ON THE STUMP: Hernandez running for school committee

[EDITOR’S NOTE: To help promote this year’s Town Elections, Abington News will print candidacy announcements. If interested, please email your candidacy announcement to AbingtonNews.org. We will not edit the announcements, but reserve the right to request changes.]

Almost forty years ago I sat in a room as my parents discussed the possibility of my father, Peter Kopp, running for School Committee.

We helped with the campaign, held signs, addressed envelopes, and learned the ropes. 

From elementary school through college, I watched as he attended countless meetings, talked through issues he could discuss and struggled with those he couldn’t.  I stood by as he tried to help shape policy that he hoped would best benefit the whole school system, even when it wasn’t necessarily the choice that was most popular with his neighbors or friends.  There were times when the committee agreed, and there were times when they were divided.  There was rarely a concert, competition, or event of ours when someone wouldn’t pull him aside for “a little chat”.  

It wasn’t easy, but he did it all with humor, a sense of community and with a true appreciation of the power of education.  I was so proud to be by his side but laughed whenever anyone said I would follow in his footsteps.

Like my siblings, I graduated from Abington High School.  I went on to college to pursue a degree in elementary and special education.  Upon graduation, my classroom career began with Abington Public Schools.  I loved what I was doing, but realized I needed space to grow and become my own person outside of the place I had always known.  I left and travelled extensively, never truly expecting to use 02351 as my zip code again.

Fast forward many years later, my husband and I wanted to raise our children near family and the decision was made to move to Abington.  I had a deeper sense of appreciation for what this town had to offer.  It’s not perfect.  Neither am I.  But lack of perfection should never keep us from trying to be better in reasonable ways. 

This appreciation for our community is why we have spent the last ten years volunteering at different town events, sometimes as individuals and often as a family.  

Once our girls began school, I started volunteering in whatever ways my schedule best allowed.  I helped with bookfairs, passed out fluoride, went on field trips, and assisted in classrooms.  I also started attending School Committee meetings.  I realized that being informed helped me understand the direction of the school and I wanted to see the bigger picture instead of individual pieces of the puzzle.  I invited others to join me, encouraged people to be more active participants in the process and even started doing livestream recaps of meetings during the pandemic. 

A few weeks ago, my family gathered in a room and I threw out the possibility of running for School Committee. 

I said, “I have no good reason to do this.”  My 12-year old looked me in the eye and said, “You have lots of good reasons to do this.  You have no good reason not to.” My decision was made.

As I write, I am aware that this should be more of a platform statement and less of a personal one.  However, it is personal.  It is my story, the story of my family and the story of the people of this town.  It is why I am running. 

We have a bumpy road ahead.  We have no real playbook for education during and after a pandemic.  We have people who are exhausted and parents who are concerned. I have been watching, listening, and learning. I know I do not have all the answers, but I do believe I have some of the experience needed to make a positive contribution and the understanding that it won’t be easy. 

I hope to have the chance to serve and I would love to live up to the example my father set all those many years ago.

– Heidi Hernandez

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