WEST ORANGE, NJ - Eveny Pagan de Mendez began work as the new Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction in the West Orange School district on July 1, bringing with her more than twenty years of teaching and administrative experience.
De Mendez replaced the recently retired Dr. Donna Rando, and is excited to begin work in the West Orange School District.
“In every child, there is a purpose,” said de Mendez. “With high expectations and a culture of learning, we maximize the potential of each one. Through quality teaching and rigorous content, we protect his or her future.”
De Mendez’s diverse resume reflects the same opportunities that West Orange works so hard to offer. Her family is Dominican and de Mendez grew up in Uniondale, Long Island.
She was afforded the opportunity to attend Hofstra University via a community-based scholarship, and after graduating in 1997 with a BA in Spanish and Secondary Education, she returned to Uniondale to teach Spanish and “pay it forward” to her community while studying for her Master’s in Curriculum and Teaching at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.
“Working in Uniondale is where I developed my viewpoint on education and learning,” said de Mendez.
De Mendez currently holds a New Jersey School Administrator Certification, a New Jersey Principal Certification, a New Jersey Supervisor Certification, a New Jersey Teacher of Spanish Certification, and a NJ Excel Foundation for Educational Administration Principalship.
From 2002-2007 de Mendez created an ESL (English as a Second Language) program at Plainfield High School and was Supervisor of Basic Skills, Testing, and NCLB (No Child Left Behind). From 2007-2014, she served as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, and then Interim Superintendent, in the Franklin Township Public Schools.
From 2014 through June of 2016, de Mendez served as Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the Passaic Public Schools to glean additional management skills, particularly in oversight, security and management. The district, 90 percent Latino and 91 percent economically disadvantaged, presented a challenge for de Mendez to engage parents and the community.
The district initiated a specifically targeted program that featured a full-time Parent Liaison, “Parent Universities,” and a summer program that worked in tandem with the Rec Department.
“It was a real community-based effort,” said de Mendez.
Ready to return to the business of academics and curriculum, de Mendez is thrilled to begin work in West Orange.
“Of course, this will be a learning year for me,” she said. “I want to understand the culture of West Orange, taking a look at the curriculum and what we are offering so that we can come together as a community: the superintendent, supervisors, principals, teachers, parents and students, and determine what we are looking for.”
As if her grassroots educational abilities in New Jersey were not enough, de Mendez also “gives back” to her Dominican culture by making a yearly mission trip to Baní in the Dominican Republic with “Handfuls of Hope.” De Mendez serves as the outreach’s head of Professional Development at the 300+ student school, where she is training and equipping the teachers.
On a personal note, she met her husband, Anthonys Mendez-Tejeda while on a mission trip. They currently live in Hillsborough, NJ. De Mendez also has a daughter, Cailyn, and one grandchild.
When de Mendez waxes philosophical about the future of education, she brims with enthusiasm.
“Every day I wake up, I am so happy because I love what I do,” she said. “I know I am serving the kids, and helping them to find their purpose. Everyone needs to have a purpose. It is our job to equip them with the knowledge and understanding so that they will have the freedom and ability to choose what they can become.”