Astronaut’s Jose M. Hernandez Academy students are encouraged to “Reach for the Stars” and never stop learning. El Concilio’s California Academies named the school in honor of Hernandez, a hometown hero. As a young man, he dreamed of becoming an astronaut. And even though he was denied by NASA 11 times, her persevered and on the 12th try, he was accepted in NASA, his dream was realized, and he experienced space travel.
Astronaut Jose Hernandez’s perseverance of never giving up on his dream and being resilient is the perfect example to this academy named in his honor. At the academy, grades K through 8 classes, young scholars are surrounded by an incredible team of positive professionals dedicated to planting seeds of greatness in the minds of students.
And no one is more dedicated than Principal Donita Drulias-Daumer, affectionally known by staff and students as “Ms. D”. Ms. D’s, mantra of welcoming each day with “I choose Joy” and her positive attitude is reflective in both the staff and student body.
As soon as you step on the campus, you are embraced by people who are not only positive but genuinely love what they do! As Principal Donita relayed, “I want to be impactful and to motivate our students and my teachers to do their best. I want them to know that I believe in them and their ability to make a difference.”
“This is a heart school.” she continued. “You need to have heart to join our team. We focus on the student as a whole, not only their education, but their social and emotional characteristics as well.”
One of benefits of being in the El Concilio Academies family is being able to reach out and provide resources to students and their families in many diverse areas including Covid clinics, counseling, as well as offering $75 Grocery Gift certificate to Food 4 Less or Rancho San Miguel.
The academy also focuses on preparing the young scholars in all aspects of life, as Ms. D also stated, “We encourage students to be effective learners, interacting with classmates and teachers. Be a good listener, form relationships. We are building a phenomenal foundation to set them up to be college and career ready.”
“Life is a journey”, she continued, “not a destination. You are a lifelong learner. Believe in yourself. It is ok to fail, but not stay there. We want our young scholars to know that there are people who believe in them, and you can do anything you put your mind to.
Be your best self and believe in yourself. We provide tools and strategies for life lessons. We push their thinking. Are you making good choices today?”
Students are encouraged to share how they are feeling and that the staff “listens” to them. As we toured the campus, it was amazing to see that Ms. D not only knew the names of every single student in all of the K-8 classes, but also their current projects. It was so awesome to hear her say to them, “I see you” and truly knowing that she really cared about each one of them being successful.
Ensuring success is the theme throughout the campus and is reflective in every classroom. Every classroom displayed positive messaging, such as “I will embrace challenge. I can have a positive attitude and I can learn from others.”
In addition, each class also adopts a college, and each class displays memorabilia reflective of that school. Every Friday, students are able to wear clothing reflective of their favorite college.
But nothing was more revealing about the impact of this administration than hearing directly from the 6th grade students when asked what they loved most about the school this year. “We love the structure and discipline.” “Our teachers are caring.” “We feel safe.” “We feel respected.” “We are learning more.” “We can talk to our teachers.”
Ms. D’ s staff had nothing but praise for her as well. Ms. Roz, an Instructional Aide for the 3rd grade said, “I love my principal. She encourages and lifts us up. She pushes us and keeps me grounded. She really cares.”
And from Ms. Tiffanie, the Receptionist, “Our atmosphere is welcoming. Being here is like walking into home.”
Ms. Grace, the Office Manager, shared “Our team is like our family. Ms. D has a great connection with parents and students.” And when asked what one word would describe the school, she said, “empowerment”.
Astronaut Jose M Hernandez Academy is absolutely poised to empower this generation of scholars for greatness. The amazing winning attitude that permeates the academy will no doubt produce the stellar innovators of tomorrow as they reach for the stars and beyond.
The Academy is currently accepting enrollment applications for the 2023-2024 school year.
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