President Obama honored Rebecca Mieliwocki as the 2012 National Teacher of the Year today, saying she is "the definition of above and beyond."
"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," the president said at a White House ceremony.
Obama noted that the seventh grade English teacher from Burbank, Calif., has "high expectations" for her students and for herself, but that she also "knows that school can be fun." The president highlighted Mieliwocki's enthusiasm and her efforts to engage parents, including hosting family nights and offering class updates on Facebook.
"Rebecca is the definition of above and beyond," he said. "She throws herself into her work for a simple reason: She knows that her students depend on her."
Standing before winners of state teachers of the year awards, Mieliwocki stressed "I am not the best teacher in America. There isn't one. All across this nation there are millions of teachers who do the work that I do, and many do it better."
"What I do have are the qualities that some of the best teachers have. I have an absolute passion for my work. I have a bottomless well of belief in my students and their potential. I have a thirst for getting better at what I do every single day. And I have a warm and welcoming heart for all students and the unique gifts that they bring to my classroom," she said.