Palmetto Senior High School graduate Andrya Hernandez-Robles soon will be studying secondary education and English at Florida State University. She’s always loved English, so her plan is to become a high school English teacher.
“Teaching has always been what I was going to do ever since I was young,” she says.
She also was accepted to St. John’s University in New York, but decided it was wiser financially to go to college in state since there are four members of her family in college at the same time. Her younger brother plans to attend college soon as, too. Hernandez-Robles tested her teaching skills recently when she helped one of her mom’s co-workers who had moved to Miami from Mexico.
“They have young children and after school I would go to their house and we would work on their English,” she says.
“The children’s mom bought school hem books and I had (flash) cards. We did different activities to help them work on their English so they would be ready for when they enrolled in elementary school.” The children arrived in the U.S. about halfway through Hernandez-Robles’ sophomore year and she worked with them until the end of the year.
“They made huge progress,” she says. “Now it’s a year and a half later and they are speaking almost perfect English. They went from not knowing anything to being to able speak to me in complete sentences.” Hernandez-Robles was very active in extracurricular activities at Palmetto. She was on the yearbook staff, first as a photographer and then as a photo editor. She says she loved taking pictures and working with the other students. In her junior year, she served as the United Way chairperson for the Student Council. “We started a new way to raise money,” she says.
“We started it last year and did it again this year. We would pass around buckets with the name of assistant principals, and the assistant principal that raised the most money would get a pie in the face.”
CAP counselor Harry Nerenberg was the lucky recipient of pie in the face this school year.
Not only did Palmetto meet their fundraising goal under Hernandez-Robles’ leadership, they exceeded it by 54 percent! Her hard work was rewarded with the Core Values Award at the end of her junior year.
In her senior year, Hernandez-Robles was vice president of the senior class.
“We had to plan all the senior events like the senior picnic, prom and senior breakfast,” she says. “I also started the task force No Place for Hate.”
Last summer, the advisor asked her if it was something she would be interested in taking on. The new, innovative program is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. Schools organize to work together and develop projects to enhance the appreciation of diversity and build harmony among groups. According to the ADL, “The campaign empowers schools to promote respect for individual and group difference, while challenging prejudice and bigotry.”
“(Stopping) bullying is close to my heart, so I jumped on it,” Hernandez-Robles says. “We started out with 10 kids and we’ve grown to a lot more. It’s important to me to get the anti-bullying word out there and show people why it’s so bad.”
She says that five schools in Pinecrest wanted to create the first No Place for Hate Task Force in the county.
By Linda Bernfeld Rodriguez