The lady who transforms needy children from the village into people with books. “To dare to dream. That's what I always tell them”

Angelica Cocea has become the soul of the school in Țibănești (Iasi) where she has been teaching for 29 years. They buy clothes, shoes, food and supplies for the poor children and approach each talented student to motivate them to write for the school magazine. The trust he places in them is rewarded.

Angelica Cocea PHOTO personal archive

Angelica Cocea (60 years old), teacher at the “Petre P. Carp” Technological High School in Țibănești commune, Iași county, won the first prize in the “Development of socio-emotional skills” category at the 2023 Teacher of the Year in the Rural Environment Gala, organized by Teach for Romania, for the merit of motivating and inspiring tens of generations of students.

The teacher recalls wanting to become a teacher when he first contacted the school.

“My model was a teacher who was retired and to whom my mother used to send me to do her shopping. She was very well-mannered, because she was brought up in retirement, something very rare in a village like ours. She was called “Lady”. I was impressed by her elegance, the way she spoke. Easily, easily, she won me over and I wanted to be the “Lady” too, Angelica told “Weekend Adevărul” how it all started.

The village of well-being

He doesn't know what the children who pass through his hands will become, but he works tirelessly to make them empathetic, responsible, communicative and aware that they can achieve their dreams if they work hard enough and are persistent.

“In class I don't just provide information. The little ones in the banks have their eyes fixed on you, and before they learn to read and count, I shape their character with seriousness, responsibility and love. I constantly think that these children must first be formed as people”,
explains the teacher.

One of her strengths in the classroom is that she always manages to pique her students' curiosity in whatever she does and takes it to the point where she makes them addicted to it. For example, one of the lessons taught was wellness.

The children created “well-being village”, and in each house they imagined happiness and self-respect, among many other things, would reside.

Angelica teaches her students to dare to dream PHOTO personal archive

Angelica teaches her students to dare to dream PHOTO personal archive

“Students are happy when they are co-opted into various projects, not just having that lesson-lesson template,” say “Ms. Angelica”.

On that occasion, she taught them the difference between self-esteem and pride and why it is important for them to have confidence in their own strength.

They always draw a triangle on the board: at the top it says “character”, and on the lower sides it passes “responsibility” and “the work”.

“I always tell them to dare to dream, and the way is to learn,” it is the simple recipe by which the teacher paves the way for their success.

Reading chain

The secret of his success is the unique way he manages to motivate students to achieve their dreams. He constantly encourages them and often pretends that he does not understand certain concepts taught so that the little ones can explain to him what they mean. They become like this “Ms”
and on this occasion the teacher also checks how well they understood what she taught them.

He discovered that they really like role-playing games. Starting from here, he began to perform with them and put them in poses that were not recognized by their parents. Reading the texts in one minute was a new challenge for his students, who competed to read the materials as quickly as possible.

He then followed what he calls a reading chain to get them to read as much as possible. Each student had to write on a piece of paper the title of the book read and the author and thus a link was formed, and with each book read another link was added.

The children competed to read as many books as possible and have a chain of reading as large as possible. Angelica then introduced the reading minute, where students would read in class, only to raise the level again and get them to five-star readings.

The teacher constantly organizes performances with her little students PHOTO personal archive

The teacher constantly organizes performances with her little students PHOTO personal archive

In a whole year they read 12 books, and after each reading, they made a sheet in which they wrote about what they read and gave stars to each book. It thus formed their taste for reading and developed their literacy.

Later, he involved the parents as well, and they started reading a story to the little ones before going to bed, with the idea of ​​making them more aware of how important their role is in their children's lives.

Any child who discovers a little talent for drawing, poetry or anything else is encouraged to publish their creations in the school magazine, which they have been publishing since 2005.

“I knew they were talented. I thought about how to channel those who write poetry, play a story or write a beautiful essay. I also stimulated my classmates to pay attention to the students' talents and discover them”, Angelica tells how she came up with the idea of ​​publishing a school magazine.

Most of the children were reluctant at first, but the teacher encouraged them to trust their talent and not be afraid to make their creations public.

The students also became reporters and interviewed relatives who carry on Romanian traditions and customs. For example, a little one wrote about his grandmother, who weaves very beautifully and creates unique things.

Children taken to school and from the attic of the house

In the more than 42 years since she has been teaching, of which 29 years at the school in Țibăneşti, Angelica has bought clothes, shoes, food and supplies for needy students with her own money to keep coming to school. He does it discreetly, so that the little ones don't feel ashamed in front of their colleagues.

When she commuted to Glodenii Gândului, a village in Țibănești, and came to school by bicycle, she had a bag full of pencils, bows for girls and bank covers, all taken from her money

“I slipped them packages of food, clothes, without the other children knowing. It has become a way of life for me, to observe students who have a difficult situation”,
says the teacher with emotion.

The children want to thank him for the kind gesture and always come to school and learn well.

Many times she would bring soap and water to school and make the little ones who came home dirty wash themselves, and sew some buttons on their clothes.


I brought children to school and from the attic of the house. One of them was a student in my class and the other was his brother. They were left in the care of no one. They were raised only by the mother, and she had gone to work, for a time, on a wine farm. It happened during the communist period. After classes, I went with the students to their house, because they had been absent for about two days, and they heard a commotion and ran into the attic of the house”says the teacher.

She earned the respect of the village, and the children never missed a day of school again.

His grown-up students are now doctors, engineers, architects and lawyers at home and abroad. Even those who work in agriculture abroad, to earn another penny, are motivated by the teacher to follow their passions and return to the country.

“You are an artist. You don't have to pick onions. That's what I always tell them. After they finish school, I want them to be left with a beautiful character and some great memories,”
is Angelica Cocea's wish for the students of the school where she teaches.