“Chuck, chuck, chuck!” is the sound of the stapler I hear as I walk into Ms. Hernandez’s room. It is around 10:00 am, and she has just finished with one of her many meetings for the day. I can see that her room is well-organized; the tables, chairs, posters, name tags, ABC charts, and all her supplies are in their assigned places. With a smile as big as the state of Florida, Ms. Hernandez welcomes me.
We pull out two miniature chairs from one of her small tables and begin our conversation, just like old friends catching up. I ask, “When you think of someone who inspires you, who comes to mind?” Ms. Hernandez quickly responds,
“I’m inspired by Saint Frances Cabrini.”
“Why?” I ask.
“For her strong conviction and insistence that children be loved and live the life that every child deserves,” she responds.
Ms. Hernandez is currently a half-time classroom teacher. She teaches math, science, and social studies during the first half of her day. Then she spends the other half of the day as an instructional coach for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
When I ask Ms. Hernandez about how she brings the community into her school, she responds, “From day one, students know that each person in the class is an equal and valuable member of the community. The way we speak to each other, respect each other, and relate to each other is clear. These behaviors are modeled by everyone at all times, including the teacher.”
Ms. Hernandez earned a bachelor’s degree in science elementary education from Loyola University, a master’s of education in supervision and curriculum from University of Phoenix, LDE certificate from Regis University, many hours of professional development, and graduate course work from Aurora Public Schools and other institutions. This fall marks the beginning of her twelfth year in education. She has taught kindergarten, fourth, fifth, third...