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California teacher wins nation's top teaching prize

File photo: Pupils listen to their teacher in a classroom on the first day of the school year.
File photo: Pupils listen to their teacher in a classroom on the first day of the school year.
Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

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California teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki has been named the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, which is the oldest and most prestigious teaching prize in the country.

Mieliwocki is a seventh-grade English teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School, in Burbank, Calif., and has taught for a total of 14 years.

She initially trained to become an attorney, then went into publishing before eventually turning to teaching. Both her parents were teachers for 30 years.

"It's in my DNA," she said in a statement released today. "It's who I am. It's who I'm supposed to be. Teaching truly is a calling. I may not have picked up the phone right away, but eventually I answered the call."

Mieliwocki studied speech communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. As the 62nd National Teacher of the Year, she will serve as a one-year, full-time national spokesperson for education. She will be honored at a ceremony at the White House Tuesday.

Mieliwocki is one of five current California Teachers of the Year. And she is the seventh California award winner to be selected for the national prize since it began in 1952.

"Rebecca Mieliwocki is an inspiration to her students, to me, and to every California teacher," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a statement. "She brings enormous energy, enthusiasm, and optimism to teaching—a career that has never been more challenging, or more vital to our future."

Check out KPCC's more detailed story on Mieliwocki here.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).