National Teacher of the Year: Burbank teacher honored at White House


Rebecca Mieliwocki, a seventh grade English at Luther Burbank Middle School, was honored by President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House. They were also joined by other winners of state teacher of the year awards.

Mr. Obama said Mieliwocki maintains "big expectations" for her class but remembers that "school should be fun." He also noted that she sends out weekly memos to parents and maintains a Facebook page for her class.

The award has many at her school excited.

"It's a once in a lifetime experience for us, for our kids, this will never happen again," said school principal Brian Oroake.

Mieliwocki's students say she is quite different from the other teachers. They love her for her fun teaching style, which includes playing music in class. As a self-proclaimed goofball, it's a side her students can relate to and a side she's not afraid to show.

"I have to say, she was a little goofy when I met her," said Mr. Obama, which elicited a roaring laugh from the crowd. "She was back there teasing me."

Despite receiving the nation's highest honor as an educator, Mieliwocki remains humble.

"I am not the best teacher in America," she said. "There isn't one. All across this nation there are millions of teachers who do the work that I do, and many do it better. But what I do have are some of the qualities that best teachers have. I have an absolute passion for my work."

Mielwocki has been teaching for 14 years, but originally set out to be a lawyer. She eventually followed in her parents' footsteps and began teaching.

Mieliwocki will finish out her year in the classroom and then take a leave of absence next year to become a national spokesperson for education.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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