ESS Region 8: Ashley Hernandez Pio

July 27, 2020
Region 8 2020 Every Student Succeeding winner Ashley Hernandez Pio.
Region 8 2020 Every Student Succeeding winner Ashley Hernandez Pio
Editor’s note: ACSA’s video series profiling the winners of the Every Student Succeeding awards program was impacted by COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions. Each week, EdCal will feature Q&A interviews with all 19 winners from each ACSA region. In addition, there will be video stories of the students whose footage was completed before the pandemic. Watch for these videos to premiere on ACSA’s YouTube channel and ACSA’s Facebook page this fall.  Grade: 8th School: Aptitud Academy at Goss  District: Alum Rock Union SD ACSA region: 8 Ashley Hernandez Pio was born with a rare birth defect that affects her limbs. Ashley’s arms end at her elbows, which she uses like hands to do everything from writing to playing bells in the school band. Although Ashley always tries to do things the same as her peers, writing at a desk requires her to contort her body in a way that is uncomfortable. To solve this, Ashley, her teachers, her parents and her therapy support team collaborated on a “desk wedge” that can be transported as she rotates to each of her classes.  Ashley’s classmates gravitate toward her, not because she is different, but because of her positive attitude that makes everyone feel good.  “There are no excuses when it comes to Ashley, only obstacles that she learns how to overcome with hard work,” said Principal Maria Manzanedo.  What are your hobbies and interests? I’m the first child of a family of four. I grew up in the east side of San Jose next to my three cousins who are my neighbors. I like to listen to music and exercise. I also like to go on adventures — anywhere is fine for me. I would like to travel the world one day.  What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome to get where you are today?  I don’t really think I have gone through a big challenge in my life, but to me this is the closest to that. To me learning to fully accept myself for me was really hard and frustrating. I would also judge myself and compare myself to others. It was really hard, but with the right help I got through it.  What educator helped you along the way and how did they help you?   I’ve had many teachers along the way who helped me a lot, like my 7th and 8th grade math teacher who knew that I could do better, pushed me along the way to do better. But I want to mention my first educators who are my parents. They helped me by giving me lots of love, giving me confidence, always supporting me no matter what. I really appreciate everything that they have done for me.  What advice would you have for students facing similar situations?  There is so much that the world has to offer — don’t let the small unimportant things get to you.  What does it mean to win this award?  It means a lot to me to win this award, to be able to share my story with people that don’t know me. I’m very grateful for this award, for the people that made this happen. 

Every Student Succeeding winners overcome the odds

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