Vice Principal Heart of School
By Shelby Toth and Samoya Peters
Canalside Chronicles Staff
Passing through the halls of Brockport High School, one could find assistant Vice Principal Michelle Guerrieri wandering through, stopping at every door to tape individual motivational sayings up before moving to the next. Every saying is hand-cut by her, and new ones can be found every week.
Guerrieri has been at Brockport High School for 15 years, starting off as a special education teacher before becoming the vice principal three years ago. Since then, Guerrieri has led with only one special interest in mind: caring for the kids.
“[Guerrieri] is here for the students,” said Deborah Fogg, security officer and hall monitor at the high school.
“She does take the time to listen to the students, she tries to do what’s best for the student despite if they’re in the wrong.”
Brockport High School counselor Marcie Bartalo also noted Guerrieri’s commitment to children and students.
“Whether it’s work related or home related, or as a mother or friend…anything that [Guerrieri] does…it was always about the kids first,” Bartalo said.
Not only does Guerrieri have a passion for the students, she also carries strong pride in the community of Brockport. Speaking on the village, Guerrieri noted the culture, and that it is “very much about family,” and attributes that to the smaller size as well as the concentration of all the education buildings in one location. Her love runs so deep, in fact, that the only negative side of Brockport she could think of was that fewer people are coming and staying.
“One of the things that is disappointing is that our enrollment is down,” Guerrieri said. “It’s disheartening because we are such a wonderful community … I just want to make Brockport the best it can be and want people to come here.”
The vice principal quickly went to work on improving the quality of the school community around her when she stepped into her position. She developed programs to benefit her students, including the peer mentoring program Focus Learn Engage Connect, or FLEC.
But her drive isn’t solely academically focused. According to Bartalo, the pair work as a great, if not mischievous, team. Bartalo and Guerrieri acted as co-class advisors for the graduating class of 2013, as they both had children in that class.
As advisors, they put a twist on everything expected of them, from having seniors who skipped on senior skip day help plant a garden outside the school, to hosting student council meetings at their homes on Sundays, even to, possibly most notably, being the first class advisors to take a class out of state borders for their senior trip.
“We’re naughty together,” Bartalo said. “As far as school stuff goes, we were the class advisors that did things and apologized after the fact… it wasn’t anything ever dangerous or out of place or not appropriate. We just wanted to make memories.”
Guerrieri, as many are, was drawn to her field by a figure in her younger life. As she described this person, however, one can’t help but think she might be accidently describing herself as well.
“What really clinched the deal [on her becoming an educator] was I had a high school business law teacher…” Guerrieri said. “She was absolutely amazing. She was everything that I think that any student would want. Fair and consistent, but she was a real person. She cared very deeply for everyone she encountered, and conversations with her about ‘how do you want to be a contributor in your life?’ I don’t think there’s anything better… than being an educator and shaping the future.”