By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — Jorge Hernandez was the first in his family to graduate from college and he is paying back the sacrifice his immigrant parents made by teaching children the importance of education.
Hernandez is the new principal of Lawrence Catholic Academy. He started the post on July 1. He replaces Sister Lucy Veilleux who took a new position in New Hampshire.
The Rev. Paul B. O’Brien, chairperson of the Board of Trustees at Lawrence Catholic Academy had high praises for Hernandez.
“Given his deep faith in Christ, his personal history, his membership in the Lawrence community, his involvement in LCA since its opening, and his very strong personal and professional gifts, Jorge Hernandez is a remarkable blessing for the strengthening and growth of our school,” O’Brien said in a statement.
Mary Grassa O’Neill, Secretary for Education of the Archdiocese of Boston and a trustee at Lawrence Catholic Academy, said in a statement she was “delighted to welcome” Hernandez as principal of the elementary school.
“Jorge is a strong, faith-filled leader whose many gifts and talents will be real assets to the Church and to the school and its faculty, staff, students, parents and the entire community,” Grassa O’Neill said in a statement.
Hernandez served on the Lawrence Catholic Academy Board of Trustees before taking the job.
“We wanted to make sure that the work done by Sister Lucy and the board of trustees, continue on an upward trajectory — not just how to teach the kids to be successful students, (but successful) in life,” he said.
Hernandez is the first lay person and first Hispanic to lead Lawrence Catholic Academy, which was founded in 2010 after the consolidation of Our Lady of Good Counsel and St. Patrick schools. The school has five religious women and 23 lay teachers. In addition to math, science and English, the school offers art club, swimming, volleyball, basketball, Go Green Club, choir and chess club.
Born in Hawthorne, Calif., to Mexican immigrant parents, Hernandez was raised in Inglewood, CA. He has a master of education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in literacy from Lesley University.
He credits his parents and teachers for inspiring him to pursue a career in education.
“There were teachers who believed in me and saw gifts that I didn’t realize or knew I had, and my parents who made me understand why it was important to work hard at school and achieve as a professional,” Hernandez said.
In his years as an educator he has been a teacher, was head of the Office of Admissions at Merrimack College and was an Area Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent for Enrollment and Marketing for the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese of Boston.
Hernandez lives in Lawrence with his wife and two sons. He is active in the church and is a board member of Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School.
“Education to me is an opportunity to not only learn and acquire knowledge for one’s self but to become engaged in a process where teachers deliver information to students,” Hernandez said.