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Faculty Spotlight: Dean Frank Hernandez

As we celebrate Latinx Heritage Month and the ongoing contributions of Latinx educators and advocates, we highlight some of the TCU College of Education students, scholars, teachers and leaders making an impact in their communities.

Frank Hernandez is the Dean of the TCU College of Education and Professor of Educational Leadership. He is the first Latinx dean for the College of Education and has served in K-12 and higher education for thirty years. His research has focused on four areas of inquiry: Latinos and school leadership, Latino racial identity development, inclusive leadership for LGBTQ students, and leadership for social justice. He received the 2020 American Education Research Association (AERA) Latina/o/x Research Issues Special Interest Group Elementary, Secondary and Post-Secondary Research Award and the 2020 AERA Leadership for Social Justice Special Interest Group Teaching Award.

What are some outcomes you’ve seen through your research around Latinos and social justice leadership?

“One of my major research areas was looking at Latino racial identity development and the impact it has on leadership practices for Latino principals. We’ve learned so much about the contribution that Latino school principals are making to schools – they really engage with communities so that the community is broadened beyond the school. We’ve learned that they engage with extended family members, use the Spanish language to engage with families and students and we’ve also learned how they think about their own experiences, especially those that have not been as positive. They really make a point to make sure that all of their students in the school are having positive experiences while they’re in classes studying.”

How do you personally approach leadership?

“To me leadership is about doing what I can to build a community with strong relationships, where trust drives the ways in which we collaborate or communicate with each other. I try to engage with students, faculty and staff and allow them a safe place to be who they are because I think that if people feel comfortable coming to work and to their courses, then they’ll excel.

I also really believe in cultivating and building the leadership of others. It’s about recognizing individuals who are amazing leaders and encouraging them to take on new leadership positions to make an impact on the college and the university.”

What is your vision for the TCU College of Education?

“One of the things that we have really been thinking deeply about in the college is what role can we play in the diversification of the teaching force. What we know is that the student demographics are changing. We have more students of color enrolling in public schools and fewer teachers of color. We know that students of color perform better for teachers of color. They can be amazing role models for their students and I also think that teachers of color are good for every student to expose students to diverse perspectives around teaching.

We have many incredible leaders in our schools and I think it’s important for our students to see teachers and leaders of color and they role they can play in being supportive and helping students to excel, but also understanding of what it means to be a student of color.

I believe in being collaborative and innovative and thinking about what the future will require of us when we think about teachers, principals, counselors, or leaders of nonprofits and how we can be creative about preparing our students. It’s also about the ability to document the impact of our students and learning from that to continuously improve.”