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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.

Latinos and Educational Reform in the United States (Part II)

by Manuel Hernández

A student must be much more than a student and become a disciple. The denotative meanings are similar, but the connotations of one and the other are far apart. A student is bond to a classroom, one school and several teachers. The disciple receives an intensive impartation from one or few teachers in a real-life classroom. As students, children learn and work in an atmosphere filled with new, fulfilling challenges and are surrounded by classmates with different interests and abilities as well. As disciples, children learn and work in an environment filled with new, fulfilling experiences and opportunities of growth to help mold character and take them into greater heights and walks of life. The gap between one challenge and one experience is minimum, yet a discipleship goes beyond the classroom atmosphere.

Discipleship is intertwining the personal, social, cultural, academic and even spiritual backgrounds of the student to transform him/her into a supernatural leader. It is stating and designing clear, concise and specific objectives to lead the disciple into his/her own leadership. The academy award nominated movie Stand and Deliver presents a real-life story of an Eastern Los Angeles math teacher who transformed his students mentality, attitudes and way of life forever. Jaime A. Escalante was a mentor, father and big brother for his students. He fed, fathered and provoked them to surpass other peoples expectations. When the educational system unjustly marked these students, the teachers clear, concise and specific objectives transitioned them into disciples who eventually changed the mentality of their own generations to come. Twenty years later, Escalantes students are all influential and supernatural leaders of our society. Because disciples are given tools to make a difference in society, they will be better equipped to succeed and positively impact other peoples lives.

What is a discipleship? What ingredients are needed to successfully make the transition from a student to a disciple? According to the Websters New World Dictionary, a disciple follows one who leads. An educational reform must begin aqui. Americas leaders need to reform their character, attitudes and ways of thinking. The greatest Teacher of all time taught us all the greatest lesson of all time; a teacher must be willing to put his/her life on the line for his/her students. As part of His schooling, the disciples received three years of hands-on intensive training. This may seem like the extreme, but His extreme has revolutionized every institution in America today, including Hollywood. It is to set an example, always. Martin Luther King taught his disciples by example not by word of mouth, and today all of us are proud of his legacy and impartation. Even when death do us part, we supernatural leaders will be not only remembered, but loved, emulated and followed.

But how can one give what one has not received? Even the academic institutions that train teachers in America must change their curriculum. The body cannot function well without a cell; education can never reform itself if the institutions that prepare teachers are not willing to ingrain the human aspect of education. Teaching is ministering love, hope and faith. In Sandra Maria Esteves Puerto Rico Discovery # 10 Surprise Package poem, the speaker reiterates the importance of being able to give what one has received from one generation to another:

When you start out in life

You are handed down a package

Who knows?

Maybe someday

Your package will be passed on

Given to someone else

As if it were theirs

When they start out in life (Undelivered Love Poems p.33)

Latinos have the highest high school dropout rate in America, so we Latinos have the greatest responsibility in the process. We are the ones able, capable and willing to become reformers in our childrens education. The stakes are high but attainable. Let us revive what has been stagnant and obsolete. Education is too noble and sacred to be taken for granted. The passion of He who saved humanity must be part of our reality. It is not promoting His religion but understanding the Vision. If it took the passion of one man to disciple the universe, imagine what a body of Latino leaders can do for their children. There are so many of us but so few willing to work as one for a common goal: the education of our children.