The new head of school at Torah Day School of Atlanta likes to take a scientific approach to Jewish education.
“I’m interested in how things work and the research that backs it up,” said Rabbi Meir Cohen, who in March was announced as TDSA’s head of school, effective for the 2018-19 school year, after a couple of years of the Toco Hills day school operating under interim leadership.
“When I started studying Torah, it was another layer of how the world works. Science and Jewish understanding fit hand in hand,” said Rabbi Cohen, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology.
A self-proclaimed “wandering Jew,” Rabbi Cohen and his family plan to move from San Diego to Atlanta in July. He was born in South Africa and lived in Toronto, Israel and several cities in Florida before his post as assistant head of school of the Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School, a position he has held for seven years.
Previously he was the principal of Torah Academy of Jacksonville, Fla., for five years.
He holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and is pursuing a doctorate in the same area from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education. He will complete his dissertation next year.
Rabbi Cohen taught swimming in high school and college. He discovered an interest in how kids learn, progress and grow.
He and his wife, Daliah, have seen that process through their own family of seven; his children range from a senior in high school to a first-grader.
“I am a student-centered educator. I believe in setting up classrooms and culture of a school to cater to what is best for each student,” Rabbi Cohen said.
His vision for Torah Day School is to inspire people to be part of the school, working toward a shared goal. During visits to Atlanta he noticed passionate families in the school community.
“A key component of the shared goal will be to uphold the tradition of Torah Day School, including student mastery of Torah skills, while tapping into the passionate and prideful culture to move the school towards the next phase of excellence,” Rabbi Cohen said.
As the head of school, Rabbi Cohen will make decisions about the leadership structure and budget and staffing issues for the 2018-19 school year.
The TDSA community welcomed him with a boost for the budget and a demonstration of achieving a shared goal by raising more than $262,000 in less than a day and a half through an online fundraising campaign in April.