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Unsung Hero: Marjorie Soto

Bay Windows
Wednesday, June 8, 2011

To celebrate Pride, we happily sing the praises of our everyday heroes!

Full title: Hurley K–8 School Principal

Biggest professional accomplishment: I chose to become the Hurley School’s Principal because of the opportunity to develop the school’s Two-Way (Spanish-English) Immersion program and because of the amazing support demonstrated by a highly committed group of parents and community people. At the time, the Hurley was an undiscovered “diamond in the rough.” Today, the Hurley has a long wait list, has the best teachers and by the third grade over half of our students qualify for advance work, though only one or two families opt to leave the school. We still have much work to do to realize our full mission but we are well on our way.

What motivates you to do what you do? Being a principal is a very difficult job, but I choose to do this work so that I can make a difference in the educational experiences of our students. I want to provide every Hurley student with a high quality education, so that they can grow up to be leaders in their respective fields and also learn to pay it forward.

Awards or distinctions you have received or earned: I was recently selected as one of the top 100 most influential people in the Latino community; Department of Veterans Affairs in Philadelphia, Latino Division, recognition for teacher excellence.

Age: 49

Hometown and current residence: Born and raised in Puerto Rico, until the family moved to the United States (Philadelphia) at the end of my 6th grade year. Currently living in West Roxbury, MA.

Marital, family or relationship status: I am married; my partner and I have a 2-year-old daughter.

Who is your hero? I have two heroes, my mom, Loida Muñiz, and my high school English teacher, Dr. Deidre Farmbry (former Superintendent of the Philadelphia Public Schools). My mom for teaching me that school was important, that attending college was the only option, for providing the supports necessary to make my life happen and for being the greatest role model, still someone I wish to emulate. Dr. Farmbry, for connecting with me and involving me in class even though I was still learning English, for believing in me and always supporting me throughout my professional career.

What advice do you have for members of the LGBT community who are striving to be open and honest about themselves in the workplace and at home? I haven’t always been out at work. I can say from experience how difficult it is to lead two separate lives. Being out at work requires a lot of courage, I have learned to be courageous from my partner who has always been out, no matter where she’s been. Maybe things are easier now because of the Goodridge decision or maybe when you get to be of a certain age, people’s opinions don’t matter as much. Whatever the reason, I find that being true to yourself is best.

Look for our new feature “Unsung Hero” in the next issue of Bay Windows newspaper. Send your nominations to news.baywindows@gmail.com.