By Catherine Tsounis
“The theme of tonight’s Dinner-Dance is to honor Mrs. Athena Kromidas, who has dedicated her life for nineteen years to the community of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church,” said Karen Kalkanis and Penelope Kaliontzakis, co-chairpersons of the unique event. Over six hundred persons attended the 27th Anniversary Dinner Dance of the William Spyropoulos School of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church, of Flushing, N.Y. on Friday, April 16th. The event was held at Terrace on the Park catering establishment in Flushing Meadow Park. The Power House Orchestra performed entertainment. The students performed traditional Greek Dances. P.T.A. President Lena Varis was Mistress of Ceremonies. Her program featured included tributes by community and political leaders, international educators, and youth. The students of William Spyropoulos School created a unique hand made tapestry. Rev. Paul Palesty is protopresbyter (pastor) of the largest Greek-American community outside of Athens, Greece.
“Mrs. Athena Tsokou-Kromidas has served as Principal of the Greek Afternoon School, assistant Principal and Principal of the William Spyropoulos Day School of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Flushing, N.Y. for nineteen years,” said Mrs. Kalkanis. “We are proud to be part of the St. Nicholas Community. Our groundbreaking ceremony will be held in June 2004 that will house a new parish center and school. The P.T.A. is in total support of the project. Our parents have pledged $100,000 towards the “BUILDING FOR OUR FUTURE” campaign.”
P.T.A. President Mrs. Lena Varis believes “in order to fully recognize and understand the many accomplishment of the Wm. Spyropoulos School, we must focus ….on the energetic and dedicated members of the PTA. Such dedication and great work is an example of tonight’s Dinner Dance Chairladies and their committees. Congratulations to Mrs. Karen Kalkanis, Mrs. Penelope Kaliontzakis and Mrs. Anna Karacostas…Father Paul Palesty, our School Board and Executive Board Their wonderful work has given us all an evening to remember.
“This evening we gather to honor the one individual who is able to bring the best out of all of us at St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos School,” said Rev. Paul Palesty. “She is not only a professional administrator, but a second mother to our children.” Mrs. Kromidas is a dedicated, caring educator that stands out in one’s memory. She is always present to help a child or parent. When a parent has a problem, he/she knows that Mrs. Kromidas will go out of her way to try and help. This unique person is known for working hard and aiding community causes anonymously.
Her education background includes: Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Philosophy with honors from the University of Athens; Master of Art’s in Bilingual Education with a scholarship from St. John’s University; and a Professional Diploma in School Administration and supervision from C.W. Post University. The educator has served as an adjunct instructor at St. John’s University in Greek Language and Literature Program. She has aided the Greek Consulate in their education program. Unselfish, dedicated educators such as Mrs. Kromidas are the backbone of the parochial system of New York. She has cemented close ties with the members of the northeastern Queens community in public education and politics.
The dynamic educator played an active role in helping St. Nicholas Church forge a close relationship with the 111th police precinct. Her work helped to make the neighborhood safer and contributed to the appointment of a crossing guard at 196th Street and Northern Blvd. in Flushing. She played an important role in the reestablishment of a Modern Greek program at Benjamin Cardozo High School.
A prolific writer and poetess, her works have been published internationally in newspapers and periodicals. Mrs. Kromidas has participated in radio, television, panel discussions, Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Board of Education, Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus”, Greek Regents Committee and international lectures. In January ‘1993, she was selected as ‘Educator of the year” by the National Herald newspaper. Congressman Gary Ackerman in 1996 inscribed the Greek-American educator’s accomplishments in the “Congressional Records”, which represents the History of the United States of America.
The same year, she received a citation from the State Assembly of New York by Assemblyman Mark Weprin. On November 21, 1998, Athena Tsokou Kromidas was honored as “Educator of the Year” by the Panchiaki “Korais” Society. His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos, of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, honored her with the “Medal of the Three Hierarchs”. His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos, said in a letter that Mrs. Tsokou-Kromidas has had “an exemplary service to her church. You have honored it with your loyalty, integrity, piety and true dedication. And now as you complete your years of personal and family devotion to the Church and Her institutions as a member of the Archdiocesan Council of Education, I would like you to know that I will continue to depend on your assistance whenever and wherever needed.”
In May 1996, the “Chios Mesta Association of America”, that represents the village of her birth, honored her for her unique contribution to the Chios, Greece and the Greek-American community. “Panchiakos Syllogos Korais” honored her for excellence in Education in 1998. Political leaders presented her with citations for her unique role as a political activist at the January 2001 Greek Afternoon School Testimonial in her honor.
Mrs. Kromidas has an excellent family support system. The reason for her success is her husband, Stefanos Kromidas, an electrician and their two sons, George and John. The men in her family have stood by her through the years. Stefanos is a quiet, soft-spoken Greek-American who always says, “I want Athena to be happy.” He helped raised two excellent, children who respect young and old persons. Mrs. Kromidas’ accomplishments are the achievements of her family who have worked behind the scenes. The men from the Aegean island of Chios are known for being low-key, encouraging brilliant women to fulfill their destiny. Unique educators, such as Mrs. Athena Tsokou-Kromidas are the reason for the success of our education system in the United States.