Math department chair Ms. Malikov wins $15,000 Milken Jewish Educator Award


BP Photo by Ezra Fax

WINNER: Cameras clicking, Richard Sandlot, vice pesident of the Milken Family Foundation, presents the Milken Jewish Educator Award to Ms. Malikov at a surprise assembly in the JCC auditorium Nov. 3. “We are all in this together,” Ms. Malikov said. She did not know she had won.

By Rose Lipner, Community Editor, and Alexa Fishman, Editor-in-Chief

Students filed into a mysterious assembly after lunch yesterday and quickly learned that Math Department Chair Ms. Katya Malikov had been selected by the Milken Family Foundation to receive its annual Jewish Educator Award.

The award, which comes with a $15,000 prize, honors four Los Angeles teachers each year for their contribution to Jewish education. Ms. Malikov will also attend a luncheon in her honor in December with the three other awardees, Manachem Mendel Greenbaum of  Cheder Menachem, Ariela Nehemne of Valley Beth Shalom, and Barry Schapira of Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Brawerman Elementary School.

“We are awarding an individual who comes here every day, even when this person can be doing anything else,” said Richard Sandler, the foundation’s vice president, at the assembly in the JCC auditorium. “Instead, this individual has decided to dedicate her life to making your lives better.”

Cheers erupted from students as they stood and clapped when Mr. Sandler called out Ms. Malikov’s name.

Ms. Malikov smiled and appeared stunned as she nervously walked to the front of the auditorium, trying to avoid the cameras in her face.

“I’m very honored to receive this award,” said Ms. Malikov as she was presented with a bouquet of flowers. “We are all in this together—the administration who supports us and creates the classes and the students who are willing to do their best. I couldn’t have done it alone, thank you so much.”

After 10 years at Maimonides Academy, Ms. Malikov began working full time at Shalhevet as Chair of the Math Department in 2011. She teaches five math classes and also started Math Club, a weekly after-school meeting period where students can receive extra help.

She also is available every day during free periods and often after school to help students with their homework. The day after she received her award, she spent lunch period wandering among the outdoor tables on the patio, looking for people working on math.

Her room is never empty.  When class is not in session, it’s full of kids lined up to wait for her help.
“I spend most lunches in Ms. Malikov’s class room,” said senior Shoshi Miller. “Even though it is her break, she will always help me when I need her.” 

According to the Jewish Educator Award website, winners must possess outstanding talent, a desire to influence students, achievement in developing curriculum, and the ability respond to the needs of the Jewish and secular communities.

After the assembly, students ran up to Ms. Malikov, hugged her and told her how excited they are that she won the award.

“Because of Ms. Malikov, I went from being someone who didn’t understand math at all to actually being able to teach other people math,” said junior Shirin Nataneli.

Fellow junior Derek Orenshein said her help had changed his attitude.

“Ms. Malikov taught me how to organize my math work,” said junior Derek Orenshein. “I learned to love math and appreciate it because of her.”

Previous Milken award winners at Shalhevet are English teacher Ms Ms. Melanie Berkey, 2009, and former Hebrew instructor Mrs. Vered Hopenstand, 2001. Educators must have taught a minimum of 15 hours per week for seven years at a BJE-affiliated school in Los Angeles in order to qualify.

“We focus on teachers, excellence and the job they have,” Mr. Sandler told the assembly. “They have the most important job in society today. The community has to know the importance of that job because students can go on to change the world.”

Rabbi Segal was away yesterday but sent an e-mail to the Shalhevet community at 1:43 p.m.

“For every student and family lucky enough to have been touched by Katya’s devotion to her students,” Rabbi Segal wrote, “this prize confirms what we already know – that Katya is THE standard-bearer for Math education in Jewish day schools and beyond.”