The Cohen family has been involved in South Florida’s educational landscape since the early 1970s. That’s when Lawrence Cohen, a New York public school administrator, moved his family to Miami and discovered Riviera Schools. At the time, every program at the school was housed in what is currently the Day School campus in Coral Gables. That’s where Lawrence’s son Peter, Riviera’s current director, began his education.
After graduating from Riviera, Peter Cohen attended Duke University where he studied developmental psychology. He later graduated from New York University School of Law and practiced commercial litigation. Cohen joined Riviera’s faculty in 1996 as the school’s associate director.
“I had always contemplated and considered coming to work at Riviera,” said Cohen. “I haven’t regretted it for one single minute. I love coming to work every day.”
Riviera opened its high school in 2011, a project Cohen oversaw as associate director, after getting repeated requests from parents who didn’t know where to send their children after middle school. They asked the school’s administrators to help them find other local institutions that would offer a similar experience as the one their children received at Riviera.
“We would always do our best to try and find the right fit for every student but when parents would ask ‘What school is like Riviera?’, we did not have a good answer,” said Cohen.
Some of the things that make Riviera stand out from other schools in South Florida are its gold standard STEM program from Kindergarten through 12th grade, 25 different advanced placement courses and a curriculum focused on learning empathy, self-awareness and self-regulation. There is one key factor, however, that Cohen believes has kept Riviera on the right path to ensuring its students achieve excellence in college and beyond.
“When we expanded to the high school, we reflected on the importance of never losing sight of who we are as a school or losing focus of what our aspirations are,” said Cohen. “I think a lot of schools fall prey to that. Riviera has never lost sight of its mission and vision.”
With a secular education, one may ask questions about whether a school’s curriculum teaches students proper ethical behavior and tolerance of others. Riviera does that and more.
“We have a daily pledge, which is ‘I promise to respect, support and protect my Riviera family.’ and that’s a pledge from Pre-K through 12th grade,” said Cohen. “We wanted students to speak a daily reminder that conveys what every Riviera student should be committing to.”
The Riviera student body is co-ed with various faiths and socio-economic levels represented. Cohen says that diversity has allowed students to value each other for who they are and not where they come from or what they have.
“If you were to walk through our halls during the course of the day, it’s a bit idyllic,” said Cohen. “At a break, at lunch, you’ll see our students sitting on the benches, laying on the grass and actually talking to each other without their cell phones.”
Riviera Day School for Grades Pre-K through 5th is located at 6800 Nervia St., Coral Gables, FL 33146. Riviera Preparatory School for Grades 6th through 12th is located at 9775 SW 87th Ave., Miami, FL 33176. The main office is open during normal work hours. To learn more or inquire about admission, visit the school’s website at https://www.rivieraschools.com/.