Fernandez Takes on New Role as Region 14 Director of Teaching and Learning


Nonnewaug High School/Instagram

Nonnewaug assistant principal Taryn Fernandez, left, poses with principal Pam Sordi and athletic director/dean of students Declan Curtin at Homecoming in 2021. Fernandez’s contributions to NHS have been far reaching. Students, faculty, and the NHS community are elated to keep her talents within Region 14 as she’ll take to her new role in Central Office as director of teaching and learning.

Bianca Gracia, Reporter

WOODBURY — Next year, Dr. Taryn Fernandez will no longer be vice principal here at Nonnewaug High School, though Fernandez will still stay on campus in her new role in Region 14 Central Office as the director of teaching and learning. 

“I am very excited about my new position. I am looking forward to being able to visit all of the schools and get to know the faculty, staff, and students in all four schools rather than just the high school,” says Fernandez. “I hope to develop ways for other faculty in the district to experience this as well. I love to learn, and my pursuit is that everyone in the district, from students, to faculty, staff and administrators further develop their love for learning as well.”

Fernandez began her Region 14 career in 2005 as a Spanish teacher, and she worked her way up the ranks as a department chair before becoming assistant principal in 2019.

Acting superintendent Wayne McAllister said he’s known about Fernandez’s capabilities since he joined the district almost a decade ago.

“I first became acquainted with Taryn in the fall of 2013 while beginning my service as the Region 14 Director of Finance and Operations,” McAllister wrote in a May 17 letter to Region 14 staff. “At that time, Taryn was serving as a department chair at Nonnewaug High School. It quickly became apparent that she was the go-to person to get things done.”

Nonnewaug principal Pam Sordi isn’t surprised that Fernandez earned her promotion.

“Dr. Fernandez and I have worked together for close to 18 years. I would say our time together as administrators the past three years has brought us even closer,” says Sordi. “However, I have always recognized her amazing talents as an educator and appreciated her qualities as a positive, kind, hard-working person. I know that because we do spend a lot of time together — more than our own families. She is a fantastic person and a talented educator.”

In 2020, Nonnewaug was the first school in Connecticut to shut down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Fernandez helped in navigating many of the scheduling challenges as a result of the pandemic.

“When the statewide school shut down went into effect, Taryn was tasked by the former Superintendent to lead a team in developing our District’s distance learning plan and procedures,” McAllister wrote. “Her technology expertise was critical to designing and successfully implementing that plan. Her reward for accomplishing that endeavor? A new assignment by the former superintendent to lead the effort to develop the Region 14 Fall Reopening Model. Once again, her leadership skills and style led to a successful 2020-21 plan development. Taryn has clearly demonstrated that she is a leader of leaders.”

Science teacher Toby Denman, who’s taught at Nonnewaug for most of his 20-year career, thinks the district made a quality decision in choosing Fernandez to replace the retiring Wendy Nelson-Kauffman, who served in the position for three years.

“I am glad to see that the school district has chosen a good candidate for a position like this,” says Denman.

Some of the new responsibilities Fernandez will take on include tasks such as coordinating all data collection and analysis, assessment reports and records pertaining to the instructional program, developing and delivering presentations to the Board of Education on various initiatives, carrying out all other tasks or assignments as presented by the superintendent, planning and implementing student and staff learning development, initiation and evaluation of an effective and efficient curriculum development process, and much more.

Fernandez is ready to take over her new position July 1.

“For the most part, everything I enjoy about my position as assistant principal (interacting with students, helping my colleagues become even greater teachers, and ensuring that students have an environment in which they can learn) will still be part of my new role as director of teaching and learning,” says Fernandez. “Being completely transparent, I will not miss bus duty in the cold and rain, although I am very appreciative of Officer [Chris] O’Toole who often let me off the hook for that!”