Holly Hernandez is the instructional coach at Oakland Avenue Charter School. She has been at the school for a total of 16 years. Her main job is to support school initiatives and provide training and support to teachers as they implement them. She also sets up off-site trainings to ensure teachers have the tools and resources they need to be successful. For the school year 2021-22, she received the Principal Honor Award for supporting safety and well-being protocols as the school navigated through its closure and return to campus during the pandemic.
What brought you to your school?
My children attended Oakland Avenue Charter from the time we relocated to Florida from Los Angeles, California, in 2004. They had such a great experience at this school, and that motivated me to seek opportunities at Oakland. It had a small community feel that was inviting, especially after living in such a big city for so long.
What do you love most about your school?
I love that we truly are a tight-knit community. We work together, problem-solve together and celebrate successes together.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is when a teacher walks away from a lesson or activity with their students and feels that the students not only understood the content but also enjoyed the learning, and I was able to support them to get to that point.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am active in my church and volunteer regularly, as well as attend Bible study weekly. I love to read, spend time with my family and snuggle with my pup.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
I didn’t really have a favorite teacher until college. Dr. Tolan was the first teacher I remember ever believing in me. She encouraged me, supported me, provided opportunities for me to apply new knowledge and celebrated my accomplishments. She became a mentor, a friend and even part of my family.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I was never sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew it would be working with people, because I have always loved building relationships and helping people discover what makes them unique. The only thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to be a mom. That was and is the best thing I have ever done.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
My favorite children’s book is, “Why is the Sky Blue?” by Sally Grindley. It is a beautiful tale of Rabbit seeking answers from Donkey — but not having the patience to get his answers. One day, Rabbit discovers things on his own and shares his new knowledge with Donkey. That knowledge is new and different from what Donkey thought, and it leads to self-discovery for both of them.
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Steven Curtis Chapman is an amazing Christian musician, and his songs speak to the heart and hope of Christ through fun and uplifting songs. My kids grew up listening to him and he is a family favorite. Natalie Merchant is another one of my favorites. Her songs always tell a story and often communicate things that are difficult conversations to have in a beautiful way. I think the last one would be Lisa Marie Presley. Her songs are raw and direct. They tell it like it is and have a great vibe.
What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student?
My go-to lunch was school pizza! I still love pizza, but I don’t get it from school anymore. Ha!
What is your favorite holiday and why?
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, because it is an opportunity for families to get together and make memories. I generally host this holiday at my house, and I thoroughly enjoy the dance of having so many people come together to make it special. It is a perfect day!
Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?
I have a group of friends from seventh grade that I am still in touch with. They still live in California, so we don’t see each other often, but we make an effort to spend time together when I go home. Some of them have come to Florida to visit me, and that is a huge blessing.
What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?
I was in a few community clubs in junior high and high school, and we helped raise money for the school. I was also very active in my Youth Group, and we did some mission trips to Tijuana, as well as helping with Vacation Bible School and Sunday School.