WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education appointed Emily Banach as Highland Elementary School principal Monday evening.
Banach has served as Rock Hill Elementary School’s social worker since 2012.
“I felt like this was the next right professional endeavor for me,” she said Monday. “I really wanted to remain in Wallingford to obtain an administrative position. I feel very connected to the district, very lucky to learn with so many mentors that I have in the district.”
Prior to working at Rock Hill, Banach worked as a forensic social worker for Manhattan Child Advocacy Centers in New York City for six years, according to a statement from Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Danielle Bellizzi.
“Throughout the interview process, Mrs. Banach’s thoughtful responses showed her genuine passion for placing student needs first,” Bellizzi said. “Her strong knowledge of social-emotional and instructional practice, mixed with her respect for students, families, and staff made her stand out from the other candidates.”
School board member Erin Corso said the board interviewed nine applicants for the Highland principal position, doing two nights of first-round interviews and bringing back four candidates for the second and third rounds.
Bellizzi said the school district plans to provide an opportunity for the staff and families of Highland to meet Banach prior to the close of the school year in June.
Outgoing Highland Principal Victoria Reed has been in the position since 2001. Her last day is slated for June 30.
Banach said her first goal will be “to really learn and understand the culture of the school, and meet the students’ academic and social milestones.”
Highland serves grades K-2. Mary G. Fritz Elementary School in Yalesville is Highland’s sister school for grades 3-5.
Banach collaborated with Chelsea Polletta, social worker at Fritz, last year at the beginning of the pandemic to create the school district’s #JustKeepSwimming project, which encourages students to create fish-themed art to remind them that they are still part of a school — like a school of fish — even while separated.
“There’s lots of really great opportunities right now, in light of all the things that our students have gone through,” she said. “This is really the time to be able to meet their needs and to help them as much as we can, as the trusted adults in the school.”
Banach, 39, lives in Woodbridge with her husband, David Banach, and their 7-year-old son.