Katie Fagundes
Special to the Sun

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April 23, 2013
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Kings Beach Elementary educator 6th Teacher of the Year finalist

Kings Beach Elementary teacher Julie Miescke was selected as the sixth Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year finalist.

The selection committee praised Miescke for her dedication to students and her commitment to creating a safe and fun learning environment.

Kings Beach Elementary principal Eileen Fahrner recognized Miescke’s contributions to Kings Beach Elementary and all of its students.

“Julie has been a dedicated teacher at Kings Beach Elementary for over 20 years,” said Fahrner. “She embraces the notion that the success of every child at our school is a collective responsibility.”

On April 22, Charles Riley owner of Truckee Hometown SEARS; Michael Gelbman publisher of the Sierra Sun; and Miescke’s former student, Esmeralda Estrada of Plumas Bank, presented Miescke with a finalist certificate, $50 gift certificate to Truckee Hometown SEARS and a $50 gift certificate to the Robin’s Nest in Kings Beach, courtesy of Plumas Bank.

Students in Julie Miescke’s class know when it is time to practice their English and when to be speaking Spanish. They comfortably transition back and forth without fear or embarrassment because they all know they are in class to learn and it is OK to make mistakes.

Students know this because Miescke has made it her goal to create a caring and loving environment. She wants to help each of them reach their full potential with a sense and feeling of accomplishment and pride.

Originally, from Southern California, Miescke began her teaching career as an aid in Junior High classrooms as a part of a migrant farm workers program. She worked it this capacity for five years, supporting and tracking students whose families moved in and out of the area following work.

While working as an aid, Miescke attended night school at San Diego State and earned a Bilingual Teaching Credential. She worked as a teacher in southern California for several years before moving to Tahoe in 1992 to raise her own children in a better environment.

Miescke started working at Kings Beach Elementary School over 20 years ago as a second grade teacher. She spent a few years teaching in a multiage classroom before ending up teaching 1st grade in the immersion program.

The entire Kings Beach Elementary school is now a two-way immersion school, where content is taught in both English and Spanish in every classroom. Students in the lower grades focus primarily on Spanish and then as they progress through each grade Students transfer the skills they have learned to English. When students leave the school in 5th grade they are able to read, write, and speak, fluently, in English and Spanish.

Miescke, who has always been a bilingual teacher, embraces the program and its philosophy. She loves seeing how all students in the classroom can be role models and leaders by sharing their first language knowledge. Miescke particularly enjoys teaching the younger students.

“They come in as sponges,” said Miescke. “The amount they learn in the first years is phenomenal; it is such a gift to be a part of that.”

Parents recognize the benefits students receive from being in Miescke’s classroom.

“We have witnessed (Miescke) being welcoming, warm, kind and respectful to her students,” wrote one parent nominator. “She is also firm with them, and is always very clear about what is expected of them.”

Students in Miescke class can also count on her to give them extra help and attention when they are struggling.

“Julie is passionate about the success of every child,” said Fahrner. “Students come early to school to work with her in the classroom beyond the school day, she is very loving to the children and makes each one feel that he or she is a special part of their class.”

One student wrote to Miescke after receiving extra help.

“Tu eres muy hermosa, tu tienes una linda clase, yo pienso que tu ensena los ninos muy bien,” wrote one student nominator.

Miescke strives to create an environment where all students feel safe and comfortable learning. Students are enthusiastic about learning a new language and willing to make mistakes and learn from each other. Miescke teaches students that everyone is there learning and they are all there to support each other.

Miescke draws her own support and inspiration from her colleagues at Kings Beach Elementary.

“The teachers here are so gifted in so many ways,” said Miescke. “We can all go to each other and we collaborate all the time.”

Miescke is also grateful for the direction and guidance of Principal Eileen Fahrner.

“Our principal is the most supportive human being; she sets the culture of helping one another and supporting one another,” said Miescke, “making decisions that are based on the kids’ needs, that comes from Eileen.”

After more than 20 years of teaching Miescke is still passionate and excited about the work she does. Her biggest motivator is seeing how much the students learn each year.

“This time of year is magical, in spring kids make huge jumps,” said Miescke. “It’s a gift I get, watching the kids learn and grow; they love learning, it’s very special.”

Although many things have changed since Miescke started, her teaching career her commitment to connecting to students and helping them learn has always remained the same.

“The goal I always have is balancing helping them to learn but still keeping it light and fun,” said Miescke. “There is a lot of pressure, kids are required to do things at a younger age now, I try to provide a learning environment that helps them have growth but in a way that is fun.”

Miescke has definitely achieved this with past students and will certainly do so with students in the future. Her students learn, have fun, and grow academically and emotionally. She teaches her students to fill each other’s “buckets” with kind words and gestures. And she leads by example.

“You always fill my bucket,” wrote one student nominator. “Cuando tu tiene una problema con ninos tu arreglas muy bien y con amor.”

The Teacher of the Year committee is still eagerly accepting teacher nominations. If you know a teacher who has made a difference in your life please submit a nomination today. The committee also would like to encourage colleagues and community members to submit nominations.

Many area schools have not had a teacher recognized yet this year. Please submit your nominations to tahoetruckeeteacheroftheyear @gmail.com or drop off at Hometown Truckee SEARS or the Truckee, Kings Beach, or Tahoe City Plumas Bank branch.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 24, 2013 01:47PM Published Apr 24, 2013 08:44PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.