Tammy Mielitz, fifth grade teacher at Koch School, was named today as the Milbank School District Teacher of the Year for 2016. Superintendent Tim Graf, Koch School Principal Tim Lease, and Business Manager Nancy Meyer, made the announcement and presented Tammy with flowers in a brief ceremony witnessed by all her fifth grade students.
Tammy’s career began in cosmetology and she worked as a hair stylist for 10 years. After getting married and having two children, she returned to school to obtain her teaching degree from Mount Marty College in Watertown. “I always wanted to teach, but was unsure, so I tried a few other things. Eventually, I followed my calling.”
Tammy’s teaching career began as a paraprofessional in Milbank and then as a teacher at Big Stone City School for two years. She rejoined the Milbank faculty in 2001 and taught kindergarten, first and third grades. “In 2012, I was ready for a change,” she said. She moved to fifth grade and has enjoyed a repeat of students from earlier classes. This year marks the last year she will have had the same students twice. “It has been amazing to see their progress from first to fifth grade. I feel honored to have them again and continue to be a part of their growth.”
Tammy was nominated for the Teacher of the Year Award by several students and families. Touching words such as “she is the best teacher ever,” “she is really nice”, and “I love Mrs. Mielitz” resounded among her admirers.
Pam Liebe said, “I really appreciate Mrs. Mielitz and her willingness to go the extra mile to help my child succeed. She is willing to spend time with him and allow him to do some things his own way. I’m sure it must be frustrating when the children in her class learn in different ways, but she doesn’t force them to all learn alike. She also stays calm and patient … and she truly cares about them and their lives.”
“I feel privileged to work at a job I love,” said Tammy. “I feel very honored. I told my students I don’t teach for recognition, but I am just glad to be their teacher and a part of their lives. I am so lucky to have great mentors who challenge me and am blessed to work with so many good people.”
As a child, Tammy’s favorite subject in school was math. “I loved it and it made sense to me.” That passion has followed her. “I love to teach math” she said, “but I also enjoy teaching reading.”
Tammy and husband, Richard, operate a family farm near Big Stone and have three children, Natasha, Craig, and Mason.In her spare time she enjoys reading, sewing, crocheting, spending time with family, and going for walks. Her oldest child, Natasha, will present the family with their first grandchild in April, so her newest hobby will be “being grandma” and Tammy looks forward to teaching the next generation in her family.