Nominations begin for Orange County’s 2012 Teacher of the Year award

Saddleback College math instructor Larry Perez receives his Teacher of the Year award. (Courtesy of Jennie McCue/Saddleback College)

Kimiya Enshaian

Community college students in Orange County have a chance to give recognition to instructors who have made an impact in their lives by nominating them in the 2012 Teacher of the Year awards.

The theme of the program is “Teach: Inspire the Dream.” With that in mind, students enter the the instructor of their choice while keeping in mind what this instructor has inspired within them.

Organized by the Orange County Department of Education, the Teacher of the Year program provides recognition for outstanding teachers in Orange County. Each K-12 school district may nominate one to three teachers, depending on district size. Community colleges may each nominate one instructor. Finalists are selected to represent the county in the state level Teachers of the Year program.

Since 1992, this program has awarded $2 million to 900 instructors who have been recognized as being outstanding by their students, fellow instructors, administrators and counselors, according to an Orange County Register article.

Five finalists will be selected after the nominations are submitted and semifinalists are interviewed.

When the announcement is made at his or her respective school or college, each finalist is surprised by an entourage that includes county Superintendent William Habermehl, sponsors, media and other education officials. The five finalists are each awarded $15,000 from the program sponsors and are honored at the “Teacher of the Year” banquet and recognition ceremony.

“Saddleback College, within the past five years, has had two instructors, Norm Weston and Larry Perez win the top prize,” said Erin Long, Inter-Club Council adviser and student development senior administrative assistant.

In May 2009, Saddleback College math instructor Perez was summoned to President Burnett’s office. He didn’t have a class, and so the special meeting was a little troubling. He was surprised to see not only Burnett, but the chancellor and other administrators, as well as Habermehl and his entourage. Perez was recognized for his Algebra2Go and other resources to assist those struggling with learning mathematics.

After his shock eroded, Perez told the Lariat, “I’m only as good as this institution. Students are the ones who directly deserve all the credit for all my success.”

For the 2012 nominations, a few students at Saddleback have an instructor in mind who gave them the most inspiration.

Katelynn Bartiromo, 19, art, suggested English 1A/1B instructor Scott Hays to be her most inspiring instructor.

“By far the best teacher I have ever had,” Bartiromo said. “He inspired me to be a better writer while teaching me life lessons that have changed my perspective of the world.”

Nickolai Slenetum, 25, food science, said chemistry instructor Scott Frier “Knows his subject very well and is willing to help when needed. His knowledge inspires one to learn.”

Instructors are not limited to one award in their career. They can be nominated twice in their teaching careers so long as their second award is received within a gap of five years.

Applications, as well as details about this award, are available for viewing on Saddleback College’s Associated Student Government website at:

Along with the award application form, the deadline date submit the applications is also available on ASG’s website. The deadline is on Feb. 21 no later than 5 p.m.

Submitting an application can either be done with a hard copy of the application turned in to the Student Service Center in Room 210, or by e-mail to

Print Friendly, PDF & Email