about St. Thomas in such a good manner! I also had a ton of people tell me that it was an excellent school. So I did some research and I was actually excited about this school. I then did a campus visit, as well as an overnight visit and I was thrilled. As I visited the school I noticed a lot of things that I loved about St. Thomas! But the way that St. Thomas treats their students truly got me. They treat their students like actual people, rather than just a number.

Q: Do you know your major? If so, what is it and why did you pick it?

A: The major that I would like to pursue is Civil Engineering. The reason behind this is because I have always been interested by the structures of buildings and bridges and such. At one point I thought I wanted to be an architect, but I realized that just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be a part of the math behind the building, and to be a part of the safety of the building. It was then that I found civil engineering, which incorporates everything that I desired to be in my future.

Q: How do you feel knowing that you were chosen out of the 300 applicants?

A: It feels crazy to think that I was chosen out of 300 applicants! Even thinking of it today I am still astounded to think that I was chosen. It really does feel like I am living in a dream!

Q: Fun fact about yourself? 

A: Hmmm I can’t really think of a fun fact.


photo courtesy of Mason

Here is what Mason had to say:

Q: What did you have to do in order to apply for this scholarship?

A: To apply for the Dease scholarship, I had to be an accepted student, fill out a scholarship application with information about myself, and complete 2 essays. I don’t recall if letters of recommendation were required though.

Q: Why did you pick St.Thomas?

A: I chose The University of St. Thomas because it is a beautiful school with great programs and educational opportunities.

Q: Do you know your major? If so, what is it and why did you pick it?

A:  The major I am seeking is Actuarial Science, and I am seeking this major because it is very rigorous and requires a lot of mathematics which I enjoy.

Q: How do you feel knowing that you were chosen out of 300 applicants?

A: I am very proud that I was selected for the Dease scholarship; it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Q: Fun fact about yourself?

A: A fun fact about me is that I can bench my own weight.
Mason and Vanessa both have an incredible things ahead for them. Make sure to congratulate them when you them!

Chemistry teachers

There are two Chemistry teachers at Highland; they are Allison Noah and Natalie Strauss. In an effort to get to know these teachers better, I first interviewed Ms. Noah, then Ms. Strauss.

Allison Noah has been teaching at Highland for about 5 years. Her favorite part about Highland is the students. What she doesn’t like so much is that in some rooms, the temperature is too hot, and in others, it’s too cold. Ms. Noah’s favorite part of teaching is getting to know her students well. Her least favorite part is doing all the extra paperwork that doesn’t involve teaching students.

How Ms. Noah became a Chemistry teacher is a long, but wonderful, story. She got her degree in criminal justice but did not use it much. Ms. Noah also led back country trips that were far from cities.

On the back country trips she led, Ms. Noah found that she taught, the youth she led, a lot. She taught people how to pack for a trip, methods to plan, and how to cook. Eventually, she realized that she loved the teaching part of her trips, so she decided to become a high school teacher.

Some of her hobbies are: cross country skiing, reading, mountain climbing, hikes, walks, and cooking. Ms. Noah doesn’t have any more plans for her future yet; she just wants to continue on teaching.

Our other Chemistry teacher is Natalie Strauss. Ms. Strauss has been teaching for 3 years now. Her favorite part of Highland is that there is a lot of diversity; no students are the same as another. What she doesn’t like so much, is watching the students be under a ton of pressure, especially when the students want to do well; it adds even more pressure onto them.

What Ms. Strauss enjoys about teaching is watching struggling students be able to understand the material, or to be able to get out of their struggles. What she doesn’t enjoy, so much, is having to do all the extra paperwork that isn’t related to how a student is learning.

Ms. Strauss actually went to college for Chemistry, but her plan was to be a physical therapist. Her parents were in the teaching field, and she realized she did not want to be in the same field as her parents. As she focused more in school, she came to the realization that she did not want to go to medical school and become a physical therapist. From then on, she started her year-long student program at Highland, and found that teaching worked well for her life-style.

Some of her hobbies include: swimming (coaches swimming as a job), reading, playing with her dog, hanging out with her husband, and camping. Like Ms. Noah, she doesn’t have any other plans for her future; she just wants to be able to teach at Highland.

These are our two Chemistry teachers at Highland. Hope you have learned something new about them.

Immersion Languages

At Highland Park Senior High, there are two immersion language programs. One is Spanish Immersion, another is Chinese Immersion. The Spanish Immersion leader this year is Ms. Boe and the Chinese Immersion leader this year is Ms. Miao.

spanThe Spanish Immersion program is a program at the high school level for students who have gone through other immersion programs. The students are required to speak a high level of Spanish. The program has been with Highland for quite a long time now, 15 years or so.

The Spanish Immersion students came from different places. Some of the students are from Highland Middle, others are from Adam’s Spanish Immersion. There are also a few students from Cesar Chavez, River View, and Mexico.

There are 3 Freshmen classes, 3 Sophomore classes, 2 Junior classes, and 1 Senior class for Spanish Immersion learning. There are two other classes that are involved with the Spanish Immersion program, they are World History for Freshmen in the program,  and Human Geography for Sophomores.

During in the interview, I asked Ms. Boe how the year has been going so far. She replied that the year has been going really well; the students and staff are great.

I also asked her if she had any exciting plans for her students. Ms. Boe replied that she really wants to travel with them. She also had other fun plans such as Spanish speaking debates and family nights in the Spring.

doorThe Chinese Immersion program is a program offered to students who took Immersion Chinese before high school. The class is entirely taught in Mandarin Chinese. This year, there are 9 students in the program; 8 of them came from Ying Hua Academy which is a K-8 Chinese Immersion School. There are a few upperclassmen at Highland who went to Ying Hua Academy before and are now enrolled in Chinese 5 and 6.

This year is a year that is stretching the Chinese program with a lot of adjusting for Ms. Miao and her immersion students. The school culture and dynamics are different from their previous school, the approach to learning is also different to the students. Therefore, it is a process of adjusting for the teacher and students.

In the Chinese Immersion class, they are currently reading a contemporary literature piece, and are also working on a Chinese history project learning about different Chinese historical figures. The class will take a visit to St. Paul’s Jie Ming Chinese Immersion School to present their presentation in Chinese to the elementary students.

Ms. Lin who is currently teaching Chinese 1 and 2 will also be teaching science to Chinese Immersion students who come from Jie Ming the next year at the Middle School.

These are the two Immersion Languages at Highland Park Senior High.


New Chinese teacher


New Chinese teacher, Ms. Lin

This year at Highland Park Senior High, there is a new Chinese teacher known as Patty Lin. Ms. Lin was born on May 10th, and she is teaching Chinese 1 and 2. Ms. Miao, Highland’s veteran Chinese Teacher, will be teaching the higher levels of Chinese, and Chinese Immersion, this year.

I first asked how Ms. Lin felt about Highland, to which her reply was, “I felt very welcomed and I also enjoy being here.”

Then I asked about her favorite part of Highland, and she replied, “I like the IB School. They foster the environment of thinking beyond yourself and the subject you’re taking.”

My next question was asking her why she decided to teach. “I grew up with good teachers who foster teaching and discovery. I want to be a similar spark for students.”

After that, I asked her about her favorite and least favorite parts of teaching. Her favorite part of teaching, she replied was, “Getting to know students and learning more about teaching with students.” Her least favorite part, she said was, “It’s challenging to balance what I’m going to do each day.”

The last question related to school was what hour did she like to teach best to which she replied,” My sixth hour because I like my Freshman.”

I asked her about her hobbies and what she likes outside of school. Ms. Lin likes to play music, photography, and also Scuba dive even though she doesn’t really have time for it. Her favorite color is purple, and her favorite movie is The Incredibles.

Ms. Lin is a really nice teacher, she’s funny and she makes sure her students understand the context. Hopefully, this first year at Highland will go great for her.


Dreamline tutors interview

img_0001Available to all students, the Dreamline Tutors are here to help you. Be it math, science, history, or English. I sat down with them to ask them some questions, and here are their responses.

Who are you?

Ms. Tegan Thompson, Mr. Chris Young (Highland Alumni, had Ms. Lingofelt as a teacher), and Mr. Matt Johnson

What do you do as a tutor?

We give support in the classrooms, core stuff, and after school stuff.

Do you get many students looking for tutoring?

Just 9th grade and 10th grade students.

What is the most common and least common subject for tutoring?

Math (most common) and Science (least common).

Does your tutoring typically improve the grades of your students?


What days are you available?

Monday through Thursday, 2-4 P.M.

What made you want to be a tutor?

“Been working in schools for the past 3 years, but liked working in small groups as opposed to classrooms,” said Ms. Thompson. 

Meet the new staff members!

A new school year includes: new supplies, new opportunities, new students, and new teachers! This year we’ve welcomed 10 new staff members to our school. We had the chance to go around and ask some of them a little about themselves and their thoughts on Highland so far. All of the new staff members were very open and kind about answering the questions that we had for them. They all had very interesting things to say about the school and about themselves.


Ms. Rahman, Highland’s new librarian

All of the new staff members have been loving the vibe of Highland. The new librarian Ms. Rahman said, “I love the friendly, warm, and caring vibe I get from the staff members and the students.” Each staff member that we interviewed said that they can’t help but love just how lovely and kind everyone here at Highland is. Their favorite thing about Highland so far is the students! They all love just how friendly and smart the students are.

Mr. Auran, our new athletic director, said he was excited to come back to the high school side, this time in a new position. 

All of the new staff members are all very friendly and they all are very dedicated to their jobs here at Highland. We asked each staff member why they had chosen to come here and work at Highland. They all said that they loved what Highland had to offer for them, and that they’d heard so many wonderful things about this school. They all were very excited to start working here. and once they did, they couldn’t help but love the atmosphere.

Mr. Auran, the athletic director, who grew up near Highland, and also graduated from here, said that, “He always loved just how open-minded and fun the staff and students were.”  

During these interviews we got to know something fun and interesting about each of the staff members, and learned that all of them were pretty cool. All the fun facts went from playing the guitar for themselves and only themselves to doing scuba diving.


Mr. Rios, Highland’s newest Spanish teacher, picture taken from the HPSH website

We also found out that Mr. Rios loves to sing and write poetry and that Ms. Rahman had studied classical piano while growing up, but she hasn’t played since.

Hopefully, all of these new staff members create new and awesome memories here with us and have a great year at Highland.