(Part 1 of a 2 Part Series)
The institution known as the William Spyropoulos Greek-American Day School of St. Nicholas in Flushing is steeped with a rich sense of duty and purpose. Since 1977 when it was established it has prided itself in being more than just a center for learning…it prides itself in being a center for cultural as well as spiritual development. A place for the development of ones mind and their character.
As you walk up and down the halls you can see the cheerful, innocent faces of students who have a thirst for learning. You witness a group of 482 participants waiting to be taught and molded into fine young men and women. All this, does not simply just happen …it takes an extraordinary, dedicated body of people who take great pride in teaching and molding these young impressionable minds.
These are the teachers of the William Spyropoulos School, who take pride and enjoy what they do. “I have been given a tremendous opportunity to live out my dream, in being a teacher and I enjoy every minute of it”, says Niki Cheras, 5th Grade. Georgia Kakivelis, 4th Grade, who is a product of the parochial school system, having graduated from St. Demetrios in Astoria, “I feel a sense of pride to return to my roots and be given the opportunity to give back to my community, with the hope to inspire these young children to become teachers, lawyers and doctors.” Another example is Vasiliki Velentzas, also 4th grade, and alumni of the William Spyropoulos School.
Mrs. Velentzas has been teaching here for seven years and takes great pride in teaching young Greek Americans. She wishes to instill in the students a sense of pride for their heritage. Mrs. Athena Kromidas, principal, mentioned that due to the joint efforts and dedication of all our teacher, the students of our school are well prepared to achieve academic excellence in all areas, inclusive of the 4th and 8th grade ELA NY State testing and 4th and 8th grade NY Math testing.
Taking pride in what one does also serves as inspiration to strive to greater heights like Angela Fiotodimitrakis, 3rd grade, teaching dance to 5th and 6th graders, “the enjoyment of watching these youngsters improve daily”. Realizing that you can make a difference like Assistant Principal and 8th Grade educator, Mary Tzallas who has been at the school for 16 years and states, “the highlight of every day is being in the classroom, teaching the children, being with them, listening to them…how they think…I love teaching these students…it is my passion.”
The working atmosphere that one works in also contributes to an overall attitude which is realized when you speak to the teachers at the school, like Matthew Kusulas, science teacher for the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. As a first year at the school, he feels a tremendous bond with his fellow faculty, “everyone is so helpful…anything I can run up against, I know there will be someone there I can count on to help me.” Like, Staroula Konstantakopoulos, a teacher for 10 years and at the William Spyropoulos School for two years, enjoys the working cooperation between her colleagues and their principal. Penny Trikoris, 5th, 6th and 7th grades teacher for 10 years enjoys the friendships and administration. Like, Monica Cirone, Spanish teacher, fist year at the school who is proud and fortunate to be part of the school. She stated, “These bright children are not learning Spanish…they are learning a third language to go along with Greek and English and they show an appreciation for these languages.” Peggy Vasilopoulos, 5th grade and 7th grade advanced math, “Coming to school is a joy…I enjoy the students and the school environment. The students are motivated and well behaved…this is rewarding for me to be with them.” A great working environment is what Alexandra Frangiskatos, kindergarten teacher’s assistant, believes lends to a great learning atmosphere. Her son graduated from the school and praises the school and wants to be helpful. The children are great to be with, “watching these young children eager to learn the language, culture in a great educational environment,” says Eleni Stavropoulou, Greek teacher for 1st, 2nd,3rd,5th and 8th grades.
NURTURING AND MOTIVATING
The expression “inquisitive mind want to know”, truly applies. John Stavroulakis teaches Social Studies to the 6th, 7th and 8th graders, “I look at their faces and when I see them with their mouths open I know I have reached them…they are listening to the lesson and I have their attention…getting questions from the students is another sign that I am reaching them…this is very rewarding.” Melpomeni Papadopoulos 3rd grade, speaks of working with such a bright group of children that gives you so much personal satisfaction by days end. Watching a child’s mind develop and grow is very special. For Andrea Mylonas, kindergarten teacher at the school for four years, “Watching their innocent faces…all unique in their special ways with the opportunity to nurture them and guide them is very rewarding.”