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Riverside's Twietmeyer Named DPS Teacher of the Year

Riverside High School science and biology teacher Mika Twietmeyer was rewarded for her service and success in the classroom with the title of 2019 Teacher of the Year for Durham Public Schools. She and her fellow teachers of the year at each of DPS’s schools were honored at a banquet at the Washington Duke Inn on Wednesday, May 16.

While she always knew deep down that she would end up in the classroom, Riverside High biology teacher Mika Twietmeyer came to education after working for three years as a biologist for the US Environmental Protection Agency. After researching what would be required to earn a teaching license while an undergraduate, she felt strongly that to be a science teacher she should first practice the skills she would later teach her students.

Twietmeyer first entered the classroom because of her love of science and was excited to develop creative ways to bring authentic science experiences to the classroom, different from what students had experienced in the past. Now, midway through her career, she is motivated by her students, her interest in improving her teaching ability and adapting to teach specific students, and providing support and leadership for beginning teachers.

“Mika Twietmeyer is the ultimate education advocate. She advocates for students, teachers, underrepresented parents, and overall working conditions for staff,” said Riverside principal Tonya Williams. “Mrs. Twietmeyer embodies the characteristics necessary to promote the teaching profession and to impact local and state policies and programs.”

Twietmeyer obtained a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Entomology from the University of Maryland and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Duke University. She has been at Riverside her entire 10-year teaching career. As Teacher of the Year for Durham Public Schools, she received a $1,000 award thanks to sponsors EmergeOrtho and North Carolina Specialty Hospital and will move on to the regional level of the state’s Teacher of the Year program.

Eleven other DPS educators were recognized as Teacher of the Year semifinalists and finalists. The finalists were: Franca Emezie of Burton Elementary, Christopher Hewitt of City of Medicine Academy, Kathleen Simpson of Forest View Elementary School, and Crystal Turner of Glenn Elementary. Each finalist received a $500 award. The semifinalists were: Robert Bourgeois from Durham School of the Arts, Courtney Chávez from R.N. Harris Elementary, Jennifer Duvall from Lowe’s Grove Middle, Alexa Goff from Club Boulevard Elementary, Nicholas Graber-Grace from Hillside High, Alexandra King from Eastway Elementary and Rena Norwood from Easley Elementary.