Teachers can make or break one’s high school experience. Having a deep care for your students, as well as enthusiasm and a positive attitude, when teaching can be a challenging task. But the teachers who have that and more can make a big difference in their students’ lives. Dylan Cohen, a math and Advanced Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher at Franklin, is widely liked in his position. With his funny nature and understanding approach, he’s made a significant positive impact on his students’ lives.
His influence on his students isn’t to be overlooked; “he understands that sometimes students have something going on in their lives,” says Liddy Oman, one of Cohen’s sophomore geometry students. “He also gets that we have seven other classes, and some teachers seem to forget about that fact,” she continues.
It can be easy to forget that these teachers have lives and dreams outside the classroom. “I really, really want to be a stay-at-home dad. That’s like my real goal in life,” says Cohen, “but definitely until then, like, there’s nothing else I’m going to do.” One of his goals, he says, is to stay teaching in one place for five years so he can get a good grasp of the “ins and outs” of teaching in that place. After that, Cohen says, he might want to try going into the administration team, or going back to substitute teaching after he becomes a stay-at-home dad.
Growing up in New York City, Cohen was able to walk or take the subway pretty much anywhere. “I loved the autonomy,” he says. While he may have loved New York as a kid, he found that Portland was a good balance between New York and his alma mater, Oberlin College, in Ohio. He went back to New York after college and felt like it was just too much, so he moved to Philadelphia, which was “a little smaller and calmer.” After moving to Portland with his current girlfriend, Cohen realized the city was just his speed.
In the past, Cohen was a caterer and personal chef for several families. With the idea of starting a food truck in mind, he chose to move to Philadelphia. While that didn’t fully pan out, he started substitute teaching, working as a counselor at a summer camp, and tutoring, where he realized that he loved working with kids, specifically teenagers. “Young adults are hilarious, they’re super smart. They say exactly what’s on their mind, [which is] super refreshing,” Cohen says. The assistant principal of Paul Robeson High School in Philadelphia suggested that he become a teacher. “I was just like huh, never thought about it but like, alright,” he says.
One good teacher can change a career path. While thinking about the possibility of being a teacher, Cohen thought of his precalculus teacher from high school. “He was just like, super dry, funny, kind of guy. […] I was like, if I can make people laugh and teach them math it seems like a pretty good gig,” Cohen says.
Being a math teacher wasn’t what Mr. Cohen wanted to be until he got older; when he was young, he wished to be a lawyer. “My mom’s a lawyer, her dad was a lawyer, his dad was a lawyer. […] But that changed pretty quickly after I got to high school,” Cohen states. “I was like, that’s a lot of work,” he adds.
Math can be one of the hardest topics to teach. “There’s a lot of preconceived notions, there’s a lot of fear,” Cohen says. “That’s, like, something that’s super real about math, it’s just really scary. It’s not intuitive to most people, you don’t have exposure [to] it outside of the school setting,” he continues. “You’re sitting there and you’re like, ‘oh I have to learn something that I don’t feel is applicable.’” He continues to state that making his classroom a place where students feel okay with being there, and excited to be there, is his first priority, and once that’s figured out, then he can start teaching.
Mr. Cohen is a math teacher, but he’s also so much more. He’s proud of his students, and of the way he shows up with them. He’s easy to talk to, but most of all, he is a vital part of our Franklin community.