There’s a high likelihood that any Eagle Rock student who takes biology at some point in high school either has had or will have Mrs. Malec as a teacher, since she teaches ninth-grade biology, eleventh-grade AP Biology, and twelfth-grade DP Biology.
What students may not know is that she started in a special education setting, teaching sixth through eighth-grade science to students with mild-moderate disabilities. She says her favorite thing about teaching is “making the connections with students, being able to talk to students and really help students.” Carrying a friendly and open attitude, she even has a little coffee shop set up in the back of her classroom.
“What’s nice here at Eagle Rock is seeing you all graduate, and eventually seeing what schools you get into and what kind of careers you end up following,” she says. “That’s been really rewarding.”
She enjoys teaching about transportation across the cell membrane, photosynthesis, and cellular respiration, but her personal favorite topic is genetics. “A lot of genetics connects to a lot of the phenotypes we see. You’ll start seeing that a lot of developmental delays are due to genetic disorders. There’s a genetic component, but then there’s not one gene, you know, so I find that really interesting,” she says.
Her passion for science is supplemented by her passion for education as a whole. Last May, Mrs. Malec graduated from an administrative program at Cal State LA where she earned her administrative credential. Technically, that means she can now apply to be an assistant principal, although she says she still needs one more credential program. She likes being able to help out other teachers in the classroom—encouraging them to evolve their teaching craft and working with those who either don’t use or are too scared to incorporate kinesthetic activities into their lessons—and she says she’d like to see change at a district level.
She is also part of ERHS’s instructional leadership team, which meets every Monday with the school admin and the department chairs, and this year, she plans to join the School Site Council because it oversees budgeting for next year.
She explains her reasoning: “If you haven't heard, the last two years, we've been lucky to have all this budget kind of given to us because of the pandemic. But that is no longer happening this year, so next year we're going to have to make decisions in terms of where the school funding should go. There's a lot less funding, but I feel like some of that stuff can be balanced out through fundraising—but we haven't had those conversations in the senior leadership teams.”
What got her into school administration in the first place was actually running. “The reason why I went to get my admin credential was after running the LA Marathon for the first time. It was such a mental, more than physical, kind of barrier to overcome. I felt after doing that I was able to look at life in a different light and think, okay, If I could do this, then I really could push myself to get into an admin program,” she says.
This is Mrs. Malec’s fifth year participating in Students Run LA and committing to running the LA Marathon. When she first joined, the most she’d run was about three miles, but she took inspiration from her husband’s great-uncle. “He said, ‘If you can run one mile, you can do it twenty-six times,’ and somehow that stuck,” she says. “To [run] for five and then six and seven [miles] and then just keep going was pretty cool. So that’s why I did it. And then I saw the kids and I thought, ‘If a seventh grader can run, why am I not running with them?’” Now she runs for fun.
Through SRLA, administration, or just plain old teaching, Mrs. Malec takes an active and admirable role in our school. If you see her in the hallways, make sure to say hi!