The Rafael Hernández School was founded in the 1970s, when many Puerto Ricans were migrating to Boston. At that time, no school was equipped to handle the special needs of children whose first language was not English and the children were not being serviced by the school system. In response to this need, community activists petitioned the school committee to establish a school where Latino students’ educational needs could be met. The school committee agreed to establish a school named after Rafael Hernández, a Puerto Rican poet, composer and musician whose songs dealt with the loneliness and isolation of migration and the difficulty of fitting in. His songs have become classics in the Latino culture today.
In the beginning, the Rafael Hernández School was set up exclusively for Latino children. The children were recruited door to door, where parents, so alienated from the system, had been keeping them home.
When the Boston desegregation order was handed down in 1976, it was decided that the most educationally appropriate way to integrate the Hernández would be to make it a two-way language school. In 1987, the school was moved to its current location in order to increase the number of students who would be able to attend the school. Following the successful move, parents decided to petition the School Committee to further expand the school to the 8th grade. Permission was granted in 1991 and the Hernández officially became a K – 8 school. 1994 was the beginning of Expeditionary Learning and the gradual restructuring of the school into a model of thematic, hands-on learning.
Today children come together at the school to celebrate two languages, Spanish and English, and to honor the heritages of the many nations from which they come. The children that you will see are current Hernández students. As you watch them at work, you will see their ethnic and cultural diversity. We ask that you also look for the “light in their eyes” that has come from meaningful learning experiences and our efforts to help all of our students to learn that they are capable and that they are important members of our school community.