Jamesburg principal uses feet to achieve ‘feat’

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By VASHTI HARRIS
Staff Writer

JAMESBURG — Giving the term “a run for your money” a literal meaning, Principal Pamela Hernandez of John F. Kennedy Elementary (JFK) school is preparing to run a marathon in order to give her students better technology materials.

The third-year principal’s goal is to raise $10,000 or earn enough funds to purchase 50 Google Chromebooks for her students, according to the school’s GoFundMe page.

“Although the Board of Education and the taxpayers of Jamesburg provide the schools with all they can, state funding has been stagnate for years. That’s why an out-of-the-box fundraiser is in order,” she said.

Naming her fundraising event “Run All Day for JFK,” Hernandez has signed up to run the 26-mile Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon on April 30 in Long Branch.

“In order for my JFK superstar students to be effective in this century, they need to create, evaluate and effectively utilize information, media and technology. Chromebooks will greatly aid the students in accomplishing this goal and help them get the fair shake they so very much deserve,” Hernandez said.

“The reason I chose to run a marathon was because it is something that could be posted on a GoFundMe page that would reach a larger audience. We thought of things like a pancake breakfast, or selling candy bars, but in order to raise such a large amount of money, drastic measures needed to be taken,” Hernandez continued. “A principal running a marathon for her students raises awareness for whatever the cause may be. It is hopefully an event in which the families, and even the community, can become involved.”

This will be Hernandez’s first marathon and despite her age, she said that she is determined to make her students proud and set a positive example.

“[Running] my first marathon at the age of 54 is no easy task, but it’s a great example for my superstar students to see that if you work hard, you can do anything. [My students] are continually saying to me, ‘I hope you win the race, Mrs. Hernandez!’ I can assure you that I won’t win the race, but I will most definitely finish it. I am determined, motivated and excited,” she said.

Along with the support of her husband, Hernandez has been training since last year in preparation for the marathon.

“I have been training since late November and it is going very well. Finding time for long runs on the weekends is challenging, but I’m managing. My husband is my running partner and coach and I thank him — except when I’m running up hills — for all his help. He caught the Chromebook fever and is committed to seeing this through until the day when our much-needed computers are delivered to JFK,” Hernandez said. “I mostly run in the Mercer County Pole Farm in Lawrenceville, the Delaware-Raritan Canal in Lawrenceville and Thompson Park in Jamesburg. In addition to running, I regularly work out at the NJAC gym in Lawrenceville.”

In a ongoing effort to raise more funds for JFK, the Jamesburg Parent Teacher Association (PTA) will host a Fun Run event.

“We are holding a Fun Run for the students on April 6​ to get my kiddos really pumped up for the big day. We’re selling T-shirts for the Fun Run … and every bit of profit will go to the Chromebook fund. The Jamesburg PTA will be instrumental in helping us put the Fun Run together. They are always ready and willing to go above and beyond for the betterment of our JFK superstar students. We have the best PTA,” Hernandez said.

“Additionally, we’re considering holding a pre-marathon pasta dinner sometime in late April. There’s a lot of work to be done, and I’m passionate about doing whatever it takes to get these Chromebooks in the hands of my students.”

By using her Run All Day for JFK Facebook page, Hernandez has been posting pictures of herself training and uses it to spread the word about her upcoming feat.

“My students are extremely excited about the marathon. We held a JFK is Red Hot marathon kickoff assembly on Jan. 20 in order to promote the fundraising. Subsequently, we sent home informational flyers with the students to share with their families. In addition to all of the families who have donated via GoFundMe, I am happy to report that we were able to secure some donations via backpack. Every little bit helps with this extremely worthy cause,” Hernandez said.

“I also told my superstar students that if they checked out my Run All Day for JFK Facebook page on their parents’ accounts and reported what they saw, they would get a little prize. Every day a student comes up to me and says something like, ‘Mrs. Hernandez, I saw your dog on Facebook.'”

Hernandez credits her staff for helping to spread the word about Run All Day for JFK and helping her earn more donations for the school.

“The incredible staff at JFK has been sharing my GoFundMe link on their personal Facebook pages, spreading the word, purchasing T-shirts, and involving their families and friends in the quest for Chromebooks. One teacher held a trendy clothing sale for staff members right in our school and gave all the proceeds to the Chromebook fund,” Hernandez said. “Another teacher handed me a cash donation in a thank you card for being a supportive principal. Still another teacher reached out to her husband’s company who generously donated to the cause. Knowing my wonderful staff, they are doing everything possible to promote this.”

For more information, visit the Run All Day for JFK page on Facebook.

To donate toward the cause, visit gofundme.com/RunAllDay4JFK.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@gmnews.com.