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In Focus: Angelo Cocchiola

Congratulations on your recent Long Island Council for the Social Studies honor!  Tell us what this means to you.
It is truly an honor to be recognized by the LICSS as this year’s Outstanding Middle School Teacher. I work in a wonderful school with great students and an excellent social studies department. The honor means a great deal because I was nominated by my colleagues as recognition of the work and effort I put into my planning, teaching and our school.

Why Social Studies Education?
I grew up in a family where politics, government and history were always topics of discussion. Additionally, my mother was an elementary school educator for 34 years. This coupled with two inspirational instructors I had during my high school and college experiences encouraged me to pursue a career in social studies education. Dr. Benton Stark was my US History and Government teacher as well as the coordinator of my senior humanities program at North Shore High School and Dr. Sung Bok Kim at SUNY Albany were passionate educators who helped foster my love of history.

What brought you to Hofstra University for graduate studies?
Upon completion of my undergraduate degree I was looking for a graduate degree program, which would satisfy NYS teacher certification requirements. Hofstra’s program offered course work in US history as well as global studies, special education and project based learning. The program was also condensed enough to be completed in one year so that I could enter the teaching field quickly.

Describe your experience with director Dr. Alan Singer and other secondary education faculty.
Dr. Singer is a champion of social studies education, engaging learning and all students. He is dynamic, resourceful, supportive and more: a superb educator. Dr. Singer spent countless hours in his office with students completing assignments, looking for materials and assisting with lesson planning. His efforts trump those of any professor I have had experiences working with before and since. He is a consummate professional and advocate. Fifteen years later, I still communicate with him for guidance. Other members of the department were also accessible, knowledgeable and supportive.

How did Hofstra prepare you for the job search process post-graduation?
My first teaching job in the East Meadow School District was thanks to Dr. Singer’s networking with former students. I was granted an interview after a former graduate of Hofstra’s program reached out to Dr. Singer looking for candidates for a middle school positions. When I applied for my current position in Carle Place, I used Dr. Singer as a reference. As a finalist, the school contacted Dr. Singer and his endorsement sealed the deal for me.

What are your long-term goals?
I recently received an Advanced Certificate in School Leadership and am currently certified as a school building leader. While I enjoy my work in the classroom, I aspire to help promote positive learning experiences as an assistant principal.

What advice do you have for those seeking certification at the secondary level?
Stay on top of all of the changes occurring on the state level with regard to teacher certification. Many new initiatives are underway and it is important to be informed. Additionally, gain as many experiences as you can. Observe classes at all grade levels and in other disciplines and attend school functions. It is invaluable to see how students and staff interact in different disciplines, at different levels and in a variety of environments.

Angelo Cocchiola

M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education, '99
Wantagh, NY