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THE STINGER

The student news site of Emmaus High School

THE STINGER

THE STINGER

Graphic courtesy of Canva.
Balancing work and school
February 22, 2024

A year gone by with Principal Guarriello

Photo+courtesy+of+East+Penn+School+District.+
Photo courtesy of East Penn School District.

This story previously ran in our September 2023 print issue.

Since becoming principal of Emmaus High School, Beth Guarriello has been committed to maintaining the high standards expected from the school’s students. Guarriello served as principal of Southern Lehigh High School prior to joining Emmaus following the end of the 2021-22 school year. Reflecting on her first year, Guarriello expressed pride in fostering a culture of acceptance and camaraderie.

Stinger: How has the first year at EHS gone for you?

Guarriello: It was a rollercoaster. It was a huge learning curve. This is a big, complicated place, but I’m really proud of the students and the staff and some of the improvements we’ve made. I am hoping [that] every day and every year it gets a little bit better … the start to this school year was much better than the start to last school year. We’re working hard to keep the kids safe, to provide better learning experiences and opportunities for students, and really to focus on creating a distraction-free learning environment. It’s a lot of people, a lot of names, systems, and processes to learn.

Stinger: What are some of the most effective changes to this school year in your opinion?

Guarriello: Well, I know the students won’t like this, but I do think the cell phone policy is helpful. There are students that [for whom] cell phones were never a problem, and they could focus and pay attention and weren’t distracted, but there are other kids that are addicted. By having a schoolwide policy and not putting it on the shoulders of the teachers…now we can say this is the schoolwide policy. The hallways are much clearer. There aren’t kids roaming around as much. [We have] a lot fewer students in the bathrooms and in the hallways because they were just going there to hang out and to sit on their phones and the [other] school avoidance kinds of techniques. So I think by saying “no phones” in the bathroom [we have] an increase [in] safety and keep kids in class longer. I think that’s been a good change. 

Stinger: What was your proudest moment at EHS this past year?

Guarriello: Graduation [last year] was pretty cool. I’d been part of Liberty [High School]’s graduation and Southern Lehigh’s, but there was something really cool about the PPL Center. The students were great, and everyone was just so excited. But [other than that] my proudest moments are when I stumble across students helping each other on small things. I am very proud about the small things that happen when nobody’s watching. 

Stinger: Why did you decide to join the EHS community?

Guarriello: Two reasons. One, I personally was looking for a bigger challenge. The second reason, I thought with my experience, I could come and help the school. The school had been through a lot, and when Dr. Kieres announced her retirement, I thought this might be a really neat opportunity, and I wanted to see if I could help the school, the students, and the staff.

Stinger: What plans do you have for the future?

Guarriello: I like taking small incremental steps. And so, in the future, I’d like to continue talking about how we can improve what we do every day. And that might come down to discussions about grading. I’m looking forward to seeing how the second-chance learning opportunities go this year. I want to talk about what we can continue to do next year. I’m excited about some of the Program of Studies changes that we’re discussing now — things that will help the school and the students. We’re done for this year [with changes]. Whatever change we start the year with is what we stick with, but we [also] talked about what we can do for next year. And so we’ll see if we need to give time for this year’s changes to kind of take root and evaluate and see if they’re working.

Stinger: What was one challenge you overcame switching from Southern Lehigh to EHS?

Guarriello: Every school has a different culture to it. I had been at Southern Lehigh for seven years, so that just kind of became family [to me]. We all knew each other. It’s only 1,100 students. I knew all the kids. I knew all the teachers. I knew all their families. And so, coming here and not knowing the systems, or the culture, or even the people or their names last year was tough because I just felt like a fish out of water the whole year. This year, it was really nice to be able to walk the halls and know peoples’ names and ask about [their lives]. That was probably the biggest adjustment last year, just learning everything new. And there’s still a lot more to learn that I have no idea about.

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About the Contributor
Ayaan Shah, Editor-in-Chief
This is Ayaan's third year on The Stinger. He is a member of Academic Team, Varsity Chess Team, President of Chess Club, and Treasurer of World Cultures Club, in addition to being a member of NHS. Ayaan is also a member of the Student Press Law Center's New Voices program, which is dedicated to passing protective state legislation for student journalists. He won first place for editorial writing in the 2023 Keystone Media Awards and third place in the 2023 Pennsylvania Press Club high school journalism contest. In 2024 he won second place for ongoing news coverage of the EPSD Board elections, and also won the $500 statewide diversity champion scholarship award from the Keystone NewsMedia Association. Prior to becoming Editor-in-Chief, Ayaan was the Managing Opinion Editor, and a Deputy News Editor prior to that. Outside of school, Ayaan enjoys reading history books, writing, and shaping bonsai trees.

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