The Orange County Department of Education announced Thursday the six Teacher of the Year award recipients for 2022 and included was Fullerton College professor Jodi Balma.

Balma has taught political science at Fullerton College since 2000 and is currently the Honors Coordinator since she took up the role in 2010.

The wording of the award may be confusing, but even though Balma is announced as a finalist, she is still the winner of the OCDE Teacher of the Year award from all the community college instructors in Orange County.

Balma said she was “surprised” when she first found out about the award.

“I didn’t know they were going to announce it. But, it was nice being on Zoom and getting to talk to everyone for a little longer than I usually would be able to,” Balma said.

The six recipients of Teacher of the Year were celebrated via Zoom Thursday, April 29.

The six recipients of Teacher of the Year were celebrated via Zoom Thursday, April 29. Photo credit: OCDE Newsroom

All nine community colleges in Orange County send out their own Teacher of the Year to be submitted into this competition to compete for the award.

According to the OCDE’s article, there are 15 semi-finalists. Five teachers are chosen from K-12 schools from the group and one community college teacher selected from the nine.

Balma won Fullerton College Teacher of the Year once already back in 2014 but was not selected for the OCDE Teacher of the Year. A teacher can only win the OCDE Teacher of the Year once in their career.

Balma said she is “honored” to win this award but doesn’t think the award makes much sense.

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Balma holds her OCDE Teacher of the Year award.

Balma holds her OCDE Teacher of the Year award. Photo credit: Jodi Balma

“The idea of a competition for teaching is as absurd as a competition for acting. To say there is a Chemistry teacher going up against a Political Science teacher, it doesn’t make much sense,” Balma said.

“I take it as an incredible honor that this is representative of the incredible work that my colleagues all across the county are doing,” Balma said.

One thing she is most proud of is being able to assist students and help them if they need it.

“The part of my job that I love the most is mentoring students after they leave my classroom,” Balma said. “Helping them get involved, counseling them about college and Grad school, that’s fun to me, and that’s what I love.”

The six winners of this award will be formally honored in April 2022 at a dinner at the Disneyland Hotel. The winners received a trophy with an apple on it, cash awards from the Orange County Teachers of the Year Award foundation and additional prizes from SchoolsFirst.

The full list of the teachers who won can be found in the OCDE article.

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Will Hollon (He/Him) is a journalism and communications major from Fullerton, CA. In his free time, he likes to read and exercise.