This is the first article in a series of profiles about each finalist for Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ 2021 Citywide Teacher of the Year. The citywide winner will be announced later this spring.
Teaching is in Angela Cosimano’s DNA. Both parents of the Princess Anne High School (PAHS) social studies teacher were foreign language teachers in Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS), with a combined 70 years of experience. Her brother is an assistant principal at Green Run High School.
Even so, after graduating from Kempsville High School and the College of William and Mary, Angie Cosimano decided to first pursue her interest in the arts at Portfolio Center in Atlanta, Georgia, where she became a certified art director and graphic designer, followed by a move to New York. It was there, while working in a school, that education made a career call. She answered it, by moving back to Virginia Beach and earning a Master in Secondary Education from Old Dominion University. For the last decade, she has been at PAHS, teaching Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Advanced Placement (AP) Government, Economics, AP U.S. History, and International Baccalaureate (IB) 20th Century Topics.
“Mrs. Cosimano is demonstrably one of the most knowledgeable and engaging teachers in the city of Virginia Beach and an inspiration to her students,” said Judith A. Petykowski, PAHS social studies department chair.
Sama Kubba is a senior in the school’s IB program and credits Cosimano with fostering a confidence in her identity as an American. “Mrs. Cosimano hosts one of the most modern, progressive and welcoming classes I have yet to see in my high school career,” she wrote in her recommendation to the Teacher of the Year selection committee. “She had a unique ability to teach US-based material in a manner that created global citizens through her usage of current event updates, enlightening in-depth research assignments, and thought-provoking discussions.”
PAHS Principal Danny Little echoed that sentiment. “Walk into Mrs. Cosimano’s class on any given day,” he said, “and you will see students participating in civic engagement through the curriculum. She is a champion for students and has dedicated her life to helping students maximize their potential and achieve their individual goals.”
Actively involved with her students outside the classroom, Cosimano has helped hundreds of them register to vote, and she has sponsored the Student Council Association, the Young Democrats and the school’s World Quest team.
“I believe a good educator helps a student find their purpose and identity in the world,” Cosimano said. “My parents taught, and I heard stories about the positive effect they had on many people’s lives while working every day in a subject that they loved. I continue to teach because I know what I do directly benefits my student’s lives and the future health of our democracy.”