July 19, 2021
Norma Pérez-Sandford, Fillmore Unified School District
Every month we we feature stories of individuals and agencies that are making a difference in their communities. Today we are talking with Norma Pérez-Sandford, District K-12 Counselor, Fillmore Unified School District.
How did you get interested in the field of education?
Norma: As a child, many professionals helped my family, including social workers, school staff, custodians, coaches and teachers. I was aware that we were recipients of their services, many outside of their work hours. As a child I told myself that when I was in a professional position, I would also help in my community of Fillmore.
What is your passion for working in the community?
Norma: In my parenting classes, I say, "children are the reflection of their parents.” It is important to be aware that children are watching what is going on, even if adults do not think they are. Loving my children has always been the highest priority in my life. Through my love of volunteer work and the blessings of caring mentors, I started to learn how to help others by offering my bilingual skills in the community. Volunteering in the community is a wonderful way to help others who may not have food, shoes, a warm coat, a bed or a couch. Volunteering is a way of life for me and I do not plan to stop. I know I am making a difference to one child or a family.
How are you addressing issues of Health Equity in your work and your community?
Norma: I have been called a “Walking Resource Directory.” Making any school, city or county information available to families has been the most important thing I have done to help people have access to services. I love it when families from 20 years back still call me with their questions. I will do whatever it takes to get answers and get them on their way to a better life. I have the advantage of being pro-active and not giving up on any challenge that comes my way and people know me for this strength.
What are the areas that you hope to make changes in?
Norma: We need to offer resources to individuals and families so they know what is available to them. During this past year many people have not continued their annual medical checkups/screenings, therefore health concerns have gotten worse due to in-person limitations and access to medical care. I am here to help those that seek guidance.
Tell us one thing about you that helps us get to know you better?
Norma: As a child, my school library card allowed me to go to different parts of the world, fantasy and real. I loved to read autobiographies of famous people who succeeded in life despite their circumstances. Throughout my school years, I loved to run and was very competitive in track. After high school I ran 5K’s, 10K‘s, half-marathons, and completed ten marathons. I have a BA in Sociology at CSUN and a MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University with a Pupil Personnel Credential as a Counselor for grades K-12. I just got my AA and Certificate of Achievement from Oxnard College's Drug & Alcohol Studies program.
If you could give a closing remark for or words of inspiration for the community during this time, what would it be?
Norma: It doesn’t matter what age you are, give back to your community by volunteering. The wonderful adult mentors I have had in my life showed me strong values, integrity, and genuine caring for my community of Fillmore and Ventura County. As we get older we serve as role models.
Thank you Norma for sharing your experience with us. You are an inspiring Driver of Change!