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Valley special education teacher spends free time brightening walls in his neighborhood

Adrian Hernandez transforms the fragile pieces on his wall art into teachable life moments for his students.

PHOENIX — A Valley special education teacher is spending his free time making his neighborhood more colorful. 

And when the Phoenix sun hits the tiles on the walls Adrian Hernandez paints just right, they sparkle.

The shine brings life to Adrian Hernandez’s murals for his neighbors.

“They stop by and tell me what a great job you’re doing and thank you for making the neighborhood beautiful," Hernandez said.

A full-time special education teacher, Hernandez says he wanted to brighten up his neighborhood walls.

“I just see them as a bunch of blank canvasses," Hernandez said.

Transforming blank canvasses with his wife, the couple has created everything from murals using mosaics, tiles and different themes.

“If I’m missing something small, she will let me know and say, 'honey you need to glue that a little more together,'" he said. 

They've even used solar power to recreate the infamous Phoenix lights.

“It’s kind of spontaneous," Hernandez said. "There are moments where I just improvise. It’s kind of like with teaching as well.”

Hernandez first shared the murals with us on Nextdoor, and other neighbors asked him for advice on making their own communities more vibrant.

His works of art stretch from neighborhood streets to his backyard. The sometimes fragile pieces also give Hernandez teachable moments for his students.

“You’re going to get knocked down but you have to keep trying," he said. "Don’t let anything get in your way.”

So even though a tile may crack or fall, he says there’s always a way to keep his neighborhood shining.

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