Students feeling the loss of a beloved Hebrew teacher

BP Archive

Jaclyn Kellner, Deputy Editor and Nate Erez, Staff Writer

After 10 years of teaching Hebrew and brightening the hallways with her radiant smile and colorful clothing and conversation, Ziva Gleiberman is not returning to Shalhevet.

Ziva – who was never called by anything other than her first name — was one of the most popular teachers Shalhevet had ever seen and was considered to be beyond just a teacher.

“Ziva made you want to learn,” said senior Micha Zana. “The real beauty in her method of teaching was the way she connected with the students. I don’t know if Shalhevet will be the same without her.”

Ziva always walked down the hallways with a giant smile on her face and offered her abundant love to everyone, no matter how well you were doing in her class. From a warm hug when she noticed you were having a bad day or saying “Good morning!”  early each day to everyone who passed by, Ziva was there.

She was especially known for creating original and individual nicknames for every single one of her students, and seemed to care about students as people more than as learners in her class.

“You guys are students,” Ziva often told her classes, “but more than that you’re people, and you deserve to be treated as such.”

Ziva also created some iconic phrases including “woasy mozie” to show amazement and used the word “soft” in place of “cute.”  She was chosen by the class of 2005 to be its graduation speaker, and was often invited to write a message to seniors in the Yearbook.

“My most favorite thing about Shalhevet without a doubt is the students,” Ziva said in an e-mail last week. “I know it may come off as too cute, but I love you guys.”

In recent years, Ziva had to cut back on teaching at Shalhevet due to family reasons, and became slightly less well known around school, though everyone who had her loved her class. Last year she taught just three classes, all mostly freshmen.

“She made Hebrew fun to learn,” said sophomore Ariela Feitelberg. “I think I can speak Hebrew much better and my grammar has improved tremendously. I’m really going to miss her,” Hebrew Department Chair Vered Hopenstand agreed.

“She’s very professional, educated, well-read, easy to work with, and a team player,” said Vered, who worked with Ziva for 10 years. “She will be missed.”

Alumna Molly Keene, class of ’06, had strong memories of Ziva’s class, which she had as both a junior and a senior.

“Ziva made our classroom into a social space,” recalled Molly, “which not only made her effective as a language teacher, but enabled us to benefit from her general awesomeness as a person. I think that’s what made her relationships with her students so genuine, and that’s why they could continue after Shalhevet.”

Responding via e-mail to an interview request, Ziva described her decade at Shalhevet in words that reflected all these things.

“I miss you guys in ways that you can not imagine,” she wrote. “You had been the crowning topic of many a conversation inside and outside of my home. I have always been very proud of you, and always tried to come up with new ways to make you walk just a little bit taller.

“It has been an amazing trip, watching you grow and mature, and I am thankful for every one of the 10 years I was at the school,” she continued. “I too have grown and have matured, thanks to my experiences with you.”