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Literacy Teacher Named Among Top 5 in U.S.

Head Start teacher Rosa Hernandez recently was named among the top five family literacy teachers in the nation by the National Center for Family Literacy. Hernandez teaches pre-school-age children and their parents at the Long Beach Family Literacy Program located at the Long Beach School for Adults. The 2007 Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year finalists and the top winner were named at last Sunday’s National Conference on Family Literacy in Orlando. The top winner was Gretchen White Conway of North Carolina. The honors go to educators who demonstrate extraordinary efforts to improve the literacy skills of children and their parents. "I was very honored and surprised," Hernandez said of the finalist notification. "What I do every day comes from the bottom of my heart." Hernandez has worked for 10 years teaching children and their parents literacy and life skills. At Long Beach Family Literacy, parents join their preschool children in class two days each week to support their learning. The parents also take other computer literacy, parenting and English as a Second Language classes at the same Long Beach School for Adults campus where their children attend. Helping Hernandez to win the national honor was a glowing, co-authored testimonial from parents Patricia Obispo and Gloria Jimenez. Both enrolled as students at the Long Beach School for Adults, where Obispo learned English as a second language and Jimenez participated in an occupational program. Both parents raved about the education their children received in Hernandez’s class. "Mrs. Hernandez and Mrs. Bridgette Spikes, her instructional aide, are definitely excellent teachers," the parents wrote. "Our children are at an advanced level in knowledge according to their age. These hardworking and tireless women are filled with love and respect every day and welcome us into their classroom where it seems like our house with kindness and caring character – not only with our children, but also with us as parents. They have won our deepest appreciation and admiration." Over the past three years, more than 20 of the family members that Hernandez has worked with have gone on to secure employment, receive promotions, and/or enroll in and successfully complete college classes. Begun in 1992, Long Beach Family Literacy is funded by the State of California Even Start Office and First 5 Los Angeles. The effort is a collaboration between the Long Beach Unified School District and the City of Long Beach.