A Judaic studies teacher at the Bais Menachem Hebrew Academy in Austin, Texas, was named a recipient of a 2009 Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Malka Phillips, who just began her fourth year at the day school founded by Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rochel Levertov, instructs students in grades 3 through 8 in biblical studies, Jewish customs, and the weekly Torah portion. According to The Jewish Outlook, a local paper, she uses stories, analysis, analogies and art to ensure her students’ mastery of the material.

“My goal in teaching is to inspire passion, warmth and love for Judaism in every student, that our history should be alive, our Torah relevant and fascinating, and our holidays joyful and exciting,” Phillips, a graduate from a teaching seminary in Sydney, Australia, told the paper.

She also organizes and directs the school’s two holiday plays focusing on Chanukah and Purim.

The performances are “great teaching tools, because the kids have to use so much of what they’ve learned in all their subjects,” said Levertov, who also co-directs Chabad-Lubavitch of Austin with her husband, Rabbi Yosef Levertov.

The award, which follows a nomination by the Jewish Community Association of Austin, comprises a $1,500 professional development prize from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation; JCAA will match $1,000.