TEACHER OF THE MONTH — Carrie Guarnere using physics, roller coasters and passion to inspire students

Published 12:24 am Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

PORT NECHES — Carrie Guarnere didn’t choose physics as the subject she would teach, physics chose her, she says.

The Port Neches-Groves High School physics teacher worked a number of careers in her life, but when her husband decided to retire, she wasn’t ready to settle down. She had degrees and mulled the idea of her next career move.

Then at age 50 she moved into teaching.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“They asked me to teach physics and, I love it because I love math and science and this puts them all together,” Guarnere said. “And I just have a ball with the kids, I just love it.”

As her students were busy with work Friday morning, Guarnere was getting a surprise — being named Philpott Motors Teacher of the Month.

Daren Granger with Philpott and Candace Hemelt with The Port Arthur News made the announcement and informed Guarnere of the $500 gift card that is part of the award.

Guarnere is also in the drawing for Teacher of the Year in December, and that comes with a $1,000 gift card.

Class work

The physics teacher’s classroom is busy; students are working in small groups, projects occupied spaces in the back of the room, and cabinet doors held physics-related vocabulary.

Guarnere is a hands-on teacher, which grabs her students’ attentions. A hallway display showcases a homemade roller coaster project.

“The roller coaster has all of the physics in it,” she said. “It has energy. It has acceleration. It has forces. They have to design it and make sure that it’s safe, just like the real world. They literally have to make it work within a confined space and not break the tissue.”

Student Activities Director Jon Deckert asked Guarnere about a potato chip experiment she had her students undertake.

In this experiment in physics, the students make their own box, make sure it was secured and mail the chip to another teacher intact.

There was also an experiment where her second year students dropped a toilet from the band tower while learning about gravity.

The list goes on.

Guarnere’s physics class is popular. She had a few students last year approach her about starting a physics club; her answer was “yes.”

The physics teacher is an Aggie mom, whose daughter is a graduate of Texas A&M. The university holds a physics festival every year, and her students were able to go the past two years, she said.

Guarnere even had students take her class who did not need to take the course; they took it because their friends enjoyed it.

Principal Scott Ryan said Guarnere is a pro’s pro and a very well respected teacher.

“There is lots of rigor in the classroom and the kids love her,” he said.

Guarnere said she is a mom and is able to talk to the students, explain life will hit them as a senior as they are going to go out in the real world.

“I just hope to inspire them,” she said