David Hernandez

Curriculum/Professional Development Specialist
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)


Being in a classroom for over 15 years teaching mathematics and science has been a wonderful journey for David. The journey started in 1998 when David completed his Associates degree in science from the College of DuPage after finishing high school with a 4.0 GPA. This was the first step for him because in 2007, after 9 years of overcoming tremendous obstacles such as working 60 hours per week and going to college, he earned a Bachelor of Science (Physics) from Northern Illinois University. Finally, David achieved a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction in 2015 from Aurora University. However, the journey did not stop there because he is planning on starting a PhD in the near future.

The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) extended an opportunity to David that definitely has been nourishing and self-rewarding, to the point of becoming a curriculum writer. David started this position in 2015 and since then, the opportunity has been taken advantage of to the fullest potential. Utilizing all the background knowledge of Mathematics and Physics to write and develop real-life problem-solving skills among students and educators focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to promote meaningful knowledge to students has definitely been the most important part of the job for him. Furthermore, David strives to foster a welcoming learning multicultural environment where students can build confidence in their life skills to achieve the best outcomes. Additionally, David has developed a strong rapport with students and their families to encourage a lifelong commitment to learning. He has also worked to promote excellence among the students in pursuit of a college career. David’s plan for the future is to become part of the education board for the state of Illinois to promote high quality and meaningful education to every student regardless of race, color, or social background.

David’s awards include being part of the top 50 Organizations in Education (IMSA) and being part of the 2020 Innovative STEM Student Program Award from NCSSS at the annual national conference. His accomplishments as a curriculum writer includes STEM summer curriculums, Fusion STEM programs, STEM a la Carte, Micro Credentials Courses, Transitional Mathematics - Secondary STEM Curriculum, Innovation Makerspace Lab, Mathematics Beyond Language, and from Basic to Inquiry-Based Approach. All these programs are distributed to hundreds of schools all over the state contributing to the STEM education in the state of Illinois impacting thousands of students. But, for David, the most important accomplishment is to see all the happy faces of the students on graduation day, especially all the families who share the pride of having first generations of students walking on the stage receiving a diploma and for many of them the beginning of a college career.

For David, the best part of being an educator is the connection with the students. He enjoys empowering someone to believe in himself/herself beyond any obstacle and creating a curriculum for students to learn in an interactive meaningful way according to their ability. David also strives to promote a mindset that will take students to the next level in their lives. As a curriculum writer, his goal is to provide cutting-edge knowledge in an interactive way for students to learn and feel confident reaching their goals.

David’s advice for those wanting to work in K-12 Education is “Education is not just a job. If you want to become a teacher so you can purchase a mansion you better think it over. Being a teacher is an enormous responsibility because you will become a counselor, a psychiatrist, a social worker, a translator, a mentor, and the most important: a role model for the students. For many students, a teacher is the closest person they have to a family member.” David adds, “On the other hand, being a teacher is one of the most rewarding professions there is. When you run into a special former 12th grader, the one who was always in trouble and about to drop out of school, the one who nobody believed in in the past but you went the extra mile for this student and he/she graduated against all the odds. And now he/she tells you, ‘Thank you for inspiring me to become someone in life.’ This is the best reward as a teacher.”

David believes that mathematics is essential in all the aspects of life itself and must be taught in the correct way, “Numerous times math teachers dilute the concepts because some students do not understand them. This is the wrong approach because mathematics should be taught by utilizing hands-on, kinesthetic, problem-based, and inquiry-based learning for [students] to have meaningful learning.” David encourages teachers to guide students to explore the connection between mathematical concepts and real-world situations, “Students should create their own knowledge based on their personal and professional experience empowering their background knowledge and their heritage.”

“Hispanic Heritage Month is a reminder of the pride to be a Hispanic in the United States of America. It is a reminder of the responsibility I have as a professional to provide education and life skills to all my students for them to build their own American dream. Finally, it is a reminder of all the people who took the stand to achieve equal opportunities for all of us to reach our goals.”