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5 Local Schoolteachers Receive Milken Foundation Jewish Educator Awards

October 28, 1998|HOLLY EDWARDS

In surprise ceremonies Tuesday morning, five educators in the Los Angeles area received $10,000 Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Awards.

The award winners: kindergarten teacher Deborah Norwood from Stephen S. Wise School in Los Angeles; librarian Susan Dubin from Valley Beth Shalom School in Encino; Rabbi Laurence Scheindlin, headmaster of Sinai Akiba Academy in Los Angeles; fourth-grade teacher Joan Cohen of Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills, and teacher Shira Smiles of Yeshiva University of Los Angeles Girls High School.

The educators were presented the awards by Milken Family Foundation President Lowell Milken in ceremonies at each campus.

The award is given annually to 160 educators in 38 states who are able to nurture a love of learning in children, Milken said. "We also look for educators who can infuse in young people the larger and deeper understanding of who we are as Jews, of our people's history and destiny," he said.

Norwood, who said she was "shocked and surprised" at winning the award, told students at her school that she felt like the mouse in the children's book "Zachary Raffles."

"It was hard for him and he was afraid of a lot of things, but because of the support of a lot of people, he was able to walk the tightrope over the cat and conquer the darkness," Norwood said. "Right now I feel like that mouse soldier."

Both Norwood, 52, and Dubin, 50, agreed that a great educator is someone who is able to help students recognize and build upon their unique talents and characteristics.

"I try to recognize children as individuals and help them to grow," Dubin said. "All of the programs at the library are designed to help the children come up with their own ideas and think independently."

Using their prize money, Norwood said she might visit Israel, and Dubin said she would like to take a historical tour of England to learn about King Arthur.

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