There were soaring musical numbers. There were VIPs on stage and in the crowd. Even Mickey and Minnie made an appearance.
But the true stars of this show were 62 distinguished teachers from school districts and community colleges throughout Orange County.
Sponsored by SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, the 2018 Orange County Teachers of the Year awards dinner added a measure of showbiz glitz and a dash of Disney magic as it recognized the county’s top educators, including six finalists, in the Disneyland Hotel’s Grand Ballroom on Tuesday night.
OCDE coordinated the packed celebration, which kicked off with remarks from Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares and student performances by the Surf City Singers, who attend the Academy for the Performing Arts in the Huntington Beach Union High School District. Then the honorees took their turns at center stage, where they were congratulated by Dr. Mijares as their pre-recorded statements played for the audience. Each winner was presented with a cash award courtesy of the Dr. James Hines Foundation, which has long served as the legacy sponsor.
“Orange County is home to some of the world’s finest teachers, and their contributions go far beyond transmitting 21st-century skills and knowledge,” Dr. Al Mijares said. “Today, we get to honor the best our profession has to offer, spotlighting teachers who not only showcase pedagogical mastery, but also exemplify the theme of this year’s event, ‘Compassion, Kindness and Character.’”
Actor and director William Allen Young (“Code Black, “Moesha”) and PBS SoCal Producer Maria Hall-Brown were once again tapped as emcees for the program, which included videos produced by OCDE’s Media Services team documenting the work of the six Orange County Teachers of the Year finalists. (Those videos are below.) Surprised at their work sites in May, this year’s finalists included Edison High School’s Gregory Paul Gardiner, who was then named one of five 2018 California Teachers of the Year.
The other county finalists are Barbara Bennett of North Orange Continuing Education in the North Orange County Community College District; James Blackie of Horace Ensign Intermediate School in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District; Vincent Saporito of College View Elementary School in the Ocean View School District; Tiffany Badger of El Dorado High School in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District; and Carlos Primiani of Leo Carrillo Elementary School in the Garden Grove Unified School District.
For those who weren’t able to attend the event, here are their stories.
Barbara Bennett | North Orange Continuing Education | North Orange County Community College District
James Blackie | Horace Ensign Intermediate School | Newport-Mesa Unified School District
Gregory Paul Gardiner | Edison High School | Huntington Beach Union High School District
Vincent Saporito | College View Elementary School | Ocean View School District
Tiffany Badger | El Dorado High School | Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District