It was a bright, sunny afternoon at Brooklyn Bridge Park and both of the Brooklyn Friends varsity soccer teams were taking on league rival, Saint Ann’s. From the near sideline, consistent bellows of “come on” and “let’s go” could be heard—possibly as far as across the river in Battery Park. The enthusiasm was coming from a BFS fan, but not just any BFS fan—it was Upper School History Teacher Vlad Malukoff. He was there, no surprise, to show his support for his students.
“What are you doing here,” several players from both the boys and girls teams asked Vlad enthusiastically, clearly happy to see their teacher outside of the classroom. “I’m here to root you on!” Of course, Vlad is no stranger to BFS athletics, having coached the BFS boys basketball team to the New York State Championship in 2003. Now, in 2021, 23 years after starting teaching History at Brooklyn Friends, Vlad remains an inspiration to his students—both in and out of the classroom.
Vlad’s dedication was recognized earlier this month when he was named as an Outstanding Educator by the University of Chicago. He was nominated for the honor by a BFS grad who is a member of the University of Chicago’s Class of 2025 and was one of thousands of educators who were nominated for positively impacting students’ lives.
“The University of Chicago is honored to recognize excellence in teaching and sincerely congratulates this year’s Outstanding Educator Award winners, who are exceptional in their field and role models for all students,” the University of Chicago said in its official statement. “We thank them for going above and beyond the call of duty every day and leaving an impression that will be carried over a lifetime.”
Not too shabby for a guy who picked up teaching as his second profession the way Vlad did a couple of decades ago.
“I couldn’t have imagined teaching right out of college,” Vlad recently shared. “After college I lived in Rome for three years hanging around doing different things. The best job I ever had was at the International Center of New York City helping newly arrived foreign visitors and refugees adjust to life in New York. It was a great way to meet different people and I did that for about three years.”
An Outstanding Educator is defined as someone who shapes young minds in meaningful ways—thoughtfully approaching instruction, sharing an infectious love for learning, and caring for students both inside and outside of the classroom. This award has existed for more than three decades—Vlad is the third BFS teacher to receive the honor—and is an accurate representation of the type of teacher Vlad has been throughout his time at Brooklyn Friends.
“I heard students present, as well as alumni talk about Vlad and the impact he had had on them long before I met him,” said Kamaya Prince Thompson, Head of Upper School. “ ‘He is a legend,’ one student said. What I noticed the first time I met him was how his energy, love, and belief in the potential and ability of each student is why he is a legend in the eyes of his students. He teaches with his whole heart. He is a gem.”
For Vlad, the past 23 years have been special.
“I can’t believe it, but I have been here since 1998 and I started here the same week that I got married for the second time, so it’s easy to remember both dates,” he said with a laugh. “I have even more passion now for teaching in a way because I’m more confident. I’ve been very fortunate. … When you see a student who develops an interest in what you are teaching, that’s the most rewarding thing.”
Vlad will be honored via a Zoom celebration on Oct. 25th.