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NEA member named 2012 National Teacher of the Year

California English teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki to be honored at White House ceremony

WASHINGTON - April 23, 2012 -

NEA member and teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki was named the 2012 National Teacher of the Year by The Council of Chief State School Officers today. Mieliwocki, an English teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank, Calif., was awarded the prestigious title because of her unconventional teaching practices and her deep commitment to helping students succeed. President Barack Obama will honor her and all of the State Teachers of the Year at a White House ceremony tomorrow.

“Rebecca’s commitment to reach and motivate each of her students is an inspiration, and I am proud to count her among the millions of NEA members who rise to the occasion each day on behalf of their students,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Every student deserves a caring, committed and qualified teacher in their classroom, and even as we pause to acknowledge Rebecca, let’s not lose sight at what drives her: a fundamental commitment to her student’s success. The key to raising achievement for all students is to ensure that teachers like Rebecca and all the Teacher of the Year finalists are empowered to lead and transform the teaching profession.”

According to Mieliwocki, “Our students are our future, so we, their teachers, must do our best to inspire them and guide them to greatness.” Mieliwocki firmly believes that teachers must be held accountable for the success of their students, from helping them meet personal or school-wide learning goals to achieving on district and state level assessments. Mieliwocki will serve for one year as a full-time national and international spokesperson for public education.

Mieliwocki has been teaching for 14 years and has spent 9 years in her current position. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from California Polytechnic State University and her professional clear credential in Secondary English Education from California State University Northridge. She is the 2005 California League of Middle Schools Educator of the Year for Southern California, a 2009 PTA Honorary Service Award Winner and a Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment mentor.
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced the four finalists for the 2012 National Teacher of the Year in January. In addition to Mieliwocki, finalists included: Gay Barnes, first grade teacher at Horizon Elementary School in Alabama; Angela Wilson, a seventh grade Language Arts and Forensics teacher at Vicenza Middle School in Italy; and Alvin Aureliano Davis, a music teacher at Miramar High School in Florida. All four finalists are NEA members.

“California educators are extremely proud to have Rebecca Mieliwocki represent them and our profession on a national stage,” said Dean E. Vogel, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “As the nation’s advocate for public schools for the next year, she will inspire others about the promise of our state’s classrooms, just as she has inspired a love of learning in her middle school students in Burbank for many years. We are honored that our colleague will now be able to share her passion for teaching and learning with the entire country.”

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the National Teacher of the Year Program, which honors educators representing the teaching profession as their State Teacher of the Year. This prestigious program allows teachers from across the country to collaborate with policy makers at every level and advocate on behalf of the teaching profession.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser (202) 822-7823,