A New Leader for Westbrook High

New Westbrook High School Principal Tara Winch is ready to start the school year. She left her assistant principal post at  Old Saybrook High School to replace retiring, longtime Westbrook principal Bob Hale.
New Westbrook High School Principal Tara Winch is ready to start the school year. She left her assistant principal post at Old Saybrook High School to replace retiring, longtime Westbrook principal Bob Hale. Photo by Karena Garrity/Harbor News

For Connecticut native Tara Winch, her new position as the principal of Westbrook High School is a dream job come true. A longtime resident of Old Saybrook, Tara is excited to start the 2014 school year off in her new post.

"Westbrook is such a wonderful town, and the school system is very positive. I have wanted to be a principal for quite some time and I am thrilled with my new position," says Tara, who has an extensive background in education.

Most recently she served as the associate principal at Old Saybrook High School. She started her career as a substitute teacher, then a student teacher in Old Saybrook, then as a high school English teacher and drama director responsible for choreographing more than 26 high school productions.

She pursued her sixth-year administrative leadership credential, known as a 092, from Sacred Heart University and earned her bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in both drama and French from the University of Connecticut. She also holds a master's degree in liberal arts with a concentration in humanities from Wesleyan University.

"I loved being a teacher in the classroom, but I felt that I could have a larger impact on education working with the students and the teachers in an administrative capacity, so that is when I decided to pursue my 092," says Tara.

Tara describes herself as a calm, positive, empathetic person by nature who doesn't get rattled easily-all qualities she will need as a principal.

"It was important to me to be able to stay in the shoreline area for a job and be part of a small school system, so Westbrook is absolutely perfect for me and I could not be happier. Westbrook has a lot of pride in its school system, and it offers a diverse and extensive educational curriculum to its students," she says. "Everyone has been so welcoming and kind. I am really looking forward to the year ahead and getting to know the staff, the students, and the parents."

Tara likes to let off some steam by competing in ballroom dancing competitions.

"Dancing is so much fun. I absolutely love it, and it keeps me active and in shape," says Tara. "It's phenomenal exercise and it's a great diversion and stress reliever, keeping me out [and] having fun with others."

She also loves spending time outside gardening both vegetables and flowers, spending Sunday mornings watching Barefoot Contessa, and spending time on the shoreline, which has been an integral part of her life for such a long time.

"I love the beach and the water and I think that is why I have remained in the area for such a long time," says Tara. "Plus these small New England towns offer such tight-knit communities and so much caring for the young people, it's just a great place to be."

Tara will replace longtime Westbrook High School principal Bob Hale and, although she knows she has some big shoes to fill, she is excited about the challenge.

"I want the students to know that I am here for them and that I will be working hard to make sure that the four years of high school here in Westbrook [are] a great experience for everyone," says Tara. "I also want the staff and the parents to know that I am always available to them and I am here to help in any way I can. There are a lot of changes in education right now, and they seem to have all hit at the same time, but we will all work together to take them in stride so they are not too overwhelming for anyone. And we all have to remember that ultimately these changes have come about to enhance student learning."

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