“Caminante, son tus huellas el camino, y nada más; caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar. Al andar se hace camino, y al volver la vista atrás se ve la senda que nunca se ha de volver a pisar. Caminante, no hay camino, sino estelas en la mar.”
Caminante de Antonio Machado
Margarita Muñiz spent 39 years in the Boston Public Schools, 30 of them as the Principal of the Rafael Hernández School, the premier dual language school in Massachusetts. This past week, Margarita died after a long and valiant battle with cancer.
The Hernandez School is a Pre-K/Grade 8 school where all students learn in both Spanish and English and also participate in Expeditionary Learning. The school was established in the 1970s when community activists petitioned the Boston School Committee to establish a school where Latino students’ educational needs could be met. As a demonstration school for Expeditionary Learning, students engage in project-based learning experiences related to a project theme, allowing students to develop a working knowledge of concepts in all subject areas, including the creative arts.
Ms. Muñiz came to America at age eleven without her parents, and throughout college it was her dream to work for the Boston Public Schools and make a difference in the lives of children for whom English was a second language. Under Margarita’s leadership, the Hernandez School has been nominated as an Effective Practice School by the BPS, received a 2005 Teacher Team of the Year from USA TODAY, and has had three teachers nominated by the Mayor’s Office as Boston Teacher of the Year.
Ms. Muñiz began her career with the Boston Public Schools in 1972 as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in the Office of Bilingual Education. She served as District Coordinator of Bilingual Education in the Multicultural Office. In 1981 she became Acting Principal of the Hernandez School and became permanent in 1983.
Margarita received several awards in recognition of her many contributions as a bilingual educator and leader in Massachusetts. Among her numerous recognitions, she was Boston Public Schools Principal of the Year in 2009, a Barr Foundation Fellow from 2007 to 2010, and named one of 100 Outstanding Women in Massachusetts in 2003. This October, Margarita was recently honored for her contributions and leadership by Governor Patrick as the State House recognized Hispanic educators in Massachusetts.