Around this time of year, OCDE would typically host a formal gala to spotlight dozens of Orange County’s top educators.

There would be musical performances. There would be pre-recorded remarks from the honorees. There would be special video tributes. And it would all take place at the Disneyland Hotel, where Mickey and Minnie Mouse might make an appearance.

Of course, we’re not likely to see these kinds of large-scale events for a while.

But just because we can’t get together to celebrate now doesn’t mean we’re not going to celebrate. A more traditional Orange County Teachers of the Year event is already in the planning stages to salute this year’s winners once life gets back to normal. And in the meantime, OCDE’s Media Services team has produced a virtual tribute to the 2021 honorees, including the six county finalists.

Click on the video above to start watching now.

As is customary, this year’s nominees will each receive cash awards courtesy of SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union and the Orange County Teachers of the Year Award Foundation, established by William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross. And the six 2020 Orange County Teachers of the Year finalists will receive special prizes.

The finalists, who were announced in May, are:

  • Shelley Romanoff-Andros of Buena Park Junior High School in the Buena Park School District
  • James (Mickey) Dickson of Northwood High School in the Irvine Unified School District
  • Laura Gómez of Martin Elementary School in the Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Allison Goodlander of Barbara Benson Elementary School in the Tustin Unified School District
  • Emily Quinlan of Saddleback College in the South Orange County Community College District
  • Shay Reardon of Ada Clegg Elementary School in the Westminster School District

Last week, we reported that Gómez has also been selected as one of five California Teachers of the Year, and Romanoff-Andros was named a state finalist.

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, which was set to be the premier sponsor of the 2021 Orange County Teachers of the Year gala, will have that role again when the in-person celebration returns.

Hopefully that’s around this time next year. Stay tuned.