VENICE — Not every teacher can get away with walking into a student’s bedroom and blasting a horn to wake him up on his birthday.

But that’s exactly what happened Friday as a team of Venice High teachers surprised Logan Haney-Heitl, a graduating senior, planting yard signs with his name on it and leaving a bag of treats to celebrate an end to the school year.

Other teachers did the same for their Venice High grads, albeit without the noise affect. The idea was to do a drive by, place the signs in the front yard — one with the graduates’ name on it, one celebrating school pride — drop off a bag of goodies on the doorstep, ring the doorbell, and take off.

It happened at other schools in Sarasota County as well.

Logan is special, say his teachers. He and music teacher Josh Grant, Sarasota County Teacher of the Year, had become friends out of mutual respect.

Grant, along with teachers Christine Botti, Sara Gentry and Jeff Lohnston, all helped Logan, a football standout at school, through his senior year. His uncle and aunt helped raise him.

Logan “persevered in a challenging family situation,” said aunt Kristy Heitl. Logan is headed into the Army his summer.

On a sunny Friday morning, the teachers walked three houses away from Grant’s home to Logan’s home and created an instant party, mindful of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wearing masks and issuing self reminders to maintain social distancing.

“They’re awesome,” said Adam Heitl, Logan’s uncle. “Logan was a good student and a good football player. He worked hard for this.”

“I was good to them, and they were better to me,” Logan Heitl said of his teachers. “They helped get me through the years. I really appreciate what they did for me. They made the (school) experience a lot better, and I thank them for being great teachers and mentors to me.”

“This is the best part of being a teacher,” Grant said. “It’s not the tests, or the assignments, or grading. It’s the celebration of students. This is why we do it.”


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