Two newcomers are introduced this school year as the Schools Division adds a parent engagement liaison and instructional coach. Meet Gabriela Hernandez and Nkechi Ihejirikah. New Parent Engagement Liaison Hernandez Helps Ease Challenges, Strengthen Relationships Gabriela Hernandez is the new parent engagement liaison for Harris County Department of Education’s Schools Division. She is passionate about helping families of children with behavioral and learning disabilities because of her own family members’ challenges and successes. “I am grateful for all my personal and professional experiences because both environments helped me understand the challenges both families and professionals face,” she said. Hernandez’s role includes supporting students with autism, intellectual disabilities and emotional disorders and advocating for them within the community. Specifically, the counselor will develop community partnerships which support vocational training for students, as well as Special Olympics opportunities. The California native has a bachelor’s degree in child psychology will soon receive her master’s degree in clinical counseling. She has supported students with special needs for four years as a counseling professional and has worked with families in therapeutic settings for two years. In her support capacity, Hernandez will provide counseling, resources and activities for the special education students enrolled in Harris county Department of Education’s Schools Division, specifically at Academic and Behavior School East and West campuses. “It is my goal to help children achieve success by providing resources from their community and matching parents with community-based tools to strengthen their family life,” she said. New Instructional Coach Ihejirikah Supports Teachers of Special Needs Students  Nkechi Ihejirikah is the new instructional coach within Harris County Department of Education’s Schools Division. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Prairie View A&M University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas. She couples her entrepreneurial spirit with her learned skills in making research-based, data-informed decisions. She has used those skills in both education and business. In business, the Galleria-are resident coached small business owners. In education, she uses research-based decisions to impact student success. “I’m able to use those very same skills to promote student success,” she said. As instructional coach, she has supported students with autism, emotional and intellectual disabilities and generalized learning disabilities in the Houston area for 10 years. Her responsibilities at HCDE will be to provide campus and teacher support by modeling lessons and facilitating instructional strategies and planning for teachers. “My goal is to positively impact classroom environments through increased student engagement,” said she. Source: HCDE