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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #12-33
April 23, 2012
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

California Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki
is Named America's Top Teacher

WASHINGTON, D.C.—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated California's Rebecca Mieliwocki for being selected as the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, the nation's oldest and most prestigious teaching honor.

"Rebecca Mieliwocki is an inspiration to her students, to me, and to every California teacher. She brings enormous energy, enthusiasm, and optimism to teaching—a career that has never been more challenging, or more vital to our future," said Torlakson.

"She's the perfect choice for this tremendous honor, and I know she'll do an outstanding job of teaching the nation about the great things happening every day in California's public schools," he said.

She will be recognized by President Barack Obama on Tuesday in a ceremony at the White House.

One of five current California Teachers of the Year, Mieliwocki (pronounced "Milwaukee") has been teaching for 14 years, including nine years at Luther Burbank Middle School, where she teaches seventh grade English.

She didn't start out to be a teacher although both her parents were both teachers for 30 years. She first studied to become a lawyer, but eventually went into publishing. Finally, she admitted to herself that teaching was in her blood.

"It's in my DNA. It's who I am. It's who I'm supposed to be," she said. "Teaching truly is a calling. I may not have picked up the phone right away, but eventually I answered the call."

Mieliwocki earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communication from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; and a Single Subject Professional Clear Credential in Secondary English Education from California State University, Northridge.

Mieliwocki, who is the 62nd National Teacher of the Year, will serve a one-year, full-time commitment as a national spokesperson for education.

The National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in partnership with the University of Phoenix and People to People Ambassador Programs and is sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target®.

Mieliwocki is the seventh National Teacher selected from California since the program began in 1952. The program's very first winner was a California teacher, Geraldine "Gerry" Jones, who taught in Santa Barbara. Other winners were Chauncey Veatch, 2002, Thermal; Marilyn J. Whirry, 2000, Manhattan Beach; Sandra McBrayer, 1994, San Diego; Janis T. Gabay, 1990, San Diego; Myrra Lenore Lee, 1977, Le Mesa.

In addition, eleven California Teachers of the Year have been named National Teacher of the Year finalists over the years.

For more information about the National Teacher of the Year program, please visit the CCSSO National Teacher of the Year Web page External link opens in new window or tab.. For more information about California's Teachers of the Year Program, please visit: California Teachers of the Year.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, April 1, 2020
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