A new school year brings new students, new teachers and, in some cases, new administrators like the new Assistant Principal, Dalila Hernandez, who brings 14 years of experience to the position at Riverbank High School.
Hernandez was the Assistant Principal at Bret Harte Union High School in Angels Camp for the past eight years where she said discipline was a priority along with academic counseling.
The high school in Angels Camp did not have counselors so Hernandez had to assume the role of disciplinarian as well as counselor.
The mother of two boys, she left Bret Harte High after the youngest one graduated, with plans to return to the Central Valley where she grew up.
She graduated from Gustine High School where she had aspirations to become an elementary school teacher. After high school she attended Stanislaus State and was an aide at Gustine High.
“I was in Gustine for my whole entire life pretty much,” said Hernandez. “I was working with high school students the entire time, but thinking I wanted to work with little kids.”
Even though teachers that she worked with and went to school with told her that she would be a high school teacher she stuck to her guns on becoming an elementary school teacher. She taught fifth grade for two years and then moved to the high school to teach Spanish and ELD where she got a few “I told you so’s.”
Her first job in administration was with Livingston High School where she was the Vice Principal for three years. The principal was looking for a vice principal and asked her and another teacher at the time to apply. She got the position which led her to where she is now, which according to Hernandez is 10 years ahead of her own administrative plan.
“Here I am doing discipline and that is my main focus,” stated Hernandez. “The thing that drew me to Riverbank I think was more of the Spanish speaking aspect of it.”
“I started losing my Spanish because I didn’t use it very often (at Bret Harte). So I thought I need to go back down to the Valley to get my Spanish back.”
At age six, Hernandez moved to the Central Valley from Mexico where Spanish was her first language. English is now her dominant language.
The career path of administration has led Hernandez to Riverbank High School as the new Assistant Principal or “second in command,” as she called it.
With the school year barely under way, Hernandez is still trying to get the groove of the new school, schedules, teachers, and students.
Now being a Bruin, Hernandez has only met a few of the students and said she has already made a connection with a few seniors that she hopes to see graduate this year.
Her idea is not to just discipline the students and dish out punishments, but to have an understanding of what they did and showing them that they did something wrong and figuring out a way to change the behavior so they can go back to the classroom and not back to her office.
“I like to see kids succeed,” said Hernandez. “They need to get back in the classroom so they can get their diploma.
“So I won’t remember the bad things the kids do, I want to remember them for the good things that they do.”
Admitting that she is strict, Hernandez also understands that there are some gray areas but for the most part rules are rules and they will not be bent, expressing that rules are there for a reason.
“If you just follow the rules and do what you are supposed to do, you will get through high school,” explained Hernandez. “You have to get yourself involved in high school and do fun stuff to get yourself through it and then you will be good to go. Get yourself involved and you won’t have time to get in trouble.”
Hernandez has an open door policy and is flexible with parent schedules since she understands that most parents work.
Along with her duty as a disciplinarian, Hernandez will also be in charge of attendance and student services.
Riverbank High School Principal Sean Richey also expressed that she has a broad understanding of the college application and financial aid process.
“She has extensive experience as a high school administrator and we are lucky to have her at RHS,” stated Richey. “As with all site administrators, her role will be to support our teachers in the instruction of our students.
“She will be a tremendous asset to Riverbank High School.”