Catalina Kid Ventures gets new preschool director
Earlier this year, as the city of Avalon was trying to help its Catalina Kid Ventures preschool’s doors open, it was decided to turn the operation over to a non-profit foundation. This would allow the city to eventually divest itself of much of the program’s approximately $130,000 financial drain on the city’s coffers.
Anni Marshall, the former Avalon Community Services director who started the preschool about 23 years ago, and who headed the non-profit organization’s creation, said in June that the transition was moving along smoothly. The foundation had been formed, fundraising avenues were being outlined and they were looking for a person with the right stuff to be the preschool’s on-site supervisor.
They found that person in Avalon resident Sarah Perez. She has been Catalina Kid Ventures’ director since July 2. She also has a staff of two additional teachers, two aids and several substitute personnel.
Perez, 38, has lived on Catalina for about the past 20 years and brings a bevy of qualifications to the enterprise. To Avalon’s population, blended mostly between Hispanic and Caucasian, she brings her seamless fluency in both English and Spanish.
“I spent my first eight years living in Honduras,” she said. “My father was building shrimp farms there.”
When Perez turned 8, her family moved back to the United States and settled in Fullerton, near the California State University campus.
“I used to ride my bicycle around the campus when I was growing up,” she said.
She eventually enrolled and graduated from the university.
Perez said she has a bachelor of arts in liberal studies, an elementary school teaching credential, and an additional 21 units in early childhood education.
“I have also spent several years working with children in different capacities,” she said. “I am also trained as a literacy specialist.”
Catalina Kid Ventures, which once operated at its licensed capacity of 28 full-time students, fell on hard times over the last few years when its previous facility became untenable due to its age. It also lost some economic ground when it had to transfer its operations to a new site. The city of Avalon stepped up and has continued to provide the preschool space for its operations.
Since Perez has been the preschool’s director, it has doubled its enrollment.
“And we are getting more everyday,” Perez said.
Perez said she thinks some Island parents who might enroll their children have been misled about the actual costs.
“There are a lot of rumors out there,” she said. “Its not as expensive as many people think it is.” More information about the preschool’s fees is available by calling (310) 510-1704.
Perez said she is delighted about the new facility, but admits that the preschool could use some new material items such as toys, books, and other teaching tools. For now though, she said she is happy to be able to use her talent and experience to re-shape and grow the program.
“Our goal is to create a rich and engaging environment,” she said. “We want to do this while meeting our students’ individual needs. We have a big range of students, all who need different things.”
Perez’ husband is Louis Perez, who is currently a contractor helping to renovate the Holly Hill House. They have two children, Isabella, 5 and Mateo, 2. And yes, they’ve also attended Catalina Kid Ventures.