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Burbank's National Teacher of the Year receives warm homecoming

May 1, 2012 | 11:03 am

Rebecca Mieliwocki

The newly named National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki, received a warm and raucous homecoming by students, colleagues and officials at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank.

The Monday event attracted public officials such as Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), California Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and California Teachers Assn. President Doug Vogel. Mieliwocki used the occasion to thank everyone from Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa to her classroom janitor, the Glendale News-Press reported.

“At 43, I understand how life works,” said Mieliwocki, a Glendale resident. “You surround yourself with good people and you shut up and you listen to what they have to say and you watch what they do and you try to soak it all up. You end up being uniquely you, but ultimately a patchwork quilt of all the amazing people you have worked from.”

Hundreds of Burbank students and staff wore white T-shirts imprinted with Mieliwocki’s portrait for the celebration.

“It is a big deal, especially with all the resources that are being cut,” said social studies teacher Stefanie Enokian. “You have to come up with new, innovative ways to teach these kids.”

Student Amanda Bennett, 13, said one of Mieliwocki’s most memorable assignments was an audio story in which students were required to interview and record an interesting person.

“I think she deserves it,” Amanda said of the national recognition. “She makes it fun for us to learn.”

Mieliwocki will complete the current school year before taking a one-year sabbatical to work as a spokeswoman for the Council of Chief State School Officers. Her schedule will include more than 200 appearances in the United States and abroad.

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-- Megan O'Neil, Times Community News

Photo: National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki and Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes high-five onstage at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank. Credit: Tim Berger / Glendale News-Press.

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