Homegrown Hero Margarita
Meet Our Homegrown Hero, Margarita Muñiz -

This week’s Homegrown Hero is Margarita Muñiz, Management Specialist for Newark Public Schools. This past week we caught up with her to know more about her story, and what she has been able to achieve with Newark Public Schools since the pandemic started. We thank Margarita for all her efforts and for inspiring our club with her acts. 

Tell me about your career and what inspires you every day? 

Every day I get the privilege of making a child happier, a parent more comfortable and a family believing that they matter and that greatness resides within our students.  Every day, I am blessed with making a difference in the life of someone who may never meet me or creating trust and hope where it was lacking.

Having worked as Deputy Mayor for the City of Newark for 8 years gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people and learn so much about the great resources and opportunities available to our residents.  This has helped me tremendously as we engage with our parents and caregivers.

How much have your job duties changed since the pandemic started? 

The work of supporting Parent Liaisons in all schools became much more challenging when the pandemic hit. There was no transitional time, it was all hands on deck. Supporting families in all things linked to learning meant more parental engagement, more conversations and more real talk. Real talk erases your regular schedule, and you see so much more than academics. Supporting our students, meant helping our parents navigate the unknown and giving them hope in these uncertain times. 

While classroom materials, electronics and connectivity are essential, our parents often needed so much more. From one on one tutorials, to basic needs such as masks, gloves or even food. Not to mention someone to just listen to their anguish of … how do I do this or I just can’t. Unfortunately, we also dealt with loss … and still dealing with the many loved ones that our students and staff have lost.

We’ve become stronger through our determination to stay hopeful, stay true to our knowledge that the single most important element of our responsibility is to take good care of our babies, our students.

What are initiatives or projects you're most proud of as you start another school year?

One of the projects I am proudest of is building not one, but two soccer pitches during a pandemic. Newark Public Schools has a robust partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and the New York Red Bulls. Through this partnership they are building soccer pitches all across this city, prior to all of this we had 10 … now we have 12!! It’s all about being true to our commitment to the philosophy of the organization we are honored to be part of and sharing that same level of respect to our partners.

Building out soccer pitches is much more than framing, surfacing and branding. Building soccer pitches is about building character; learning skills, team players, youth development, discipline, critical thinking skills and having fun.

What’s the biggest lesson/s you’ve learned during this time period?

I’ve always been appreciative and grateful for all of God’s gifts to my family and I, but COVID-19 has really shown me how little I need and how abundantly I have been blessed.

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