Knowing that she wanted to be an educator from an early age, Amada Irma Perez, MA, stood out as a fast learner during her primary education and was frequently called upon to tutor her fellow students. She began her career as a secretary following high school before being encouraged by her former teachers to pursue higher education. Initially turning her thoughts toward business studies, she matriculated at California State Polytechnic University and ultimately earned a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1974. Subsequently, she began her career as a bilingual educator, teaching Spanish for kindergarten through eighth grade. Ms. Perez furthered her academic efforts with a Master of Arts in education administration, with an administration credential, at California Lutheran University in 1983.
Ms. Perez also found herself active in the realm of adult education and taught in the graduate programs of several universities, including in the teacher preparation department of the University of California Santa Barbara and at California Lutheran University. Between 1996 and 1999, she was a regional representative for the California Association for Bilingual Education. While at UC Santa Barbara, she was involved with the Southwest Writing Project in 1998, where she wrote her first book, “My Very Own Room/Mi Propio Cuartito,” a dual-language book published by Children’s Book Press in 2000. Following the success of her first book, she released “My Diary From Here to There/Mi Dario de Aqui Hasta Alla” in 2002 and “Nana’s Big Surprise/Nana, Que Sorpresa!” in 2007.
Retiring as an educator after 30 years, Ms. Perez remains active as a writer, speaker and consultant, and is a member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her most recent books include “A Life of Firsts: The Story of Gloria Molina” in 2016 and “Arty’s Amazing Accordion/El Acordeon Asombroso de Arty” in 2022. In addition to her dual language books, her books “Desert Quails Hit Jungle Trails” and “My Handy Writing Book: A New, Fun & Easy Way to Write Stories” are available in both English- and Spanish-language editions. Today, alongside her writing, Ms. Perez contributes her expertise in education, writing and Latin American cultures to a wide range of events, including keynote addresses, book readings and signings, cultural events, writing workshops and retreats, and more.
Attributing much of her success to her perseverance, belief in herself, and the support of her family and friends, Ms. Perez has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades. In 2000, she was presented with the Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award for “My Very Own Room/Mi Propio Cuartito,” which was followed by the Pura Belpré Honor Book Award from the American Library Association for “My Diary From Here to There/Mi Diario de Aqui Hasta Alla” in 2004. “Nana’s Big Surprise/Nana, Que Sorpresa!” also received the Best Education Children’s Picture Book in Spanish Award from the International Latino Book Awards. Ms. Perez’s other notable honors include the Americas Honor Award for Children’s Literature, the Parents’ Guide to Children’s Media Award, the Independent Publishers Book Award and the Skipping Stones Honor Book Award.
For her excellence in education, Ms. Perez was inducted into PDK International, an education honor society. In both 1991 and 1992, the Buenaventura chapter of PDK recognized her with Outstanding Teacher Awards. Her work has further been honored through commendations from the state of Texas and the city of Los Angeles. Above everything, Ms. Perez considers the highlight of her career to be the success of her books, which have exceeded her wildest expectations, with more than 100,000 copies sold nationwide. She is also proud to have been invited to speak in 22 U.S. states, including Hawaii. Looking toward the future, Ms. Perez hopes to continue writing and publishing books and sharing her journey as an educator and author.