Pamela M. Hernandez
John F. Kennedy Elementary School
Jamesburg Public Schools
Jamesburg, New Jersey
Pamela Hernandez has served as principal of John F. Kennedy Elementary for the past five years, building on two decades of experience as a kindergarten teacher and district-level administrator in the areas of special education and student services. In her short tenure, Hernandez has strengthened culture and greatly expanded the resources available to the 500 students who attend this neighborhood Title I school. Recognizing a need for greater instructional and cultural cohesion, one of Hernandez’s first initiatives as principal was to introduce the Responsive Classroom model to establish shared language and strategies to encourage students’ independence and support their social-emotional learning. As a result, the school has seen increased satisfaction and a significant reduction in absenteeism. Hernandez collaborated with district leaders to win a preschool expansion grant, allowing her to open six new preschool classes, the impacts of which she says are “immeasurable and far-reaching.” She used the opportunity to launch a new bilingual immersion program, which has since expanded to serve students in grades K-3 and earned a special visit from New Jersey’s governor. Hernandez has partnered with the United Way of New Jersey to visibilize gender diversity in STEM through a Women in STEM for Preschoolers program. Hernandez holds a B.A. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Learning Disabilities from Rowan University and has completed post-graduate study in Educational Leadership at The College of New Jersey.