Guest Viewpoints

Greek-American Queens Teacher Devotes 60 Years of Service to NYC and UFT

March 28, 2022
By Caroline D. Roswell

It’s not every day that you meet a teacher who has been employed for over half a century, but Gloria Sfiroudis of P.S. 229 in Queens can claim that status, and her story is definitely worth telling.

In 1955, Gloria was hired officially as a New York City Board of Education teacher and taught at P.S. 123 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. But in 1961 she had to resign because there was no child care leave, and no union. By 1970, Sfiroudis lived in Middle Village and her children were enrolled at P.S. 229Q, located on the border of Maspeth and Woodside, and where Emanuel Kaplan was principal. Gloria, who was on the PTA, was unexpectedly needed to play the piano at the annual holiday show. A few days later Kaplan, upon questioning Gloria, found out that she was a former teacher and insisted she come work at P.S. 229Q. When Sfiroudis recalls the story she exclaims, “I owe him everything!”

New York City Councilman Robert Holden presents Gloria Sfiroudis with a proclamation in honor of her years of service as a teacher. Photo: Caroline D. Roswell

Kaplan was able to get her reinstated and the rest, as they say, is history! That was January of 1970, and you can be sure that no one would ever have imagined that by January of 2020 Sfiroudis would be teaching pre-kindergartners remotely, through a computer, using Zoom. Technology has nothing on this 88 year old dynamo who swims frequently at Saint Sebastian’s pool in Jackson Height and is very active at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Shrine Church in Flushing.

Sfiroudis has held a wide variety of positions at P.S. 229Q, but her real passion was being the school’s librarian, a position she held for over 15 years until the library was closed in 2020 due to COVID-19. Gloria’s last year was taught from home, as a fully remote pre-K teacher. She has also contributed to the school community in many other ways such as winning various grants for the school and getting awards for her work raising money for UNICEF. She has also given hundreds of hours volunteering for the United Federation of Teachers since its inception in 1960 and she was a pioneer on the picket lines, and as she says, “I never crossed them!”

This past September, Gloria Sfiroudis celebrated her retirement with family and friends, and was honored with proclamations from New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., and New York City Councilman Robert Holden, whose now-adult children were taught by Sfiroudis – but even more impressive is that Gloria taught several students who are now employed as teachers at P.S. 229Q!

Caroline D. Roswell is a teacher at P.S. 229 in Queens.


To the Editor: I recently had to apply to the Greek Consulate in Atlanta for the issuance of a power of attorney.

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