Orange Unified School District Educator Nominated for National LifeChanger of the Year Award

September 14th, 2017– Orange, CA. – Handy Elementary School fourth grade teacher Mary Ann Ballestero has been nominated for the 2017-2018 national LifeChanger of the Year award.

 Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, LifeChanger of the Year recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 educators and school district employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.

 Ballestero was nominated by her principal, Michelle Owen. She was recognized for her active involvement in school, where she volunteers for fundraising and extracurricular events.

 Ballestero seeks out opportunities to help her colleagues find resources and materials for all grade levels, from field trip funding and book labeling, to helping with flexible seating and finding inexpensive incentives for students. Additionally, she collects donations from the community around Christmas time to ensure that struggling families are able to celebrate as well.

 "Ms. Ballestero’s dedication to helping students, parents, and community goes well above and beyond anyone I have worked with in my 16 years as an educator." Owen said. “She understands that when a child’s life is in shambles, educators can choose to pick up the pieces and make a masterpiece. This is what she does on a daily basis.”

 Each school year, LifeChanger of the Year receives hundreds of nominations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Seventeen individual LifeChanger of the Year awards will be given during the 2017-2018 school year.

  • (1) Grand Prize Winner – will receive $10,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • (4) Grand Prize Finalists – will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • (10) LifeChanger Award Winners – will receive $3,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • (1) Spirit Award Winner – This award is given to the nominee whose community demonstrates the most support for their nomination. The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • (1) Spotlight Award Winner – This award will be given to a nominee in a specific discipline each year. For 2017-2018, the award will be given to a nominee who works in a support role, such as a secretary, administrative assistant, or office manager. The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school/district in fall 2017.

Winners are announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The grand prize finalists will also be honored at a national awards ceremony in spring 2018 in Bermuda, where the Grand Prize Winner will be revealed.

 Winners are chosen by a selection committee comprised of former winners and education professionals. Nominees must be K-12 teachers or school district employees. To be considered for an award, nominees must

  • Make a positive impact in the lives of students
  • Enhance their school or district’s atmosphere, culture and pride
  • Demonstrate exemplary leadership at the school and/or district level
  • Possess a proven record of professional excellence
  • Show commitment to building a nurturing environment that supports learning
  • Adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards

A resource page with ideas for how to celebrate nominees can be found at

 To view Ms. Ballestero’s LifeChanger of the Year nominee profile, or to nominate someone from your school community, visit



The Orange Unified School District educates approximately 26,000 PreK-12th grade students in the Cities of Orange, Villa Park, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and unincorporated county areas.  In partnership with our community, we provide a safe, equitable, and innovative culture of learning for each scholar to have a competitive EDGE as a leader.