In Ashley Hernandez’s classroom, math and building relationships with students go hand in hand. Hernandez turns math concepts into practical learning experiences teaching geometry and AP Statistics at Sarasota, Florida’s Riverview High School (RHS), her own alma mater. Students collaborate on tasks that involve critical thinking and individual accountability, and Hernandez works hard to ensure that every pupil feels valued and included. Knowing that high school students are often stressed, she created an interactive bulletin board covered with sticky notes bearing motivational sayings: You are enough. You’ve got this. You are brilliant. Hernandez invites students to “Take What You Need” and add their own inspirational messages to the collection. Her positive attitude encourages students to work hard, and they do. AP Statistics has grown from 45 to more than 100 students in the five years Hernandez has taught the class, and pass rates on the AP exam have risen steadily, surpassing the state. Success breeds success—students see others doing well and are encouraged to challenge themselves, with many continuing on to higher level math in their studies.
Hernandez serves on the instructional leadership team at RHS, heads the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) data team, is a member of the district’s leadership academy, and delivers professional learning on student engagement, student engagement and instructional technology. For a schoolboard workshop, Hernandez discussed how she and her colleagues use data analysis to design and deliver instruction. During the pandemic, Hernandez worked tirelessly to help RHS staff master tools like Zoom, Blackboard, Gradebook and Microsoft Teams.
Hernandez’s commitment to her school goes beyond her classroom walls. As head of the Social Committee, Hernandez brings joy to RHS staff with visits from therapy dogs, snacks and COVID-safe staff meals. She helped design and implement the Freshmen Transition course, which integrates character education, resiliency and communication skills into the ninth grade curriculum. Hernandez oversees activities and student government representation as the advisor for the Freshman Board and led a schoolwide effort to create a monthly character-driven recognition program for students and teachers. As a former cheerleader for her alma mater, Hernandez stepped in to support the cheer team during a leadership transition, rewriting the cheer contract and mentoring new coaches.
Hernandez earned a bachelor’s in secondary math education from the University of South Florida in 2008, and two master’s degrees from American College of Education, in curriculum and instruction (2013) and educational leadership (2018).
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