Irvine High’s Archana Jain Named a County Teacher of the Year

Archana Jain joined by Principal Colunga, Board Member Brooks, Supt. Walker, Supt. Mijares, and Schools First Rep.

Irvine High School’s Archana Jain has been named one of six Orange County Teacher of the Year Finalist by the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE).  Jain received this honor on Tuesday morning in front of her students in her classroom, when she was surprised by County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares, OCDE officials, IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker, Irvine High Principal Monica Colunga, IUSD Board Member Lauren Brooks, Irvine Teachers Association President Teri Sorey, and members of her family.

Jain, who has been an IUSD math teacher for more than 12 years, was also named IUSD’s 2018 High School Teacher of the Year.  Prior to joining IUSD, she was an aerospace engineer for a decade. Jain not only uses her experience and impressive background in the classroom but she has also used it to create an engineering pathway for Irvine High School and formed the Irvine Technology and Engineering Center to give students access to rapid prototyping tools and industry software. By establishing a dynamic, project-based environment, Jain has helped students, who may be struggling in core classes find academic success and purpose.

Colunga said, “Archana has embraced a growth mindset and intellectual risking taking – utilizing her real-world experience to foster a love of learning and resiliency for her students. She is an inspiration both inside the classroom and out, introducing and engaging students in STEM.”

Jain also serves as a mentor to students. She has encouraged and inspired young women to get involved in STEM. She is a mentor for the Robotics Club, the Society of Women Engineers, the Engineering Club, Astronomy Club and OC Maker Challenge. She is also working as a mentor for the propulsion team for the Irvine CubeSat program, which is an after school work-based learning program in which students from six Irvine schools have successfully built a Nano-satellite, scheduled for launch this year. As a leader in the program, she led the teacher/mentor presentation at the California STEM conference. The first and second year teams for the CubeSat program have been more than 50 percent female from Irvine High School.

When discussing her teaching philosophy, Jain said, “We are all capable of achieving more than we think if we persist and believe in our abilities.”

To read more about the six OC Teacher of the Year Finalists and to see a live video of Jain's in-class surprise, visit the OCDE Newsroom at

All six of this year’s Orange County Teachers of the Year will get a special award from Dr. Mijares, and each will receive a tote bag with prizes from SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, the program’s premier sponsor.

In the fall, the finalists will be formally honored at a dinner gala at the Disneyland Hotel, where they’ll receive cash awards from SchoolsFirst and the Dr. James Hines Foundation, established by Orange County residents Bill and Sue Gross.

This year’s winners were selected from a field of more than 60 educators countywide, who were honored in their home districts. The process included both applications and interviews for the 15 semifinalists.

In addition to being recognized at the gala dinner in October, Orange County’s four K-12 Teachers of the Year are now eligible to compete for state honors.  California usually announces its Teachers of the Year in November.