After employment within the district for 35 years, 16 of them working as the book room clerk, Jill Hernandez will be retiring on Dec. 30. Although she will not be working after winter break, she will assist the school with the transition into the second semester.
While Hernandez has no concrete post-retirement plants, she hopes to find volunteer opportunities to continue helping her community. Despite being uncertain on what the future holds, Hernandez looks forward to spending time with her family.
“I have a granddaughter [who is] in the navy in Virginia and she has a baby, so I will probably visit her,” Hernandez said. “I have nine great-grandkids, so I’m going to be doing a lot of babysitting. I’m also going to help my husband with military displays by going to different high schools.”
Hernandez has been employed since she was in the ninth grade. Before her position on campus, Hernandez had many jobs within the district.
“In my senior year, I worked for the AUSD in the audio/visual department where teachers would come and pick up films, [which] closed down in the ‘90s,” Hernandez said. “I moved on to the curriculum lab where teachers would come and make projects. I worked there for many years and that position also closed, so from there, I became the bookroom clerk.”
Hernandez’s love for working with children began when her mother began supporting foster youth. With this endeavor, her mother came to work with over 103 kids in the foster youth program.
“I have a special heart when it comes to kids and helping them because I’ve seen a lot that kids could go through, so I try my best to be there for them,” Hernandez said. “If it wasn’t for the kids, I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed my job as much as I do. The students are very caring, respectful, and just come and hang out with me. I will miss them terribly.”
Between checking in and out a minimum of 13,000 books at the beginning and the end of the school year, Hernandez has to repair damaged books, organize bookshelves, distribute and collect fines, transport books downstairs, barcode and process incoming textbooks, and check out books to classes.
“[Hernandez] is working every single day, not just putting away books or assigning,” junior Ruby Guan said. “She’s filing and doing stuff for other schools too. I will be very sad when she leaves, but she’s been working since she was a teenager and is now at retirement age. She has never gotten a break, so I think it’s well deserved, and I am very happy for her.”
Over the years, students have created strong bonds with her through volunteering, sharing stories, and eating lunch together. Hernandez knew she could not leave without saying goodbye to the students, so she posted a letter in the bookroom to inform everyone about her retirement and express her gratitude. Colleagues were saddened by the news.
“We work very well together and she has helped me and I have helped her in the past 16 years,” librarian Lorraine Tom said. “I will miss coming in and seeing her every morning, having lunch, and our conversations.”
The administration and district are searching for someone to take over the bookroom after Hernandez retires. Acknowledging the workload behind the job, Hernandez has offered to come back to help train the new bookroom clerk.