Fullerton College Political Science Professor Jodi Balma has been named a 2022 OC Teachers of the Year finalist!
On April 29, 2021, Professor Balma was one of six finalist in the county surprised with the news via Zoom by OC Department of Education (OCDE) Superintendent Al Mijares, OCDE administrators, and representatives from SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union. Also on the Zoom announcement were NOCCCD Chancellor Cheryl Marshall, Fullerton College President Greg Schulz, Deans Jorge Gamboa and Dani Wilson, colleague Kelly Nelson-Wright, and student Urooj Naveed to congratulate Balma on receiving what OCDE states is "the county's highest honor for those who have found their calling in the teaching profession." Click here to view an OCDE Newsroom video highlighting the announcement.
Professor Balma has taught political science at Fullerton College for more than 20 years. Her teaching philosophy centers on helping students understand the role they can play in their own communities and government. Students say she has a gift for making others feel heard and validated. "I have absolutely no interest in teaching my students what to think about politics," Balma comments. "I want to teach them how to think about politics in a critical, analytical manner, regardless of their political party or ideology." Embracing the role of advocate and mentor, Balma serves in a number of leadership positions at Fullerton College, including adviser for the Queer People of Color and Political Science Student Associations, coordinator for the Honors Program, and internship director for the Political Science Department.
Balma was selected as Fullerton College's Teacher of the Year in March 2021, after she rose to the top among her peers with nominations from students recognizing the positive impact that she has made on their lives and academic journeys. Of the 58 teachers nominated from 28 K-12 school districts, three regional occupational programs, and 10 community colleges in Orange County, Professor Balma was then selected as one of six finalists to receive OCDE's special apple trophy, prizes from SchoolsFirst, and cash awards from the OC Teachers of the Year Award Foundation established by the Gross Family Foundation. Balma will also be honored at the 2022 OC Teachers of the Year recognition banquet at the Disneyland Hotel on April 25, 2022.
As OCDE states, Balma has "enlightened, encouraged, and uplifted students during one of the most challenging years." Congratulations, Professor Balma! We thank you for all that you do to serve students.