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Sat Jun 16, 2012, 09:48 AM

Teacher of the Year on how political action benefits students

Rebecca Mieliwocki — a middle school educator who teaches in Burbank, California — has been described as a talented teacher who inspires her students to achieve greatness.

But as the 2012 Teacher of the Year, Mieliwocki now travels the country inspiring teachers and education support professionals to do the same.

She believes that to prepare students to face future challenges, public education must undergo some fundamental changes and that one way to make change happen is through political action.

“You can make great change by being politically active and getting your voice heard,” Mieliwocki told Education Votes. “As educators, we must let the stakeholders in a community become aware of what you need to have happen to make sure that students get a quality public education.”

Mieliwocki, who has been teaching for 14 years, says her love affair with teaching began the moment she stepped into the classroom.

“I change the future and I feel a huge responsibility to make sure that American children are ready to face the world that’s in front of them, and it’s a very challenged world right now,” said Mieliwocki, who says the obstacles her students face makes her work and advocate for them even harder.

“I want to be in control of the outcomes, what happens to my students. And for me to truly be in control of that, I need to be involved in the political process. I need to be aware of what’s happening in education so I can talk to other community members who are not educators and bring them in on the discussion and the debate. I think that’s what makes a great, free society.”


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