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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Address: : 2012 Ernest St. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Manuel Hernandez was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York in 1963. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and finished a Master�s in Education from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx in 1994. He has coordinated symposiums, produced and coordinated television interviews on the literature written by Puerto Rican and Latino/a writers from the Diaspora. He has done numerous presentations, workshops and seminars on how to integrate latino/a literature in the English classroom. In 2014, he participated in a TedxTalk (Connections) at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the author of three books, , Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003), The Birth of a Rican (Imprenta Sifre. 2008) and Living the Kingdom with purpose (Imprenta Sifre, 2013). He is a Language Arts teacher at Osceola School District in Florida.

This is the Time! Make a Difference
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright

Our educational system is one in disarray. School boards that murk for power, and politicians that swarm for control of the administrative sphere. Principals in the middle of the haywire. Every major component seems to look out for its self-centered interests. This is the time to make a difference!

When I was a little kid, there was this voice that followed me everywhere. It repeatedly called out, "You gotta make a difference". As an English as a Second Language teacher in New York City from 1988 to 1991, my classes saw many recently-arrived high school students from such Latin American countries as El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Puerto Rico – many of these immigrants with barely one, perhaps two years of residence in the United States. When I first received the course syllabi for these so-called “ESL” tenth-grade classes, I would notice Hemingway, Poe and Shakespeare among the group of “canon” writers to be read during the semester; I was, of course, enthusiastic and quite elated about beginning the semester engaged with such amazing authors and works. But after an intensive month of Romeo and Juliet, I quickly understood, with some initial disillusionment, that I had a major predicament on my hands. Try as they might, my students continued to struggle to connect with the plight of the star-crossed lovers, because their own social, cultural and personal backgrounds were so far removed from the lives of the Montagues and Capulets of Verona. Yet, my students’ hunger to learn was palpable. I had to find a way to bridge the gap. I needed to find a way to make a difference in their lives.

I am not the only who has looked for alternatives. This is the time! Jaime Escalante and Coach Karter were not only Hollywood characters but teachers who made a difference by challenging the system and taking the Lilliputians of the Department of Education to grade school. When I embarked on a journey to bridge the gap by integrating cuturally relevant texts in the mainstream English classroom, I knew that the system would not take my vision lightly. After a dozen years after of roaming different educational systems, I have come to understand that every educator has the potential to make a difference in the life of a child, no matter what! This is the time! Make a difference! Oon't take your seeds of success for granted. You can do it!