Margarita Muñiz, the principal of Egleston Square’s Rafael Hernandez School, died today after a long battle with cancer, according to Boston Public Schools (BPS).
Muñiz fought discrimination and opposition to keep alive the bilingual elementary school in the 1970s. She became a community icon in the process. Next year, BPS will open a new Jamaica Plain high school named the Margarita Muñiz Academy in her honor.
Ken Larson, who was serving as the Hernandez School’s acting principal during Muñiz’s sick leave, also died this week unexpectedly, according to BPS spokesperson Matt Wilder. BPS has named Maria Campanario as an interim principal.
“Our city has lost a true advocate for public education,” said Mayor Thomas Menino in a press statement. “Margarita Muñiz displayed a spirited passion for her work, and it was contagious. With a fire and energy that inspired her youngest students and even her most senior staff members, Margarita lived each day doing what she loved most, teaching. Margarita has left a mark on our city that lives on in her students, and that is the finest legacy of all.”
“The entire Boston Public Schools family mourns the loss of Margarita Muñiz today,” said BPS Superintendent Carol Johnson in a press statement. “Margarita was an outstanding school leader who, at her core, was a great teacher who cared for her students and staff like family. She was a strong voice for quality education for all students and never missed an opportunity to share the Hernandez School ethos. We are comforted to know Margarita’s legacy lives on in the generation of students she taught and that a future generation of students who will attend the newly created Margarita Muñiz Academy will be the great beneficiaries of her hard work.”
Muñiz won the first Unsung Hero award from JP’s Mary Cronin Stone Trust earlier this year.
Corrected version: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Muñiz as the founder of the Hernandez School.