Educator Spotlight recognizes those who contribute to the education of local students. Educators were chosen by consulting with site PTA, student government organizations and staff. Educators were chosen for their reputations with students, staff, parents and the community.

Malibu High School (MHS) teacher Adam Panish began his professional career as a lawyer, but felt he was “mismatched.” “To me everyone was too negative,” says Panish. “Being a lawyer was nothing more than a job.” Fortunately, Panish had worked for several years at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu, and for a year or two at Wilshire Boulevard Temple religious school, so he knew he enjoyed working with teens. So after six years as a lawyer, Panish “knew” he should be a teacher and pursued his teaching credential.

Panish is in his 19th year at MHS and it’s the only teaching position he’s ever held. He teaches Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History, AP Government, and World History. Panish says, “I love teaching. I love the subjects that I teach, AND the kids.” He finds teaching government to students who will soon be voting “exciting.” He loves “getting them to see and think about the various issues facing the U.S.” He also enjoys U.S. History because the students learn “to see the complexities in history; that everything is actually NOT ‘black and white’ but shades of gray.” His goals as a teacher consist in having his AP Students learn to “write and think on a college level” so they can do well on their AP exams and earn college credit. As for his World History students, he hopes they become “interested in history and see that it matters in their lives.”

In his own words

If I get a bit down about my job, I think of the students, and that makes me smile. I love developing relationships with students that carry on past their time at MHS.

The person that I try to model myself after is my 11th grade APUSH teacher, John Rosemond. He was so approachable while still providing rigor in the classroom. I remember talking about the NBA with him, for example. He was from Boston, and loved the Celtics, and I was in high school when the whole Celtics/Lakers rivalry was red hot; Magic vs. Larry Bird. When I became a teacher, I wanted to be that teacher that not only taught their students very well, but was also someone that they could feel comfortable chatting about anything with. I think I’ve reached that place! Students come back and tell me that they got an A in their Political Science class because of the government class that they took with me their senior year…former student contact me wanting to go to lunch or dinner…students tell me that while their friends in college are freaking out about research papers, they feel very comfortable getting it done because of my classes.

One thing I hope that students learn from my example is to find something that they’re passionate about. I view teaching as job, yes, but since I love what I do, it makes the job fun. I remember on the first day of school this year, after each of my five classes, thinking “This is fun!”