Getting to know: Kathy Perez

DOWNEY – Kathy Crowe Perez has been an elementary school teacher at Norwalk-La Mirada Unified for the past 28 years, teaching in various grades in various years. Prior to joining NLMUSD, she was also an elementary school teacher at St. Emydius School in Lynwood (where she was born) from 1982-1986. She had been an Instructional Aide at Lennox School District from 1980-1982. Her other work experience included stints as a sales clerk at Clark Drugs in 1976, obviously a part-time job while she was still attending St. Pius X High School and transitioning to go to college.

While matriculated at Loyola Marymount University, she worked as library page/aide at the Los Angeles County Public Library from 1977-1982. She was to graduate from LMU summa cum laude with a BA in liberal studies in 1982, and afterwards would earn a master’s in education from Cal State Long Beach in 1987.

At NLMUSD, she taught grades 1-3 in the ‘90s, and has subsequently taught grades 4-7. For the past three years, she has been teaching the 5th grade, with such subjects as language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, along with visual and performing arts.

Her class size averages 31, and math topics last week focused on decimals, after dispatching integers the week before. To be tackled next, she said, was fractions. Then eventually the class will be introduced to coordinates, algebra, functions, then at the tail-end, a dose of geometry, including a little solid geometry.

The conversation turned to Common Core. To Kathy, there’s no real difference in its content. It’s the delivery of it that matters.

While noting that student performance assessment will be done on the computer, more emphasis will be placed on higher-level thinking and on problem-solving, she said. “We’ve already dome some pilot testing. Next year the real thing begins.”

Kathy, who will be 54 in June, has three kids: Teresa, the eldest, is 29 and married, and has a daughter; Nicholas, 18, is studying history at Cerritos College; while Steve, 17, (“Definitely my science guy”) is interested in medicine.

Last summer, Kathy, her two boys, along with her youngest brother, traveled to Stonehenge, then proceeded to Wales and Ireland. “Most of my mother’s family was from Ireland,” she said. “Dad descended from Irish and German ancestors.”

“My dad was a salesman for 40 years for Sears,” she narrates. “He started in Chicago, and after WWII moved to Huntington Park first, then bought our first house in Lynwood. He worked at the Compton store, then at the Cerritos store. He retired at age 65.”

“How he managed to support a family on a salesman’s salary, buy a house, and send us to college, is amazing,” she said.

“My mom was primarily a housewife. She worked also at the Huntington Park library. She loved books,” Kathy said.

Kathy lists as her favorite pastimes the following: 1) “Taking care of my granddaughter,” followed by 2) visiting and helping to preserve historic sites, 3) reading (biography, mystery, thrillers), 4) traveling (as above), 5) camping (“Generally at Big Sur”), 6) connecting and reconnecting with friends on Facebook, and 7) watching sports (basketball, football, baseball).

She has taken Item #2 to a different level. Her advocacy for restoring The Avenue Theater as a historical landmark, for preserving the original Taco Bell site on Firestone Boulevard, and “for preserving what is left of the Rockwell Boeing site” are all too well-known. Now she has questioned the matter of relegating the space shuttle mock-up to a veritable graveyard “because the city has no place to showcase it.”

“This unique piece of American history should be preserved and displayed for the world to experience and enjoy, rather than be taken apart and stacked up in a maintenance yard,” she wrote recently to The Downey Patriot after the city announced its relocation.

“We’ve just been to the Santa Ana Discovery Center,” she told this reporter the other week. “The kids, when they saw the rockets [there], were so excited.”

“I hope to see the space shuttle as the centerpiece of the Boeing development,” she went on. “It would be the destination of people. I had this idea that it will be something different. I think it will be an awesome sight, something that will draw more people to see it. Once people know its history, and the presentation is effective, people will want to go see it. This is my dream.”

“In this matter of historic preservation,” Kathy, who has had her share of volunteer service activities over the years, said, “we want to be proactive, not butt heads. We ought to celebrate what we have.”



Published: March 20, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 49