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Jesse Ryan Hernandez poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, in Sunnyside, Wash. (Courtesy of Jess Ryan Hernandez)

It almost sounds like the overall premise of the 1970s sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter": Alum returns to old school as a teacher.

But for Jesse Ryan Hernandez, it could also be called "All in the Family," as he's working in the same district where his mother, Maria, is an elementary school principal.

"It's in your blood, maybe," said Hernandez, who is in his first year teaching eighth-grade English at Sierra Vista Middle School. "(Maria Hernandez) was the driving force in why I even considered it."

Hernandez, 25, admits that he was probably not the best student when he was going through the Sunnyside school system. While he did well in social studies and writing, math was a struggle.

"I had to learn how to be good at certain things that didn't come easily for me," Hernandez said. That experience helps him with students who also struggle with math, giving them encouragement to persevere in the course.

At Washington State University, he majored in social science, with an emphasis on psychology and sociology.

He wasn't sure if he wanted to be an educator, so he started working as a substitute teacher. He fell in love with it, and being in a classroom felt natural.

He initially applied for a special-education teacher's position, and while that didn't work out, the principal who interviewed him recommended him for the English teacher's job at the middle school.

Some of his colleagues are his former teachers, who tease him about having come full circle and note that some his students' antics are not that much different than what he did at that age.

While his family's educational background is somewhat different from his students, Hernandez understands the challenges that many of them face and works to establish trust and encourage them in their successes.

"The teachers I did well with, I trusted," Hernandez said.

Maria Hernandez said in an email that her son's example as a young Hispanic man who went to college shows them the potential they have.

Hernandez said he stresses with his students that the behavior and habits they develop now will carry them through later in life, and they should be willing to give their best effort, even if it doesn't work the first time.

"I can handle it if you try and fail, but I can't help you if you don't try," said Hernandez, who is planning to work toward his master's degree in teaching English with an emphasis on literacy.