Written by Sanskriti Bimal Saturday, 09 November 2013 00:00
Graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a business and an American studies degree, Mineola teacher Glenn Cocoman didn’t immediately turn into the admirable and highly praised social studies teacher he is today. In fact, he was a world away from muckrakers, reform-minded journalists, or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. Instead of educating children on how to perfect their document-based questions skills, he was coaching the junior varsity basketball team at Division High School in Levittown how to score from the free-throw line.
In addition to coaching, Cocoman began substitute teaching on a daily basis and realized how enjoyable it could be. “I had worked in other businesses and realized that I wasn’t interested in that type of work,” says Cocoman.
Shortly thereafter, Cocoman obtained his master’s degree in education and is now in his 23rd year of teaching, with the last 17 at Mineola High School.
Good teachers create classrooms that leave a permanent stamp — something Cocoman has seen the outcome of often.
“Any time former students comes back to visit and share something with me that I told them years ago and they still remember it amazes me,” explains Cocoman.
He recalls an instance where a past student sent him an email from college, thanking him for his patience and kindness he displayed toward her when she first moved to the United States, while unfamiliar with the English language. She attributed Cocoman’s benevolent personality to her success in high school as well as college.
“These types of things are the most satisfying moments. That is the whole reason for being a teacher, to have a positive impact on the lives of young adults,” he said.
Students that have not yet graduated also reminisce on the days they sat down for a lesson in history taught by Cocoman.
“He found ways to make class fun and exciting. Teachers like him make me want to come to school every day,” says Lauren Jenkins, a former social studies student.
Cocoman’s advice was always well-received by his pupils.
“He was not only a great teacher but he was also a great person to get advice from,” recalls former student Bella Marchiselli.
Cocoman says he still gets calls from former students, thanking him for his coaching and tutelage. He takes those comments to heart.
“I think most of the students think I care about them and am willing to help them out with anything,” he said. “I still have guys I coached 20 years ago who tell me I was the best coach to play for. I don’t know why that is.”
In addition to teaching, Cocoman is an assistant junior varsity football coach for the Mineola Mustangs as well as the head varsity lacrosse coach. Prior to this, he was an outstanding head lacrosse coach at Division for many years, and was selected to coach the Nassau County Rising junior team.
In addition to his highly-praised experiences, he was selected to coach Team Long Island in the 2004 Empire State Games, a set of annual Olympic-style games for amateur athletes from the state of New York. This year, Cocoman has his sights on the lacrosse county championship for Mineola, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1961.
“I’m not sure if I’m good at anything outside of teaching and sports,” Cocoman said. “The only other thing I care about being good at is a father. I do my best to take care of my kids and teach them the things they’d need to know in life.”
favorite pastime of his, however, includes reading, something he does whenever he can.