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Burbank Teacher Honored as Nation's Best PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 26 April 2012 02:53

CHARLES DHARAPAK/AP PHOTO

President Barack Obama presents the 2012 National Teacher of the Year award to Rebecca Mieliwocki, who teaches at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank, Tuesday, April 24, 2012, during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington.

BURBANK (CNS) –A 43- year-old Glendale resident who followed a circuitous career path on her way to becoming a 7th grade English teacher in the Burbank Unified School District was honored by President Barack Obama as the best of the nation's 3.2 million teachers this year.

Rebecca Mieliwocki (pronounced Milwaukee), who teaches at Luther Burbank Middle School, received the nation's oldest and most prestigious teaching honor on Monday, April 23, when she was named the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, which the president acknowledged at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

"You might say that teaching is in Rebecca's DNA, because both her parents taught in public schools," Obama said. "She saw how hard they worked, how much time and energy they devoted to their jobs, how much they gave to their students.

"But when she was 18, of course, the last thing she wanted to be was a teacher," Obama said. "What teenager wants to do what their parents are doing? So, in college, she really rebelled and went to law school.

"She tried a few careers after that ... but ultimately she found herself drawn black to the classroom. And her students are so lucky that she did," Obama said. "She's got high expectations for her seventh graders, and for herself; but she also knows that school can be fun..."

Obama then presented an award to Mieliwocki, who he described as "the definition of above and beyond." In response, she thanked the president for taking time ``to honor American educators the way you have."

Mieliwocki was accompanied by Burbank Unified Superintendent Stan Carrizosa, who said before the event that she had demonstrated "a tireless work ethic and an obsession to improve kids' lives." For Mieliwocki, the ceremony was a milestone in a career that almost ended up having nothing to do with teaching, given everything else she tried out.

But teaching is "in my DNA. It's who I am. It's who I'm supposed to be," Mieliwocki, who was raised in Napa, graduated from Cal State Poly San Luis Obispo and obtained her teaching credential at Cal State Northridge, said in a statement. "Teaching truly is a calling. I may not have picked up the phone right away, but eventually I answered the call."

Sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target, the National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the University of Phoenix and People to People Ambassador programs. It was the CCSSO that announced Mieliwocki had been chosen first among the nation's 3.2 million teachers.

Mieliwocki, the 62nd National Teacher of the Year, will finish out the school year, then spend a year as a national education spokeswoman.

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