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Burbank's national Teacher of the Year: 'It is electrifying'

April 23, 2012|By Megan O'Neil
(Cheryl Guerrero/Staff…)

Glendale can now call itself home to the top educator in the country.

Long-time Glendale resident and Burbank Unified teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki was named Monday as the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, capping an extraordinary seven months during which she advanced to the county and state levels of the competition before being named one of four finalists for the top prize.

Mieliwocki, accompanied by family members and several top Burbank Unified officials, will join educators from across the country Tuesday in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden where President Obama will formally confer the award.

It will be followed by a black-tie gala Wednesday night.

“Many of the great heroes of my life were teachers, and I work with some amazing educators,” Mieliwocki said by phone from Washington D.C. on Monday. “I carry with me all of their talent, all of their ability, all of their experience; it has made me who I am.”


Raised in Napa by two educators, Mieliwocki has spent nine of her 13-year career with Burbank Unified, where she currently teaches English at Luther Middle School.

In October, she was recognized as a Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year. One month later, she garnered the statewide honor, and was selected by California Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson as one of five California teachers to advance to the national competition.

She and her fellow finalists were required to submit a written application to the Council of Chief State School Officers that included eight essays on topics such as personal teaching philosophy and issues facing education, as well as endorsement letters. The candidates were judged on numerous factors, including their ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities.

Mieliwocki was informed that she had received the top honor following a trip to Washington D.C. several weeks ago, but had to keep the news a secret. She returned to the capital on Friday, joining the recipients of the state-level recognition in anticipation for the big announcement.

“It is electrifying to be in a room with these 53 people who have done remarkable things, transforming schools, changing children’s lives, starting programs, providing the highest quality instruction for children across the country,” Mieliwocki said, referring to her fellow honorees.

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