SAN ANTONIO – Dr. Eduardo Hernandez is just six days in on his new job as superintendent of Edgewood ISD.
“It's been fast and furious. It's like drinking out of a fire hydrant,” Hernandez joked Tuesday.
The Edgewood school board voted to officially hire Hernandez in late June after the previous superintendent, Emilio Castro, stepped down amid an investigation into allegations that Castro inappropriately touched a female staff member.
Castro’s resignation was the latest in a series of blows for the school district in recent years, which included the Texas Education Agency disbanding the previous school board after the TEA determined it was dysfunctional.
The state then appointed a board of managers to oversee the district.
“My job is not to come in and pass judgment on something I didn’t get to witness,” Hernandez said. “We have to address that these things happened in the past, but that's going to be a very instant thing. Shut the door and move on.”
What goals does he have for Edgewood ISD?
“You know, a lot of times superintendents come in and there's this big hoorah about how I’m going to break everything up and start over. I think there's a lot of good things that are already happening here,” Hernandez said. “I think, for me, one of my biggest goals is to kind of bring that to the light. Here's what’s happening already, here's some things we need to have an honest conversation about that maybe aren't working.”
So, what’s working and what’s not?
“I think we have a very strong early childhood program. I think the Head Start, the Pre-K, the early literacy centers are extremely strong. I think we want to add more to that.”
“One thing that I want to re-establish or have a conversation about is how we support principals. The principal is the key to your reform,” said Hernandez. “Principals support teachers. Who affects kids? Teachers in the classroom. So I want to shift our focus instead of being top down, to go grassroots up. If the principal is at the grassroots level, then I need to make sure all of our resources are supporting principals.”
What message does he want to send Edgewood ISD parents?
“Yes, there are things we need to work on. I completely accept that and hold myself accountable for that six days in. That maybe we've dropped the ball on some things, so what I would say is meet me in the middle. Meet me in the middle and give us an opportunity to re-establish ourselves."
Hernandez says kids are the district’s customers.
He wants to take a “non-traditional approach”… and learn more about Chick-fil-A:
“We're not just going to study our educational partners,” he said. “When you think of customer service, which is what this business is about, companies like Chick-fil-A probably come to mind to you. So I want to study the program that Chick-fil-A has. How do you establish a customer service system that is a complement to our central office, our individual buildings? Because really what we're talking about is gaining trust and respect back from our parents.”
Right now, Hernandez is conducting a “listening tour.” He’s talking to every director in the district, every principal, some community members and parents. Here’s what he wants to know:
“My whole listening tour revolves around three very simple questions. What does the district need to continue to do? What does the district need to stop doing? And what does the district need to start doing?”
“And then of course there's that bonus question because I’m always a teacher: Who are the two people that you think I need to talk to?”
Hernandez was has worked as a math teacher and most recently as the chief officer of academics and innovation as Duncanville ISD in North Texas. He also worked in Terrell, Crowley and Dallas ISDs.
“I'm not Pollyannish. I realize we can't agree on everything. And I don’t intend to agree on everything with people,” he said. “At the end of the day, my journey and just my results as a leader would increase the likelihood that I think I can turn some schools around.”