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Greek of the Week (66)

Greek of the Week: Nikos Papageorgiou is running for Citywide Educational Council, representing the Bronx

Nikos Papageorgiou is a Greek running for office in the NYC Educational Council for District 2 (CECD2), and for Citywide Educational Council, representing the Bronx (CCHS Bronx). New Greek TV caught up with him to learn about his heritage, his aspirations, and the reasons why he is running for thiw particular position.

Tell us a little about your past (family and education). 

My name is Nikos Papageorgiou and I am the son of Ilias Papageorgiou, a decorated Greek Air Force Pilot, from Tripoli, and Syrago Alexiadis Papageorgiou, a nurse, from Volo. My father, Ilias, had almost 10,000 flight hours, including combat missions during World War II against Nazi Germany’s General Rommel in Egypt, as well as in the Korean War, under British and USA command, respectively.

I was born in Volos but raised in Athens. I lost his mother to cancer at the age of 17 and shortly after I immigrated to North Carolina to attend college. While working almost full-time throughout college to support himself, I received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (1984), an MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, from North Carolina State University (1985), as well as an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (1995).

After a career as an Engineer, Marketing Executive and Wall Street Analyst, I am currently an entrepreneur, involved with various projects in the food industry.

I reside on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with my wife Aspasia Christopoulos and two sons, Ilias and Yiorgos, 15 and 12 years old, respectively, both of whom attend NYC public schools.

How has your heritage affected your outlook and perhaps your aspiration to dabble in community affairs? Do you consider your endeavors as political?

My endeavors are not political at all. The way I believe my heritage affected me is because I was brought up to stand up for my values and my rights, but most importantly, that there is NOTHING above the safety, security and well being of my kids.

 Why are you running for this office? What prompted you to do so and what to do you aspire to do if given the chance?

The reason I am running for this office is because I believe that the NYC Department of Education (DOE) and our schools are undermining our right, as parents, to raise our kids according to our family/religious values and the maturity level of our kids. The way they are doing that is by exposing our kids, without our knowledge, to “teachings” that we might have to say or do something about

As an example, since one size doesn’t fit all, we get a note from the school, a few days before they plan to hold a sex education session, so that we can a) talk/prepare them, b) opt out, for whatever reason, including raising or kids on sexual abstinence, or c) do anything else we choose, including nothing at all. It’s a parents’ right to know and a parents’ right to act as she/he sees fit.

nfortunately, that’s not the case with “Social Issues”. So, without our knowledge, in the name of White Privilege, our kids have to apologize for being who they are, in the name of Transgender Remembrance Day, they have to be challenged about their sexuality or gender and in the name of Racism, they are told that certain words can only be used by certain ethnic or racial groups and that accelerated learning is bad and racist.

A huge contributor to me running was the unwillingness of other parents to say something about it to the school, not because they disagreed with me but because they were afraid that they and their kids will me “marked”.

I believe that the reason we are here is because middle of the road, moderate, reasonable people, like myself, have been complacent with things happening around us. So that’s the end of complacency for me and messing with my kids was what broke my camel’s back.

I don’t know if I am brave or just naïve, but I decided to do something about it, so I am running for NYC Educational Council. The elections are May 1st – May 11th. Each parent with a child in a NYC Public School has a vote for each child using their www.mystudent.org account. Please visit my Facebook page “Nikos for NYC Educational Council” or tweet @NikosPapage. Don’t be complacent, have an opinion, be involved, vote even if it’s not for me.

 Where do you stand on all those “Social Issues”?

That’s the point. Where each of us stands on these issues is irrelevant to what I am talking about, regarding the transparency of the schools. Our right to know is above every and all issues. What I tell my friends is… “I support you. Let me march with you, but can you PLEASE stop texting my 10 years old son without my knowledge, no matter what you are texting him about”. I am helping my younger son’s friend with Math and we text regularly. I NEVER text him without copying one of his parents. NEVER. I demand the same courtesy from the schools, for all of us. Is that too much to ask?

 What are the educational needs, especially of the Bronx that you want to address? What are the most acute problems, and how can you personally deal with them?

Besides the indoctrination, without our knowledge, of all our kids, to become the new Social Justice Warriors, I believe that the biggest educational problem of the City is its failing schools. Having said that, I believe that the politicians are providing a disservice to the people, especially the minorities, because instead of addressing the problem that gives thousands of their kids each year a one way ticket to minimum wage and maybe welfare, since they graduate High School without knowing how to read/write or do basic arithmetic, they redirect their attention by inciting racial and ethnic tensions talking about Gifted and Talented (G&T), as well as Specialized High Schools.

I believe that the way you close gaps is not by slowing down the leaders but by helping the laggers to catch up, and I don’t believe that you can legislate excellence. So, I am for expanding the Gifted & Talented (G&T) and other accelerated educational programs, primarily into neighborhoods that seem to be falling behind and I am also for keeping Specialized High Schools the way they are. Bronx Science, Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech must be doing something right, having produced 8, 4 and 2 Nobel Prize winners respectively. You don’t address equality by destroying them so that the student body is more racially “appropriate”. You address equality by fixing the failing Elementary and Middle schools and raising the level of all schools so they produce more minority students that can compete for entrance to these schools.

Do you have a vision for education in America?

I believe that this question is “above my pay grade”. I am sure that there are many very qualified individuals that already have all the answers. I believe that our biggest problem are the politicians and bean counters who don’t care about the root cause nor the right solution of any problem. What drives their decisions are “Political Correctness”, “Next Week’s Poll numbers”, “Sounding/Looking Good”, “The Trend of the Month”, etc.

Do you visit Greece, how often, and where do you like to go?

I visit Greece every year, since I left back in the ‘80s. I am bringing my kids every year for 4 weeks since they were born. We have a beach house in the Northern part of the Peloponnese that we use as a base to travel around and explore the whole country. I take them to at least one Historic destination each year. Last year we were privileged to watch Mr. Leonidas Kavakos perform in Epidavros. I make sure that my kids love Greece as I am a true believer in “We have to know where you are from, to know where you are going”.

We wish Nikos all the best luck so that he can do what  is best for the children of the Bronx and the Big Apple.

AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS OF ATHENS PRESIDENT - DR.PEGGY PELONIS

GREEK OF THE WEEK | AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS OF ATHENS PRESIDENT - DR.PEGGY PELONIS

Interview by: Yanna Darilis

Greek of the Week: President of ACS: Dr.Peggy Pelonis  Ed.D, MS, MBA, LFT 

Dr.Pelonis, the American Communities Schools of Athens is an International American High School, K-12 , located in Chalandri Athens, Greece; can you please tell us a little more about what makes ACS different, what is the philosophy of the school, and give us some brief information about the staff:

ACS Athens is an international school with 65 different nationalities.  However, our educational philosophy is based on American principles and values, mainly this means that we believe that all students can learn and thrive. We also believe in providing students with choices within their educational curriculum so, our students receive an American Diploma but also have the choice to receive a second diploma; the International Baccalaureate.  They can also take Advanced Placement courses as well as additional courses to receive a Greek equivalency diploma.  Our faculty are mostly American trained and the language of instruction is English. Our students pride themselves for being able to feel at home anywhere in the world after attending ACS Athens because they have access to young people from so many different nationalities, mindsets beliefs and they come together under one roof here at ACS Athens and develop lifelong relationships.

Dr.Pelonis, ACS has been recognized as a leader in digital schooling, that has been ahead of the curve during the global pandemic. Can you enlighten us about what steps and decisions you took in order to adopt to this crisis, so that your students would not skip a beat in their studies? 

At ACS Athens we believe in 'reflective practitioners'.  This means that our faculty are continuously studying 'best practice' approaches to teaching and remain at the forefront of innovation and educational developments.  Therefore, knowing that technology is becoming a big part of education and will continue as such in the near future, we had been preparing via the I2Flex model.  This model aims to train young people in the development of 21st century skills; technological know-how, communication skills, problem solving, collaborating, innovation.  I2flex means- independent, inquiry based, flexible learning.  We had been training our teachers to develop courses on line on an educational platform called Moodle.  Likewise our students were familiar with online practice.  Thus, when the pandemic hit, we were able to transition on to online teaching-learning literally in one night.

These are challenging times for everyone, how are your student’s responding to the crisis and this new way of learning? 

Like all students, they believe, there is no real replacement for face to face teaching/learning.  However, they have adjusted very well and are working hard to cover the curriculum while working on asynchronous projects and even participating is community service.  I would say, that these students are exhibiting great resiliency and I am proud to watch how well they have adjusted.

In your professional opinion, is the cure of shut downs worse than the illness/virus?

Shut down seems to be a reactive antidote not necessarily a cure to the virus.  This is so because we are living unprecedented times and no one really seems to know what to do.  We are witnessing varied views of leadership at a time when we need to be united.  This indicates that no one is really sure what will work so leaders are prescribing what they believe to be the best case scenario. Nonetheless it all comes at a cost; psychological cost that will eventually manifest as the lockdown continues.  I believe we will witness significant post-traumatic stress when life resumes some form of normality. 

ACS offers many innovative programs that prepares students for the world on the level of awareness and even inspires initiatives after graduating high school. Can you share some information about your programs and what the purpose was when designing them?

Because technology, Artificial intelligence, robotics are all moving at light speed and we are witnessing rapid, continuous change on multiple levels, it is easy to get lost within this frenzy of development and innovation.  Young people are often questioning many traditional mindsets that provided purpose for past generations.  Today, there are invisible and visible enemies everywhere;  threats to safety and wellbeing and success does not necessarily mean happiness.  It is important to provide a platform in schools where students can be guided to self-reflect and connect to a higher purpose;  We use the Sustainable Development Goals as outlined by the United Nations as a way to help students understand that through their actions and ways of being in the world they can either contribute to a better world, contribute to a worse world or remain neutral and not contribute.  When children learn to self-reflect on their actions and ways of being in the world, their actions become more intentional rather than based on habit and therefore unconscious.  In this sense developing conscious citizens who will be ethical decision makers and critical thinkers who consider the good of the whole and thus  contribute to better living and better life on the planet is just as important as developing knowledgeable, skillful individuals

How do you see the trend moving for the education sector? What are the exciting things to look forward to and what may be pitfalls for the new generation?

The virtual teaching environment will continue to develop and will remain part of teaching and learning to some degree.  While this will continue to connect people from all over the world and provide access to information as never before, human relationships will be challenged.  It is so much easier these days for young people to exchange messages via social media platforms rather than struggle through the discomfort and awkwardness of getting to know one another and getting past differences.  This trend towards seemingly social relationships will contribute further to isolation and loneliness because as we know we are social beings and we need to interact with others. 

At the helm of ACS as the new President, what are some of your future plans for the school?

Our virtual environment is growing and we have been developing courses beyond the ACS Athens curriculum that will be available to students across the globe.  These include virtual classes for Greek language, Greek culture and Greek mythology.  Furthermore, via numerous partnerships with higher educational institutions in the USA and Europe we engage in continuous conversations and programs aimed at bridging the gap between the K-12 institutions such as ours and the higher educational environments. Our faculty engage in continuous research that result in professional publications  and many hold higher level degrees including numerous Ph.D's.  Therefore, informing the world of education is no longer a privilege held by higher education institution faculty, our K-12 faculty have been contributing to the field of education for a number of years and we will continue to do so because we believe we have  much to say.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

ACS Athens- Greece

129 Aghias Paraskevis Street & Kazantzaki, 15234 Halandri, Greece

Tel: +30 210 6070263

www.acs.gr

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Coloring Books and On-Line Courses during COVID 19

By Renee Pappas

As we approach the third week of social distancing to mitigate the COVID19 pandemic ,  I wanted to take the opportunity to pass on suggestions to those of you who have small children or grandchildren. Keeping young children occupied while they're away from their friends, school, dance and music lessons and play dates can be a challenge.

Everyone loves coloring books and Bellerophon Books has an incredible catalog featuring Greek subjects such as "The Odyssey", "Alexander the Great", "Amazons", Greek Goddesses" and "Gorgons". Other ancient cultures such as Rome and Egypt are also featured , as well as the American West, Medieval Europe and personalities such as aviatrix Amelia Earhart and composer Amadeus Mozart.

There are also coloring books on "The Nutcracker" and "Sleeping Beauty" ballets, "Peter and the Wolf", "The Little Mermaid"  "Dinosaurs"and "Mother Goose Tales".

I discovered Bellerophon Books nearly twenty years ago when my niece, Catherine, and nephew, Nick, were children Last week I sent half a dozen to my niece's 3 year old daughter, Lillie. Through the years I would order a supply and give them as gifts to the children of my friends. When I was Director of Development at the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, I ordered the Greek themed coloring books for the museum shop and they were best sellers and reordered constantly. 

www.bellerophonbooks.com.

If you're running out of books to read to children I would like to suggest this source, Short Kids Stories. I learned about the site through my friend, Aris Kefalogiannis' daughter,Elena who is presently studying for her Master's Degree in Journalism at Georgetown University. Her story " Mike the Spotty Beaver", along with her illustration, was just published on the website www.shortkidstories.com

https://www.shortkidstories.com/story/mike-the-spotty-beaver/?fbclid=IwAR1pF_olR_b_dde-tkD2s8vgpIpqmgmRbld_i0AFZnJvvriXXVDB2IV5qSE  

Now for the grown-ups.... www.coursera.org and www.edx.org  offer courses on numerous subjects including philosophy, photography, literature and science and are offered by institutions such as Duke University, Stamford University, Yale, and Harvard. If you don't need to get credits towards a degree the courses are free. I'm presently finishing a course in Ancient Rome from the University of Arizona and one on Renaissance painting from a Spanish University. 

I believe this can be a time that we can learn and grow, so that when we emerge from our confinement, we are better equipped to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.

Stay safe and stay well.

Alex Lyras in Plasticity

Plasticity, an innovative multimedia production, written by Alex Lyras and Robert McCaskill, played Off Broadway for a limited five-week engagement at the Greenwich House Theater. The play was inspired by actual events concerning a man’s miraculous recovery from lifeless coma to full-blown consciousness.

Dr. Marios Papadopoulos: “Music is a universal language”

At his 1975 piano recital debut, Marios Papadopoulos, pianist, founder and music director of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, at the University of Oxford, was described by The Times newspaper as "having all the attributes of one of the world's greatest players". On the occasion of his concert on October 30th, 2018, at Kaufman Music Center in New York, Dr. Papadopoulos spoke with New Greek TV's journalist, Despina Afentouli, about his international career as both pianist and conductor.

B. Coronakis: "The European Union Must Survive..."

The past, present and the future of the European Union was examined by Greek-Belgian journalist, Basil Coronakis's new book, "The Deep State of Europe". The journalist shared his views about the European Union through the scope of the immigration crisis, the EU enlargement, the security measures, human rights, the quality of political leadership, and the "Macedonia" name dispute. Basil Coronakis gave a compelling interview to New Greek TV's journalist, Despina Afentouli, about his book.

Ch. Xenos: “Greek cooking is healthy and approachable”

From her grandmother's Greek cuisine to personal chef services in Los Angeles, U.S.A, the second generation Greek-American chef, culinary and travel writer, Christina Xenos, gave an interview to New Greek TV's journalist, Despina Afentouli, about her new cook book, her professional achievements, and how she managed to keep it Greek in the U.S.A.

V. Zoulias: "Fashion is a way of living and the air that I breath..."

From the heart of Athens to the Golden Globes Awards, and New York, his fashion designs found their way to the so-called capital of fashion, New York. The Greek fashion designer, Vassilis Zoulias, gave New Greek TV's journalist, Despina Afentouli, an exclusive interview about his professional life and fashion choices, from the first steps of his career as a journalist to the world of fashion.

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