Leopold Elementary Teacher Julie Rice Wins Outstanding Educator Award
A fourth grade student at Leopold Elementary said she already knew her teacher, Julie Rice, was "so outstanding." She listed off her favorite things about Rice, which included "funny," "makes lessons really interesting," and "smart." This week, Rice's dedication to teaching was recognized on a broader scale when she received the Outstanding Educator Award, recognized by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, WEA Member Benefits, and UW Athletics.
“I was extremely shocked and so grateful,” Rice said. “I have never won anything in this capacity, so I was truly surprised. I felt so proud and seen by my coworkers.”
Rice began her career with MMSD in 2010, and after teaching out-of-state and then staying home with her young sons, she returned to teaching in 2022. At Leopold, her favorite part of the job is making the curriculum come alive for her students. She relies on her creativity to find fun, engaging ways to make each lesson accessible, and builds a solid relationship within her class from day one. This commitment to her students is almost tangible in Rice’s classroom – above the dry erase board in giant poster letters reads “180 Days, 180 opportunities.”
Leopold bilingual resource specialist Nayda Gonzalez nominated Rice for the award, and shared the impact she has on the school in her nomination form.
"We love having her as a coworker and are very proud of her accomplishments as a teacher," Gonzalez wrote. "Her students this year have improved socio-emotionally and academically, and exceeded all expectations."
Once a week before school, Rice volunteers to be a part of the “walking school bus” in Leopold’s surrounding neighborhoods, following a walking route students can join on the way to school.
"Mrs. Rice's positivity radiates beyond her class, she is always lending a hand and trying to help other teachers and staff whenever possible," Gonzalez continued. "She is a multicultural pioneer, which is reflected in her passion for teaching and leadership."
As part of the award, Rice will be recognized for her dedication to public school education at an upcoming UW Athletics event.