Meet Malik – Our New Education Manager
We are excited to have Malik Johnson join our museum team as our Education Manager. Malik brings an abundance of energy, a love for working with youth and a background of teaching, coaching and more to the position. As we get ready to open our new museum next year, he is hard at work creating programming that will work in conjunction with our new exhibits, celebrate our region and highlight learning, discovery and FUN for all!
Through forging partnerships with local experts and organizations, shining a light on local talent and identifying the many things that make the Mohawk Valley special, visitors will be seeing a lot of Malik and enjoying the programs he creates!
We connected with him for a fun Q&A so the community can get to know more about him!
Tell us about yourself!
I was raised in the Hudson Valley in Highland Falls, which is near West Point. I came to the Utica area to study at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, where I got my undergrad in business. I also played basketball all four years in college. Deciding to stay in the area after I graduated, I taught first, third and fifth grades locally.
Sports, music and creativity is a huge part of my life – whenever I have free time, I like to spend it with my family, watching NBA and NFL games, and listening to AND making music (you can stream my music on any platform searching “Leeky XIV”!) I am an avid traveler and enjoy exploring new places locally and nationally. I love getting involved in the community and meeting new people. Also… great news alert! I’m excited to share that I recently got engaged and will be getting married next year.
Could you tell us about your role as UCM's education manager?
As the Education Manager, my goal is to create memorable experiences for our future visitors and to engage the community to come up with the most engaging, interactive, and fun learning programs possible!
We hear you LOVE traveling and going to museums - what are some of your favorite places/museums that you have visited?
Washington D.C. and Philadelphia have some of the best museums in the world! I also love cities like Chicago or anywhere where I can spend time at a beach. Lastly, trying good food is the BEST way to experience a new city!
What are three words to describe your personality?
Animated, Creative, Sincere
What are you most excited about with the upcoming opening of the Museum?
I'm excited to see our visitors’ first reactions to our new exhibits! (And I can't wait to play with them first myself!)
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a career in museum education, especially for children?
Get involved! Volunteer! Meet new people! This work is about building community - so get out there and try new things!
Kids love working with you! What is your general philosophy or approach to connecting with them?
It's so important to meet kids on their level. Remember that not all children will react to you the same way, and that's 100% ok. If a child is high energy, you can mirror their energy right back! If a child is more timid and shy, you can work with them to find activities that engage them. The most important thing is ensuring the children have fun, learn something new and feel comfortable being themselves!
What are some thing(s) that people might not know about you?
I love superheroes, Star Wars, Anime, and Manga (Japanese comic books). I also adore animals - I have a cat, a dog, and two fish tanks! I enjoy longboarding, drawing, painting, and cooking in my free time. I'm always eager to try new things!
How else are you involved in the community?
I am an Assistant Basketball Coach at SUNY Poly, my alma mater. I also am a board member of The Uptown Theatre for Creative Arts and am the Assistant Coordinator of the Levitt AMP Utica Music Series, where I book the youth intermission acts.
What was your favorite toy during your childhood?
Bionicles! They were action figures from the 90s that you would use to build, fight, and strike poses.
What is your favorite color?
Blue. Carolina Blue to be specific.
What superpower would you like to have if you were a superhero?
I always thought electricity powers were super cool!
Utica Children’s Museum’s programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.