Who's Thomas Luna?
Thomas "Tommy" Luna is a Newark resident, educator, and community organizer.
After graduating with a Bachelor's of Public Administration from Texas State University-San Marcos, the first person in his family to graduate college, Thomas began teaching at School #20 in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 2010. After teaching for two years in Elizabeth, Thomas began teaching at Rise Academy , in Newark's west ward, in 2012 has been teaching at Rise ever since.
At Rise, Thomas has held multiple leadership roles while still teaching in the classroom. Thomas was program lead for the Rise Drum Club and Fencing Team, the eighth grade level chair for multiple years, a founding member of the diversity task force team, and , most recently, a mathematics instructional coach. It was during his time teaching at Rise that Newark became home. And with Newark as his home, Thomas began to become civically involved.
Over the last decade, Thomas has been a committed and active Newarker especially when it comes to education .Thomas attends every Newark Board of Education meeting and has spoken at many of those meetings. Thomas has also written op-eds about Newark education policy and programming and has collaborated with residents on local and state policy initiatives. Thomas has also served as a district leader in the central ward on behalf of Newark residents.
In 2016, Thomas became co-chair of Newark for Educational Equity and Diversity (NEED) which is a grassroots policy organization. As co-chair of NEED, Thomas has organized with a variety of education stakeholders to create educational programming as well as engage in a variety of tactics ( canvassing, research actions, phone banking, and more) to push for policy wins in Newark and New Jersey. Some of these wins have included pushing back against developers in the west ward, maintaining a Type 2 school district, and pushing the passage of The People's Policy 9120 through the Newark Board of Education.
Thomas believes that improving education requires changing the status quo and this is done through policy. He's often said "If we aren't talking about policy change, we aren't talking about much." As a board member for the Newark Board of Education, Thomas plans to bring his experience as a veteran educator and community organizer to change the status quo through substantive policy wins.
When asked about his why, Thomas simply stated "You protect what you love, and I love Newark."