Nightly News | April 24, 2012
>>> finally tonight, a woman who's being hailed as the best of the best in american classrooms out of more than three million teachers in this country. she was honored today at the white house , as teacher of the year. we get her story tonight as a classroom leader in our education nation. here's nbc's kristen dahlgren.
>> reporter: even outside the classroom, rebecca mieliwocki can teach us a lot.
>> i think a great many americans wake up on a monday morning sort of grumpy about what they have to do when they get to work. i wake up excited about what i get to do.
>> reporter: that enthusiasm was honored at the highest level.
>> there is our 2012 national teacher of the year, rebecca mieliwocki from burbank, california.
>> reporter: her students know why she's teacher of the year.
>> what makes her a great teach summer.
>> she's amazing. she's the best teacher i've ever had.
>> reporter: mieliwocki is humbled.
>> i'm not the best teacher in america, there isn't one.
>> reporter: she loves learning as much as teaching.
>> i'm only as good as i am because i walked into other teacher's classrooms.
>> reporter: she never loses her sense of humor.
>> i have to say, she was a little goofy when i met her.
>> reporter: for the 43-year-old, teaching was in her dna. she tried law school and publishing, but finally she realized this is where she belonged. here in her class, she tries to keep things fun for her student. she plays music, and the bell on her desk always rewards a right answer.
>> the kids are like cat nip to cats. they can't wait to get to class.
>> reporter: at a time when the education system is under fire and facing cut backs, she knows what's on the line.
>> it's very important to me to get this right. the future of our nation depends on how strong the educators are. i feel i need to be the best i can be.
>> reporter: she was thinking about her students taking their state tests today.
>> i am counting on you, you guys better bring it. you're ready.
>> reporter: a long distance lesson in being the best. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, burbank, california.