North Jersey teachers and educators also have these side jobs


“What did you do on your summer vacation?”

Don’t expect the usual “went to shore” response from these three educators. They might say: Wrote a book. Make a video clip. Knocked out an opponent.

Because over the summer they do more than just take a break from class. As they do year round, they pursue interests outside of education. They don’t let their love of educating youngsters keep them from side-playing.

Meet three North Jersey residents who combine teaching with other talents.

Marisa Kossoy

Marisa Kossy, an educator who lives in Teaneck, is also a children’s book author. Finding joy in education is one of Kossoy’s defining characteristics. She knew she wanted to be a teacher at age 6, when she played the school game with her sister. In college, an English teacher introduced her to different literary genres and sparked the spark that made her want to be a writer. “I can’t see my life outside of education,” she says. “There’s nothing else I want to do. I love making a difference in children’s lives. I never feel like going to work. Read her story here: Turning the page: Bergen educator infuses love of school into her children’s book

Crystal Vargas

Crystal Vargas prepares to play for "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" starring Melissa Gorga.

Bloomfield’s Crystal Vargas is an eighth-grade civics teacher at Lewis F. Cole Middle School in Fort Lee — and also a percussionist. She performed at venues such as BET’s Black Girls Rock Awards Show and Living with Regis and Kelly. She appeared in Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” music video and starred with Paul Simon, Bernie Williams, Gladys Knight, Sheila E. and Jill Scott. Read her story here: She’s got the beat: Crystal Vargas teaches civics and plays drums for the stars.

Jamir Cope

Jamir Cope teaches autistic children by day and is a super lightweight boxer by night.

Teaneck’s Jamir Cope, who teaches at KIPP SPARK Academy in Newark, also trains in boxing and wants to become a champion. Cope says teaching and boxing taught him patience. “In boxing, you have to understand that progress won’t happen overnight,” he says. “As a teacher, if a child doesn’t understand a concept, they also won’t understand it overnight. One day they will understand the information. You just can’t rush things. Everyone has different ways of learning. Read his story here: A teacher who knows the ropes: Jamir Cope aims for Boxing Hall of Fame


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