Job: Coordinator of PE, Health & Athletics, Chelsea Public Schools
Hebrew name: Margaleet bat Lebah v’Abraham Yitzhak
Currently living in: Revere
Alma maters: Saugus High School ‘01, Springfield College ‘05, Suffolk University ‘08, Endicott College ‘16
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite music: There isn’t much I won’t listen to
Favorite movies: Any sports or Disney movie
Favorite books: “Hunger Games” trilogy
Favorite TV shows: “Ted Lasso”
Favorite travel destination: In 2006 I was lucky to be a counselor on the Y2I trip. Such an amazing experience.
Somewhere you’d like to go next: Greece
Favorite Jewish holiday: Purim
Favorite North Shore spot: Long Beach, Gloucester
What you’re most looking forward to post-COVID: Being able to spend time with friends
What is your Jewish background?
I grew up in a Conservative Jewish family. My parents, my brothers, and I have been going to Congregation Agudas Achim-Ezrath Israel, formerly Temple Ezrath Israel, in Malden since before I was born. I went to Hebrew school at the Metro North Regional Hebrew School in Malden, and after graduating from there, I stayed for a few years to help teach. The Jewish population around Malden has dwindled since what it was, but I loved being a part of it. It’s definitely a family, a community, something that I loved being a part of.
Did Saugus have a big Jewish population?
No, not at all. I was probably one of maybe three Jewish kids in my class, and I don’t know of any others who were practicing in the sense of taking off the High Holy Days, keeping kosher for Passover, having a bat mitzvah. [Now] I Zoom in biweekly to temple, and I do my haftarah every year for my bat mitzvah. I think for me, it’s more of a cultural piece and a family piece than it is the religion itself. Now I have two children, and my wife is not Jewish, and she’s the birth mother of our oldest, so he was actually converted in a mikvah, he did have a bris – while we may be a mixed family, they are being brought up Jewish. My daughter, I’m the birth mother, so she didn’t have to convert, but I think because I was brought up with a really American sense of celebrating Christmas, my kids celebrate it too, but it’s not a religious holiday for them. They are going to go to Hebrew school and have their bar and bat mitzvahs and be brought up surrounded by Jewish tradition and Jewish culture.
You’re the athletics director at Chelsea public schools. How has that been during the pandemic?
We’re still not back yet, so it’s been an interesting 12 months. I’ve been supporting the high school and just picking up things they need support with – the added layer of COVID and online learnings and logistics. I haven’t been teaching – I support the PE teachers and supporting them behind the scenes with their lessons. For us, [virtual PE lessons] it’s been shifting more towards learning about the body, learning about muscles, how the body works, a little bit of physiology going on there, and they’re doing online workouts together, making sure they’re moving. I think one of the biggest issues now is they’ve been stuck in their homes, and without being told they have to move, a lot of them aren’t motivated to do anything. So in the few weeks they have them, they have a chance to get a workout in every day. I’ve been meeting with athletes weekly, I hold my own Zoom session and they kind of get to pick what they want to do – we go through a workout together, whether it’s yoga or shadow boxing or going through [high intensity interval training], whatever it is they want to do that day, I’m here for them.
You once coached football. Are there many female football coaches?
There are not a lot, no, but there’s no reason why they can’t be. There are plenty of male coaches who did not excel in their sport, but excel at coaching, and of course vice versa – you have some of the best athletes who would never be a good coach. My football experience comes because I play football myself, so I have the knowledge of the game that I brought to high school here. We do have an adult professional tackle league I play in. I think there are times where someone will do a double take at me and say, ‘Are you the athletic trainer?’ And I’ll say, ‘No, I’m the athletic director’ and it’s usually, ‘Oh you’re so young!’ or ‘I didn’t realize.’ I think there are more female athletic directors now, but there are definitely times where I’m in a meeting and I look around the room and I might be one of two females in a room of 20 to 30 people. So it’s still definitely a male-prevalent occupation, but I think there are definitely more females getting into it.