Kathy Hernandez’s Story: The Value of ‘Fun Stuff’

Kathy Hernandez at Redd Elementary knows that fun is the key ingredient to encourage students to cherish their education. 


Now in her second year as a Mentor at Redd Elementary, Kathy continues to employ creative methods to create an atmosphere of excitement about learning and classroom achievement.

“I use a different approach,” Kathy shares. For instance, when she works with her second grader in math she uses a sweet incentive which connects the math to something enjoyable. “Jelly bean math! Turns out she really loves jelly beans,” she laughs remembering the day her second grader said goodbye after lunch, rubbing her tummy and grinning for more jelly beans.

“Ideas come from everybody and everything,” confides Kathy.  She explains that the school library is one place that holds a wealth of resources. They use the large map carpet to learn geography and the books to looks up information. “As we read, we constantly make use of encyclopedias, dictionaries, and atlases to help cement information into my student’s mind.” Inspiration even came from a friend who gave her a handy worksheet of homographs. This worksheet will be a new learning game for her mentees.

Since becoming a mentor, Kathy loves to find a way to include the ‘fun stuff.’ “My fifth grader loves math and she loves puzzles,” so Kathy created word problems with her student’s name in them. She also introduced her student to sudoku and quilt making which requires her to use her math, planning, and motor skills. These activities are fun and success at them help the student to overcome setbacks by building academic self-esteem.

“I am trying to draw out the desire to learn and get my students to smile—to get them to have fun while learning,” she expresses with enthusiasm. “That’s the main thing: have it be fun.”  This is an enjoyable task that benefits both of her mentees; and Kathy certainly has fun finding creative ways of getting them excited to learn.


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