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County Superintendent of Schools

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Dr. Stefan Bean has dedicated the past 25 years to serving Southern California communities and students as a teacher, principal and school administrator. In June 2024, the Orange County Board of Education unanimously appointed him as Orange County's 12th superintendent of schools, a position that dates back to 1889.

From July 2022 through June 2024, Dr. Bean served as the executive director of the Irvine International Academy. Prior to this, he worked for Aspire Public Schools in Los Angeles for nearly 12 years, progressing through roles as lead principal, associate superintendent and area superintendent. In the latter role, he oversaw 11 schools serving students from transitional kindergarten through grade 12.

His educational qualifications include a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California, a master's degree in educational leadership from Loyola Marymount University and a doctorate in educational administration from California State University, Fullerton.

Dr. Bean's personal experiences as an English language learner and a student with a disability have deeply influenced his educational philosophy. He has expressed a particular passion for supporting English learners and marginalized students.

Born in Saigon during the early 1970s as Nam Le Thanh, Dr. Bean overcame significant early challenges. Stricken by polio and abandoned, he was brought to the United States as part of Operation Babylift during the Vietnam War. At age 4, he entered the U.S. foster care system and was later adopted by the Bean family, who supported his academic achievements.

Despite health issues, Bean engaged in sports and extracurricular activities as a child, serving as an umpire for sandlot baseball games, joining the student council and developing his public speaking skills. He was a straight-A student who was elected as sixth-grade class president and earned an opportunity to make a speech in Washington, D.C., advocating for those who were disadvantaged. After high school, he received a full scholarship to USC.

During his college years, Dr. Bean met Janet Soares, whom he married in 2000. They raised four children and were deeply involved in work and ministry. Dr. Bean credits Janet, who tragically passed away in 2021 after a battle with cancer, as a significant source of support throughout his life and career.

“I want our students across Orange County to know that I've got their backs, no matter what, and that they should use me as an example," he said. “No matter what they're going through, no matter what challenges they may face — whether they have a disability, a speech impediment, whether they speak English as a second language, or whether they're experiencing trauma — I want them to know that I'm there, and I'm going to protect them and help them throughout our county."