Retiring Social Studies Teacher, Mr. Greg Cohen


Pictured here from left to right: Nathan Denny, Collin Sorge, Sohom Dash, and Mr. Cohen

Mr. Cohen has been teaching at Warren longer than us students have been alive, beginning his time here during the 1991-1992 school year. From world civilizations to economics, American issues, and U.S history, he has taught a variety of subjects to generations of Warren students.

Originally, Mr. Cohen came to Gurnee in 1987; that year, Warren had cut back on teachers, so he stayed on to coach tennis while teaching at Woodland for three years before returning to teach full time. That makes for 28 consecutive years at Warren and 32 overall.

During that time, he has contributed to our school in a variety of ways not only as a teacher, but formerly as a football coach, a girls tennis coach, and currently the boys varsity tennis coach as well as the assistant boys varsity basketball coach.

This is Cohen’s twenty-second year as boys varsity tennis coach; in this position, he coaches alongside Mr. Edler, an English teacher at the Almond campus. Edler says that “Cohen is a legend in Illinois high school tennis. Everywhere he goes in the season, he is greeted warmly and with enthusiasm. It is because he cares so much about the person right in front of him. He trusts all of us with some of his most important matches of the season to do our best to help the team to find success. He literally does not mind standing to the side to allow others to find success. He’s dedicated and thoughtful. The man out-works almost every single other coach I know.”

I can honestly say I have never thought of another profession I would have enjoyed as much as being a teacher”

— Mr. Cohen

In regards to his time at Warren, Mr. Cohen thinks he “got lucky and fell into a great place here… It’s funny because I always ask my tennis team to enjoy the journey– and. . . it’s been a great journey.”

The year before Warren had built Almond campus, he was “the low man of the totem pole, and taught world civ. to freshmen in five different classes.”

“Oh man”, he laughs while remembering, “I was so happy when I moved to this building. That was crazy.”

He says that teaching econ “was just brutal. I hate economics. It’s just boring. I was more bored than the students!” No offense to Mr. Zaban or Mr. Franta, of course.

Mr. Cohen gave a shout-out to office 142, as being the thing he’ll miss the most about Warren. “The friendships I have gained with the people in that office– I’m down with most of Science, and that goes way back. I think I enjoy communicating and talking with them.”

Also, he loves “working with kids, listening to kids, watching kids develop and grow.”

Mr. Edler attests to that fact, sharing how Mr. Cohen is “all about giving kids opportunities to find success. We live in pretty cynical times, but Mr. Cohen goes above and beyond to look at everyone’s best attribute and give them all the reason to want to be successful. Simply put–Mr. Cohen is one of the most optimistic and positive people I know. His enthusiasm for coaching and teaching is so refreshing.”

“I think the one story I will always cling to has to do with any moment when a student or player needed an opportunity,” says Mr. Edler. “So many times in his career, he would stop what he was doing and offer a player or a student every chance in the world to do better. As a coach, this can be priceless for a player’s confidence – to know that when everything is going wrong, someone is there on your side. He doesn’t ask questions– he merely sees the importance of giving opportunities. I’m going to miss having his presence [during] the spring– his enthusiasm for kids is amazing.”

Mr. Jasnoch, who teaches government at O’Plaine and has known Mr. Cohen for thirty years, says “Mr. Cohen is the most dedicated, passionate teacher and coach that I have ever been around. His decisions, programs and suggestions to school administrators have always been motivated by what is best for students.”

Over the course of his time at Warren, Mr. Cohen has seen our school go through many changes. He states that, obviously, “We got bigger. That means sometimes, less personal. I think, teachers need to remember that it’s about teaching, not about every new fashion or fad or article that comes out in a journal that says you should do this.

I’m in a unique field with social studies. We can use learning, history especially, to help people understand everything that’s happened in this country, and everything that’s going on now. And I think that’s more important than helping students get ready for a test.”

With every class being filled with 27 to 30 students, he still says that “by being personal, I wasn’t talking so much about the classes than about the school itself. The school itself with 4200 kids is very different from 1600. In the old days, the administration would know every single kid by name, would know something about ’em.

Now, 70-80% of the kids walk by and I have no idea who they are. You know, and that’s something, because we’ve become bigger, we don’t know everyone in my class. What they like, what they do. I try to know more about them but it’s easier not to. Just because you have so many kids walking through these buildings.”

When asked if he had any funny stories to share, Mr. Cohen says that there’s one that always makes him smile: “We had a superintendent that everybody couldn’t stand. He was leaving on a Friday morning, leaving a little note in our mailboxes, and that afternoon there was a party that reached through the city that just still goes on. It was 25 years ago, something like that. What an incredible moment.”

“Another one is a principal that I didn’t like that got arrested and taken out of here. That was kinda funny too.”

Mr. Jasnoch was clearly right – Mr. Cohen is unexpectedly hilarious and always has good stories to tell. His favorite memory of him is one while they were coaching basketball together, “the time he lay down on the floor on the sideline of a basketball game to demonstrate to an official how much space 6 feet is. This was to prove that the Warren defender was within 6’ of the player with the ball and the ref should have made a 5 second call.”

A treasured friend, coach, and teacher, Mr. Cohen reflected on students he treasured in turn. To him, what makes a favorite student is “an enjoyable personality. A willingness to ask questions and learn. And obviously doing very well, successfully, but just the willingness to learn. Like Brandon Tucker who graduated a year or two ago. Seeing him go on to succeed in life, that’s gonna be a whole lot of fun.”

Mr. Cohen’s plans for requirement depend on coaching, he says. “It depends on where tennis takes me. But I’m about 75% sure I’m gonna move to the Champaign area, not just for the college, but because I like middle-Illinois. I like the golf courses,” he chuckles.

As a legacy, Mr. Cohen hopes to leave this message: Enjoy every day. Enjoy this school. Enjoy learning.