SC member Jimenez Rivera receives two major awards
Chelsea School Committeeman At-Large Roberto Jimenez has been recognized with two major awards in the field of education.
Jimenez, who was elected to the School Committee in November, 2019, was named to the “All-State” School Committee by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. He is the first local official ever to receive the prestigious award that debuted in 1996.
Jimenez Rivera was also honored as an “All-Star in Education” in conjunction with the first-ever Fenway Bowl, a college football bowl game that was scheduled to be played at Fenway Park but was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The double-recognition completes a rather exciting year personally for the 30-year-old University of Michigan graduate. He and his wife, Sarah, welcomed their first child, Roberto Daniel, in July.
In his professional career, Jimenez Rivera took a position also in July as the political organizer for the Boston Teachers’ Union that has 7,000 active members and 3,000 retired members.
“It’s been a great five months, but we’re very tired and sleep deprived, but it’s been going well,” said Jimenez Rivera. “My parents [who live in Puerto Rico] just got here a couple days ago, so they’re going to be here with us for a couple of more weeks, so it’s been a good holiday.”
High honors in his first year in office
Jimenez Rivera has caught the attention of School Committee members across the Commonwealth for his highly visible and vigorous push for increased state funding for low-income students. The MASC selected Jimenez Rivera in the urban division (Division 9) of the All-State School Committee Awards category.
The award recognizes “outstanding school committee members who have made particularly notable contributions to both the district and the Commonwealth as a whole and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the education and welfare of children and have shown a clear understanding of their role as school committee members.”
Jimenez Rivera would have received the award at the Annual MASC Convention in Hyannis, but the statewide conference was canceled due to the coronavirus.
The Fenway Bowl’s “All-Star in Education” Award would have been presented to Jimenez Rivera at historic Fenway Park.
The first-ever awards honor “outstanding people in the field of education who make an impact day in and day out and inspire their communities.”
Jimenez Rivera is featured on the “Fenway Bowl Honor Roll” with his photo and the following summary of his excellent qualifications for the award:
“Roberto led an effort of municipal leaders across Massachusetts calling for raising revenues through progressive taxation to address the needs of low-income students. He is a strong voice against policies that obstruct racial justice and equity, especially the longstanding underfunding of communities and color.”
From U-Michigan to Chelsea
Roberto Jimenez Rivera moved to Chelsea in March, 2019. He had attended the University of Michigan where he received his undergraduate and master’s degrees.
He had become familiar with the Boston area through his mother’s positive experiences as a student at Mass College of Art.
“My mom had always told me about really great things in the Boston area so I kind of just gravitated to the area – that’s what really brought me here in first place,” said Jimenez Rivera. “I eventually started dating my now-wife, Sarah [who holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from Tufts University and is currently a doctoral candidate at Boston College] and we were looking for a place to buy a home and Chelsea was a place that was as similar to my experience growing up as possible, and we wanted our child to have that cultural experience overall as well growing up. When we found Chelsea, we felt, ‘this place was great.”’
He decided to get involved in the Chelsea School Committee because of his keen interest in educational policy. After knocking on a few thousand doors in the course of his campaign and meeting residents, he was elected with an impressive vote to the School Committee.
Councillor Damali Vidot praises Jimenez Rivera
Councilor-at-Large Damali Vidot has made a huge impact on the city and has worked hard to advance change for the better through her elected position on the 11-member City Council. She is one of Chelsea’s most well-known public officials and appreciates newcomers like Jimenez Rivera stepping up and contributing to the community, especially in the vital area of education for Chelsea students.
“Mr. Jimenez-Rivera understands that education creates a pathway to success for our students,” said Vidot. “For too long Chelsea has been siloed in dealing with many socio-economic issues, and we see the brunt of it in our school systems.
“His commitment to address concerns, not just locally, but by building regionally to shed light on the inequities in our system is the leadership we need for our families. Having these conversations on a broader scale makes it easier to identify the common denominator and have thoughtful dialogue on how to address. We are so proud to have him serve our community,” said Vidot.
Continuing His Work on behalf of students
Jimenez Rivera said he will continue his work in advancing the cause for students in low-income communities.
“We are focusing on funding the education of students that have been hurt for many years and are continuing to be hurt even more now because of this pandemic,” said Jimenez Rivera. “The [Legislature] voted last year to pass the Student Opportunity Act, which was supposed to bring in new funds, but it didn’t allocate any new funds. Because of the pandemic, they decided that they weren’t going to do it.
“Our advocacy this year ultimately wasn’t effective in getting us what we wanted, but it really has set up to continue advocating this coming year to make sure we’re funded for two years or that it can be fully funded by the seventh year [of the Student Opportunity Act].”
Looking ahead to 2021
Jimenez said he is also looking forward to working with Chelsea Supt. of Schools Dr. Almy Abeyta in 2021.
“The superintendent and I are both in our first year of our respective roles,” said Jimenez Rivera. “And it’s been a weird year just having to deal with something [the pandemic] that neither of us could really have seen coming. I’m super grateful for the work that the superintendent has been doing, given the circumstances. Dr. Abeyta has done a very good job making sure that our students are continuing to be fed and making sure that we’re providing our students the technology that they need.”
With two major awards earned during 2020, Roberto Jimenez Rivera is poised to help Chelsea students realize a productive year ahead.