Two school employees working in Newport-Mesa and a third in Huntington Beach are competing statewide for the title of Classified School Employees of the Year.

The Orange County Department of Education will honor them along with three other state finalists from Orange County during an 11 a.m. meeting Thursday at the organization's headquarters, 200 Kalmus Drive in Costa Mesa

Each year for the past five years, school districts throughout Orange County have picked their top classified employees in six categories: child nutrition; maintenance, operations and facilities; transportation; para-educator and instructional assistance; office and technical services; and support services and security.

Once the districts make their selections, the county begins its judging process. This year, it culled the six finalists from an initial 62 nominees.

A panel of educators and community members judge the nominees based on work performance, school involvement, leadership and commitment, and actions that go above and beyond, according to a news release from the Orange County Department of Education.

It then forwards its top six picks to compete against counties across the state.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District state finalists are Kim Large, who works in transportation at the district office, and Scott Matthews, who works in maintenance, operations and facilities at Harbor View Elementary School.

Huntington Beach City School District's state finalist is JoAnna Pritchard, a para-educator and instructional assistant at Hawes and Seacliff elementary schools.

jeremiah.dobruck2@latimes.com

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