Former social studies teacher returns as principal at Northampton High School

New Northampton High School principal Ben Taglieri.

New Northampton High School principal Ben Taglieri. CONTRIBUTED/BEN TAGLIERI

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 06-14-2024 4:18 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Former Northampton social studies teacher Ben Taglieri has been selected as the new principal for Northampton High School, replacing retiring principal Bill Wehrli.

The School Committee on Thursday chose Taglieri over Jonathan Bruno of Southern Berkshire Regional Schools. Taglieri has been an instructional technology specialist at Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District, where he previously also served as an assistant principal.

But Taglieri got his teaching start at Northampton High, where he worked as a social studies teacher from 2003 to 2015. He also served as vice president of the Northampton Association of School Employees (NASE) union for the last six years of his time there.

In an interview with the Gazette, Taglieri said the district had been looking for a principal who would be committed to serving the district for a long period of time, something he was certainly willing to do.

“When I got into administration, it was always with the goal someday of being an administrator at Northampton High School,” he said. “Just being in a community that cares so much about the work that they’re doing, it pushes you to work harder and care more.”

Though Taglieri has much experience working in the district, he also noted that much has changed in the nine years he’s been away. Such changes include later start times for high school students, a flex block period and a transition to standards-based grading.

“I hope I can bring a sense of stability and long-term planning, and that we’ll be able to stay committed to the goals that we’ve set for ourselves,” he said.

Taglieri becomes the third principal in as many years for the high school. Wehrli served the district for one year after replacing Lori Vaillancourt, who resigned after comments she about students were made public and led to protests calling for her ouster.

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The district finds itself in another fight presently over the school budget, with NASE demanding a level-services budget that would avoid job cuts. The currently planned $40 million budget would see a reduction of around 20 positions across the district, although the increase from the previous year has nearly doubled from what Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra originally proposed.

Taglieri said that despite the current uncertainty over the school budget, he was confident that both sides would eventually be able to come together and reach an agreement.

“When I left, we were going through some challenging times, and we got through them,” he said. “We’ll stick together like we always do, and we’ll get through it all right.”

Taglieri holds a bachelor’s in history and natural sciences from UMass Amherst, a Master of Arts in history from American Public University and a Master of Arts in education from Endicott College. He received his teaching certification from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.