On May 31, 2023, it was indeed a beautiful afternoon. It is not taken for granted to receive recognition within the local community. Often, it happens that an individual is acknowledged at the national and international levels, while lacking support at the local level (often due to envy). Therefore, I am even more grateful to Mr. Zoran Poznič, the Mayor of the Municipality of Trbovlje, for presenting me with the SPECIAL AWARD OF THE MAYOR during the central municipal ceremony.
At the event, I made a joke, but I am genuinely honored and grateful that I was not “too young” for recognition. I have encountered criticism on multiple occasions, being deemed too young to have an opinion, too young for making professional decisions, too young to influence changes in the field of education, and even too young for any kind of recognition or award. I strive to convince students that their knowledge and skills are important, and I make an effort to create unconventional projects (including those related to the economy) to help them shine, as well. However, it is true that I also create such projects for myself because I find them interesting—I nurture the child within me.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone for their support! Thank you to my family, relatives, friends, and acquaintances, to the staff of STPŠ Trbovlje and Principal Vesna Kralj, as well as to the multitude of students who came to support me (unaware of the purpose).
Justification for receiving the award:
“Dr. Uroš Ocepek is known as a teacher, mentor, researcher, and innovator. He is the recipient of the highest award in the field of education, Teacher of the Year 2022, the Slovenian representative for the Global Teacher Prize, and a teacher of vocational modules in the field of computer science at the Trbovlje Technical and Vocational School.
From the beginning of his teaching career, Dr. Ocepek incorporated research in the field of pedagogy and didactics into his work. As a researcher at the Republic of Slovenia Institute for Education, he led and developed the innovative project called ‘Tool for Detecting Students’ Learning Characteristics and Preferences.’ This innovative tool enables the recognition of students’ learning/personality patterns, which teachers, class mentors, and counselors can consider in the teaching process. The innovation has received recognition from the Republic of Slovenia Institute for Education as having reached the highest level of novelty development in the field of education. The candidate also submitted the innovation to the Zasavje Innovations competition and received the Golden Award from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Zasavje Regional Chamber. He is truly an innovator, with 13 confirmed innovations in both professional and pedagogical fields, actively involving students in the innovation process. Furthermore, 12 of his innovations were developed in Trbovlje.
Dr. Ocepek’s exceptional achievements and dedication far exceed the expected duties of a teacher. The involvement of young people in innovation projects and the opportunity to establish initial contacts with the business sector are invaluable assets for their future endeavors. Therefore, the mayor is pleased and proud to award Dr. Ocepek the Special Mayor’s Recognition for outstanding success in the field of economy in the Municipality of Trbovlje.”