Maria Hernandez, Ed.D.
10 Years as Rio Real Principal
13 Years as Principal
7 Years as Teacher
This is Dr. Hernandez’ 10th year as principal of Rio Real, previously she served as principal at Rio Del Valle Middle School. Dr. Hernandez was a teacher in the Ventura Unified School District and before entering into public schools work, Maria served as a correctional officer/youth counselor at the California Youth Authority.
Dr. Hernandez earned her Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Masters in Educational Administration from California State University, Northridge. She earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from California Lutheran University.
Maria enjoys traveling with her family. She grew up in Oxnard and has served her community for years. Family is central to her life both personally and professionally. Her ongoing travels with family helps her see the world through the eyes of her children.
Dr. Hernandez has helped guide Rio Real as Rio’s first K-8 Dual Immersion Language School and has been a leader in dual immersion learning at the local, county, state, and national levels. Maria connects families, culture, community, and academic leadership into a quiet and reserved leadership. Her roots in the community have created countless opportunities for children and family alike and are living embodiments of the potential of local children to develop and grow to their highest aspirations while remaining deeply humble and connected to the local community. Maria is there for children and families and for the power of language and cultural identity that enriches individual and collective lives.
We asked Dr. Hernandez the following three questions and her responses follow each;
- What do you think matters most to children when they attend school?
When a child comes to school in the morning they expect to be happy, have friends with which to play, be physically and emotionally safe, and lastly, whether they will be able to engage in the learning process. When we create an atmosphere in our schools that meets these needs and allow these processes to happen, we provide the conditions for children to learn and grow. Children want to feel noticed, cared for and loved to them, learning is secondary.
- How has your leadership changed over time and experience?
Through my years in leadership positions I have learned there are several big picture priorities I have to keep in mind.
First, I am part of a team and a community in my organization and at my site. My work does not happen in isolation, we have a collective commitment and focus to what we do and who we serve. I have to rely on my team and let my team rely on me as part of the process of building teams.
Second, my entire staff and I have to be committed to our school vision and goals in order for the organization to move forward and grow.
Third, the wisdom of us together is greater than that of any one individual. We have to listen to others to lead and be led.
- What has working in schools meant to you in terms of your own development as a person, mother, and citizen?
Working in Youth Corrections before coming into education helped me to understand the utmost gravity of the work we do in elementary education. Working with elementary students specifically has helped me develop relationships and see life and learning through foundational needs. I have developed relationships that have meaning and I have become a better person, mother and citizen of my community because of my work with children and families. I have a sense of commitment and a need to serve that goes beyond the 8-5. It is my hope and dreams that I make a difference in the lives of students and my community through the work I do.