Class leaders say teacher gets credit
By MICHELE MILLER
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Social studies teacher Brian Cohen must be doing something right at Ridgewood High School. That's got to be a given when both the valedictorian and salutatorian from the class of 2001 list his portable classroom, also known as "The University of the Ghetto," as their favorite spot on campus.
"He really challenges his students," said class valedictorian Kelly Miller. "In a lot of classes you can do enough to get by, but he demands more. He's really taught me a lot about work ethics. He's one of those teachers who has prepared me for college. He's a combination of hard work and fun."
"He's pretty much everyone's favorite," said salutatorian Jennilynn Rachael Greene. "I'm really going to miss Mr. Cohen's class -- and playing spades after AP (Advanced Placement) tests."
With graduation looming and Advanced Placement exams nearly behind them, both Kelly and Jennilynn say they're ready to move on -- perhaps eventually to some far-away places.
Kelly -- who says her religion, the Baha'i Faith, has helped to keep her well grounded -- will attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.
"I'm kind of a city girl and Dartmouth is in the middle of nowhere," she said.
Still, the girl with family roots in Maine thinks she'll be able to handle it -- especially if she learns to ski.
"I fell in love with the area. It's just really beautiful and really different from here," said Kelly, adding that she was looking forward to the college experience even though she will miss Ridgewood.
"The familiarity is what I'm going to miss. I've gone to school with some of these people since elementary school, so I've become comfortable. I guess I'll miss that initially until I re-make that where ever I end up."
As for Jennilynn, eventually she hopes to land an ambassador-type position in Belgium, France or England. But first she'll be attending college close to home, at the University of South Florida and then perhaps on to grad school.
Jennilynn, who racked up some of her community service hours helping out at the Richey Suncoast Theater, says she, too, is eager to attend a university.
"I'm looking forward to learning things that they don't teach you in high school, like (a choice of) different languages," Jennilynn said. "Maybe learning Chinese -- I think that would be fun."
©Copyright 2001, Petersburg Times