Dr. Irella S. Perez's journey from non-English speaking immigrant to school administrator, education advocate and children’s book author, is an all-American story of self-reliance fueled by perseverance, passion and conviction!
Born and raised in Nicaragua, Dr. Irella Perez came to the United States with her family at the age of 15, she is also a Latina Chinese-American.
Dr. Perez graduated from Chatsworth High School with honors, then earned her B.A. and Masters' work at California State University, Long Beach, before and garnering her Doctorate and administrative credentials at the University of Southern California. She started teaching at the age of 25 for several Los Angeles County elementary and middle schools before serving as Superintendent and principal in the Long Beach Unified School District, El Rancho Unified School District, Compton Unified School District, Inglewood Unified School District and El Monte Union High School District.
One of Dr. Perez's main priorities is to strengthen ties between family and the community by being a 21st Century thinker Another goal is to improve the quality of life of every resident in her community, Dr. Perez knows the importance of bringing things back to basics focusing on clean streets, safe parks, safe neighborhoods, revitalizing our shopping areas, making city services efficient, and protecting property value.
Because her professional growth has flourished beyond the standard teacher-administrator and community servant trajectory, Dr. Perez has gained diverse, career-enhancing experiences that offer wider, invaluable views of the education and community universe. She has acted as a Head Start consultant, a classroom curriculum specialist, a counselor and all in several L.A. County schools. Dr. Perez was a professor for masters and doctoral courses at Argosy University and currently coaches school principals in San Diego and is part of the Common Sense, California Kids Action Campaign. Dr. Perez, serves as a Cultural Arts Commissioner for the city of Whittier, member of the Arts in Public Places Committee.
She was named Administrator of the Year by the California Association for Bilingual Educators and been former Board of Directors of the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA); Board of Directors of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA, Region XV); Woman Leadership Network chair (ACSA Region XV.
Dr. Perez was a CALSA Mentor, Cohort 3 and Cohort7; CALSA Protégé́, Cohort 1; ACSA Region XV Equity, Achievement and Diversity for Success Chair; on the Board of Directors of the California Association for Bilingual Educators (CABE); CABE Legislative Committee Member; and a member of the Whittier Astronomical Society.
She was named a 2011 California Forward Thinker. She obtained her CABE Seal of Excellence for Jefferson Elementary, Compton Unified School District; obtained her AVID certification for two consecutive years for Bunche Middle School, CUSD; and a Dual Immersion Seal of Excellence for Jackie Robinson Academy, Long Beach Unified in 1999. She is also founder of the Hermanas Leading Network.
Dr. Perez also brings another unique and valuable perspective to her administrative experience; she was elected in 2011 to the Whittier City School District Board of Education where she works with four other board members to shape crucial education policy for the eleven schools in that District.
Having devoted more than 20 years to the education system and devotion to her community, she proudly proclaims, “Education and building a strong and healthy community are my life. This isn't a job. It's a personal mission and I never lose sight of that."
Dr. Irella Perez currently serves as a member of Rotary International of Whittier, Soroptimist International, Opportunity for Youth Committee LA County Department of Public Health Area7, American Red Cross Whittier Ambassador, founding mother of the Chinese Language and Culture Summer Academy, Whittier College, former Parent Teacher Organization Board Member-Hoover Elementary.