fbpx PASADENA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL EDUCATORS HONOR HISPANIC HERITAGE BY EXEMPLIFYING CULTURAL PRIDE AND AMERICAN DREAM - Hey SoCal. Change is our intention.
The Votes Are In!
2023 Readers' Choice is back, bigger and better than ever!
View Winners →
Nominate your favorite business!
2024 Readers' Choice is back, bigger and better than ever!
Nominate →
Subscribeto our newsletter to stay informed
  • Enter your phone number to be notified if you win
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / PASADENA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL EDUCATORS HONOR HISPANIC HERITAGE BY EXEMPLIFYING CULTURAL PRIDE AND AMERICAN DREAM

PASADENA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL EDUCATORS HONOR HISPANIC HERITAGE BY EXEMPLIFYING CULTURAL PRIDE AND AMERICAN DREAM

by Terry Miller
share with

PCS.HHM photo2

Whether serving as superintendent, or encouraging students to preserve their cultural traditions through art, Dr. Steven Gray and Monica (Perez) Bucknam are making a difference in their respective roles at Pasadena Christian School (PCS) and its preschool as professionals, and Hispanics. Although their personal stories are unique, they share common themes; education and cultural pride.
The Hispanic landscape continues to evolve daily as persons from different cultures come together. Dr. Steven Gray, who is of both Mexican and Scottish/English heritage, personifies this trend.
As the son of a single mother (Lupe) who is a first generation Mexican-American, Dr. Gray strongly identifies with his Hispanic roots. Dr. Gray spent his youth immersed in his culture through the eyes of his grandmother (Delfina) who immigrated along with her husband to the United States in the 1920’s. Since she didn’t speak English, Dr. Gray learned how to speak some Spanish in order to communicate with her.

Through these “kitchen table” conversations, he learned about life in Mexico, its people, and the value of hard work. He also learned about the romantic tale of how his grandmother was recued from Mexican bandits as a young girl. The brave member of the posse who saved her from captivity ultimately became Dr. Gray’s grandfather (Gubencio).

As the only one of ten siblings to complete high school, Dr. Gray’s mother understood the value of education as well. It was his mother’s example, and aspirations for a better life, that inspired Gray to pursue a career as an educator. A California State Community Opportunity Grant, which provided Dr. Gray with a full scholarship to the school of his choice, helped realize his dreams of a higher education.

.

Originally born Monica Ofelia Perez, Bucknam is a first generation Mexican-American who grew up with the rich cultural traditions of her parent’s homeland. From speaking Spanish as her first language, to cooking authentic recipes handed down from her grandmother, Mexico and the bonds of family are still part of who she is today.

A native of City Terrace in East Los Angeles, Bucknam considers herself privileged to carry generations of Mexican values, while also being American.

Bucknam’s family relocated to Alhambra during her early childhood years where she quickly assimilated and became English-fluent by second grade. Living just a few blocks away from El Sereno allowed Bucknam and her family to further preserve their heritage. Having access to Mexican markets, and being surrounded by other native Spanish speakers, encouraged Bucknam to find balance between her native roots and an American lifestyle.

Traditional Mexican arts were also vital to her upbringing. She spent several years attending art, ballet folklorico dance, music, and ceramics classes at Plaza de la Raza, a Mexican cultural arts center situated in the heart of East Los Angeles. Eventually, she would return as an “alumni” to teach drawing and painting classes for four years.

“As an art educator, I believe it’s important to recognize the valuable emotional and developmental growth that is fostered in children by creating visual art, while appreciating it’s aesthetic qualities,” stated Monica (Perez) Bucknam. “As a Latina, I also think it’s important to teach students to celebrate their own heritage through art- and the beauty of other cultures around the world. Embracing all nationalities and cultures is art in itself.”

Typically, Bucknam focuses on art from cultures around the world, instruments and seasonal changes while teaching her budding young artists at Pasadena Christian Preschool. From traditional mariachi music and flamenco, to French, Celtic and African rhythms, Bucknam also believes in the educational value of world music. As one of her best practices, Bucknam aims to incorporate traditional music specific to the art and culture she is teaching as part of the curriculum to heighten the experience. During Hispanic Heritage Month, Bucknam is teaching her students about legendary Mexican painter Diego Rivera.

Over the past 15 years, she has also worked as an award-winning conceptual art director for the film and television industry. Among the entertainment entities she has collaborated with include HBO, CBS, USA Networks, Disney Studios, Universal, Producer Eduardo Sanchez, and currently, DreamWorks.

More from Education

Skip to content