Nancy Perez was born in a small village in Mexico and came to the U.S. with her family in 1994. Her parents worked at Excel meat processing plant in Schuyler and at Farmland Foods in Crete. She married as a teenager, and when pregnancy complications forced her to drop out of high school, she pursued a GED through Crete Schools Special Programs office, where she met Stephanni Renn and Connie Lentell, and became involved with Sixpence. Nancy now is a Sixpence home-visiting parent educator and was the first parent educator in Nebraska to receive a perfect HoVRS score, which evaluates parent coaches and they support they give.
When I became involved with Sixpence as a teenager, Stephanni Renn became my home visitor and gave me the opportunity to learn about how my baby was developing and what I could do to engage in forming a long-lasting bond with my baby. I was fortunate to have a strong support system with Stephanni and Sixpence.
Our gorgeous daughter was born in April 2009. She was premature, but healthy enough to go home after staying at the hospital for a week. I was nervous to take my daughter home. I knew, however, that I was going to be the best mom possible to my daughter and with the support and guidance of Sixpence, I would be able to accomplish it. With Stephanni’s support, I engaged in beautiful moments with my baby girl and discovered a new passion. I was fascinated with early childhood education and knew I would like to go to college. I received my GED in May 2009.
I was hired as the assistant lead teacher for the center-based Sixpence room and worked there for three years. I immediately began taking classes at Southeast Community College in hopes of earning an Early Childhood Education Associate degree. I earned the T.E.A.C.H. Nebraska Early Childhood Education Scholarship and graduated with honors. With the support of my husband, Crete Public Schools, Sixpence and T.E.A.C.H., I continued working toward my bachelor’s degree, knowing I would earn it.
I worked two more years as a paraeducator in a preschool classroom, and at the end of the school year applied for a new position at Sixpence, hoping letters from my mentors Connie Lentell, Stephanni Renn, my advisor from the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children, as well as my advisor from college would help the Sixpence Board see my passion, enthusiasm and drive to teach parents to be their child’s first teachers. Receiving the call that the Board approved me for the position was the best feeling in the world.
I have been very blessed to work with Sixpence and now as a Parent Educator and home visitor. I am dedicated to graduate with my bachelor’s in Human Relations from Doane College in December. There have been many challenges along the way. I’ve had to break the walls and barriers of my family and cultural beliefs and mindset. I know the importance of maintaining a nurturing relationship with my daughter and keeping her as my number one priority. I know I have found the right position for me. Sixpence is not just a job, it’s a career. Every day I have a chance to see parents interact with their babies, I see parents’ desire to learn about their children’s development and how to form a closer relationship.
Unfortunately, over the course of our marriage, my husband and I realized we had a dysfunctional relationship that we could no longer continue. Thinking about our daughter’s well-being had to be our priority. I was forming conclusions of how I want to live my life and how I want my daughter to perceive me. I know that no matter the limitations, I have the power and will to overcome them all. I went a full six months working two full-time jobs to get on my feet as a single mom. I admit it was extremely difficult to stay awake most days, but I proved to myself that I am capable of many things I would have never thought were possible.
It has been incredible to see how my experiences relate to the lives of the young families I work with daily. It makes me proud to work for Sixpence and know that I can contribute to positive support for young families. Having gone through the experience of being married as a teenager, being a teen parent, giving birth to a premature baby and now being a single mother I know I can provide my families with the reassurance that no matter how difficult a situation becomes and all the obstacles one must hurdle, it is possible to accomplish goals one sets.
I want my daughter to know we live in a country where anything we dream and strive for is possible with work and dedication. I am passionate about my new career working with young parents. I work hard to plan intentional lessons that encourage parent-child interactions. The loving relationship between parents and their children is the foundation for a strong and healthy future. I will continue to work hard to encourage nurturing relationships between the parents and children I work with. Thanks to Sixpence and Crete Public Schools for believing in me and allowing me to pursue my profession.
Beautiful, Nancy! I am so proud of you and all you have accomplished! I know you will continue to do great things in early childhood education!