We>Me: Mr. Pethel’s Impact on Armuchee High School


Mr. Joseph Pethel, Principal

Benjamin Cranford, Staff Writer

At the beginning of the year, Mr. Pethel introduced a new vision and mission statement for Armuchee High School. At the beginning of each day over the intercom, he repeats it, saying, “Here at Armuchee High School, we are building a legacy of excitement for the opportunities that lie ahead. We do this by loving, teaching, and learning. A way we can accomplish this on an individual level is by treating others as more significant than ourselves or more simply put: ‘we’ is greater than ‘me’.” Mr. Pethel discussed how he came up with the motto and how it has already improved Armuchee High School. 

The mission statement of “Love, Teach, Learn” was formulated by Mr. Pethel a few years ago while driving back from vacation. He said, “Something we used to say at the school I was at before was we wanted to love our students and teach them well.”  While in the car, Mr. Pethel was thinking about the mission of this school. He said, “I wanted the students to have skin in the game. That’s where “Learn” came from.” He believes that a foundation of love leads to effective teaching and this kind of teaching is where the learning will happen. He originally believed this to be the vision statement but realized that these were core values.

The vision statement was made more recently than the mission statement. Last summer, Mr. Pethel’s office was at Glenwood Primary as the high school was still under construction for renovations. On June 8th, he was thinking about the vision of Armuchee, where he wants us to aim as a school. He started thinking about his faith and his mission of love, putting others before ourselves. He said, “The best way I can fulfill this as my personal vision and mission is through loving you guys. Then, I asked myself the question, ‘How do I do this while at school?’” Mr. Pethel came up with the motto: “We is greater than Me.” By treating others as more significant than himself, he would be both accomplishing his mission and fostering an environment of growth in school. Mr. Pethel said, “All that I am truly in control of is what I do, so what can I do in order to best affect you?”

By loving, teaching, and learning, Mr. Pethel hopes Armuchee will become a desired destination school for our area, but we cannot accomplish that without a vision statement. A few days later, he was on the phone, talking with his brother-in-law about this dilemma he had. He said, “As I was talking to him, I said, ‘I really just want to have excitement and opportunities that are in front of us. That’s what I want it to be about. I want it to be like a legacy of excitement for the opportunities that lie ahead.’ I remember saying that on the phone and going, ‘Hang on a second, I got to write that down.’” Mr. Pethel wants to create a school where the students are set up for success in the future. 

Mrs. Flagello has been at Armuchee High School for many years. She said, “He wants everything to be the best he knows Armuchee can be: academics, sports, just being kind to each other. He really, truly loses sleep over what we can do to be the best we can be. To have a leader that you feel that excitement from is contagious all the way down to hopefully you.” The example of eagerness Mr. Pethel displays permeates every layer of the high school, and the students are noticing. Kileigh Barcomb, a sophomore, said, “‘We’ is greater than ‘Me’ is something that a lot of sports teams use, and I think it’s something that has brought us closer together.” The enthusiasm that Mr. Pethel spreads around the school is fostering an environment of love for the students as well. Every morning over the intercom, he always ends his message by saying, “Y’all know that I love you. Let’s do this.” Bailey Cook, a junior, said, “When he says it over the intercom in the morning, he makes a personal connection with all the students.” The faculty, administrators, and students have begun to implement the vision and mission statements to make this high school’s legacy one of excitement for the opportunities that lie ahead.