Just call Vanisse Higginbotham the “First Lady of the Elevator.”

It’s a running joke for now, but it might catch on. Higginbotham, the cafeteria manager at Clarke Elementary School, is in charge of the elevator at Leo Buckley Stadium on game nights.

But because of her day job, she spent three days earlier this week in Washington D.C. where she shook the hand of first lady Michelle Obama.

Higginbotham and area supervisor Anethia Coffey went to the White House on Monday as Clarke won a HealthierUS School Challenge Award, with the duo spearheading Clarke’s move to a healthier menu.

“It was fun,” Higginbotham said. “It was not as much interaction as we thought it was going to be with the first lady. She came out, she did her speech, she shook our hands and then she went back in. Then the secret service pretty much shut it down.

“But I was there, I shook her hand and said ‘Hi,’ but that was pretty much it.”

Now a few days later, Higginbotham is back at Leo Buckley. She worked in the concession stands for the last few years, and actually went into this football season with the same plan. The spot to run the elevator came open, so Higginbotham took it.

“When I told my brother-in-law about my job, he goes, ‘What are you, a glorified button pusher?’” Higginbotham said. “And I said, ‘No. I’m the elevator concierge.’”

She watches very little of the games, catching a glimpse or checking on the score from the balcony level when no one needs a ride up or down.

Conversations are short in the elevator, as Higginbotham spends time clarifying where patrons are heading.When opposing coaches get in there together it can be a little akward she says.

“It gets fun in here sometimes,” Higginbotham said. “But sometimes it’s really quiet when you get both the coaches in here, especially after halftime. It can get really quiet.“Some of the coaches like to razz the others ones, and that can be funny.”


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