California Educator

MAY 2012

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MAKING A DIFFERENCE CTA member is National Teacher of the Year CTA Summer Institute ...............................................................28 ..............................................................................................30 Read more about the CTA member who became the National Teacher of the Year at /rebeccamieliwocki. Rebecca Mieliwocki named National Teacher of the Year IN A LIGHT-HEARTED White House ceremony, CTA member Rebecca Mieliwocki was honored as the 2012 National Teacher of the Year by President Barack Obama. "Rebecca is the definition of above and beyond," said President Obama in present- of Milwaukee) will serve for one year as a full-time national and international spokes- person for public education. CTA Presi- dent Dean E. Vogel said, "As the nation's advocate for public schools, she will inspire Mieliwocki (pronounced like the city " others about the promise of our state's classrooms, just as she has inspired a love of learning in her middle school students in Burbank for many years." Mieliwocki has advocated for education ing the honor. She responded, "I'm not the best teacher in America — but I am a reflec- tion of all of us who have devoted ourselves to teaching. in comments since being named Teacher of the Year, speaking out on issues ranging from the need for teacher training and pro- fessional development to support for public schools. She has made it clear that "commit- ment to education must extend beyond the walls of the classroom. Parent support and community involvement are essential to ensure the success of our students." Teachers face so many barriers to stu- dent success that they didn't create and that are beyond their control, Mieliwocki noted. "I can't control whether my students eat breakfast, have a place to sleep at night, whether they have access to technology. I can do everything I can when they step into my classroom to try to level the playing field, but one person alone just can't do it all, and that's pretty overwhelming. ers across the country, and they cannot fix the problems in schools alone. "In any school system in any state, whether the most affluent district or not, you have fami- lies in crisis right now. Everyone is worried about money, jobs, and their economic future. I see it in my classroom. The needs are so great — health care, hunger, trans- portation, clothing, parents losing jobs." "We don't have the funding to keep up with all the things we need to do to give children a 21st century education," Mieli- wocki added. "In California, funding has been cut to such a degree it's a real chal- lenge to stay strong. It feels like you're sav- ing children's lives with education — but you might not be able to do it. If you don't have the desks, you don't have the books, you don't have the technology, you might not be able to do it. That would give anyone low morale, not just teachers." Mieliwocki has been teaching for 14 Mieliwocki said there are amazing teach- " Rebecca Mieliwocki displayed her sense of humor when accepting the National Teacher of the Year honor from President Barack Obama. 28 California Educator / May 2012 Photos by Ron Sachs, CNPWashington

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