Waukegan Native joins ISBE as Assistant Superintendent for the Center for Language and Early Childhood Development
Reyna Hernandez to help ISBE increase family and community engagement efforts
Springfield, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education has named Reyna Hernandez to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of English Language Learning and Early Childhood. Hernandez is a former Waukegan Public Schools parent facilitator and a Latino Policy Forum research and policy associate focused on immigrant and early childhood issues. Hernandez holds a law degree from New York Law School and an undergraduate degree from Harvard University. She will oversee a number of new initiatives, including strengthening the state’s early childhood services and intra-agency collaboration.
“Reyna will help this agency move forward as it builds a Preschool through 12th grade education reform strategy that ensures our earliest learners and growing population of English language learners get the best possible education to succeed in the classroom,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch.
Hernandez joined the Illinois State Board of Education after working at the Latino Policy Forum in Chicago where she researched relevant early childhood and immigration public policy. Hernandez helped inform the development of the state’s policy to serve English language learners in preschool as a staffer for the Illinois Early Learning Council’s Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Committee. Last spring, she served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University’s College of Education where she designed and taught a course on bilingual education law and policy in the Bilingual Bicultural Education Master’s Degree Program.
“Reyna’s school district experience and her work in law and policy impacting Latinos will help us keep a keen focus on developing programs and regulations that prepare all Illinois students for success in college and careers,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico.
Hernandez held a number of research jobs while earning her Bachelor of Arts in Government from Harvard University. After graduating with honors from Harvard, she returned to her hometown to work at her alma mater as a Community Education Parent Facilitator in Waukegan School District 60’s Parent Information and Support Center. Hernandez later decided she wanted to make a difference for children and families at a broader level and went on to earn her J.D., from New York Law School where she again graduated with honors.
As the Assistant Superintendent for the Center of Language and Early Childhood Development, Hernandez will work closely with the divisions of Early Childhood and English Language Learning toward ensuring that every student is prepared for success. In addition, Hernandez will help lead ISBE’s efforts to strengthen family and community engagement – a cornerstone of effective schools.
Hernandez is among those who helped craft the state’s recent application for $70 million in federal funds to develop better coordinated early childhood services in Illinois through the federal Race to the Top grant competition. Among the state’s proposals is to develop and implement a Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) that will provide comprehensive information about children’s developmental competencies over time and inform whether Illinois’ kindergarteners have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in school.
Hernandez speaks English, Spanish and French fluently. She is based in the agency’s Chicago office.