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Anna Hernandez Retires from STEP Academy

Posted Date: 02/16/2024

Anna Hernandez Retires from STEP Academy

Starting out as a substitute teacher at UISD more than 30 years ago, Anna Hernandez faced challenges.

At 5 feet tall, the then-22-year-old was smaller than many of the students in United South Middle School where she would substitute. One day, she conducted a roll call and shortly after, the attendance officer popped into the classroom with five students.

“These are your kids,” the attendance officer said. “No, sir, they aren’t,” she replied. “I just took roll. They are all here.” He told her kindly again that they were her students.

“Mijita, they are getting out the window,” he explained to her.

“I was so embarrassed,” she said with a laugh. From then on, she walked the classroom and blocked the window when taking roll.

The experience was just one of many that Hernandez faced while working 33 years in the United Independent School District. Twenty of those years were at STEP Academy, and on Wednesday, Jan. 31, she retired as the School/Principal Secretary.

She spent her last day doing what she does best - helping others, preparing her replacement, bringing in sweet bread for everyone to enjoy and just fixated on getting the job done right.

Her job was not easy.

“As a school secretary, you work really close with the principal but you also work really close with teachers and different faculty members,” she said. “You work closely with custodians, the cafeteria staff, office staff and  you are that line of communication with the central office. The school secretary position is important because overall you work with budgets, checks, organize teacher appreciation week and organize all things related to campus.”

Early on in her career, she only substituted a couple of months because the United South Middle School principal offered her a temporary clerk position. Soon after she moved up the ranks, eventually becoming the STEP Academy School/Principal Secretary.

STEP Academy Principal Matias Ydrogo said that Hernandez would be greatly missed. She has a strong work ethic and made sure that things ran smoothly.

“Ms. Hernandez has 33 years of experience and we have used her expertise, especially in the daily operations of the campus - from when the students get here on the bus to the registration process - from throughout the morning when we do need coverage for subs coming in,” Ydrogo said.

“She also mentors all our substitutes and staff coming in to make sure that the requirements are fulfilled and those are great things we have for our staff. She will be surely missed,” he added.

Hernandez said it was difficult to sum up her experience in a few words because so many things have happened in 20 years.

“The main thing over the years is that we have had a very good faculty and staff and the number one priority has been the students,” she said. “The administration has always advocated for the students and it doesn’t matter who the principal is or the assistant principal, they advocate for the at-risk students. All the students here are at-risk. They all have different issues, different problems but many teachers have always fought for their kids.

“I want them to continue to take care of each other as a good group. We’ve had cases where parents and students want to stay here because there is more one to one and the teachers are really supportive of their kids.”

The school’s population fluctuates between 150 and 200 students.

Hernandez, 56, said she felt it was time to retire because she wants to spend time with her family, especially her grandchildren. She has three grandchildren and one on the way.

“My grandkids are the joy of my life,” she said. “I do have plans. I told my husband we need to start walking. I can pick up my grandson.”

She also wants to help her daughter-in-law with the children because her own mother helped her.

”I have to because my mom helped me out tremendously and I have to pay it forward with my own kids,” she said.

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