A packaged deal that adds up

When twin sisters Ani and Armineh Mikaelian were hired at Clark Magnet High School four years ago as math-teaching pair, colleagues had such a hard time distinguishing them, the two teachers were referred to by their classroom locations.

“The biggest difficulty for the office staff is both first names start with an ‘a’ — Ani and Armineh,” said Barbara Melone, secretary to Clark Magnet Principal Doug Dall. “Bless the principal, he had one in this building and one in the other building. This was inside Mikaelian and [that was] outside Mikaelian.”

The idea was to create a little bit of separation between the pair, who had been hired simultaneously, Dall said.

“It didn’t work,” he noted.

Four years later, the sisters are teaching in the same building in the same hallway, just two doors apart from each other. For Ani and Armineh — both of them products of Glendale Unified schools — it is an ideal arrangement that allows them to fulfill their dream of educating within their own communities, supporting and inspiring each other.

“It is just wonderful,” Ani said. “It is just a different, exciting experience to teach and be able to educate. Nowadays, education is really important for these students and we really need to give them as much as we can.”


Born in Rhode Island and raised in Southern California, Ani and Armineh have done almost everything together. They were standout student athletes at Glendale High School, taking many of the same classes and competing in doubles tennis.

“Somehow we just knew what to tell each other,” Ani said. “We became most-valuable players together.”

While still in high school, both women gravitated toward mathematics, and Armineh started tutoring classmates.

“They would understand it, and from then on, I knew I wanted to be a math teacher,” Armineh said. “I loved calculus in high school, so my dream one day was to be a calculus teacher, or a higher-level math teacher, because I wanted to make it enjoyable for my students and to make it clearer and understandable for them.”

As their high school graduation approached in 2006, the twins knew they wanted to attend the same university, but were realistic about the competition at the top schools. Ani received her acceptance letter to ULCA first. There were a few stressful days of waiting, and then Armineh learned that she would also be a Bruin.

Their parents were ecstatic and allowed them to live in a dorm at school — not a foregone conclusion in the close-knit family.

Armineh dove headfirst into her dreams of becoming a mathematics teacher. After a brief flirtation with economics, Ani followed suit.

“People wanted to study with us because they saw how we would get to the classroom and we would do it over and over until we got it,” Ani said.

They studied so closely together that they found themselves missing the same problems on their exams. The sisters were careful to sit across the room from each other on test days so as to avoid the suspicion of their professors.

Coming home to GUSD

Ani and Armineh earned their bachelor’s degrees in mathematics in 2006, and their master’s degrees in education in 2007. With their student teaching behind them, they began interviewing for full-time work.

When applying for positions, Ani and Armineh indicated that they would like to be considered as a package deal. Ideally, they wanted to be in the same district, if not the same school.

“Because of our background and our education, everyone wanted us,” Ani said. “Some schools were kind of disappointed because they only had one math position available.”

At the top of the twins’ wish list was Clark Magnet High School because of its emphasis on math, science and technology. They interviewed together.

“We are always looking for math teachers, it is an impacted area,” Dall said. “I sort of sat back in my curmudgeonly way and I said, ‘Which one of you is a better math teacher?’”

Almost simultaneously Ani and Armineh responded that they both and their unique strengths, and that they liked to work collaboratively with one another.

“It was a very difficult question to answer, it was an impossible question to answer; and yet they did it with grace,” Dall said. “At that point I thought, ‘Well, I am going to figure out a way to get both of them.’”

Both sisters are now married to Glendale Unified graduates. And four years into their teaching careers, they said they are flourishing within the family environment of the school. Ani and Armineh share lesson plans and teaching techniques with each other, and with their colleagues.

“There are students in the classroom who are not as motivated to learn mathematics — our jobs as mathematics teachers are to encourage them, to change the way they feel about math,” Armineh said.

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