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Malikov leaving after six years, will teach at new UCLA high school

Maimonides' Walton will succeed her at Shalhevet, Rabbi Segal announces in email.

LISTENER%3A+Students+said+Ms.+Katya+Malikov+is+known+for++having+confidence+in+all+students+and+for+being+a+good+listener.++She+has+taught+at+Shalhevet+for+six+years.
LISTENER: Students said Ms. Katya Malikov is known for  having confidence in all students and for being a good listener.  She has taught at Shalhevet for six years.

LISTENER: Students said Ms. Katya Malikov is known for having confidence in all students and for being a good listener. She has taught at Shalhevet for six years.

BP Photo by Katia Surpin

BP Photo by Katia Surpin

LISTENER: Students said Ms. Katya Malikov is known for having confidence in all students and for being a good listener. She has taught at Shalhevet for six years.

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Ms. Katya Malikov, the Russian-trained champion of Shalhevet’s Math Department known for extreme kindness combined with equally extreme academic rigor, is leaving next year to teach at a new school called Geffen Academy, and also UCLA, Head of School Rabbi Segal announced yesterday after school.

Students were heartbroken as the news spread via social media. Grade group chats were buzzing with shock, expletives and other forms of dismay.

Junior Eliezer Lasry didn’t believe it.

“Please tell me that’s a joke,” Eliezer wrote in the 11th-grade group chat.

Sophomore Jamie Berman found out a few minutes later.

“When I found out that it was real, I was really sad, because she’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” said Jamie.

She gave many homework problems per night and encouraged students to do math they thought they couldn’t do. But Agenda Chair Bennett Schneier said she knew when to be strict and when to bend.

“Ms. Malikov was accommodating to kids, and she was willing to listen to them,” said Bennett. “There was always a conversation that was happening.

“She was firm when she had to be, but she was lenient when she could be.”

Geffen Academy, where Ms. Malikov is headed, is a brand new college preparatory based at UCLA.  It plans to open next fall for grades six, seven, and nine, and to expand to all of grades six through 12 in its second year.

Its website gives this description of the new school’s mission:

“Through inspired learning in our classrooms, we strive to instill in our graduates the understanding that knowledge is beautiful, transformative and relevant to one’s life and civic responsibility in a just, free and global community.”

Ms. Malikov has been math department chair since 2011, after teaching for 10 years at Maimonides Academy, one of Shalhevet’s main feeder schools.

Rabbi Segal said her replacement next year would be Maimonides’ current math chair, Dr. William Walton, who he said would also carry the title of Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

“It is with bittersweet feelings that I share with you that Katya Malikov has accepted a prestigious appointment as a faculty member at the UCLA Geffen High School and the UCLA Math Department for the coming year,” wrote Rabbi Segal in an email sent out to the community at 5:58pm today.

The details of her UCLA Math Department position were still unclear this evening.

Alumni were quick to react to the news.

Daniel Soroudi ‘16 said Ms. Malikov made him fall in love with math.

“She was by far the best teacher I ever had,” said Daniel, who is now studying business at USC. “Math is my favorite subject, and it has been for a long time, and I could only imagine that she is part of the reason that I love it so much,” he continued.

Nicole Feder ’15 had Ms. Malikov for a teacher throughout middle school and in 9th and 11th grade.

“Every time I walked into math class, Ms. Malikov always pushed her students,” said Nicole.

“She made her students feel comfortable; she never doubted any kids; she always put in so much effort that made the students want to put in an equal amount of effort.”

In 2014 — just three years after joining Shalhevet – Ms. Malikov won the $15,000 Milken Jewish Educator Award, given each year to four teachers each year who have taught in for at least seven years in schools affiliated with the BJE, the umbrella organization for Jewish schools in Southern California.

“She assumed the reins at a time when the department needed leadership,” wrote Rabbi Segal in his email to the community. “She, along with a cohort of outstanding math educators, has turned the math department into one of the strongest academic features of our school.”

Ms. Malikov grew up in the Soviet Union when Leonid Brezhnev was leader. During an interview with the Boiling Point in 2016, she said she always had a passion for math.

“I was actually happy when I got sick, because it was a chance for me to read a lot and solve problems,” said Ms. Malikov.

In eighth grade, she moved to a specialized math school that allowed her to study the subject in depth.

She went on to studying math at Moscow University, then moved to the U.S. when her husband, also a mathemetician, got a job as a professor of math at UC Davis in Northern California.

In his email to the Shalhevet community, Rabbi Segal said the school had already hired someone to replace Ms. Malikov, though he said she left “big shoes to fill.”

“I am thrilled to announce that we have hired Dr. William L. Walton to join Shalhevet as Chair of the Math Department and Director of Curriculum and Instruction,” wrote Rabbi Segal.

Dr. Walton, who is called Mr. Walton at Maimonides, has also taught at Tarbut V’Torah, Pilgrim School, and Carnegie Mellon.  The reason for the difference in title was not clear last night, but Rabbi Segal said in his email that the incoming math chair holds a doctorate in education from UCLA.

Rabbi Aharon Wilk, Maimonides’s Head of School, announced Mr. Walton’s departure in an email to Maimonides parents.

“Mr. Walton has been a gifted teacher at our school and we thank him for his years of dedication to our students,” wrote Rabbi Wilk.

Here is the complete text of Rabbi Segal’s e-mail:

Dear Parents,

I write to you today to share some changes within the Math Department at Shalhevet High School:

First, it is with bittersweet feelings that I share with you that Katya Malikov has accepted a prestigious appointment as a faculty member at the UCLA Geffen High School and the UCLA Math Department for the coming year. Katya will work through the remainder of the year at Shalhevet to assure a strong completion of the semester and a seamless transition into the next academic year. 

I cannot overstate the magnitude of Katya’s contributions to our Math Department. She assumed the reins at a time when the department needed leadership and she, along with a cohort of outstanding math educators, has turned the math department into one of the strongest academic features of our school. It is not a surprise that she was recruited for this prestigious role. 

Though we are sad to see Katya leave, we wish her the best in this new professional endeavor, and will always consider her a cherished member of the Shalhevet family.

Her departure will leave some big shoes to fill but I am thrilled to announce that we have hired Dr. William L. Walton to join Shalhevet as Chair of the Math Department and Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

A seasoned and gifted educator, Dr. Walton comes to Shalhevet after five successful years as the Mathematics Department Chair at the Gindi Maimonides Academy, where he was beloved. Prior to that, Dr. Walton spent nine years as Chair of the Secondary Mathematics Department at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School in Irvine. At TVT, Dr. Walton created a three-tiered mathematics curriculum, spearheaded a fair and transparent placement process, and lead a K-12 committee which revamped the Professional Development program.

Earlier in his career, as Academic Dean at Pilgrim School, Dr. Walton guided the Science, Humanities, Language and Mathematics departments on curriculum development as well as the creation of interdisciplinary elective courses. Dr. Walton’s background in curriculum development, mathematics placement, instruction and teacher mentoring make him an excellent fit as Director of Curriculum and Instruction, in addition to serving as a mathematics instructor and department chair.

A third generation educator, Dr. Walton began his teaching career as an undergraduate teaching assistant at Carnegie Mellon in 1995. Dr. Walton received his Doctorate in Education from UCLA and holds undergraduate degrees in both mathematics and creative writing from Carnegie Mellon.

We’re so excited to welcome William to the Shalhevet family, where we know he will feel right at home and take our math department to further heights.

Wishing you and your family a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ari Segal,

Head of School, Shalhevet High School

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Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it
Malikov leaving after six years, will teach at new UCLA high school