Spotlight During Covid-19: A New Faculty Member, Estefani Hernandez

Abbey Jordan '23, Staff Writer

The summer of 2020 was different than anyone anticipated. For some, this meant binging a new Netflix series or taking online classes. For others, like Estefani Hernandez, a new member of the Peddie English Department, the catastrophic event presented a fresh start and a new opportunity. 

In March, Hernandez was in Lima, Peru, awaiting the beginning of her first formal teaching job through the Fulbright Program. “I expected a year of living abroad and teaching English in a foreign setting,” said Hernandez. Due to the pandemic, the program was cancelled and teachers were sent home. Suddenly, Hernandez had to restructure her life and figure out the next steps in her teaching journey. 

Throughout her search, Hernandez was in quarantine. She coped, as a typical Peddie English teacher, by reading “a ton of Toni Morrison, James Baldwin and other postcolonial thinkers. They all really inspire me,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez, a recent graduate from Williams College, recognized how social media, especially within her age group, shaped activism during this time. “Social media has been especially big. It’s kinda interesting how we use it to get our messages out.” She emphasized that our individual isolation contributes to a collaborative movement for change. “Disruption of routine lends itself to thinking outside of the boxes that we’re in,” said Hernandez, with a nod toward the recent all-school read, “Systems,” by Charles Yu. Teaching the material to her class inspired Hernandez in her teaching goals. “I can see things way more clearly now. This year I hope to transfer that energy into my teaching. I’ve been contemplating what it means to enact change through an English curriculum,” said Hernandez.

While it seems as if she has everything prepared, adjustment to life at Peddie for Hernandez was faster than one would imagine. “I actually applied and eventually got the position late in the summer,” said Hernandez. Even with the challenges that the pandemic created, she was able to find a sustainable opportunity and excitedly begin her teaching career. “I was mentally prepared for the quarantine to continue so it’s great to populate a new place, get some furniture, and even a cat!” Hernandez said, joyfully describing her new home base.

Fresh starts are thrilling, yet frightening. First impressions, new routines and unfamiliar roads are all uncomfortable, but if the quarantine taught us anything, it is to get acquainted with the unknown and confront it. Hernandez has grown close with this notion, ready and eager to interact with the Peddie community and learn what it has to offer.