It takes Dorothy Hernandez at least five minutes to walk through Washington Elementary’s school yard to reach Room 29 where she teaches third grade.
In what would normally be a two-minute walk, the delay is in all the students lining up for hugs before the bell rings from the newly named Burbank Unified's Teacher of the Year.
Even after school has let out on a recent Friday afternoon, Hernandez’ students in the after school program still have their eyes trained on her as they smile and wave back through the windows of her classroom.
Those who have moved on to middle school, high school and college return to open house, she said, when they know they will find her.
“I think that forever, I knew within my heart I wanted to be a teacher,” Hernandez said. “Except for one moment — I wanted to be a news broadcaster. But other than that, I think forever I wanted to be a teacher.”