Perlas is a Bay Area native and the current director of the middle school program for SF Rec & Park’s Tennis & Learning Center (TLC) program at the Lisa & Douglas Goldman Tennis Center. Before her role at TLC, she was the behavior/mental health, reading, wellness and data specialist for TLC’s elementary school program. She has a Master of Science in behavior and a BA in sociology. She has been serving youth and adults in the field of mental health and wellness for more than 10 years. In her free time, she is very active and loves working out, boxing, Pilates, reading and spending time with her daughter. She’s also plant-based and loves trying different restaurants around the Bay!
TLC is an out-of-school-time program that promotes academic achievement, health and wellness, and social-emotional development through the sport of tennis. Since 2014, TLC has served elementary school children in four of San Francisco’s most high-need communities: Western Addition, Chinatown, the Portola, and Bayview Hunters Point. In March 2021, the TLC program welcomed its first middle school students at the Goldman Tennis Center in Golden Gate Park.
1.How did you become interested in the youth development work that you do at the Tennis & Learning Center program?
The Tennis & Learning Center (TLC) program was such a unique program that stuck out to me. I didn’t have a recreation background and was transitioning out of a therapist position. Coming from an athletic background, I knew the importance of bridging the gap between mental health and athletes with education and development. I loved the whole mission of teaching the youth a sport that isn’t offered within the communities we serve. I didn’t know exactly how my skillset would fit in, so I decided to not be placed in a box and be an asset by adding socio-emotional skills, reading, leadership development and health and wellness.
2.TLC has been offering a middle school community learning hub at the Goldman Tennis Center since March. What are you most looking forward to when the TLC middle school program re-starts next fall?
I am looking forward to creating an enriched learning environment for our middle school students. I’m so excited for our students to be able to continue to learn and love the sport of tennis. On top of having our children chosen to learn tennis at a beautiful site in Golden Gate Park, I can’t wait for them to participate in the unique enrichment programs. The programs are designed for our middle school students to not only prepare for high school, but to give them a head start on life skills and mental health tools that I didn't have at their age.
3.Who will be able to participate in the middle school TLC program?
All of our students who currently attend a TLC elementary school program will be able to participate when they enter middle school. Currently, students from other schools who did not attend a TLC elementary school will also be able to participate in the middle school program.
4.What are some of the outcomes you’ve seen at the elementary school level and what are some of the outcomes you are aiming for with the middle school program?
Over the last three years, I’ve seen the love for tennis grow! I am a firm believer that everything rises and falls on leadership. Because TLC is like a second family, from Channing [Hale], our program coordinator, to all of our strong powerful directors at the elementary school sites, down to the staff and amazing coaches, I’ve seen so much growth in our children. Not only have reading levels and grades increased and improved, but so have self-esteem and confidence.
5.What will be some of the new components of the middle school program?
On top of our daily tennis program, I wanted our children to have different components of education, fitness, trade skill, and socio-emotional/ health and wellness every month. Currently our programs consist of: Boys and Girls Wellness groups, Debate team, Nature Jog and Tennis.