Holly Hermansen: Reflecting on a career in education
Holly A. Hermansen
I began my teaching career 33 years ago working with students with severe disabilities.
In my very first class there was a girl named Amy Emmert. Amy was born with cerebral palsy, and she had a profound impact on my life and my career. I worked closely with Amy and her family, and as a young teacher, quickly realized the importance of high quality education for all students. Amy passed away at the age of 17, but she brought a lot of happiness and joy into many lives, and I feel that I had an impact on the quality of her life as well.
As I prepare to retire, I have been reflecting on my career. The lessons that I learned early on have stayed with me throughout, and I have always worked hard to keep those in mind and turn them into ideals in everything I have done.
First, all students can learn. It’s up to the educators working with the families to figure that out for some of our most reluctant or special needs students. But it’s critically important that each and every child is offered the opportunity for a high-quality education that meets their needs. Second, it takes a community. None of us can do this alone; it is too important and difficult. Educators working with families, agencies, local organizations and community individuals to improve education and serve all students can be impactful and rewarding. Third, it’s about the people that do this work. I have worked with some of the most incredible educators over the years, and have learned a great deal from so many of them. Hire good people, make sure they have the tools and support to do their jobs, and the results will be amazing.
I’m so proud of our schools in Nevada County. They exemplify the ideals described above. Through challenges such as declining enrollment, aging facilities, teacher shortages, budget cuts and changing demographics (the percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch has gone from 15 percent to 48.3 percent in Nevada County in the last 10 years), they continue to achieve excellence and work hard to support all students.
Our schools achieve higher than the state average on standardized tests, prioritize school climate and student safety, and work closely with families and the community to continuously improve. Our exceptional educators approach their work each day with skill and passion.
After 23 years in Nevada County working with our schools in a variety of positions, I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way and profoundly thankful to everyone that I have worked with. While attending a recent Music in the Mountains concert, I had three separate people that I had never met before approach me and thank me for my service to schools in Nevada County.
It warmed my heart, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to say goodbye than that!
Holly Hermansen, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, has announced her retirement effective Aug. 1.
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Parents are becoming aware of the use of critical race theory in their children’s instruction, particularly as distance learning has given them a window into their classrooms.