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Rebecca Mieliwocki Named Grand Marshal of Burbank on Parade

Rebecca Mieliwocki

Rebecca Mieliwocki

Burbank on Parade has announced that Rebecca Mieliwocki, who was named 2012 National Teacher of the Year, has been selected as the Grand Marshall for the parade that is slated for later this month.

“Burbank, City of the Future” is the theme for this year’s parade that is scheduled for April 26 at 11:00 am.  The parade will travel down Olive from Keystone to Lomita.

According to parade officials, Congressman Adam Schiff and Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy are also scheduled to appear as well as floats built by the Burbank Tournament of Roses, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Food Trucks will also be set up at the Food Court in the Joslyn Adult Center parking lot.

Zonta Club Honors Rebecca Mieliwocki as Burbank Woman of the Year

Rebecca Mieliwocki was touted as a creative teacher for students and an inspiration to fellow teachers when the Zonta Club of Burbank honored her as its Woman of the Year 2013 during a luncheon on Saturday at the Castaway Restaurant.

Grace Farenbaugh, left, president of Zonta Club of Burbank, with honoree Rebecca Mieliwocki, the Woman of the Year for 2013. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Grace Farenbaugh, left, president of Zonta Club of Burbank, with honoree Rebecca Mieliwocki, the Woman of the Year for 2013. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Mieliwocki is a seventh-grade English teacher at Luther Middle School and she received the National Teacher of the Year in 2012. That honor set her on a yearlong exploration, first being honored by President Obama in Washington, D.C., and then visiting 30 U.S. states and nine countries, representing America’s public school teachers.

The honoree credited the people in her life for getting her to where she is today. She has tried to take the positive attributes from family members, teachers, neighbors and friends and woven those into her own personality, she said. But she never thought she was an inspiration to others.

“It is this award that helped me realize that,” she said. “That all of us are so incredibly infectious and influential whether it is your personality, sense of humor, your brain, the love and laughter that comes out of you is infectious. Take all the gifts you are given but make sure to give some back. So I will take this award today and turn around and see who else I can inspire, encourage, lift up or show the way, just like I hope all of us do.”

Luther teacher Traci Fellman recalled how Mieliwocki offers ways to improve the campus and inspires others to try new things. She led the way to spruce up the teacher’s lounge and helped organize the Luther Losers weight loss program.

“Rebecca is always there to make things better and push people outside of their comfort zones,” Fellman said.

Colleagues of Zonta honoree Rebecca Mieliwocki attending the luncheon are, from left, April Weaver, Luci Bowers and Traci Fellman. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Colleagues of Zonta honoree Rebecca Mieliwocki attending the luncheon are, from left, April Weaver, Luci Bowers and Traci Fellman. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Stefanie Enokian, another Luther teacher, said one of Mieliwocki’s greatest assets in the classroom is the way she holds her students’ attention with her humor, accents, jokes and thinking like a 12-year-old at heart.

Enokian remembered a first day of school when a student was comparing her class schedule with another student in the hallway, and said she had a class with Mieliwocki, who was walking behind her. Mieliwocki told her “Oh no, she’s the worst!” The student was surprised when she sat down in Mieliwocki’s class and saw the same blond woman at the front of the room.

Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy presented Mieliwocki with a certificate of appreciation from the city in honor of her leadership, passion and commitment to education.

“Thank you for making a difference in so many lives and your caring contributions to our city,” the mayor said.

Zonta presented Mieliwocki with a bouquet of flowers and a Woman of the Year pin. In addition, President Grace Farenbaugh said a donation of $500 was made in the recipient’s name to the She’s the First Foundation, which sponsors education for girls in developing nations, allowing them to be the first in their family to graduate from secondary schools.

“Teachers work so hard both in and out of the classroom and we know that Ms. Mieliwocki embodies that passion and dedication,” Farenbaugh said.

The Woman of the Year Award seeks to recognize women who are leaders and achievers in volunteer efforts and community service in Burbank. Recipients are those at the forefront of many initiatives and organizations that improve day-to-day quality of life for thousands in this community, by advancing the status of women.

Past Women of the Year with this year's honoree Rebecca Mieliwocki, second from left, are Marsha Ramos, left, 1997, Lucy Burghdorf, 2008, and Elaine Paonessa, 1978. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Past Women of the Year with this year’s honoree Rebecca Mieliwocki, second from left, are Marsha Ramos, left, 1997, Lucy Burghdorf, 2008, and Elaine Paonessa, 1978. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Past recipients attending Saturday’s event were Elaine Paonessa, Marsha Ramos and Lucy Burghdorf.

Zonta Club of Burbank is one of more than 1,200 clubs operating in 64 countries and geographic areas worldwide. The Burbank club conducts many service projects in the community, but members are most proud of the Zonta Wings program, Farenbaugh said. It provides grants to women for academic or vocational training.

“This program provides financial assistance to adult women who have gone back to school or are pursuing vocational training so they can overcome a major setback in their lives,” Farenbaugh said. “As women, we know how difficult it is to back to school when you have a family. We want to help women soar to the next level.”

Luther Middle School Welcomes Home Their Hero

Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Students, teachers, parents, school administrators, State Officials, and her son were on hand Monday afternoon to great Luther Middle School 7th grade teacher and now TEACHER OF THE YEAR, Rebecca Mieliwocki home on Monday as she met the local media.

Rebecca was at The White House last week to receive the honor from President Barack H. Obama.

Wearing 'Official' Rebecca shirts which can be bought from Luther Middle School. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torklakson was on hand to to present Rebecca was local honors, as was LA County School Superintendent Art Delgado. Burbank’s own School Board Members were also present and President Ted Bunch spoke, honoring Mieliwocki.

Acknowledgments from Congressman’s Adam Schiff’s Office, Senator Carol Liu, and Congressman Brad Sherman, who was present to present Mieliwocki with a Flag that flew over the State Capital at the exact time the President awarded her Teacher of the Year.

Following a shot time together the group enjoyed a lite reception in front of Rebecca’s favorite sign. on the auditorium wall which she got the funding for.

The Red Carpet awaits Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki to her home school Luther Middle School. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)


School Board President Ted Bunch and Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

More Great Pictures From Photographer Ross A. Benson

Rep. Schiff Congratulates Burbank Teacher Mieliwocki for Winning 2012 National Teacher of the Year

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) issued the following statement congratulating Rebecca Mieliwocki, a longtime Glendale resident and teacher at Luther Middle School in Burbank, who was named 2012 National Teacher of the Year award:

“Rebecca Mieliwocki is known by fellow teachers, administration officials and students for being incredibly hard-working, caring and inspiring.  Throughout her career, Rebecca has worked to engage her students and stay relevant in today’s fast-paced society.  Because of that, she’s always working to try new techniques and ideas, and never stops innovating.

“Rebecca is a shining example for our community and our children, and we are all incredibly proud of her work and achievements as she is named the top teacher in our nation today.”

President Presents Teacher of the Year Award to Rebecca Mieliwocki

Here is the transcript of the President Barack Obama today as he presented the Teacher of the Year award to Rebecca Mieliwocki.  She will be back in Burbank Monday, April 30, at 3:30 p.m., when the Burbank Unified School District will hold a “Welcome Home” event at Luther Burbank Middle School.  The public is encouraged to attend to help welcome home our local hero and acknowledge her incredible achievement.





East Room



10:11 A.M. EDT



THE PRESIDENT:  Wow, thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.

Before we get started, I want to recognize one of our greatest advocates for education and for teachers, our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is here.  Give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan congratulate 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki in the East Room of the White House, April 24, 2012. The President hosted the event honoring the 2012 National and State Teachers of the Year . (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Now, let’s face it, a lot of important people visit the White House.  (Laughter.)  But to young people in classrooms around the country, nobody is more important than the men and women that we honor here today — the State and National Teachers of the Year.

These are the kind of teachers who change lives forever.  I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for teachers like these who challenged me, and pushed me, and put up with me, and inspired me — and set me straight when they had to.  And I think everybody here can say the exact same thing.

Teachers matter.  That’s why I often tell young people:  If you want a guarantee that you’re making a difference every single day, become a teacher.  A teacher is the key to a child reaching their potential.  And if we need more proof — (baby chatters.)  Yes, it’s true.  (Laughter.)  Yes.  She agrees.  (Laughter.)

And if we need more proof that teachers matter, all we’ve got to do is look around this room.  I’m honored to be here with teachers like Gay Barnes, from Madison, Alabama, one of the four finalists for this award.  There’s Angela Wilson, who teaches children of military families at Vicenza Middle School, in Italy.  Not a bad place to hang out.  (Laughter.)  There is Alvin Aureliano Davis, who teaches music in Florida.

And there is our 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki, from Burbank, California.  So give Rebecca a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  And this is Rebecca’s crew right here — (laughter) — who are very proud.  Auntie and cousins and — (laughter) —


THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, boss.  (Laughter.)  Even more important.  (Laughter.)

Now, you might say that teaching is in Rebecca’s DNA, because both her parents taught in public schools.  She saw how hard they worked, how much time and energy they devoted to their jobs, how much they gave to their students.

But when she was 18, of course, the last thing she wanted to be was a teacher.  What teenager wants to do what their parents are doing?  (Laughter.)  So in college, she really rebelled and went to law school.  (Laughter.)

Now, she then tried a few different careers after that.  After studying to become a lawyer, she went into publishing and floral design and event planning.  But ultimately, she found herself drawn back to the classroom, and her students are so lucky that she did.

She’s got high expectations for her 7th graders and for herself, but she also knows that school can be fun.  And that fits a personality that she describes as “a 12 year-old goofball dying to get out.”  (Laughter.)  And I have to say, she was a little goofy when I met her.  (Laughter.)  She was back there teasing me and asking Arne about our basketball games and stuff.  (Laughter.)  You can tell she’s just got a wonderful spirit.

And so in addition to everything they learn in her English class, Rebecca’s students have had a chance to film their own adaptations of an O. Henry short story.  They worked with a local writer to develop five-minute plays, which professional actors then performed.  Rebecca has led field trips to the science center, to the aquarium, to Chinatown, even the La Brea tar pits — that’s a trip you really don’t want to lose track of anybody.  (Laughter.)  Only one kid?  (Laughter.)  They never showed up that morning — (laughter) — I was wondering where they were.  (Laughter.)

Rebecca knows that education also is a responsibility that begins at home.  So she hosts family nights to get parents involved.  She sends home weekly parent memos so moms and dads know what’s going on in school.  She maintains a Facebook page for her class, where families can get information and updates 24/7.

And all this extra work makes a huge difference.  When kids finish a year in Rebecca’s class, they’re better readers and writers than when they started.  But even more than that, they know how important they are.  And they understand how bright their futures can be.  And they know that if they work at it, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.

So Rebecca is the definition of “above and beyond.”  And so many teachers around the country are like her.  She throws herself into her work for a simple reason:  She knows that her students depend on her.  And as she puts it, “Life is too short and too difficult to have anything less than the most engaged, enthusiastic teachers in schools.”  I couldn’t agree more.  And I know Arne couldn’t agree more.

I also want to point something else out.  Rebecca said in applying for this award, she said that in some ways it’s harder than ever to be an educator.  Even in the best of times, teachers are asked to do more with less.  And today, with our economy still recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, states and communities have to stretch budgets tighter than ever.

So we’ve got a particular responsibility as elected officials in difficult times, instead of bashing teachers to support them.  We should be giving states the resources to keep good teachers on the job and reward the best ones.  And we should grant our educators the flexibility to teach with creativity and passion in the classroom and not just teaching to the test.  And we should allow schools to replace teachers, who, even with the right resources and support, just aren’t helping our kids to learn.

Because we’ve all got something at stake here.  Our parents, our grandparents — they didn’t build the world’s most prosperous economy and the strongest middle class in the world out of thin air.  It started with a world-class education system.  That was the foundation.  And in the long run, no issue will have a bigger impact in our success as a country and the success of our citizens.

So every day, when teachers like you put in long hours, or dig into your own pockets to pay for school supplies, or tweak lessons so they’re even better than they were last year, you’re not just serving your schools or your students, you’re also serving your country.  And you’re helping to preserve the basic promise of America, that no matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, what your last name is, you can succeed.  You can make it if you try, if you put in the effort.

So on behalf of the American people, thank you all for everything that you do.  And congratulations.  I’m going to present this spiffy-looking award to Rebecca Mieliwocki.  (Applause.)

President Barack Obama honors the 2012 National and State Teachers of the Year in the East Room of the White House, April 24, 2012. Sharing the stage with the President are Education Secretary Arne Duncan and 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki, 7th-grade English teacher at Luther Burbank High School, Burbank, California. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Burbank Teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki Is America’s Teacher of the Year

The Burbank Unified School District announced Monday that middle school teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki has been named the 2012 National Teacher of the Year. The Council of Chief State School Officers announced today that Mieliwocki, who teaches 7th grade English at Luther Burbank Middle School, has been named the 62nd National Teacher of the Year.

Rebecca Mieliwocki

Rebecca Mieliwocki

Mieliwocki, along with all 2012 State Teachers of the Year, will be recognized by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House, on Tuesday, April 24, at 10am EDT.

“We are thrilled to learn that Rebecca has been chosen as the best of the best,” said Superintendent Stan Carrizosa. “Her achievement is testimony to the skill and talent possessed by so many incredible teachers working in Burbank Unified and throughout the State of California. She exemplifies dedication and passion to the craft of teaching, a tireless work ethic, and an obsession to improve kids’ lives.”

California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, also offered praise for Mieliwocki’s accomplishment. “Rebecca Mieliwocki is an inspiration to her students, to me, and to every California teacher,” Torlakson said. “She brings enormous energy, enthusiasm, and optimism to teaching — a career that has never been more challenging, or more vital to our future. 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.”

Mieliwocki has been teaching for Burbank Unified for 16 years and has spent 10 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. In November she was named one of five California Teachers of the Year; in January she advanced to become a finalist for the national title.

Rebecca Mieliwocki

Rebecca Mieliwocki is shown with Burbank Superintendent Stan Carrizosa at a recent awards ceremony at the Burbank Elk's Lodge (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

A panel of educators, representing 15 national education organizations, chose the finalists from the 2012 state teachers of the year in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and four U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. State teachers of the year are selected on the basis of nominations by students, teachers, principals, and school district administrators throughout the states. Applications are then submitted to CCSSO, where the national selection committee reviews the data on each state candidate and selects the four finalists. The selection committee then personally interviews each finalist before naming the National Teacher of the Year.

“Students learn best when they have the most enthusiastic, engaged teachers possible,” said Mieliwocki. “Our students are our future, so we, their teachers, must do our best to inspire them and guide them to greatness.”

On Monday, April 30, at 3:30 p.m., the Burbank Unified School District will hold a “Welcome Home” event at Luther Burbank Middle School. Local media and the public are encouraged to attend to help welcome home our local hero and acknowledge her incredible achievement.

Rebecca Mieliwocki Chosen as Finalist for National Teacher of the Year

Burbank Unified School District is pleased to announce that Luther Burbank middle school teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki, the 2012 California Teacher of the Year, has been selected as one of four finalists nationwide for the 2012 National Teacher of the Year award.

Superintendent Stan Carrizosa responded with pride upon hearing the news: “We are so excited that Ms. Mieliwocki is one of the four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. It is testimony to the skill and talent possessed by so many incredible teachers working in Burbank Unified and the State of California. In the face of nearly impossible conditions she is an example of California’s ability to continue to serve our public schools and rise to the top!”

Rebecca Mieliwocki

Rebecca Mieliwocki

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today said, “I am elated that Rebecca, who is remarkably gifted and innovative, is being considered as the nation’s next top teacher. I nominated her for this prestigious title because she is an inspiration to other teachers as well as her students, who are learning and succeeding due to her tremendous classroom skill.”

Mieliwocki (pronounced like Milwaukee) was named in November as one of five California Teachers of the Year. Her selection as a national finalist was announced today by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education.

She and three other state Teachers of the Year from Florida, Alabama, and the Department of Defense Education Activity in Italy were chosen by a National Selection Committee representing the major national education organizations. The winner will be announced in April.

Mieliwocki has been teaching for more than 14 years, including nine years at Luther Burbank Middle School, where she teaches general education and Gifted and Talented Education classes.  She is faculty chair and serves on the school leadership team. Her lessons are infused with a wide array of technical tools that, as her principal, Anita Schackmann, says, “brings lessons to life.”

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

Burbank School District Recognizes Their Top People

Classified Employee of the Year:

The Burbank Unified School District recently held their Employee Recognition Awards program at Woodbury University  They honored Classified Employees of the Year, Teacher of The Year from LACOE Nominee, Twenty Fire Year Employees and recognized the teacher who have and will be retiring this year.

The evening started with Superintendent Stan Carrizosa giving thanks and introduction to those in attendance and guests. The Emcee of the evening was Gabe Soumakian, Superintendent of Human Resources.

Photo By Ross A. Benson

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