PHARR - Two Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Teachers were surprised this morning at their home as the district Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year. Congratulations to Robert Sandoval, Music Teacher at Henry Ford Elementary and Ludivina Hernandez, 7th grade English Language Arts Teacher at Jaime Escalante Middle School.

Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo and their campus principals Priscilla Salinas and Raymundo Monrreal, were part of the surprise, which included a PSJA Police escort and lawn decorations showcasing the announcement.

Sandoval has 30 years of teaching experience, 22 in his current position at Ford Elementary. From a migrant family, his goal as a child was to pursue a profession where he could plant roots and make a difference in people's lives. He earned his Bachelor’s in Mass Communication from The University of Texas-Pan American and began working at his town’s local newspaper. While covering a story about the school board, he was offered a teaching job through the Alternative Certification Program. It was not long after, that he realized that through teaching he could directly affect families similar to his and children similar to him.

During his tenure at PSJA ISD, Sandoval has taught second and third-grade bilingual students for eight years and music for the past 22 years. He teachers 762 pre-kinder through 5th-grade students in a school just a few blocks from where he grew up.

“Teaching elementary music allows for the integration of other subjects into your lessons,” Sandoval said. “When teaching about rhythm, I’m also teaching math and fractions. When teaching ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ I’m also teaching history and when I teach ‘This Little Light of Mine,’ I give a lesson about not giving up.”

For Secondary District Teacher of the Year, Hernandez has been in the world of education for 20 years, 10 of them as a classroom teacher. Starting out as a teacher’s aide, she listened to a mentor and pursued her teaching degree, most recently she completed her Master’s Degree in Reading and Literacy from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

For Hernandez, being born in Mexico and migrating to south Pharr at a young age kept her humbled and focused on education. Also from a migrant family, her parents were hard workers and instilled in her strong work ethics. Several years ago she faced the greatest obstacle after losing her oldest son and her parents within a year, but she continued teaching and educating children in their honor.

“My son always told me that I was the best teacher in the world and that one day I would be Teacher of the Year,” she said. “Even though I have suffered a great loss, I have learned to appreciate what I still have, my education, my career and most importantly my family.”

Hernandez stated that when she walks into her classroom, she realizes she found her purpose in life, teaching.

The two honorees joined 41 other PSJA ISD Campus Teachers of the Year this morning during the first Virtual Teacher of the Year Appreciation Event. District School Board Members, Administrators and Principals gathered virtually to honor those who give so much to the future of our region.

“We congratulate and honor all of our campus Teachers of the Year,” said Dr. Arredondo. “We tried to make today’s event extra special for them as they have been the leaders taking us through distance learning, and have been instrumental in making the best of this time apart. Thank you for your efforts and dedication to our children.”


Ludivina Hernandez: PSJA ISD District Secondary Teacher of the Year 2020

Teacher of the Year Recognition: