Dr. Arthur Hernandez advocates for students and helps shape the support they need in Texas schools

By Elda Silva

Dr. Arthur E. Hernández missed being in a classroom. That’s why Hernández, a professor in the Dreeben School of Education, joined the faculty at the University of the Incarnate Word in 2016. Immediately prior, he was dean of the college of education at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. “I really appreciate and enjoy the opportunity to be student centered and student focused,” Hernández said. Over the course of his decades-long career, Hernández’s writing and research has focused on measurement and evaluation, psycho-educational interventions and performance effectiveness. Adding to a long list of appointments and honors, this year Hernández was elected president of the Texas Association of School Psychologists (TASP). His term ends in January. With friendly eyes behind rimless glasses, Hernández has a quiet warmth about him. The shelves in his office are packed with data analysis and research design books. Among Hernández’s favorite mementos are an orange Nerf brain he used to have undergraduates toss around to “get that brain moving” and a stuffed black lamb given to him as a replacement for a beloved childhood toy after he shared the story of its loss with students in a developmental psychology class. In his work with doctoral students at UIW, Hernández’s focus is on research methodology. Currently, he is the dissertation chair for 10 doctoral students. He also works with others as a methodologist or consultant. “I enjoy the ‘Aha!’ moment. I enjoy the collaboration and basically making meaning together,” Hernández said.
“Because I work with students, and because I’m surrounded by so many amazing faculty persons, there’s always an opportunity to learn something, and I think probably among my most favorite things is learning something new.” As part of his work with TASP, an organization he has been involved with since the mid-1990s, Hernández is chairing a task force focused on crisis prevention and response in schools. In part a response to school shootings that have occurred in Texas, the task force is focused more broadly on crisis in general. “One of the ways to minimize risk is by making sure that schools are places that focus on social-emotional development and social-emotional wellness as well as curriculum content,” he said. Among other projects, he is also working with a collaborative in Puerto Rico created in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Hernández is working with physicians and mental health professionals “to help them start thinking about how to organize and prepare for the next big event, looking at self-care,” he said. “People who are engaging in helping others, there’s a particular burden on them, so they need to be able to make sure they don’t burn out so they can continue to be of benefit and of service.” Hernández takes on such projects because they’re of interest to him, but also for the benefit of his students. “I believe anybody who’s going to be teaching someone else needs to have experience and be actively engaged,” he said. “You don’t want to go to a physician who learned from somebody who went to school but never treated a patient.”