October 15, 2020 by HCDE-Texas
The executive assistant to Harris County Department of Education’s Assistant Superintendent for Academic Support Jonathan Parker began her journey with HCDE in 1992 as the front desk receptionist at Irvington.
During her 28-year career, Perez worked in staff development (now called the Teaching and Learning Center), Therapy Services (School-Based Therapy Services) and at Highpoint School North (now Fortis).
She calls her boss of two years down to earth and very supportive. They tussle over sports teams as Parker likes the Cowboys, and she supports the Texans.
Baseball, she says, is the pair’s true sports rivalry as former Dallas resident Parker likes the Rangers and she supports her Astros. He is warming up to the orange-and-blue, she admits.
Perez’s love for the Astros led her to volunteer at 153 events last year. For that record, she earned the “Volunteer of the Year Award” from the Astros club.
“My most exciting time as volunteer was when we went to the World Series in 2017,” she said, remembering Hurricane Harvey and Houstonians who held their team close to their hearts as the city’s rebuilding began.
By working the games, she met players like Jose Altuve, Craig Biggio and her favorite player Jose Cruz. Through the Astros Foundation she volunteered with the Sunshine Kids Foundation. She made innumerable friendships through the 1,400 volunteers who serve the community and helped with community building project with organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
Perez grew up in a sports family and remembers attending Houston Oilers games and sporting “Luv Ya Blue” attire. To this day, light blue is her favorite color and she still has a small crush on icon Dan Pastorini.
As a little-known fact most fellow employees don’t know, Perez played on a women’s amateur baseball team as a young adult. The team earned its way to the equivalent of the World Series in Phoenix, Arizona.
Her boss says she brings that same “team spirit” to her job as executive assistant.
“She is a vital part of the Academic Support Division which includes School-Based Therapy Services, the Schools and Head Start,” he said. “We are better because she is on our team.
“She is always courteous and professional and oftentimes humorous.”
In terms of bucket lists of things she hasn’t done, Perez hopes to travel extensively with her newfound fur-baby Gunner, a bulldog she inherited from her son Joseph.
“Since COVID, I got a lot closer to him, bought him a new leash and now he’s my best buddy,” she said.
In the future, Perez says she plans to continue to live life to the fullest and keep thinking positive.
Since 1992, she has seen a lot of folks come and go, including HCDE leaders.
“HCDE is heading in the right direction in serving area students,” she said. “I have made my career here, and HCDE is my second family.”