Rafael Hernández School
The Hernández is a dual language school (English/Spanish) — the first in the city of Boston (1970) and in Massachusetts. Every student is taught in English and Spanish, regardless of their home language. The school's motto portrays the powerful goals of the school: "Two Languages, Una Comunidad." During a time when many Puerto Ricans were migrating to Boston, The Rafael Hernández School was founded as the only school that was equipped to handle the special needs of children whose first language was not English. The Rafael Hernández School was initially opened exclusively for Latino children. These children were recruited into the school by searching door-to-door for children of families that had been so alienated from society due to language barriers that the parents had been keeping the children home.
Backstory and Context
The school committee unanimously agreed to name this profound school after Rafael Hernández, a Puerto Rican poet, composer and musician whose songs dealt with the loneliness and isolation of migration and the difficulty of fitting in. His songs have become classics in the Latino culture today. He seemed to be a perfect symbol for the school’s intentions and goals for its students.
Margarita Muñiz and Ken Larson were two beloved leaders of the Rafael Hernández school. Though both passed away in 2011, they are highly regarded for their achievements in the efforts to provide higher education for bilingual children. A school named Margarita Muñiz Academy was opened in honor of Muñiz as a groundbreaking bilingual high school in Jamaica Plain. While Muñiz was the Principal of the school, Ken Larson spent his professional life as the Director of Operations and Assistant Principal for the Rafael Hernandez School. He worked side by side with his great friend, Margarita Muñiz. Together, they made the Hernandez School an outstanding two-way bilingual school.
The Rafael Hernández School is continuously working to accommodate parents and students who have difficulty speaking in English. The school’s website includes a feature in which parents can switch between both languages for easy access. All school supply lists are written with English and Spanish translation side by side. According to the Rafael Hernández School, the staff encourages students while looking for “light in their eyes” that has emerged from the opportunities they have found in the school. The Rafael Hernández School works to aid all students to learn of their capabilities and the possibilities of their contributions to society.
“Massachusetts School and District Profiles.” 2017 Report Card - Clinton Elementary (00640050), Accessed February 14, 2019. profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=00350691&orgtypecode=6.
“Our History ⋆ Rafael Hernández School.” Rafael Hernández School, Accessed February 14, 2019. rafaelhernandezk8.org/about-us/our-history/.
“Rafael Hernandez.” SchoolDigger, Accessed February 14, 2019. www.schooldigger.com/go/MA/schools/0279000312/school.aspx.