Alumna advocates education through inspiration

By Scarlet Candelario

Setting realistic goals for the future is what Martha Hernandez did as a young girl growing up.

Martha Hernandez, 21, recalls wanting to teach the third grade ever since she was 8 years old. In her opinion, students need teachers that inspire and make a positive impact upon their lives.

Her mother, Judith Hernandez, remembers noticing her daughter’s passion for working with children throughout Martha’s childhood. “She’s really kind to children, and is always happy to hear about the progress of the children she tutors,” Judith said.

A story Judith Hernandez remembers specifically was when the family had just immigrated to the United States from Mexico.

At the tender age of 5, Martha Hernandez gathered up the neighboring children in the apartment building and marched them around the patio on September 16, in celebration of Mexico’s independence.

This, in Judith Hernandez’s opinion, was the early sign of Martha Hernandez displaying leadership among other children.

She was accepted to UC Berkeley but decided to not attend because of the cost, as well as a family dispute over her potential decision. Her father was not pleased with the idea of her living so far away and threatened to not help with tuition if she decided to go to school up north.

Martha Hernandez attended East Los Angeles College from fall 2010 to summer 2013, but took a break during the 2012 fall semester to focus on work.

While she attended East Los Angeles College, she was offered a tutoring job, which she gladly took advantage of.

She is currently a teacher’s assistant at Bell Gardens Intermediate, the same school she went to as a child. She tutors children with their schoolwork, teaches catechism at her church, as well as the occasional confirmation lesson.

In addition to teaching children, she also preaches to an older crowd that includes fellow church leaders closer to her age. This leadership requires preparation and a lesson plan, making it further practice to her teaching career.

Martha Hernandez’s main interest would be teaching third graders. She finds that at that age, children’s minds are more developed and are able to hold conversations easily. In addition to that, she believes they are not as rowdy as the younger students and more pleasant than the older ones.

Most importantly, however, she believes that “people remember most is their third or fourth grade teachers.”

“There is more than one way of learning,” Martha Hernandez said. Encouraging students is something else Martha Hernandez strongly believes in. She strives to get children interested in the material, and making them feel included is what she believes is effective.

“Retention through connection,” Martha Hernandez said.

She remembers her own third grade teacher, Mrs. Romo, who would encourage students to participate in writing workshops where they would write stories and share them with the class, in order to get the students to enjoy writing.

Even during her time at East Los Angeles College, she found many of the instructors and professors to be as encouraging and inspiring.

“A frigid line is not necessary between student and teacher,” Martha Hernandez said.

She believes in having a distinction between the two therefore respect is not lost. She also emphasizes that teachers should not be condescending to their students. In her opinion, it is best when kids are included as opposed to excluded.

Despite always wanting to teach, she considered other careers as well. She thought about becoming a biologist or an engineering geologist, but teaching was always what she was passionate about. “[Teaching] is not where the money is, but the money is not why I do it,” says Martha Hernandez.

Despite having to stay local, Martha Hernandez says that she loves the campus at her chosen school. She is currently attending California State University, Fullerton and is majoring in Religious Studies, as well as English.

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