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News » Team Spotlight: Kelly Hernandez

Team Spotlight: Kelly Hernandez


GC: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your life growing up?

I was born in Lima, Peru and moved to New Jersey one month shy of my 6th birthday. New country, new home, new school, new faces and new language. Needless to say, I struggled through the first grade. I do consider myself lucky though, because I had incredible bilingual teachers in elementary school who guided me every step of the way. Before I knew it, I was not only caught up but I was excelling in all subjects. A big part of that was also my supportive parents who taught me from a very young age the value of education.

GC: When did you know that you wanted to go into the education field?

I have always loved school and dreamt of having my own classroom someday. After 8th grade I had the opportunity to attend Passaic County Technical Institute, a vocational high school, where I chose to focus on Child Development. I was 14 years old and indecisive of whether I wanted to branch out into psychology or social work; all I knew for sure was that I wanted to work with children. I wanted to make a difference. Ultimately ECE was the right fit for me and I followed it through college. I attended William Paterson University where I graduated cum laude with a double major in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. I also minored in Liberal Studies with a double focus on English and Anthropology.

GC: How did you come to work at Guidecraft? 

I was hired as a first-grade teacher right after I graduated college. As I was setting up my classroom I received a phone call about a toy company looking for a recent education graduate to write activities and curriculum for their toys. At first I was hesitant. I already had the job I worked hard for, the classroom I had dreamt of and I was ready to make a difference. However, I realized that if I truly wanted to make an impact in the lives of children on a global scale, it would be by joining the Guidecraft family as their ECE Advisor.

GC: How would you describe your position?

I develop games, activities, and higher order thinking questions that stimulate cognitive development, as well as reinforce social-emotional interactions. I work with the designers to bring in an educational point of view for the different products Guidecraft has to offer. I am also the link between Guidecraft and schools. I currently work with William Paterson University sponsoring workshops and professional development opportunities for teachers in STEM

GC: What has been your favorite experience working at Guidecraft?

My favorite experience (so far!) has been bringing my niece and nephew to the office for Gary’s birthday. Their eyes lit up with excitement as they explored the office, and they even claimed that I have the coolest job ever! With everyone laughing and having fun together, you truly get a sense of family here at Guidecraft.

GC: Are there any rules or techniques that you follow as an educator?

My rule is to always put the children first. Their safety is a priority. I’m always asking myself if what I design is developmentally appropriate. I also do a lot of research to keep up with the latest educational strategies and trends. I find that I learn a lot from fellow teachers and other experts.

GC: What is some advice you would give someone who wants to go into a similar field?

Push yourself. It’s nice to be in a comfortable place doing something you know, but you don’t truly see the extent of your potential until you push yourself into something new. The best adventures always come from taking a leap of faith.

GC: Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

I love learning as much as I love teaching. I guess that is why I enjoy reading and traveling. I also love nature, music, and dancing.

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