Israel Hernandez: 2014 Allen Distinguished Educator


Educator: Israel Hernandez
School/District: Roosevelt High School
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Israel Hernandez helped to launch the University of California's Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program and Roosevelt High School's STEM program - a small school within the larger high school that taught engineering design courses with a focus on hands-on design projects and competitions. Roosevelt High School - Israel's alma mater - is in a low-income and minority high school in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, where engineering as subject, let alone a career, has meant very little for students.

The STEM school within Roosevelt High School has served over 400 students per year and was one of the most high-performing at Roosevelt. Many of Israel's students in the current MESA program and in the STEM school improved their competencies across a spectrum of measures - including API scores, graduation rates, and regional and national competition participation and placement. Furthermore, students were inspired to pursue STEM at the collegiate level at institutions such as MIT, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara and others.

The success in Israel's approach comes from his belief that each student must be known individually and respected by the adults with whom they interact. The focus is on building a sense of unity between student and teacher that makes it feasible to empower and inspire students through experience. Israel is building on his achievements to launch a STEM pilot program across the greater Los Angeles Unified School District.