WATCH: OCDE unveils new name for Special Schools program

The Orange County Department of Education is announcing a new name and logo for its Special Schools program, reflecting its enduring mission of providing meaningful educational experiences and support to students with the most significant disabilities. 

Moving forward, the Special Schools program will be known as Connections, with the tagline “Empowering Every Learner.” While the department works toward a seamless rebranding of the program, the team’s foremost commitment remains focused on meeting the unique needs of each student.

Connections logo

Under the leadership of OCDE Special Education Services Chief Analee Kredel, the development of the new name has been many years in the making, with a strong effort to ensure that it authentically embodies the spirit and needs of the students served by the program. 

Kredel presented the new name to Orange County Board of Education members during a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 10, emphasizing the alignment of the rebranding initiative with the broader vision and goals outlined by the board — to provide educational opportunities, promote student achievement, and offer leadership and resources for Orange County school districts, educators and the community. 

“We feel very strongly that Connections embodies our program in so many ways,” Kredel said. “Our professional educators and support staff nurture students as they make connections with learning, peers, community, job skills, careers and independent living.”

“This rebranding initiative is a testament to our commitment to providing a holistic and inclusive educational experience for every learner.” 

A 40-second teaser trailer created by OCDE’s Media Services Unit followed Kredel’s speech. Set against a gentle piano melody, the teaser warmly reintroduces viewers to the vital services offered by the program. 

The Special Education Services Division operates 48 classes on 13 school sites throughout Orange County. Students are referred to the county by their respective districts of residence. The programs cater to students aged 3 to 22 with the most significant disabilities. 

“Today’s unveiling marks the beginning of a new chapter, one where our renewed focus on connections will continue to empower and inspire both students and the broader Orange County educational community,” said Kredel. 

In addition to providing direct educational services and support for the county’s most vulnerable populations, OCDE supports local districts with services necessary for their operations. This includes professional development, high-speed internet access and security, legal and fiscal guidance, payroll services and student enrichment.

For further information on the Connections program and its services, visit