Sixty-four educators from Orange County school districts and community colleges were honored Friday night at a special dinner celebration coordinated by the Orange County Department of Education.
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union served as the premier sponsor of the 2020 Orange County Teachers of the Year gala, which was held at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. The evening featured student musical performances, pre-recorded statements from each of the honorees and video tributes to the six county finalists.
“Orange County’s outstanding teachers work tirelessly each day to help prepare all of our students for college and careers,” Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares said. “Their efforts address each student’s unique academic, social and emotional needs while building equitable and supportive learning environments.”
“On this night, we recognize some of our very best teachers from across our diverse communities who have worked to inspire not just their students, but also their colleagues throughout the profession,” Mijares said. “With their contributions to our schools, these educators exemplify this year’s theme, ‘Teaching with 2020 Vision.’”
Finalists earn special honors
The Orange County Teachers of the Year Award Foundation, established by William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross, contributed cash awards to each of the nominees in recognition of their efforts to support, equip and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.
Meanwhile, the six 2020 Orange County Teachers of the Year finalists — they were announced in May during surprise visits to their workplaces — received special honors.
This year’s finalists are Melissa Brennan of Maxwell Elementary School in the Magnolia School District; Gavin Ehlers of Marina High School in the Huntington Beach Union High School District; Aline Gregorio, an associate professor of geography at Fullerton College; Melinda Moen of Western High School in the Anaheim Union High School District; De’Anna Moore of Crescent Elementary School in the Orange Unified School District; and Mandy Kelly, a teacher at Trabuco Mesa Elementary School in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District.
Kelly, whose students turned a classroom assignment on kindness into a global campaign, has also been named as one of five California Teachers of the Year. Ehlers and Moore were both named state finalists.
In what’s become a tradition, the six county finalists were also congratulated by two residents of the adjacent theme parks, Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Each of this year’s honorees received a complimentary table for 10 and a prize package from SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union. In addition, the six finalists received $15,000 each, semifinalists took home $3,000 and all other nominees received $1,000, courtesy of the Orange County Teachers of the Year Award Foundation.
The Gross family has contributed more than $3.5 million to the Orange County Teachers of the Year program since 1992.
If you couldn’t be there in person, here are the videos OCDE’s Media Services team created to highlight the work of this year’s finalists.
Melissa Brennan of Maxwell Elementary School in the Magnolia School District
Gavin Ehlers of Marina High School in the Huntington Beach Union High School District
Aline Gregorio, an associate professor of geography at Fullerton College
Melinda Moen of Western High School in the Anaheim Union High School District
De’Anna Moore of Crescent Elementary School in the Orange Unified School District
Mandy Kelly, a teacher at Trabuco Mesa Elementary School in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District