Debra Sokolow, art and architecture teacher, was honored with the Jewish Educator Awards formed by the Milken Family Foundation in cooperation with the Bureau of Jewish Education on Thursday, October 21.
The Milken Family Foundation was created to recognize and honor
outstanding Jewish day school educators for the quality of their teaching and leadership. The committee sought to recognize Sokolow’s hard work in the classroom, and the impact she has had on the students. Sokolow was presented with the award in a surprise assembly during H block after a speech by Mr. Lowell Milken, president of the Milken Board of Directors.
After 13 years of teaching art and architecture to both middle and high school students, Sokolow’s dedication and care for her students has resulted in her being one of the only two art teachers who has been honored with this award since the foundation was first established in 1990.
As of now, she has helped 17 students fulfill their dream of attending architectural schools by creating and teaching the architectural design program at Milken for grades 10-12. She also developed the component advanced architecture class, Fine Arts Studio 3D. In addition to architecture, Sokolow also developed a course for advanced drawing and painting students, Fine Arts 2D.
Sokolow holds a unique teaching philosophy for each her individual art students. She believes it is essential that her teaching guide her students towards mastering developing skills, problem solving, and cognitive thinking.
“I consider myself an intuitive teacher that nurtures the student’s creative abilities and helps them to find his or her individual path to self-expression,” Sokolow said.
Sokolow’s influence in the community spans far beyond the art room. This past year, Sokolow worked with a wide range of students to design the Holy Ark inside the Beit Midrash at the Saperstein Middle School. Sokolow was also a key proponent of decorating the balconies with flowers and plants.
Through techniques and a history of art, Sokolow provides an environment in which students are able to express their voice through art. While finding their individual voices, she hopes that her students walk away confident with their work and themselves.
“Ms. Sokolow has a way of forcing natural inspiration. She trusts you more than you trust yourself and she constantly challenges you,” Brandon Brady ’11 said.
Sokolow credits her two sons whom influenced her in becoming both a better person and teacher.
“I try to be the teacher I’d like my sons to have,” Sokolow explains.
More than any other factor, Sokolow worked tremendously hard to instill trust in students for them to express themselves through art. Commitment is a key component the organization looks for in honoraries, and Sokolow excelled in this category.
Video courtesy of the Wildcat Weekly News