Degrees and Certifications:
Dr. Patricia Espinoza Fernandez is the daughter of immigrants. In the early 1960s, her father migrated to the United States from Jalisco, Mexico via the bracero guest worker program and her mother migrated from the southern state of Veracruz, Mexico. Growing up, her parents only allowed Spanish to be spoken in the home and emphasized the importance of doing well in school, where instruction was delivered in English. Her parents valued bilingualism and education. Dr. Fernandez was exposed to higher education by UCLA’s Upward Bound, a college preparatory program that provides eligible high school students rigorous academic support and guidance toward a post-secondary education.
Dr. Fernandez is also a proud product of Los Angeles Unified School District. Because her family moved regularly, she attended several schools in the communities of East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights. No matter where they lived, she made it a point to find the nearest public library and spent many hours there, participating in their programs and reading books. Her family faced many struggles and hardship, including the need at one point, for transitional living support. At or around ten years of age, Patricia’s family relocated to her father’s home state of Jalisco, Mexico. This presented a very difficult period for Patricia and her siblings who were able to speak Spanish but had not learned Spanish in the academic sense. She vividly recalls having to take a spelling test in Spanish at her new school, and the frustration she felt due to only knowing how to communicate academically in English. Despite these challenges, Patricia tried hard to learn and focused on her education. Not long thereafter, her family returned to the United States and Patricia re-connected with school through involvement in extra-curricular activities. She credits the positive influence and the relentless commitment of her teachers and school community for inspiring her to become a teacher. To help pay for school expenses, Patricia worked her way through high school and college, initially working at a swap meet, then for a department store, later as a teacher’s assistant and finally, as a substitute teacher.
Dr. Fernandez earned her Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Liberal Arts at Mount Saint Mary’s College, a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Liberal Studies with a Spanish Bilingual Emphasis from San Diego State University, a Master of Education (Ed.M.) in Educational Administration, from San Diego State University and her Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership at San Diego State University.
Dr. Fernandez began her journey as a public school teacher in 1993. Her experiences include being a K-6 teacher, mentor teacher, resource specialist teacher, teacher on special assignment, elementary and middle school assistant principal and elementary school principal. She was appointed to coordinator of student support. Fernandez served as coordinator of world language programs for the San Diego County Office of Education, coaching principals and teachers in dual language immersion programs and lending support to school districts identified for program improvement.
Fernandez initiated her teaching career in higher education in 2002, when she was selected to join the faculty of the University of California at San Diego for two years as distinguished-teacher-in-residence. As a faculty member for the Teacher Education Program, she taught courses, placed and supervised students’ fieldwork and helped establish partnerships between the department and local school districts. Dr. Fernandez loved academia so much, she continued on to teach part-time for CSU, UC and private university campuses, even after her loan term ended.
Outside of work, Dr. Fernandez keeps active in the community. She was appointed as city commissioner to the city of Chula Vista’s International Friendship Commission, served a term with the board of directors for Whispering Winds’ Catholic Conference Center, and provides volunteer service to other non-profit organizations.
Patricia Fernandez’ legacy is in service to others; in getting to know all students, staff and families’ needs. Her continued goal is to work with all teachers to serve, lead, and inspire all students to reach his or her potential.
Follow Dr. Fernandez on Twitter @Dual_Language or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.