The Victoria Independent School District alumna featured in our November Alumni Spotlight celebrated the 25th anniversary of her high school graduation this year.
Arlene Perez graduated from Stroman High School in 1987. Prior to that, she attended Patti Welder Middle School.
After graduating from Stroman High School, Perez attended Concordia Lutheran University, Victoria College, and the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) to earn her bachelor’s degree in Humanities. She is currently working towards obtaining her master’s degree in English at UHV, and plans to finish her master’s at Texas Tech University.
Perez has been teaching at Victoria East High School since the school’s opening in 2010. She currently teaches English IV. In the past, she has taught College Prep (also known as Texas Success Initiative or TSI), English, Individual Graduation Committee/Course (IGC) English, English I, Pre-AP English I, Practical Writing, and Journalism I. She has worked twice with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to help create the English II State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test. She also had a hand in creating the curriculum for Practical Writing and the College Prep English Course. In the summer of 2020, she worked on a team to develop alignment with the curriculum and the new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) guidelines for English IV. This past summer, she worked on the English IV lesson plan team to create lesson plans.
Before taking her position at VEHS, Perez was able to teach on the same campus she graduated from in 1987 by teaching at Memorial High School (previously Stroman High School) from 2005 until 2010.
During her time as a student at Stroman High School, Perez stayed busy by being involved in extracurriculars and sports like speech and debate, choir, cross-country, and track. She was also (and still is) a member of the International Thespian Society, an honor society for middle and high school theater students. Her favorite memories, however, were made in University Interscholastic League (UIL) One Act Play and Theater. “Being in Theater was my world,” said Perez. “It helped me to come out of my shell and shine in a place where I felt so alone.”
When asked what made her want to return to the same school district she had attended as a student, the answer came easy to Perez. “I wanted to give back to the community that helped me,” she said. “I also yearned to help teens who felt they had no future, to envision a future, because I often felt this way as a teen myself until I realized that education was the way out of poverty, crime, and depression. I desired to be the beacon of hope to all my students because of the teachers in my life who shone the light of hope on me.”
According to Perez, there were many teachers that greatly impacted her life during her time as a student at VISD. Specifically, she named Mrs. Payne, Mrs. Haynes, Mrs. Lane, and Ms. Mac, her 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade English teachers, respectively. “Each of my English teachers were empathetic towards all their students,” she said. “I desired to be like them so I could spread hope and empathy towards all my students as well. They helped me grow my writing skills and grow into an empathetic individual.” She also named her Theater teacher throughout high school, Mrs. Friar, saying, “Mrs. Friar encouraged me to be a better actress and to be more assertive; she had a fire within her that could not be easily extinguished.” She credited her 12th-grade Sociology, Psychology, Government, and Economics teacher, Dr. Joyce Sloan as well. “Dr. Joyce Sloan taught me that women are strong, intelligent beings, and we should not let anyone else lead us to believe differently,” she said. “She did not have a fire burning within her because she was the fire who burned us all by igniting her fire of hope within each of her students. She was a powerhouse!” She praised her teachers one last time, adding, “Each of my teachers, who ignited hope within me, were strong, intelligent women; they were and still are my heroes!”
Perez leaves advice for current VISD students, emphasizing just how important education is. “Remember: Education is the path out of poverty and hopelessness. Education guides our paths into the future and gives us hope of a better tomorrow,” she says. “Education shines a light into the darkness of our ignorance and helps us to see truths and to move forward better prepared. Education matters! Take your education seriously, and don’t let anyone rob you of your education because your future awaits you!”
Thank you, Arlene, for being a part of #TeamVISD!