NEW YORK – Petros Fourniotis spoke with The National Herald about taking up his new position as principal of the Greek School of Plato in Brooklyn. In particular, Fourniotis noted that his ambition is to modernize the teaching method, going beyond the process of a simple educational program.
“First of all, I want to tell you that I feel very happy. I have been in Greek communities, parishes and schools since I was a child, I have always liked traditional dances and everything that has to do with Greece. So I would like to build a school the way I dream of it. I want the programs to have all the necessary elements. Not only through language learning, but also through the experience of our daily lives and our celebrations. This will be a deep knowledge for the children. To integrate them into everyday life. The desk and the book are necessary, but they are not enough. We want something more well-rounded,” Fourniotis told TNH.
When asked about the challenges of providing Greek education to second, third and fourth generations Greek-Americans, who do not have living family members of the first generation who immigrated, Fourniotis replied that a result can be achieved, as long as the teaching time is used properly.
"It's what I told you, the deepening of knowledge. These children, in order to speak Greek, must listen to it every day. When we work with third and fourth generation children or from mixed marriages, where the Greek grandfather and the Greek grandmother are not at home, we understand that it is difficult for them to speak the language. But we must bring them in contact with everything Greek. For example: I am not interested in teaching the students that koulourakia are made in Greece. First of all, it is better to take them to the kitchen to see how the koulourakia are made. To see them and to smell them. We should use all five senses in teaching. It is a firm opinion of mine,” he told TNH.
Fourniotis comes from Kefalonia, both on his father’s and mother’s side, but he was born in New York. He knows the Greek language very well, as he noted, it was the first language spoken at home.
“My parents were born in Greece and I was born here, but the first language I learned was Greek. I learned English when I went to school. Until then, I did not know one word of English,” he said, expressing, at the same time, his thanks to the Greek School of Plato for choosing him as the new principal.
“I would like to thank all those who trusted me with this work and I am convinced that, all together, we will make something very beautiful,” concluded Fourniotis.
Fourniotis' hiring was officially announced by the Greek School of Plato on July 26, and he will be the first principal in the school’s new building, at 670 92nd Street in Brooklyn, which will be inaugurated on September 18. In its announcement, the school stated that Fourniotis “is well-known in the Greek community for his contribution to the preservation of Hellenic cultural identity.”
“For 30 years he has been preserving, promoting and perpetuating Hellenic tradition, language and culture to the Greeks of the Diaspora,” the statement continued, adding that “under the leadership of Mr. Fourniotis, the Greek School of Plato is rolling out its new curriculum in the fall. Fusing together traditional teaching techniques with new methods to include music, theater, dance, philosophy, sociology, history and the revival of Hellenic traditions, the goal is to engage and inspire students to embrace their rich Hellenic culture.”
More information about the Greek School of Plato is available online: www.thegreekschoolofplato.org.