Despite challenges, honors abound for school leader
Sept. 3, 2021 — DENTON — Despite challenges arising from a growing pandemic, Irving ISD Superintendent Magda Hernández was named an educator of the year, spearheaded more than 1,000 home visits with students, launched a second collegiate academy and began teaching her first class at Texas Woman’s University.
“I’m passionate about education,” Hernández said. “I have a passion and commitment for our future leaders.”
Hernández worked her way from a paraprofessional in 1993 to Irving ISD’s top post in December 2018. Along that journey were important steps at Texas Woman’s to earn her Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies with a focus in bilingual education and ESL in 1998 and a Master of Arts in education administration in 2005.
“It’s special to me to have the opportunity to lead the district that gave me a chance,” Hernández said.
Heading a school district with 33,500 students, 72% of which are Hispanic, Hernández is finding new ways to lead. She began teaching her first collegiate class as an adjunct professor this fall.
Teaching at TWU
“It is a dream come true to teach at TWU, to go back and develop future leaders,” Hernández said. “I want to encourage my students to never give up. It’s great to see their love and passion for the profession, and I want them to never forget that, to never forget their why.”
While in Washington, D.C., to drop her daughter off for her first year at George Washington University, Hernández started to look at introductory assignments from the course she teaches — EDUC 3003 Learning Theory & Development.
“I can relate to the students because I also started as a paraprofessional like many of them,” Hernández said. “It really excites me to inspire students coming into the profession. It can be such a difficult one but also rewarding.”
Because of her time at TWU, Hernández relishes the opportunity to support the university. She serves on the Council for Educator Preparation for the College of Professional Education (COPE).
“Seeing teachers firsthand, I can be a voice for districts. I can identify new trends and innovation to help TWU implement that for their students,” she said.
Hernández tells Irving ISD students that she went to TWU and that they should, too. Students brag to her when they decide to come to Texas Woman’s.
“It’s already known as one of the best EPPs out there,” Hernández said. “They are focused and experienced. It’s a no-brainer when it comes to preparing the best educators that TWU is where you should be.”
COVID-19 has challenged school districts for more than a year, and Hernández is faced with maintaining a safe environment at Irving ISD, which has more than 4,200 teachers spread across 37 campuses.
“The pandemic is the biggest challenge of my career, but also a huge opportunity. Everything that was impossible is possible now,” Hernández said. “We don’t want to just go back to normal. We want to come back to better than normal. We want to remove barriers for kids and be more innovative.”
Under Hernández’s leadership, Irving ISD has a 95 percent graduation rate and boasts four of the top schools in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Hernández is excited about the district’s second collegiate academy made possible by a $150,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency. And after more than 1,000 home visits to students who had not shown up for school last year, she is also thrilled about a new initiative.
“We need to educate the parents of kids that we serve because that helps us serve the students better,” Hernández said. “Adult education filters down to our kids, so we are trying to meet them where they are.”
Hernández started the Night Owl program at Irving ISD for students who left school before graduating or are at risk of not graduating. The program currently enrolls 50 students, among them a mother of two who is on track to graduate this year.
“It provides opportunities without limits,” said Hernández.
Although she was recognized this year with distinctive honors such as the Texas Association for Bilingual Education Honoree in Public Education Award and the Mil Gracias Award from the Bilingual/ESL Education Association of the Metroplex (BEAM), Hernández sees her job as superintendent as her biggest accomplishment.
“I never expected to become a superintendent, so that is a big accomplishment for me,” Hernández said. “I’ve loved every position that I’ve had, and it all prepared me for what I do now.”
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Page last updated 8:01 AM, September 4, 2021