William S. Cossen is the 2022 Outstanding Teacher of American History for Lawrenceville’s Philadelphia Winn Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.
Chapters may nominate one teacher annually for this honor. Dr. Cossen was honored at the chapter’s January meeting with a certificate and monetary award. He is a member of the faculty at Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST) in Lawrenceville. He considers the study and teaching of history to be his primary calling and finds the experience of engaging students tremendously satisfying.
The process for a chapter to nominate a teacher for this award begins with meeting DAR eligibility requirements, including an incisive knowledge of American history readily shared with students; fosters a spirit of patriotism and loyal support of our country and constitutional government; demonstrates the ability to relate history to modern life and events; has high academic standards, requiring excellence at all times from students; and be committed to students and enjoy good rapport with them."
Dr. Cossen embodies those requirements in his teaching practice. His principal, Mr. IV Bray acknowledged that he met those requirements and others. His autobiographic essay and recommendations bore witness to his enthusiasm and ability to challenge and inspire students, along with high expectations and a supportive relationship with his students.
Dr. Cossen once studied law, but his love of history caused him to overcome that choice, and he soon found himself teaching high school at GSMST. He gives credit to both a former high school teacher for inspiring him as "the most significant influence on my decision to pursue a history degree" and a college professor who "shaped my understanding of history as an academic field." Another poignant credit was to his grandparents for taking him on childhood trips, a memorable one to Gettysburg. His mother told him he would make a wonderful teacher, and she was right!
He uses student-centered teaching strategies, giving students the opportunity to examine primary source documents and court decisions. He challenges students to understand our country beyond civics, to see how our country works, where we got things right, and yes, where we need to improve. To appreciate what was done for us in previous generations. To use critical thinking and analysis to understand reasoning behind past decisions, how to affect the future in a positive way.
Inspirational teachers mold the students of today to become the inspirational leaders of tomorrow. Our country ‘s future depends on those students to be well versed in our history and government. Dr. Cossen stands as his students’ inspirational teacher today, bridging that gap between the past and the future so they are well prepared to take on the challenges they will face in understanding this country and its government.
Congratulations Dr. Cossen!