LONG ISLAND CITY– The National Herald Educator of the Year award was presented to Demosthenes Triantafillou, on Thursday, Feb. 1 at the offices of TNH in Long Island City.
The event highlighted the importance of Greek education and the vital role of teachers in promoting the Greek language and letters.
The honoree is the principal of the Greek Afternoon Schools of the Ascension Church in Fairview, NJ and the Church of Our Savior in Rye, NY, and is also the President of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus.”
Video: TNH/Costas Bej
Among those present at the award ceremony were the representatives of both the aforementioned communities as well as of other Greek community organizations and supporters of the Greek schools, including Dr. Anastassios Kassapidis, a strong supporter of the Greek Letters and Education.
The Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations, Ambassador Maria Theofili, congratulated The National Herald for the decision to honor the teacher and focused her attention on the importance of the Greek language.
She mentioned that Greek language and culture are soft power and make the birthplace one of the richest nations in the sector.
TNH Publisher-Editor Antonis H. Diamataris, pointed out that awarding the Educator of the Year is an institution.
“It is an acknowledgment of this spiritual foundation of the Greek community, the great work that teachers perform in society. It is a tribute to your own sacrifices so that the children of the Greek community can become true, complete people, good Americans and good Greeks. I am in awe of the teacher for the great responsibility he assumes as he enters the classroom. It is indeed a great responsibility, but also a great opportunity to shape lives. And it’s still a great honor.”
“You teachers,” he continued, “you have an enviable place in society, you live a life of substance and contribution. Something similar to us journalists,” recalling that both teachers and journalists have “a great responsibility towards society.”
“Every publication of the newspaper, like any teacher in a classroom, reflects our character, a sense of responsibility towards society. It is a presumption that we judge as people and as professionals,” Mr. Diamataris added.
Referring to the 100th anniversary celebration, he noted that “the great Paul Sarbanes said: ‘The National Herald is the school of the Omogeneia.’”
Then he spoke about the achievements of the honoree and among other things said, “Who can deny that Demosthenes devoted his life with zeal and passion to Education in general and to Greek education in particular? I therefore congratulate Demosthenes as Educator of the Year and I thank him on behalf of all of us for his contribution to the Greek community and to our Greek education.”
Fr. Christos Pappas, the presiding priest of the Ascension Church in Fairview, expressed his best wishes at the “festive event” and among other things he noted that Demosthenes Triantafillou deserved the honor and could have been awarded Educator of the Year a long time ago.
“I have been working with him for 16 years and I can say he believes in Hellenism and Greek Letters. He has passion and dedicates all of it to our school and our children,” he added.
Mr. Triantafillou expressed his gratitude and noted that “this honorary distinction will stay with me always” and that the award “honors all teachers along with him.”
He spoke about the work of teachers and the problems of Greek education and suggested the creation of pedagogical centers for teacher training, the expansion of all afternoon schools from the 6th to the 9th grade, so that students receive high school education, as in Fairview.
He noted the need to create Greek charter schools in areas where there are no Greek Day Schools, to enable all Greek school children to visit Greece, as well as creating Greek classes in public high schools.
“Some of these ideas coincide with the ideas and objectives of the National Herald Foundation,” said Triantafillou.
The speaker also made extensive reference to the necessity of setting up a Greek college in New York and stressed that efforts have already been made to create a new legal entity under the name “Academy of Philosophy, Science and Education,” which will be responsible for examining and implementing the aforementioned proposals.