NEW YORK – Dr. Ioannis Efthimiopoulos, the Director of the Greek Education Department of the Archdiocese, was honored for his decades-long devotion to Hellenic paideia – education and culture – at a luncheon presented by the Federation of Hellenic-American Educators and Cultural Associations of America in the Ballroom of Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York on May 3.
After the invocation by Archbishop Demetrios, Emcee Dimitris Philippides, Editor of Hellas FM, invited Vassiliki Filiotis, Chair of the Luncheon Committee to present welcoming remarks.
Greetings were also offered by Amb. George Iliopoulos, Consul General of Greece, Amb. Vasilios Philippou, Consul General of Cyprus, Fr. Ierotheos Zacharis of the Monastery of St. Irene in Astoria, Petros Galatoulas, President of the Federation on Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, and Antonis H. Diamataris, Publisher-Editor of the National Herald.
The guests enjoyed a musical interlude presented by Constantinos Stergioulis along with students and Flora Kyrou, who sang the Greek and American national anthems, and Panagiotis Kokolis.
Stella Kokolis, the President of the Federation, along with educators Christopher Tripoulas, Ioannis Giavaras, and Panagiota Lilikakis introduced the honoree.
Efthimiopoulos, who has served as director for 10 years, declared that their great endeavor requires “generous funding,” to succeed, and agreed that a Greek education fund must be established.
In his remarks Archbishop Demetrios noted that he will soon be meeting with Diamataris to discuss such a fund.
In his remarks, Diamataris noted that Kokolis will be honored as a champion of paidea at the May 22 celebration of the 100th anniversary of The National Herald, and he emphasized, “We are here to honor the teacher and the teacher of the Diaspora, one of the community’s most important professions.”
Diamataris then congratulated the honoree and declared “As long as there are people like Dr. Efthimiopoulos, Stella Kokolis, and all of you who are here today the future of Greek culture is in good hands.”
Efthimiopoulos spoke of the importance of the “My Greek” series of textbooks that was produced by the Archdiocese under his watch and thanked the Faith endowment and individual community members for their financial support, but he noted the production of a book is not enough.
He said the focus must be on producing well trained teachers and programs in continuing education that will prepare them for the unique experience of teaching Greek-Americans.
“We have plans and ideas for the future but we seek financial resources,” he added, and emphasized the importance of proper compensation for the community’s teachers.
He urged Greek-Americans to provide financial support and for communities to end the practice of paying salaries of $250 and $ 300 a month. “We have no right to expect,” educators to be satisfied with that, he said, adding that one of his regrets is that “I could not ensure a decent wage for our teachers.”
Amb. Philippou said the Federation’s unanimous decision to honor Ethymiopoulos, who exemplifies great contributions to Greek Education, was honorable.
Amb. Iliopoulos, highlighted the difference among educators between their profession and their service, emphasizing that the teacher is the example par excellence of service. He also read a message from, Michalis Kokkinos, the new General Manager of the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad of the Greek Foreign Ministry.