By Catherine Tsounis
“Always to be the best and to rise above others and not bring shame upon the race of my fathers…” Homer’s Iliad, 6.208-6.209.
This is the motto of Principal Athena Tsokou Kromidas’ education career that shaped generations in New York City. The saint Nicholas William Spyropoulos PTA honored the retiring principal, educator Kathy Prokos and last term Executive board Members. On Saturday evening, May 12, 2018 at the 41st Anniversary Dinner Dance at The Chateau Briand, Carle Place, New York. Nearly 400 persons attended. Entertainment was by Yianni Papastefanou and his Orchestra.
Excellent cocktail hour, dinner, rolling bar, décor, raffle prizes and gifts for ever family that attended made this event unforgettable. The 7th and 8th grade dance groups performed. A journal book of over 2014 pages gave a look into the career of Principal Kromidas, the school and her supporters from the education and business community of New York. PTA President Emilianna Siderakis, PTA vice President Thalia Misthos, the Journal committee and Dinner & Raffle Committee created an event remembered by all.
The following congratulations are taken from the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos PTA Journal. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios said “This evening you have most appropriately chosen to honor Mrs. Athena Kromidas, Principal Emeritus, for her exemplary offering to the Spyropoulos School. Mrs. Kromidas demonstrated an emphasis on education that cultivates the soul, lays the foundation for advancement, achievement and creates the cornerstone for excellence in all efforts of human endeavor. I congratulate and thank Mrs. Kromidas for demonstrating to the students that the true fruit of education is virtue.”
Protopresbyter Paul C. Palesty explained that “Athena is not your typical professional educator. For Mrs. Kromidas, the mission of every educator is a ministry. Beyond the fact that she is a scholar and student of history, literature and Greek Civilization, more importantly, is that she lives the simplistic and pure beauty of this civilization in her own life and thereby represents in the possible way the ethos of Greek Orthodox education. Her strong roots in the Hellenic Orthodox Tradition is the power that enables her to inspire everyone toward a genuine love of Hellenism and Orthodoxy.”
Rev. Palesty believes “Athena has been a blessing to the community of saint Nicholas and its school. She would always sacrifice her personal pursuits to give individual time to know every child and to establish meaningful connections with them. Her distinct and humble manner, and her continued effort to acquire knowledge, inspires her colleagues, sensitizes the students and draws the respect of parents. Her dedication exemplifies and provides a catalyst for youth to set goals for their lives and thereby develop healthy families that fortify society and our country.”
Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of the Consulate General of Greece, New York congratulated “Principal Athena Kromidas for elevating the Greek language education of the United States of America. She worked with a passion to keep Greek educational alive. She nurtured the bonds of all with the Mother Country.” State Senator Michael N. Gianaris said “I join you in honoring an outstanding individual and a personal friend. I commend her as a devoted Principal to the community for decades. I know you are appreciated by the parents and teachers of the school.” In my opinion, Mrs. Kromidas never used her network for political, social or financial advancements. She followed the Iliad motto “not bring shame upon the race of my fathers.”
“For over 32 years, Principal Kromidas worked tirelessly to preserve the Greek language and cultural traditions,” believes Aravella Simotas, NYS Assembly member of the 36th district, Queens. “She enabled each of her students to reach their full potential. Principal Kromidas’ leadership and dedication to students and families have made an immeasurable impact on our community.”
“The constant throughout the years has been Athena Kromidas… She has loved all of the students as if they were her own children,” stated Bill Kakoulis, Parish Council President 2018. “Throughout her career she strove for excellence not only for herself, but for her students,” explained Mrs. Mary Tzallas, the new Principal. “Behind every decision, every action, even every reprimand, the driving force was the love she has in her heart.” Georgia Kakivelis, Assistant Principal confirms “there is no denying that Mrs. Kromidas has left her imprint on the Saint Nicholas William Spyropoulos School.” Elaine T. Mallios, President of the School Board of the William Spyropoulos School stated, “We recognize and appreciate all that she has accomplished, and we wish her a lifetime filled with an abundance of health and happiness.”
Dr. Maria Teresa Sakatis Ioannou, has her three children, the second generation, enrolled at the William Spyropoulos School. “I am an alumnus of the 1990 class. Ten years after we graduated, we had a reunion. I was so surprised that Mrs. Kromidas remembered our names. She was the first person to greet us at the school and the last person to leave. She has two biologic children and thousands of adopted children at William Spyropoulos School. She will be truly missed.”
How do her two sons feel about her education work? “You are the most devoted and loving mother and grandmother our family could ever ask for,” said her older son George and daughter-in-law Anna. ‘I am extremely proud of you and consider myself exceptionally lucky to have been raised by you,” said John, her younger son.
“The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education,” by Plutarch was quoted by the Panchiaki Korais Society of New York. “You are the pride of Chios.” I know for a fact that Mrs. Kromidas worked behind the scenes to influence many of their philanthropic projects. “The Stephen & Areti Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School PTA recognized that evening her years of dedication to their school.
Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” President Demosthenes Triantafillou, who was the founder and first Principal of St. Demetrios H.S. in Astoria (1973-1982), congratulated “Athena Kromidas for her contribution to the Greek language teaching in the United States. Axia! (Worthy). She is an active member of ‘Prometheus’ who has added to its professionalism.”
Athena Kromidas was born in Mesta, Chios, Greece. She finished elementary school in her village and then moved to Chios, the capital of the island, where she attended high school. She graduated from the all-girls high school of Chios with high honors.
Mrs. Kromidas received her Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Philosophy with honors from the Philosophical School of Ethnic University of Athens. She became a high school teacher of Philosophy and classical studies, and she taught at the Argyroupolis High School of Kardamyla and the all-boys high school of Chios.
In August 1976, she immigrated to the United States where she continued her career. For two years she taught in the Greek Afternoon School of the Transfiguration on, Corona. In 1979, she received her Master’s Degree in Bilingual Education with a scholarship from St. John’s University. Immediately after, she was hired by the same university to teach Greek language and literature until 1987. She began her career at the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos Greek-American Day School in 1985 when she was hired by the school as an Assistant Principal under the principalship of Cathy Zangas. Her duties included supervising the Greek program and writing the Greek curriculum of the school. The following year, Mrs. Kromidas became the principal of the St. Nicholas Greek Afternoon School, a position which she held simultaneously with her position as Assistant Principal of the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos School.
In addition to her work in the William Spyropoulos School and the St. Nicholas Greek Afternoon School, Mrs. Kromidas became a member of the Archdiocesan Board of Education in 1986, a position which she held until 1996, and, in 1986, she also became a member of the Greek Regents Committee-a position which she still holds today. She served as a member of the writing committee of “Paideia Omogenon” of the University y of Crete. She was the president of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” for two terms. She has presented many lectures on the themes of education, literature, culture, and history.
In 1990, Mrs. Kromidas’s responsibilities as Assistant Principal of the William Spyropoulos were expanded to include supervision of both the English and Greek curriculums under the principalship of Mrs. Arlis. During this time, she attended a program in C.W Post, Long Island University through which she earned her Professional Diploma in School Administration and Supervision in 1995. In September 2000, she left her position as principal of the St. Nicholas Stefanos and Areti Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School to become the principal of the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos Greek American Day School-a position which she held until February 15, 2018 and the one which she is best known for.
Over the years, Mrs. Kromidas has repeatedly taken part in radio and television appearances and panel discussions on educational matters. With a keen knowledge of the educational needs of the students, Mrs. Kromidas, along with the Greek Teachers of the parish of Flushing, undertook the task of reorganizing and simplifying the religion and history books for the children to better comprehend them. The book Greek Mythology is a product of her labor. Along with Mr. Chris Stratakis she was a member of the editing committee of the commemorative publication Chians on Parallel Roads published by Panchiaki Korais N.Y Mrs. Kromidas also hosted a weekly radio program from July 2006 until May 2015 on Cosmos FM 91.5 which was designed to take listeners on an educational literary journey. She is actively involved in the Charity events of the Ronald McDonald House, particularly the annual Walk-A-Thon.
Mrs. Kromidas’s works have been recognized with numerous awards throughout her career. In April of 1991, the late Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America bestowed upon her the Medal of the Three Hierarchs. In June of 1992, she was honored by the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos School for her outstanding services. In January of 1993, she was named Educator of the Year by the daily newspaper National Herald. In January of 1996, she was honored by the P.TA. of the Greek Afternoon School of Saint Nicholas, and her name and her services were recorded on the Congressional Records. She also received
A citation from the State Assembly of New York. In May of 1996, the Mesta Association of America recognized her for her contributions to the Greek Letters, and, in November of 1998, the Panchiakos Syllogos Korais honored her for excellence in education. In January of 2001, the Greek Afternoon School acknowledging her services, dedication, and devotion to Hellenic Orthodox education awarded her, and a commemorative journal was published in her name. Citations from political leaders were presented to her as well.
In May of 2004, she was honored by the P.T A. of the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos Greek-American Day School for her outstanding services to the school. A commemorative journal was published in her name. In March of 2005, the honorable Ekaterini Bouras, Consul General of Greece, in collaboration with the Women Consuls General of New York, awarded her with the Community Empowerment Award for outstanding achievements and contributions. In March of 2006, courtesy of Senator Michael Gianaris, a Citation of Honor was presented to her by the Borough President of Queens, Helen Marshal, on Greek Independence Day. In May of 2007, she received an award for outstanding contributions to the Greek education by the Federation of Hellenic Educators. Simultaneously, she was presented with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition by Carolyn Maloney of the House of Representatives and an honorary diploma for outstanding contributions to the Greek Education by the Ministry of Education of Greece. In November of 2013, she received the “Homeric Award” by the Chian Federation of N. Y, For her dedication to the Hellenic Orthodox Letters along with a commemorative publication. Recently, she was also acknowledged for her devotion to the Hellenic Ideals by the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus.”
Mrs. Athena Tsokou-Krornidas is the daughter of Ioannis and Demetra Tsokou and sister of George and Marika. Her older brother Mihalis passed away when he was 18 years old. She is married to Stefanos Kromidas and has two children: George and John. George is married to Anna Kanterakis, and they have four boys named Stefanos, Nikolas, Michael and Lukas! 1
Kostas Ioannou and Dr. Maria Sakatis Ioannou contributed to the journal book research.
- “The Saint Nicholas William Spyropoulos PTA” journal book, May 12, 2018, PP. 14-16.
Photo1- Principal Athena Tsokou Kromidas with Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” President Demosthenes Triantafillou (left to right), Protopresbyter Paul C. Palesty and Tony Barsamian, Queens Gazette Publisher.
Photo 2 – Principal Athena Tsokou Kromidas with family.
Photo 3 – Dancers.