Kozlowsky: from worst student to best teacher


Photo by Gil Gordon

Andrew Kozlowsky goes over the agenda for his second period AP US history class. The lesson for the day was on Dred Scott and the impact of his court case before the civil war.

At 4 a.m., Andrew Kozlowsky wakes up to his alarm. He works out at home and then eats breakfast. After getting his daughter ready for school, he drops her off and arrives at WJ around 7 a.m. He checks his mailbox, and then walks to his classroom in portable 2 where he prepares the lessons for the day, so that by the first bell, he is ready to teach.

Andrew Kozlowsky, or Koz, is considered by many students to be a chill, laid back history teacher. He teaches AP US History and Modern World History and recently joined the social studies department at WJ. The story that led him to become a history teacher is much more interesting than most people would expect.

Kozlowsky grew up in Livingston, NJ, about 15 minutes outside of New York City. In school, he did not have the experience one would expect from a teacher.

“I had a blast at school, but academically it was miserable. I really didn’t do well in school. I was not the traditional student that works hard, does their homework or participates in class. I was more like a class clown or a trouble-maker as a student, and I had a lot of bad experiences with my teachers,” Kozlowsky said.

Kozlowsky describes his hometown as being very similar to Bethesda. He played a variety of sports in school such as football, basketball, baseball and wrestling, excelling in all of them. What he did not excel as much in was his academics, graduating with a 1.4 GPA. He credits much of his difficulty in school to the lack of help from teachers.

“I had a lot of teachers that impacted me in a negative way, whether it was making negative comments about me and calling me stupid or criticizing me. But I did have a few teachers that were really influential, who treated me like a human being and treated me like an adult which I really appreciated,” Kozlowsky said.

Coming out of high school, Kozlowsky decided to go to college, but unfortunately, it had a similar outcome to his high school experience.

I did not make it very long. I think I was in college for one year and decided it wasn’t for me. I failed some classes and I didn’t want to spend any more money on it so I wound up just dropping out.

— Andrew Kozlowsky

After leaving college, Kozlowsky worked mostly restaurant jobs for about eight years. Eventually, he made the decision to go back to college, not wanting to continue working in the restaurant business. Considering his interests in social studies and history, he chose to study these topics in his classes, as well as taking education courses. Kozlowsky graduated college triumphant with a 4.0 GPA in his undergraduate and masters program.

As a new teacher, Kozlowsky set out to be a flexible and fun teacher. His goal was to help students enjoy school and learn a lot at the same time. He spent four years teaching at Quince Orchard then moving to WJ where he has been for the last two years.

“I wanted to be the kind of teacher that I would have liked to have. A lot of my teachers were very rigid and strict and inflexible. So as a teacher, I recognize that method does not work for all students, in fact it doesn’t work for most students. That has led me to become more of a flexible teacher that understands that they have issues and problems that exist outside of the school building,” Kozlowsky said.

Kozlowsky’s students have good things to say about him as a teacher. They like his attitude and his evident love of history. Kozlowsky makes an effort to include lessons that allow students to discuss relevant topics that are important to touch on.

“We have a lot of fun in the class. It’s super chill and we like to discuss documents or content as a class and have good conversations,” sophomore Sofia Reyes-Otto said.

Kozlowsky’s colleagues also appreciate his helpful nature and creativity.

“He is a good person to share ideas with and come up with lesson plans. He has some good projects available that I sometimes try to incorporate into my classes,” history teacher Brandon Galuska said.

Looking towards the future, Kozlowsky expects to continue doing what he loves: teaching.

“I have no plan B right now. The only thing I can see myself leaving my classroom for is maybe a curriculum development job. Somewhere that I could help craft the social studies curriculum for the county or the state,” Kozlowsky said.