LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Helene Coccagna

Position: Dean of Studies / English Teacher
School: Bard High School Early College Baltimore
School District: Baltimore City Public Schools
City, State: Baltimore, MD

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Helene Coccagna was nominated by multiple colleagues. Below are quotes from their nominations.

Dr. Coccagna only recently joined the Bard High School Early College team, but she has already made an enormous impact. At first, she served as one of the English teachers. The kids quickly came to love her for her caring and understanding attitude. She has a natural way of connecting with others in a way that makes you feel heard and supported.

In the fall of 2019, the dean of studies started to suffer from cancer, unbeknownst to most people. Dr. Coccagna selflessly stepped in to assist with the workload, which kept her school running efficiently. She did this all while teaching a full course load. After the death of the former dean of studies, she stepped into his role. She has conducted this role with grace, flexibility, and compassion.

Due to the pandemic, she has taken on roles no administrator would typically have, and she does it with a smile. She is on the floor for arrival, during lunch duty, and class transitions. She has even covered countless classes due to a lack of teacher coverage.

"Dr. Coccagna is constantly going above and beyond for our students and school community. Somehow, she finds a way to make every student and staff member feel appreciated, welcomed, and nurtured. I have not encountered anyone more selfless, kind, compassionate, and considerate than her. I am grateful to work beside her every day,” said one of her colleagues.

“Dr. Coccagna stepped up to help our school when our prior dean of studies fell ill with cancer, and she has co-piloted the school through the pandemic with grace and kindness. She cares about her students deeply and is a compassionate educator.  She is a stellar English teacher and a strong leader with the capacity to handle difficult situations with grace.  We are lucky to have her on our team,” said her colleague.