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JeffCo “Wonder Woman”: Fierce Advocate For Students

Posted on: June 20, 2021
Posted By: Jennifer Latham
Posted in: Blog
Tagged: ESPs, Member Stories

Jennifer Muñoz is a real life Wonder Woman. She is a secretary at the Title I office for Jeffco Public Schools, recently celebrating her 8th anniversary. She is a student pursuing a degree in social work. She is a single mom raising a daughter. She is 2nd Vice President of the Jefferson County Association of Education Office Professionals. And, she is a fierce advocate for students and public education.

Her round-the-clock work in all of these roles led to Muñoz receiving the 2021 CEA Education Support Professional (ESP) Award, as well as the Robert H. Johnson Jr. Memorial Scholarship. She hopes to be the voice of ESPs and empower others to stand up and be strong leaders. “The union isn’t 1 or 2 people, it’s everyone,” she said. “We stand stronger together and fight better together.”

A proud member of the Jeffco Education Support Professionals Association (JESPA), she has stood alongside her colleagues in Jefferson County — in full Wonder Woman costume — to share her message at a rally last fall about the importance of a safe reopening of schools amid the COVID pandemic.

“Since the day Jennifer got involved in the Union, she has been a shining example of the value of solidarity, guided by strong values for justice and fairness. It is because of leaders like Jennifer that our Union is strong. Jennifer, in her many roles, is truly leading the fight for the schools our students deserve,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, CEA President.

Throughout the pandemic, Muñoz has attended legislative roundtables and other rallies to share her story and advocate for students, colleagues and public education.

Recognizing the need for reliable internet access for Jefferson County students during remote learning — a need that was not being met by her district — Muñoz connected with Coloradans for the Common Good and was an integral part of their efforts to free up stimulus money for broadband expansion and to push Comcast to open up remote learning centers in Jefferson County. Her efforts also led to a local tech firm donating 25 laptops to students in need.

“Time and time again, I have seen Jennifer take on directors to challenge them to do the right thing for students and has not let intimidation stop her from organizing to improve the school district,” said Brock Grosso, an organizer with Coloradans for the Common Good (CCG).

Muñoz was among those who spoke at the virtual bill signing with Gov. Jared Polis in December that granted $20 million to improve internet infrastructure for Colorado students and educators.

When Jeffco announced a large cut of food service sights for remote students just two weeks before Christmas, Muñoz again jumped to action. “When is it ever a good idea to take a meal away from a kid?” she said. JESPA rallied and the district responded by opening more sites for meal service and used bus drivers to deliver food.

Like many educators, one student had a tremendous impact on her early on in her career. This student’s dad’s girlfriend wouldn’t let her do laundry because she didn’t want the girl to use the detergent. She came to school with dirty clothes and “it just broke me.” She thought “Let’s just buy her some soap,” but was told that’s not allowed. “What do you mean we can’t do this? I thought we were here for kids.”

When she gets her degree in social work, she hopes to work with students at a Title I school, providing for their social and emotional needs.

“Jenn is an unapologetic advocate for students in Jeffco, but especially Title 1 students who need more support, not less from the public school system,” said JESPA President Lara Center.

It’s not always easy speaking up, but it’s something Muñoz knows is important.

“My voice shakes sometimes because yeah, I’m scared, but I know I’m doing the right thing.”

Jennifer Latham is a paraeducator and member of the Durango ESPA and the CEA Education Support Professional At-Large Director.

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