New bilingual school named for JP principal

A planned Boston Public Schools (BPS) academy will be named after Margarita Muñiz, the founder and longtime principal of JP’s Rafael Hernandez K-8 School. The Muñiz Academy, proposed to open for the 2012 school year, would be the first bilingual high school in the BPS system.

“I believe it’s terrific. It’s very needed,” Muñiz said.

“The Hernandez is a very popular and successful model,” said Matt Wilder, a BPS spokesperson. “Instead of having to cross a bridge between two cultures, the entire school experience takes place on that bridge.”

Wilder told the Gazette that the Muñiz planning team hopes to have the BPS committee’s approval for the school’s plan in time for the October school showcase. Classes would be conducted in English and Spanish.

“Students could read Shakespeare in English and the poems of Pablo Neruda in Spanish,” Wilder said, as an example.

The Muñiz Academy does not have a future address yet, but its team also hopes to have that settled by October, Wilder said. It is planned to eventually have 400 students.

The Muñiz Academy was proposed by Diana Lam and Meg Campbell, parents of Hernandez students, and is being created as an “innovation school.”

An innovation school is allowed greater flexibility when it comes to the length and breakdown of the school day and similar aspects, but must still answer to the BPS superintendent and meet all other BPS requirements like MCAS.

“It’s very similar to an in-district charter school,” Wilder explained.

Muñiz currently is the longest-serving principal in the BPS system and was a pioneer in bilingual education in Boston.

“For a lot of the community that know me, they know of my persistence to excellence in education for the children of Boston,” Muñiz said. “It’s a quite an honor.”

“She’s brought a wealth of experience in bilingual teaching,” Wilder said.

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