Teacher's Supporters Plead Case to Board
Steven Cohen's supporters took the floor again at Monday's meeting
South Orange Middle School Social Studies teacher Steven Cohen faces the Board of Education on Wednesday, for a private Donaldson hearing. Cohen hopes to retain his job; he was not rehired for a fourth year. News that Cohen had not been rehired spread quickly among students and parents, leading to numerous protests and appearances before the Board of Education.
On Monday, students and their parents returned to the Board to cite specific examples of how Cohen ran classes. A Maplewood student described an exercise when she and classmates mimicked the work of Italian fresco artists. She further recalled writing Homeric-style epics.
"Mr. Cohen made history realistic and relevant," she said. "He always pushed us."
Another former student described Cohen's ability with technology, including the Smartboard, to illustrate points. He also described how Cohen highlighted parts of history "you usually miss."
"I believe that he's just an amazing teacher," said the student. "He doesn't let you goof off."
Parent Ilena Silverman urged the Board to find a way to "reframe this issue" to allow the members to both support the administration and allow Cohen to remain. Noting that the school will begin transitioning to the International Baccalaureate, Silverman said, "I can't think of a teacher better suited to that."
She urged the Board to consider a change not as "capitulation," but "reversing the decision as win-win for everyone."
Cohen' will receive results within three days of his hearing, now scheduled for Weds., July 18, at 6:30 p.m at the Board of Education building.