Orange County Teachers of the Year banquet spotlights 63 classroom superstars

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With Hollywood-style glitz and a little Disney magic, 63 superstar educators from Orange County school districts and community colleges were honored Friday night at a special dinner celebration coordinated by OCDE.

Sponsored by SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, the 2019 Orange County Teachers of the Year ceremony was held at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, reflecting the theme “I Am a Teacher.” The event featured student musical performances, remarks by County Superintendent Al Mijares and pre-recorded statements from each of the honorees as they took the stage.

Even Mickey and Minnie Mouse took time out of their busy schedules to congratulate the winners.

“The most superlative and inspirational people who have graced this planet since the beginning of time have uttered those four words: ‘I am a teacher,'” Superintendent Mijares told an audience of about 760. “Teachers are God’s gift to humanity. They are the light that shines brightly into the souls of students, which sparks innovation, enthusiasm and drive. They provide the antidote to our most perplexing problems, which gives us hope.”

“Teaching is not a job,” he said, “but a calling.”

Actor and director William Allen Young (“Code Black,” “Moesha”) and PBS SoCal Producer Maria Hall-Brown once again served as emcees, and international business leader and philanthropist Bill Gross reprised his role as legacy sponsor, providing cash awards for the field of nominees. SchoolsFirst contributed a complimentary table for 10 and a prize package for each of this year’s winners.

Throughout the night, the six 2019 Orange County Teachers of the Year finalists who were announced in May received special recognition in the form of video tributes produced by OCDE’s Media Services team.

For those who didn’t attend the event, here are their stories.


Andrea Calvo, Ladera Vista Junior High School, Fullerton School District

Archana S. Jain, Irvine High School, Irvine Unified School District

David Pino, Junipero Serra High School, Capistrano Unified School District

Jodi Christine Young, Huntington Beach High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District

Kari Tucker, Ph.D., Irvine Valley College, South Orange County Community College District

Laura Zellmer, Ethel Dwyer Middle School, Huntington Beach City School District

For more information on the Orange County Teacher of the Year program, visit