We’ve got big news this morning out of Plaza Vista School, where Scott Bedley has just been named one of five Orange County Teachers of the Year.
The announcement was made shortly after 9:30 by Orange County Superintendent Al Mijares, who paid a surprise visit to the campus, accompanied by a throng of well-wishers from the Orange County Department of Education, IUSD, Disney and the Orange County Register. (Check out the brief video above to relive the moment.)
“You’ve been an exemplar for not only your students, but all of us,” Mijares said, “and so we’re going to salute you today and honor you.”
Bedley, who was nearly speechless at first, offered words of thanks for the OCDE, his family, district staff and his colleagues at Plaza Vista.
“I tell you what, this is the best place to work,” he said. “I feel so blessed to be with these people, and they inspire me every day even though I do silly, crazy stuff.”
We can tell you that it’s a very fitting accolade for Bedley, who was named IUSD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year in February.
Indeed, his recent accomplishments would be impressive if they were divided among five teachers.
The veteran educator has served as an International Education Liaison to Japan, representing IUSD and the U.S. to promote a mutual understanding of culture and educational practices. He’s authored a character curriculum book, utilized by the Rachel’s Challenge organization, urging students to take positive action in their communities. And he presented at the 2013 Computer-Using Educators (or CUE) Conference.
This year, Bedley took student engagement and 21st Century learning to yet another level by creating a first-of-its-kind Technology Applied Science Fair. The competition, with judges from Blizzard Entertainment, Broadcom, Google and Honda, challenged nearly 100 students in grades three through eight to develop their own software, apps and websites. The top three teams were rewarded with a field trip to Google’s Irvine offices.
And how did Bedley follow up that endeavor? He started another one, establishing a partnership with Santa Clara University’s Solar Decathlon team, which participates in monthly video chats with Bedley’s classroom. His students are writing about the experience, and the Irvine World News has agreed to publish their stories.
Joining the celebration on Wednesday was Bedley’s wife, Kristen, along with the couple’s 2-year-old son, Dean. His mother, father, mother-in-law and brother were also present, and his students would have witnessed the surprise too if not for a noteworthy scheduling conflict.
“We wanted to commend you and bring this special prize in front of all your students,” Mijares said, “but today is testing day, and we respect that very much.”
Nevertheless, this won’t be the last time Bedley is in the spotlight. He’ll be honored Friday night as one of three IUSD Teachers of the Year, along with Venado Middle School’s Brendan McBrien and University High’s Joe Huber, who were also semi-finalists for the county award. (That’s right, three of the 15 O.C. semi-finalists were from IUSD.) And Bedley will be invited to another dinner in October for the five county-level winners, who will each pick up a cash prize courtesy of The Dr. James Hines Foundation.
“You’re not only going to get this,” said Mijares, referring to a golden apple trophy, ” but you’re going to get fifteen-thousand bucks, and there will be a grand celebration at the Disneyland Hotel.”
And who knows. There could be more surprises ahead given that Bedley is now in the running for California Teacher of the Year.