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National Teacher of the Year: “Great teachers lead with both their heads and their hearts”

California English teacher addresses fellow educators during NEA convention

WASHINGTON - July 05, 2012 -

Speaking to a crowd of nearly 8,000 fellow educators gathered at the National Education Association’s (NEA) Representative Assembly (RA), 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki delivered captivating, moving and inspirational words about the power teachers have to shape and transform the lives of their students.

An English teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank, Calif., Mieliwocki told delegates she is proud to represent teachers. “So here I stand, one teacher symbolizing millions,” she said. “One imperfect, enthusiastic, hard-working and committed example of the millions more just like me. One voice to stand for all of us…We may have forgotten how important our teachers were in restoring America’s public education system but it’s not too late to shift our focus to what really matters.”

“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. “As we honor Rebecca today, let’s not lose sight of what drives her: a fundamental commitment to her students’ success. The key to raising achievement for all students is to ensure that caring, committed and qualified teachers like Rebecca, and there are many of them, are empowered to lead and transform the teaching profession.”

“If we want real change, lasting change, if we want back the power, the pride, the soaring achievement that is an exceptional public education, then the revolution begins with us,” emphasized Mieliwocki.

Mieliwocki received the prestigious title of National Teacher of the Year for her unconventional teaching practices and her deep commitment to helping students succeed. President Barack Obama honored her and all of the State Teachers of the Year at a White House ceremony in April.

“You have been born with a gift for teaching and you’ve been given the gift of working with children. You have a front row seat to the future. You build that future one child at a time,” concluded Mieliwocki.

Mieliwocki has been teaching for 14 years and has spent nine 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.

Educators from across the country are in the nation’s capital through July 5 for the Association’s RA. The RA is the top decision-making body for the more than 3 million-members of NEA. RA delegates set Association policy and address issues facing public schools, students, and 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) 262-0589,