Congratulations to the District's three 2021 Orange County Teachers of the Year nominees—Amanda Gargano representing Cypress College, Dr. Amber Rose González representing Fullerton College, and Erin Sherard representing North Orange Counting Education (NOCE).
Chef Gargano is a Culinary Arts professor at Cypress College. She teaches food and beverage management at the Cypress Bistro located at the Anaheim Campus. The bistro serves as the perfect venue for Gargano to instruct her students in a hands-on learning environment. Students learn by doing in the student-run restaurant, and leave her course with effective oral and written communication, teamwork, management and leadership strategies, ethical decision-making, and critical thinking skills. Gargano prepares her students for a career in the thriving restaurant and food service industry.
Dr. González is the Ethnic Studies Department Chair and professor at Fullerton College. She has been recognized for her ability to inspire and empower students though Chicano/a Studies and Women's Studies courses. Professor González says that "creating beloved communities is intentional and integral in [her] work as an educator, community organizer, and healer." Since 2014, Dr. González has co-organized an annual Ethnic Studies Summit at the college. The event brings together students, scholar-activists, organizers, artists, and community members to share, generate knowledge, and inspire action to respond to and end systems of oppression, engage in communal healing, and create a more just society.
Professor Erin Sherard teaches in the Parenting Program at NOCE. Sherard instructs Love and Logic curriculum to students of all ages and backgrounds, including parents, caregivers, and those who support children and teens. The core of Sherard's instructional philosophy is "to meet students where they are, both physically and emotionally." Sherard carries her classroom with her wherever she goes, teaching at domestic violence shelters, libraries, Boys and Girls Clubs, healthcare agencies, K-12 public school sites, community centers, and churches all across the District's boundaries. With Professor Sherard, students gain a community, access to wrap-around services, and a better future for their children.
These instructors were nominated by students at each of their campuses and selected to represent Cypress College, Fullerton College, and NOCE as the District's nominees for the 2021 Orange County Teachers of the Year Awards. Professors Gargano, González, and Sherard along with nominees from 28 K-12 school districts, three regional occupational programs, and 10 community colleges in Orange County were to be celebrated at a formal gala at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Ca. However, due to the pandemic, the event had to be postponed.
The Orange County Department of Education and its premiere sponsor SchoolsFirst delivered gift bags to the nominees' campuses with customized blankets, cash prizes, and other goodies. Nominees were also honored in this tribute video.