Brawerman Elementary’s Brandon Cohen: On Building an Authentic CommunityBrought to you by Brawerman Elementary of Wilshire Boulevard Temple
Brandon Cohen began his career as a commercial pilot after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, but there was something inside him yearning for more meaning and community. After 9/11, the grandson of Holocaust survivors says he “started to really reflect” on his life and purpose.
His quest to make a difference led him to teaching. Being a 7th grade English teacher at Audubon Middle School in Leimert Park became what he calls a “transformative experience.”
“Auubon was a different environment for me and it wasn’t easy being the new teacher,” says Cohen, who grew up in Studio City and attended what is now Harvard-Westlake School. “But I fell in love with the school and I learned so much.”
Cohen worked at various high schools in LAUSD and eventually became the principal of Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood and helped start the Downtown Magnets High School.
He joined Brawerman Elementary School of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in 2013 as the Director of Teaching and Learning and was named the Head of School in June 2016.
At Brawerman, Cohen’s focus is continuing the school’s academic excellence and the unique sense of community that is woven into the culture of both campuses.
“We focus on the social and emotional learning of every student,” says Cohen. “We want our students to be able to resolve conflicts, to care about the world around them, to be inspired and curious and love learning. We also want them to find their Jewish identity and truly find joy in that identity.”
Individualized learning is a distinct part of both campuses’ educational philosophy. “I have two boys and they are very different from each other,” says Cohen. “I know as a dad and an educator that we have to challenge each student where they are. Our writing and math programs are individualized for each student. We have specialists who work one-on-one with students. Our teachers truly know every child here. “
“A result of our approach is that Brawerman students leave here to become leaders at the most selective and academically rigorous schools in the city,” he says.
Brawerman East, which is located on the Erica J. Glazer Campus of Wilshire Boulevard Temple (Wilshire and Hobart Boulevards), and Brawerman West, located on the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus of Wilshire Boulevard Temple (Olympic Boulevard and Barrington Avenue), both feature newly renovated school facilities with spacious classrooms, modern science labs, cutting-edge, ergonomically designed technology centers, production and editing centers, sports and recreational facilities, music rooms, performance spaces, and libraries.
There’s a true sense of community at each location as well with a strong parent volunteer base and programs to inspire students to use their skills to solve problems on a global level and do good outside of their classroom. Through weekly Shabbat services and traditional music and songs, students also connect with their Jewish heritage in a meaningful way.
“I wish my grandparents could see us now,” says Cohen. “I wish they could see the joy of our students at Brawerman. They would be so proud.”
For more information on both campuses, visit brawerman.org