On Thursday, January 22nd, 2015, I was invited into Westminster Elementary School for a tour of the facilities and a sit down with the principal of the school, Mr. Barry Cohen.
To say the least, I was extremely impressed with the faculty and Mr. Cohen’s passion and excitement of his new position at this wonderful facility. Here in Venice, there is a myth that Mr. Cohen would like to break – That myth is that Coeur D’Alene elementary is the ONLY elementary school that an affluent parent would consider for their children, and Westminster Elementary is a NO.
Everyone agrees, Coeur D’Alene is a fantastic school, and this certainly isn’t a competition for Mr. Cohen and his faculty. His mission seems to be to let the public know, the doors to his office are open! Go and visit this school before you create an opinion simply from word of mouth or old reputations. Meet the teachers, read about the free after school programs, visit the huge garden where local restaurant owners teach cooking classes from the student’s produce they’ve grown. Learn about the exciting “Adopt the Arts” program and the large amounts of money being donated by local celebrities – see the diversity in students and how it represents the neighborhood we live in. Read about the Catalina Island Marine Institute field trips and the new recycling program, get involved in the chess tutoring program and the HBO young story teller’s excitement.
Mr. Cohen says, “The school is really special and I plan on remaining here until I retire.” He continues by stating “Many of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The last measured API was 841, which when you take into account the average level of education of our parents and compare it to the average level of education of the highest performing top 1% of schools in the District (e.g. Roscomare, Wonderland, Canyon), whose scores top 925, it is an astounding score. It points to phenomenal instruction.”
“My hope is to help shine a light on the amazing teachers and programs at the school and bring more students who live in the area in. I want the young wealth of Venice to consider that we are a viable option for them. The more students, the more parental support, and the sky is the limit. I have no doubt the school is going to become a destination school very quickly”, says Mr. Cohen.
This should be extremely exciting news for the new blood coming into Venice. There IS a very viable alternative option for your children and your family when it comes to an elementary school! Go and visit!
Westminster Elementary School is located at 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd, in the heart of Venice. Please visit these links to learn more about the school and it’s programs. I truly believe you will want to visit Mr. Cohen and discuss his wonderful vision moving forward. The school hosts tours on Wednesdays at 9am. Call (310) 392-3041 to schedule, or just drop in.
School’s new website:
New Adopt the Arts Program:
4th Grade Catalina Island Marine Institute field trip:
New recycling program:
HBO Young Storytellers:
Mr. Barry Cohen worked in the District for 17 years as a middle school teacher, instructional specialist and data coach. He went to UC Berkeley for undergrad and received his Masters in Education and Administrative Services Credential from UCLA. He and his wife have 3 kids, ages 10, 7, and 2. They live in Pacific Palisades.