By Catherine Tsounis
An advocate for Greek Education, she helped everyone from the 1970’s, with no strings attached. She was behind the scenes in the expansion of the Greek Bilingual expansion during the age of Greek immigration as a young educator. She never expressed her political philosophy. The late educator/administrator had one purpose: the perpetuation of the Greek language, culture, and Greek Orthodox Church of America. The late Maria Makedon-Fountas had all these attributes and more. Full of Greek passion, she always remembered her friends and they all respected and were loyal to her.
Mrs. Maria Makedon-Fountas, Director of the Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education, passed away on May 23rd . She is survived by her husband Apostolos Fountas, her son Stylianos Stratigos, and her siblings George, Konstantina, and Anastasios. The funeral service was at the Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegial Orthodox Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou, 36-07 23rd Avenue in Astoria, NY 11105. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the St. Demetrios Building Daycare Operation, 30-67 31st Street, Astoria, NY 11102, for the building under construction.
The Education Advocate was honored by The Greek Teachers Association Prometheus on February 28th, 2016. I wrote the following tribute to her. The following s writing summarizes some of her achievements for over 40 years.
“Education is the kindling of a flame not the filling of a vessel” Socrate, Greek Philosopher (470 B.C. – 399 B.C.). A unique educator who has worked in Greek American education since the 1970’s was honored. Mrs. Maria Makedon-Fountas, Director of the Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, was recognized for her outstanding achievement at the Fortieth Anniversary Luncheon of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” on Sunday afternoon, February 28th, 2016, at Terrace on the Park, Flushing, N.Y.
His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of America, Mr. Stephen Cherpelis, Archon Dikaiophylax of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Dr. Theodosis Pelegrinis, Deputy Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs of Greece with staff member George Krikis, Mr. Vasilis Philippou Consul-General of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr. Thalia Chatziagiannoglou, Head of the Office for Educational Affairs of the New York Consulate General of Greece and prominent persons from the education and business communities attended.
Director Makedon-Fountas was honored by a certificate from Michael Giannaris, NY State Senator of District 12, Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” and the Department of Education of Greece. Maria joined the staff of the Archdiocese following her graduation from St. Basil Academy/Teachers College, in June 1971, to serve in the Department of Education as an executive secretary and assistant to the director. In November 1989, Archbishop Iakovos officially appointed her as assistant director of the Department of Education.
Maria Makedon-Fountas holds a diploma from St. Basil Academy/Teacher College (1971) as well as degrees from St. John’s University (B. S. in Education, 1985, Magna Cum Laude) and Teacher’s College/Columbia University (M.A. in Educational Administration, 1988). She also holds a permanent certificate as a Public-School Administrator/Supervisor from the New York State Education Department (1991). Maria Makedon is in-charge of the development and administration of the annual Comprehensive Examination in Modern Greek, a foreign language achievement test that assesses proficiency in Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing Modern Greek. She has also supervised and/or contributed to numerous other publications of the Archdiocese Education Department on the Greek language and culture including the Kindergarten Curriculum that was published in 2007.
As a member of the Standing Committee of New York City Religious and Independent Schools, Maria Makedon-Fountas represents the Archdiocese and the NYC Greek Orthodox parochial day schools at the federal, state, and local education authorities. Her participation in various conferences and committee meetings has initiated contacts that have helped provide the New York City day schools with various funded services and resources.1 She was selected as “The National Herald’s Educator of the Year” in 2014.
Maria Makedon is a friend to me from the mid 1970’s, changing my life. I respect her loyalty through the years. February 28th was her day. We are all honored to be present when her unique contribution to Greek American education was recognized.” Maria Makedon-Fountas life is best characterized by Pericles quote “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”