Teaching is a revolutionary act of social justice that empowers children to evolve and grow.
As a learning specialist at Franklin High School (FHS) since 2013, Muñoz has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the special education push-in model. Muñoz is a member of the FHS Equity Team, as well as the FHS Safety and Poetry Slam committees. She is also highly involved in the recruitment of historically underserved students in Franklin’s Advanced Placement Program.
“Great educators are at the heart of student success in Oregon’s public schools,” said Governor Kate Brown. “What Mercedes has done to advance equity and inclusion at Franklin High School, especially with students from historically underserved communities, is a great example of the standard we must continue to strive for to ensure that every student in Oregon, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to learn and achieve.”
“Every student deserves a teacher who is unwaveringly committed to their success,” said Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education. “As a special education teacher, Mercedes delivers daily hope and encouragement to a wide range of students with varying academic, social and emotional needs. I look forward to her impact as a model for all teachers across our state this coming year.”
In a letter of recommendation, Muñoz was referred to as “a force of nurture.” In her role as department lead for special education at FHS, Muñoz is seen as a champion in advocating for the learning needs of all students and ensuring they are seen, heard and prepared for the transition from high school.
Mercedes is a living embodiment of grace under pressure. She consistently leads tough conversations with staff and administrators around issues of race and equity for students. Mercedes is the rare teacher who not only meets the needs of her students but anyone around her. When she sees a need, she fills a need.
Andy Clark, Portland Public Schools
The students on the receiving end of Ms. Muñoz’s teaching and care flourish because she challenges them to do just that. She sees their thirst and pours generously into it, but not without expectation and hope; not without asking for the best they have to give.
Michelle D. Jones, Civic Leader
Churchill High School
Mt. Tabor Middle School
Howard Elementary School
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We notify qualifying nominees and invite them to apply for Teacher of the Year.
Each of Oregon’s 19 Education Service Districts review applications from their area and choose a winner for their region.
Regional applications will be reviewed by a diverse panel of education advocates and finalists will be interviewed by department staff and recommended to the director for selection.