In her first year as a third-grade teacher at East Elementary School, Kristin Hernandez received a nomination as Texas Teachers of Tomorrow Teacher of the Year.

Hernandez received the nomination after field representatives Bill Foster and Amanda Wilburn selected her, and she will wait to hear whether she will received the top prize out of hundreds of nominations.

“I’m really dramatic and I love to have fun with my students,” Hernandez said. “If they’re bored, then I’m bored. If they’re sitting doing paperwork all day long, then they’re not doing anything exciting. They’re not discovering.”

During the final hour of Friday’s class day, Hernandez taught a lesson regarding personification or giving human traits to non-human objects. A frantic energy seems to fill the classroom as she bounces from student to student asking for adjectives that illustrate personification.

“I love them. The moment they walk in my classroom, they’re like one of my own,” Hernandez said. “They’re like a part of my family and I want to see them do really well. I would not want to walk into my own classroom and be bored out of my mind and unloved. What sets apart my classroom is the amount of energy I try and put out.”

Hernandez said her influence on energized, entertaining classes comes from her upbringing as the youngest of three children. Considering her next youngest sibling was 10 years older, she said each member of her family mentored her and encouraged her to be proud of who she is. That mentality became the founding philosophy to how she approaches her students.

“How would I want my student to feel when I am in the classroom. Do I want to be boring? Do I want to be loving? What do I want to be?” Hernandez said. “In my classroom we always talk about, if there is something wrong, or you have a problem, that is what I am here for. I am here to help you grow, help you learn and help you solve your problems or overcome an obstacle … I hope me being that open allows them to come to me at all times if they need me.”

Hernandez has lived in Brownwood since 2008, graduating from Brownwood High School and Howard Payne University. One of her students, Spencyr Miller, is the sister of Hernandez’s BHS classmate Shelby Miller, bringing her career in education full circle.

“It’s crazy, but it’s really cool,” Hernandez said. “I was talking to my sister-and-law and said ‘It’s really crazy when you see them leave and they come back to you. Last year, I had a whole group of little kids that were my bunch and I saw a few of them at the grocery store. They ran up and screamed ‘Mrs. Hernandez!’ I thought, that is what this is for.”

With May fast approaching Hernandez said it will not be easy saying goodbye to her class of third-graders, who will leave for Brownwood Intermediate School next year. Before entering her class for the first time, Hernandez said she had doubts about whether she could teach children until seconds before the first bell rang.

“It was 30 seconds before the bell rang,” Hernandez said. “It was absolutely exciting and they’re worth it. They are the whole reason I get up in the morning and come every day. It’s not just because I get to create a poster or a book. I’m here for them and 30 seconds before the bell rings I realized, holy cow, I get to be a part of these kids’ lives.”