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Little Joe Receives Honorary Diploma From Temple ISD

TISD board of trustees confers legendary musician with the first honorary diploma in district history

Temple High School assistant principal Isaac Hernandez with his father Little Joe Hernandez. | Source: Temple ISD

TEMPLE, Texas — It was a historic night for the Temple Independent School District as the TISD board of trustees conferred the first honorary diploma in district history to Tejano music legend “Little Joe” Hernandez. The honorary diploma was presented during the Temple Education Foundation’s (TEF) Distinguished Alumni dinner on October 5.


Little Joe attended Temple schools up to middle school when he left Travis Middle School to work supporting his family due to life circumstances beyond his control. When the idea of recognizing Hernandez with a TEF Distinguished Alumni Award came up, Hernandez told TISD Superintendent, Dr. Bobby Ott, that he had not graduated from Temple High School. That conversation led to the plan to confer the honorary diploma to the five-time Grammy winner. The TISD board of trustees, along with Dr. Ott, certified Hernandez as a graduate of the Temple High School class of 1960 during the ceremony. Hernandez’s son, Isaac Hernandez, an assistant principal at Temple High School, then presented the diploma to his father.

In his acceptance speech, Little Joe said:

“It is with profound humility, appreciation, and deep gratitude that I accept this marvelous award! I sometimes wonder, are you a better person for the books you’ve read or for the things you’ve done.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the more books you read, the more and better things you do. That is why I want to thank Temple High School and all the hard-working wonderful and dedicated educators.

“Muchisimas Gracias on behalf of my wife, my kids, my grandkids, and my great-granddaughter who are all graduates of Temple High. It is a blessing for me to have been born to my dad and mom’s family and to have been born in Temple. In 1974, I had an office in Los Angeles, California for my recording company where I found opportunities and possibilities that I would never find in Temple.

“So, like the Beverly Hillbillies, I packed up and moved to Los Angeles, only to find out that I am a country boy and needed my space and laid-back pace and friendliness of this community. So I moved my family back to Temple.

“While music has taken me to different parts of the world and I have learned to appreciate other cultures and lifestyles, I know that I belong to Temple! I know that because no matter how far and wide I travel, I always get the great feeling of joy when I come home, to Temple. Arriba Temple!”

Hernandez has won five Grammy Awards during a 60-year career in music. He has released 70 albums and is a member of the Texas Tejano Hall of Fame. Hernandez has continued to be a strong proponent of education throughout his career. Hernandez was also honored as a trailblazer in the Latino community, for breaking down cultural and musical barriers and for his continued commitment to his heritage and roots in Temple.

Following the awarding of the honorary diploma, Little Joe joined Dr. Harry Macey as a recipient of the TEF’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

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