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Teacher profile: Mr. Malmed

Photo by Ella Esther and Briana Garcia

The idea of teaching wasn’t always something Jonathan Malmed saw himself doing, but it was something he enjoyed entertaining ever since his years as an unruly high school teen. According to Mr. Malmed, he wasn’t always the best student; “I didn’t become a ‘good student’ until my senior year,” says Malmed. “I remember even before, even when I was a ‘bad student,’ I remember always thinking, ‘Oh, this is what I would do. Oh, I see what they're doing.’ I always had that inner monologue.” This inner monologue eventually led Eagle Rock’s Jr. Sr. High School’s DP Coordinator to spend over fifteen years in the teaching profession.

Mr. Malmed grew up in Philadelphia, living there until age eighteen when he moved to Ohio for college. As a teenager, Mr. Malmed played on both the soccer and baseball teams in high school, although according to him, “I think if I were at a larger school with better athletes I probably wouldn't have made the soccer team… I was better at baseball.” His small high school didn’t stop Mr. Malmed from traveling and living in some of the busiest places in the world. For six years, he lived in New York filming commercials and pursuing dreams in the acting industry, and before that, in England for college coursework.

“I was in the entertainment industry for a long time,” Malmed tells me. Before teaching, Mr. Malmed's tumultuous “love for the craft” was a mixed relationship between the art and the environment he was in. “When you're an actor, you're more a salesman. That's your job. That's what you do. 90% of the time, [it is to] sell your product. Which is yourself as an actor. [...] And that just made me nauseous.” With a degree in English and an aim to “extricate” himself from the entertainment industry, Mr. Malmed started teaching while figuring things out. At one point, he was still teaching while going out to acting jobs, “stressing out” about auditions, and then rushing back for his third period. At that moment, he realized a need for change and teaching just “happened to be '' the path he’d follow.

Impressively, his first role as an actor was in the cult-classic film The Dead Poets Society. At 17 years old, Mr. Malmed had lines, a named character, and most importantly a part. But, like every film, not all of the scenes made the final cut: “I’m there but more like a featured extra.” It was a milestone in his acting career.

Besides entertainment, Mr. Malmed has developed a deep passion for traveling. His wife is Thai and has gone to Thailand a couple of times. But when asked where his favorite place to visit is, Mr. Malmed responds “India” with no hesitation. And even though he’s already been there twice, he can't wait to go back. “It’s just so amazing [...] There’s so much history and different regions [...] I haven't even scratched the surface yet,” Mr. Malmed marvels.

Mr. Malmed started in LAUSD as a substitute teacher trying to find a full-time job. “I was going all over the district,” he tells me. And eventually, in 2003, Mr. Malmed landed in the place he’d call home for the next decade and counting. Eagle Rock blew him away: “I don't know if you know this, but if you go to other schools in LAUSD, nothing's quite like Eagle Rock.”

It’s ERHS where Mr. Malmed landed his first teaching job leading a theater class. Another one of his earlier classes was “life skills”— a course much like the current ERHS’s student design class. In addition to following the curriculum, Mr. Malmed took it upon himself to teach his students crucial life habits. For example, how to use credit cards, manage budgets, and buy insurance. Since that first job in 2003, Mr. Malmed has taught every grade, drama, and both AP and DP classes, amongst others. At one point, he even ran this newspaper, Eagle Rock’s journalism program, before Mr. Hicks.

As aforementioned, Mr. Malmed is Eagle Rock’s current DP or Diploma Program Coordinator. Along with teaching Theory of Knowledge, he also has the consuming task of running the entire DP Program. Becoming the DP Coordinator has been a “constant transition.” “[I’m] still transitioning from it,” Mr. Malmed explains. A new set of challenges and responsibilities are placed upon his shoulders. Communication is one of the key components of holding this position, he describes to me. Introducing the program, getting teachers trained, setting up a schedule for all DP teachers, educating people about IB (International Baccalaureate), and keeping watch on the ever-changing IB tenants are a few of the examples of this busy job.

From acting to teaching to directing, Mr. Malmed has never once stopped putting in the most effort and compassion possible in every aspect of his life. These qualities are part of many that make him a hallmark of Eagle Rock Jr. Sr. High School.

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