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Meet Mrs. Svetlana Chernova

Every other week, the Warrior Word interviews a Hebrew Academy staff member and delves into various elements of their persona such as their origins, hobbies, and any additional knowledge that they have to share. This week, the Warrior Word sat down with Mrs. Chernova, one of math department’s newest additions, and compiled a fascinating interview featuring her tumultuous journey to the US from Russia, her dedication to teaching, and her transition from public school to private school.

Miriam Cohen: Hi, Mrs. Chernova. Where are you originally from?

Mrs. Chernova: I’m from Russia.

Ali Smith: Did you grow up there? What was it like growing up there?

MC: Yes, I grew up there. I immigrated when I was 22 years old to the United States. Growing up, it was amazing. I had an amazing family, and I had no idea what was going on in the world around me since Russia was a socialist country. When I went to college I realized something wasn't quite right. My mom was at work all day and still standing in lines for food. Looking like and being a Jew, I definitely experienced a lot of anti-Semitic comments. I couldn’t get into universities to study education, so I had to go to engineering school. Because of this, I actually have a degree in engineering. At that time, Russians didn’t want Jews to teach their kids anything. So it was difficult to become a teacher as a Jew. I met my husband who had a brother in the United States. We immigrated together. I was in the United States prior to that as an exchange student in Massachusetts. I hated it because I was so homesick. That definitely changed. I haven’t been to Russia for almost 33 years. My husband had difficulty with universities too since he was and looked very Jewish, although his last name is Chernova. He hated the country and wanted to get out as soon as possible, so I moved with him.

AS: How do you like working at the Hebrew Academy so far? How has your experience been?

MC: I taught at a public school for 27 years that had 5,000 students. I had 5 classes a day with 30 to 40 students each. These students were multi-cultured, and had different backgrounds and languages; everything was different. It was crazy, but I loved it. Coming here was very challenging. It was like taking a plant from its comfortable soil and placing it in something different that I am not familiar with. Everything was different. The attitude is different between the schools. I miss my co-workers, but after three months, Hebrew Academy is really growing on me. I started loving it.

AS: What made you want to teach?

MC: My whole life, I was a teacher. I’ve tried many different professions; I have a degree in professional engineering, a degree in accounting, and I managed for 20 years my husband's medical office, and I hated everything except for teaching.

Miriam Cohen: What do you teach and why?

MC: I teach math because I’m good at math, and I love teaching. It’s a very good combination.

AS: What is something about yourself that your students wouldn’t expect?

MC: I’ve been in every country in Europe, and I’ve been in 48 states. I am very big on traveling.

Miriam Cohen: Thank you for your time!

Compiled by: Miriam Cohen (10th) and Ali Smith (12th)

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