Transported through teaching
By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Lynda Hernandez
Castle Pines resident Lynda Hernandez knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was in second grade. As a little girl, Hernandez would transport herself into a school classroom, playing the lead role of the class teacher. For days on end, she would play school with the desk her parents gave her for Christmas. As all teachers do, she kept grades on her students. She graded their make-believe spelling tests and taught cursive on her chalkboard. That dream has since transformed into a reality, as Hernandez has been teaching for 32 years.
Hernandez’s teaching career began in California, first in San Diego and then in Oakland, in an era when there were no computers or email. Parent-teacher correspondence was conducted by handwritten letters or by personal phone calls. A class size of 40 students was the norm. Thankful that class sizes are significantly smaller today, Hernandez’s bright spot in her teaching career has been the last 14 years teaching fifth grade history at the American Academy (AA) Castle Pines campus.
Hernandez’s class is anything but boring. Just like when she was a little girl, she transports her students to another time through her teaching. She adds excitement and delivers unforgettable lessons to her students by dressing up in character, bringing historical figures to life. Hernandez feels honored and privileged to teach the students a curriculum that will provide them with knowledge that is lasting.
She loves instilling in her students a curiosity and desire to learn about history. Some of her fondest times are taking AA students to Washington, D.C. every year for a Civil War trip. On these trips, Hernandez and her class spend a couple of nights in Washington, D.C. then visit Gettysburg where they tour the battlefield. It is on these trips that her students are able to touch and experience history outside of the classroom.
While some topics can be difficult, Hernandez does her best to provide students a candid account of American history. Hernandez shared that she wants her students to be proud and optimistic about our nation in looking toward the future, as they too have an important role to fulfill as Americans. Not just in how they strive to live their lives, but in how they lift the lives of others as well.
Hernandez challenges students with hands-on and technology-based assignments. She inspires them to think critically and become independent learners. She is a devoted teacher and colleague.
Beth Culberson, AA lead speech language pathologist and other AA staff members have the utmost respect for Hernandez. Culberson’s son had the privilege to experience fifth grade history in Hernandez’s “live” classroom. One of his favorite assignments was to individually create a power point about the plague, complete with sound and narration. Four years later, he still recalls historical facts from this era. For all of Hernandez’s students – history will never be forgotten.