Candice Highfield loved people, the beach and her Starbucks coffee.
A wife and mother, she was a tireless advocate for the children and families she served as a social worker and school visitor for Hempfield School District.
Highfield died Jan. 7 of complications from COVID-19. She was 62.
“Some people come into your life for a brief moment,” said Keri Detter, an elementary building aide at Landisville Intermediate Center. “But they come in with such force and magnetism that when they leave there is a rent in your soul.”
Jennifer Baer described Highfield as an irreplaceable resource for educators and students.
“When I came to Hempfield as an ESL teacher, I was blessed with working alongside Candice,” said Baer, an English language development language teacher at Farmdale Elementary School. “I like to describe her as a power-per-minute leader with grit and zest. She was a loyal and courageous no-nonsense, optimistic, straight-shooting colleague.”
Highfield’s kindness, affection and dedication to the students is what Edward Highfield, her husband of 25 years, said is what will be missed the most.
“I would like to ask that you do not pity my family. Please save your prayers for the families and children that Candice is no longer here to help,” he said. “This was what she was put here for, and this is the true loss.”
Hempfield Superintendent Michael J. Bromirski recalled Highfield’s passion for the students she helped.
“She’d come in and start sharing some of her adventures from the day. I would hear about her passionate pleas or demands to social service agencies and medical providers to offer the necessary services for our students and their families,” Bromirski said.
“We need to keep Candice’s passion, spirit and mission central to what we do every day,” he said. “Candice was always about helping others first.”
A passion for helping children
Highfield began her social work career with the Lebanon County Children & Youth Services abuse unit, before working for ChildLine, part of a mandated statewide child protective services program.
She served in a clinical and supervisory capacity at the adolescent unit at Holy Spirit Hospital in Camp Hill, and KidsPeace, which offers treatment programs to children and families with behavioral and mental health needs.
Highfield was in her 13th year with the Hempfield School District. In 2013, she was named school social worker of the year by the Pennsylvania Association of School Social Work Personnel.
“But that only describes her job title,” said Steve Lindenberg, a retired Pennsylvania certified school psychologist. “It doesn’t come close to defining this awesome person. Candice was fearless; always spoke truth to power with tenacity and humility.”
Indelible dedication, fearless love
Highfield was regarded among her colleagues as an agent of change in the business of helping others, all done with indelible dedication and fearless love.
“Her can-do mindset offered the staff a means to get resources in the hands of students and their families, connecting them to programs and opportunities that they would not have learned of or gained access to without (her),” said Mike Resh, a school counselor at Landisville Primary Center.
Whether she offered assistance in the form of counseling and advocacy or gift cards for food and clothing, Highfield focused on empowering those who were marginalized and helping them to thrive.
“I could always call on Candice when one of our families needed her and on the fact that she would do whatever she could to assist them,” said Peggy Bupp, a certified school nurse at Hempfield.
A viewing will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Thompson Funeral Home in Lebanon. An online memorial service will be held via Zoom (ID No. 4530799724) from noon to 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Highfield’s name can be made to Hempfield Help Thy Neighbor.