By KATE LUDLOW
Like many children, Bertha Hernandez’ parents were adamant that she receive a good education. What made her family unusual, however, is that neither her father nor mother spoke English. Her father did not attend school beyond the first grade. So, during Mrs. Hernandez’ childhood, she and her six brothers served as translators for their parents.
It’s a skill that helped create a 33-year career in education for Mrs. Hernandez. This year, she will retire from Liberty Hill Elementary School where for 32-years she has worked as an Instructional Aide for the ESL/Migrant Education Program, working with children whose backgrounds are similar to her own.
As a child, Mrs. Hernandez helped her parents, who were migrant farm workers, as they did farm work in the Granger and Georgetown areas. She drove the truck as her father and six brothers loaded the hay.
“I thought it was fun, it was a picnic day. I got to drive in the truck, and I was barely able to see over the wheel. My father and my brothers would throw the hay bales in the truck,” she said.
Though more money could be made out of state, her family chose to stay in the Central Texas area so that the children would not miss much school.
“They (her parents) always wanted to push us. My father only went to first grade. They didn’t speak any English, my parents. A lot of these kids I teach, they’re in the same boat,” she said.
“Growing up, we weren’t allowed to speak Spanish in schools. So you could sit there and not understand anything,” says Mrs. Hernandez.
But just as important as learning English is to some kids, keeping their native language is just as important.
“It was hard for my children to