As a "knucklehead teenager" Fernando's grandmother called him on a Sunday evening and said, "God spoke to me and said you're going to be a teacher." He smiled in disbelief and said, "Okay. Thanks for telling me." He felt there was no way God was calling him to be a teacher. A month later God confirmed his calling in the simplest way. Fernando was driving one day and felt an overwhelming desire to impact kids lives through education. So he moved to Waxahachie, Texas, and graduated from SAGU with a bachelor's degree in Education in 2001.

For 14 years, Fernando has taught 4th grade science and social studies in schools such as Frank D. Moates Elementary in Desoto ISD, Life School Oak Cliff Elementary and currently at Russell P. Schupmann Elementary in Red Oak ISD.

He was honored as the Red Oak ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015.

Among his many achievements, Fernando was honored by the White House & US Department of Education in their initiative on educational excellence for Hispanics that highlights Latino teachers making a difference in education. He said, "It feels good to be recognized personally, but this honor is a reflection of the quality teachers, students and administration in our school and district."

Fernando was born in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and raised in Espanola, New Mexico. After meeting his wife at SAGU, they got married in 1997 and now have three children (6, 8, and 10).

We were able to sit down with Fernando and talk about his career in education:

Q1: What do you love about teaching?

"I teach to reach. I want to impact as many students as possible to help them develop a love for learning and show them they have a structure and a grownup they can count on when other positive structures and influences may not be present in their lives."

Q2: What inspires you day-in-day-out?

“I love the relationships I'm able to build with students and I love seeing their minds open when they trust you and your classroom environment. I have taught in three different places in my career and each place was demographically and culturally different. In my career I've learned that if students are given permission to try harder than they thought they ever could, they will develop a love for learning. All it takes is someone who is willing to show them the way."

Q3: What advice would you give to new and aspiring teachers?

"Act how you want to feel. If a teacher wants to capture a child's mind, they must first capture their heart. The education field might not be highest paying, but is the most rewarding. You're here to make an impact on kids, not just teach them content."

Q4: Was there a teacher who inspired you as a student?

"Absolutely! His name was Mr. Senteney. He was my sixth grade teacher. He showed me that school was fun and learning was exciting. He was very funny and likable and it made school a great place to be."

About the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics:

September 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Since 1990, the initiative has addressed educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community. The initiative aims to improve availability and access to high quality early learning programs for Hispanic children, dramatically increase the number of Hispanic high school graduates, and ensure more Hispanics students enroll and complete college.

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