- Alisal Union School District
Adela Hernandez — Cultivated in Alisal
Parent Education Specialist — MLK Family Resource Center
As a 2013 graduate of Alisal High, Adela Hernández is young enough to remember most of the teachers she had while attending elementary school. Most importantly, many of those teachers are still serving the Alisal Union School District.
There was Mr. Abel de León, who was her kindergarten teacher at Virginia Rocca Barton. And there was Mr. Alberto Jaramillo, who was her sports coach when she attended Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Academy. Ms. Barbara Mazzuca, her fourth grade teacher at MLK and who always empowered her to grow as a little girl. There was also Mr. Valente Mancera, now a teacher at Creekside, who used to be her teacher in sixth grade also at MLK.
“They’ve been huge key (people) in my life,” she said. “Mr. Jaramillo has always been around. I’ve always gone to him for any support, any help, any encouragement. He’s been around my family and so has Mr. Mancera. They’ve been part of my success.”
Ms. Hernández attended Jesse G. Sánchez from first to third grade, then moved to Martin Luther King for fourth through sixth. An avid sportswoman, most of what Ms. Hernández remembers is the volleyball, basketball, and soccer practices she had back then, she said.
“My experience was very positive at Alisal,” she said. “It defines who I am now, very culturally appreciated and very proud. I am proud of where I’m from. I think if I’d had gone to a different district I would always come back. These are my roots, and this is my home, but my experience would have been very different.”
After attending El Sausal and Alisal High, Ms. Hernández enrolled at Hartnell College, where she earned enough credits to transfer to CSU Bakersfield to study sociology. But she only spent one year down south: she was so homesick she wanted to return to the Central Coast.
“I’m very close to my family, it was really hard for me to be away from my family, especially my mom,” she said.
Last December she finished a degree in social and behavioral sciences with a concentration in sociology from Cal State University Monterey Bay, an experience she said she found rewarding.
“It was a lot of research, a lot of qualitative and quantitative methods. A lot of reading. It was interesting.”
She began discovering what her career calling was a few years earlier, when Ms. Hernández was looking for a letter of recommendation from Mr. Jaramillo, and he told her he needed volunteers for the after school program. That’s when she realized she wanted to work for the Alisal Union School District. Later, when she worked as a tutor for the migrant education program Mini Corps at Hartnell, she believed for a while teaching was her calling.
“But then I was like, I’m more into counseling and school psychology,” she said.
At the Salinas Union High School District, Ms. Hernández had the opportunity to work with a one-on-one behavioral specialist with special education students, and this time she really fell in love.
“I really liked what I was doing there. I was helping the teens mentally, I would help with bad behaviors and decrease those by getting them adjusted to new things. That’s when I realized it was more veered to counseling and school psychology. Then I came on board here.”
In March 2019, Ms. Hernández began working as a Parent Education Specialist at the MLK Family Resources Center. Although she is not an actual counselor, the array of services that are offered at our resources centers sometimes include sympathetic ears.
“Sometimes the parents come here and need someone to heart them out and help them,” Ms. Hernández said. “Since I know so many people from here, they feel that trust and that’s very important for me to have that communication with them.”
Having been born and raised in Salinas, Ms. Hernández feels she’s giving back to a community that has given her so much. And she’s grateful for the support and inspiration she’s received from her parents, her siblings, and her husband. "I would really like to thank mi apa y ama, and my siblings for always challenging me to strive for more in life. To my husband, no words can express how thankful I am to have such a supportive partner."
And this is the type of support she feels others should receive, and is hoping to provide.
“Families really need that help. When I was growing up, many parents didn’t get the resources that are available now,” she said. “Now that they exist, I feel very fortunate to be in this position.”
Note: This is the twenty-fourth installment of "Cultivated in Alisal: Homegrown Heroes," a first attempt at documenting and celebrating the history of Alisal Union School District. For more information and other profiles, click here. To submit your name to be profiled, or suggest somebody to be featured, click here.