April 24th, 2012
12:35 PM ET

California middle school educator is Teacher of the Year

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) – President Obama praised more than 50 teachers at a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday. The educators were previously honored by their states and territories as Teachers of the Year. President Obama told the group “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for teachers like these.”

On Monday, The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced that Rebecca Mieliwocki, a 7th grade English teacher from California, is the 2012 National Teacher of the Year. The 14-year veteran educator said, ““I have an unshakeable understanding that when children have a strong education, they can do anything.”

Earlier in an interview, Mieliwocki said, “I'm not the best teacher in America; I'm one of so many.”

California chose Mieliwocki as the state’s Teacher of the Year from among its roughly 287,000 teachers. The state’s selection process included a written application, visits by officials to her classroom and an interview. Mieliwocki is known for her teaching techniques at Luther Burbank Middle School. She would play music on her iPad while students work, or use playing cards to select students randomly to read in class.

Learn more about 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki from CNN affiliate KTLA.

One of Mieliwocki’s colleagues, Sue Lipschultz, told the Los Angeles Daily News, “My feeling is that [Mieliwocki] should be training teachers – she's that good – but she loves those kids and loves being in the classroom."

A panel of educators from 15 national organizations chose Mieliwocki from the Teachers of the Year of all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., four U.S. territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity. State teachers of the year are nominated by students, teachers, principals and district administrators.

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soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. jasmine


    April 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  2. Lilly

    umm sorry but all you haters out there can suck it and she takes honor students too and i was one of those students yeah there good teachers out there by why dont you go and stop talking bad of a very well respected teacher at luther okay just because who ever you know didnt get nomiated doesnt mean you have to go and say all the stuff she is a very good teacher and i wouldnt be going to college without her help in teaching me what i needed to learn so yeah you go mrs.m you rock and all you haters can suck it

    April 25, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Leila

      Lily...YOU were an honors student???? Really???? I teach honors kids too in high school and I would be ashamed and embarrassed if they wrote a post like you just did! Run-on sentences, horrid vocabulary and vernacular.....do your teacher a favor and don't say anything else!

      April 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  3. teacher2002

    "Nothing gold can stay..." when it comes to positive press for teachers. You, cynics, with your toxic words, can take a flying leap to another article's comment section. Good work, educators. You may not have been one of the 75 that Obama chose to grandstand, but you know it takes a special soul to do this job well each day.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  4. kt

    I agree with Joey; let's recognize the numerous excellent teachers out there. A great teacher is definitely someone who is worthy or recognition and honor, as opposed to simply naming one person as "the best."

    April 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  5. good grief

    GEEZ PEOPLE!!!! Does it hurt to just say CONGRATULATIONS????!!!!

    April 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  6. Joice

    California...yeah...lot of teacher union votes there. California debt crisis- who educated those people running the state? Nation- run by Harvard and Yale graduates- uh huh. Good job. Stop with the back patting and let's get some real work done for those without jobs, losing homes, ill without help- I don't see all those educated by our teachers able to do anythng about that. What gives? Which future of children will finally get it right. Based on the world of today, if education is the answer, those teachers who raised the boomers, the x'ers and so on failed big time. They should return their pensions. Oh, was that "educating our future leaders" just an ad campaign or has that group not yet gotten here? 🙂

    April 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Carlos

      Joice: There are great teachers everywhere and yes, there are some bad ones. It is obvious that those that speak bad about teachers have never been in front of the classroom taking on that responsibility. Teachers not only have to teach the curriculum but also take on the role of parent. They also try to teach values needed in everyday life such as not blaming others for your own failures, something you obviously didn't learn yourself. A teacher can work hard teaching but they can't control what students do after they get their education or if they choose to use it at all. So were all your teachers bad teachers or were you just a bad student?

      April 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  7. Billy

    I wonder how much air time teachers would get if they did not belong to the teachers union? So, we all went to school- right? We have all had a boat load of teachers. Of the more than fourty teachers we have all probably had, we remember a couple special teachers. We remember some pretty awful ones too and we don;t remember most who were middle of the raod. I think we can all agree that teachers are, well...people and no amount of PR and union advertising can really give them that Hero status for all- a rare few- you bet. The rest of the bell shaped curve...average every day people.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • sum ba D

      So what's your point, Below-Average Billy?

      May 5, 2012 at 6:44 am |
  8. rachel

    Mieliwocki teaches lowly 7th grade english, shes in no position to declare kids can do anything. If she had major in biology/ science/physiology in college, she would have known that man has its limitations.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Carlos

      Rachel: "she should have knowm that man has its limitations."

      Really???? I haven't reached mine yet. Sounds like you have already reached yours. In the last 200 years the most amazing advancements have happened because they started from a single thought or idea and there are still many more to come. Don't you realize that the very phone you used to type your message came from someone that didn't allow limitations to stop them? So a lowly 7th grade english student could become the next amazing novelist. Great teachers never give up on their lowly kids like you seem to,have done.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • middle school EFL teacher

      Why so cynical? Some people gripe, moan and poo-poo the accomplishments of others just to get attention.
      Being honest, cheerful and constructive with regards to others' accomplishments is free, simple and ultimately gratifying for both parties.
      On an unrelated note, if you'd had Ms. Mieliwocki as a middle school English teacher, you might have better mastery of written English. Best wishes as you review apostrophe and capitalization rules.

      May 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
      • middle school EFL teacher

        Above comment intended for user: Rachel.

        May 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  9. Mark

    Ok...first problem I read- if not for teachers like those President Obama would not be where he is. If I were a teacher, I am not sure how I would take that. I'm not sure he makes a good poster child for teachers as he is not the man he claimed to be before becoming president. I liked that guy a whole lot more. This guy? I believe he needs some more schooling. 🙂

    April 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  10. GailD

    My son has a Masters' in Tech Ed – graduated w/ honors – can't find a job. Yeah, good job BO – real good job – teachers getting laid off left and right – whole school districts closing – real good job

    April 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  11. Eric

    Good joh everyone may god bless america

    April 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  12. joey shabadoo

    call me crazy, but i think this is kind of a dumb idea. there are thousands upon thousands of excellent teachers in the united states; how on earth can one truly determine which one is THE best? it's just a waste of money. let administrators determine who the best teachers are, and then award ALL exceptional teachers with some sort of merit.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm |