Travel, grandchildren … maybe consulting work will soon dominate Priscilla Hernandez’s life.
Hernandez, Portales Municipal Schools assistant superintendent, is retiring after 11 years with Portales and 35 years working in Texas and New Mexico public school systems.
“I think I’ve loved my job everywhere I’ve worked,” Hernandez said. “I think it’s a calling. It’s not really a job if you love what you do.”
Hernandez said she will miss everyone in the Portales school district but she is looking forward to life after retirement.
“It’s a very close-knit, family-oriented district,” she said of the Portales schools. “I think we have one of the best districts in New Mexico.”
Hernandez said after retiring, she plans to travel, spend more time with her grandchildren, continue to work on the Plains Regional Medical Center board and possibly work part time as a consultant/trainer for text book companies.
“I’ll be sad to be leaving but I’m excited to have new opportunities,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll keep busy.”
Hernandez said her passion for education came partly from teachers she had when she was in school but mostly, from her parents.
“They both valued education,” she said. “I was the first one to graduate college in my family but that’s because my parents always pushed education.”
Hernandez said after working as a principal in Portales from 1997 to 2001, she never thought she would return after moving on to Texas. But when the job for assistant superintendent came up for grabs, she felt called to take it.
“I really prayed about it and God kept telling me to come back,” she said. “I’ll miss everyone. Being able to work with the teachers, parents, students and board is always rewarding.”
Hernandez said she has had students approach her in the past and tell her they moved on to higher education because of her pushing them to do better and they read to their children because of the way she taught them to value reading.
“I always say reading is built on the lap of a parent,” Hernandez said with a smile. “I had great teachers growing up and if you have great teachers in school, it’s going to have a great impact on your life.”
Superintendent Randy Fowler said he considers Hernandez leaving as a tremendous loss to the Portales school district.
“What I’ve seen in the six years I’ve been here is that she has been a tremendous asset in getting us aligned with state standards with our curriculum,” he said. “She is responsible for so much with student achievement.”
Fowler said Hernandez’s position will not be filled for the time being because of budget restraints and this will make things very different for the Portales school system.
“We worry about putting teachers in classrooms first,” he said. “And administration second.”
A farewell reception will be held for Hernandez today from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Portales School District Administration Building.