Home / News / LocalRSS Feed
Meet Rabbi Dovid Kossowsky
September 30th, 2012
When Rabbi Dovid Kossowsky, Ph.D., was discussed as a possible candidate for principal of Yeshiva Elementary School in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood, that his great-uncle, Rabbi Michel Twerski, is the leader of the school’s West Side community was not mentioned.
Rabbi Dovid Kossowsky
However when he was chosen as a serious contender and a Skype interview was arranged, his Twerski connection was evident. Kossowsky, 42, is the image of his great-uncle as a young man.
Kossowsky said he felt that he was home again in Milwaukee, as this was where his grandfather, Shlomo Twerski was raised, and the city was also the American beginning of the Twerski dynasty.
Kossowsky was born and raised in Denver, and schooled in Michigan. While a student at Yeshiva Gedolah Ateres Mordechai, the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Leib Bakst, asked him to become a dorm counselor, then dorm administrator. Baskt also suggested that he teach Judaic studies at the same yeshiva.
Kossowsky has a B.A. in Hebrew Letters, an M.A. in Talmudic Law, and a doctorate in Talmudic Law. His resume includes teaching secular studies as well as Jewish studies in middle schools and high schools, and he had worked as an assistant principal and a secular-studies principal.
His reasons for accepting the position YES, he said, included the strength of the community, the dedication of the parents and teachers, and that his special needs 11-year-old son could be integrated into the school and receive a strong Jewish education.
He and his wife, Aliza, are in the process of purchasing a house in the neighborhood. Two of his five children are attending YES, which had 207 students in the 2011-12 school year, according to the Coalition for Jewish Learning’s annual school census.
Freelance writer Arlene Becker Zarmi interviewed Kossowsky for The Chronicle. Excerpts from that interview follow:
WJC: Why did you decide to make a career of the field of education?
Kossowsky: When I was a dorm counselor after I was married, I felt that I was able to help kids through difficulties and it was very rewarding. After I started teaching and I saw that when a student had trouble understanding something and I was able to help that student to understand; it was the moment when I saw the light bulb go on with the student’s comprehension — that was so fulfilling to me.
WJC: How do you see yourself shaping YES’s future?
Kossowsky: I feel that the most important thing is to make the students become successful, and to feel successful. I want the students to be as self-sufficient, as independent, as they can be, and I will try to foster this in each child. They should be able to work out skills on their own.
I also feel that a cumulative curriculum is paramount, from K-4 through eighth grade, so that each future class is built on, and is cohesive to, the next class, the next step. Each teacher should know what the prior teacher taught and to reinforce this in the child’s new class. I, myself, will go into the classrooms to observe if this is done.
I feel, as well, that creative activities are important and want to introduce extra-curricular activities like music and art. To help bring parents into the school I’d like to involve talented parents in these programs.
Computer knowledge is also of paramount importance in today’s society for anyone to be successful, so I plan to develop a comprehensive computer program with different stages of computer development and comprehension.
WJC: What message do you have for the Jewish community and the parents and students of YES?
Kossowsky: My main message is that YES is a partnership. What’s expected at school should be expected at home as well.
Communication is essential. I want to hear from the parents and the community about any concerns. If a child is not at school, for example, I want to hear from the parent as to why.
At my previous school I sat in a desk in the hall and the teachers gave me the slips of any students who were absent and I called the parents immediately.
If there are any problems with any student in the school communication is also of vital importance. The student has to explain why so the educator will know where the student is coming from and be able to correct the situation.
Arlene Becker Zarmi is a freelance writer whose work has been published in more than 40 publications nationwide. She was also the producer and host of a travel TV show for Viacom, and is a Jewish genre and portrait artist. She lives with her husband, Rabbi Avi Zarmi, in Shorewood.