The Greek American Institute Day School: Preserving Heritage and Education for Generations
Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis, Director of the Department of Greek Education, will publish a series of articles focusing on Greek education, with particular emphasis on highlighting several day schools.
The roots of Zoodohos Peghe Church, located in the Bronx and Manhattan, date back to the early 1900s when Greek immigrants settled in these areas. To ensure a strong connection to their cultural heritage and provide a proper education for their children, the Greek-American Institute was established in 1912. Serving as the first Greek-American day school in New York City, it aimed to create a community where Greek children could thrive alongside their peers.
Originally, the school served as both a day school and an orphanage, resulting in a division among its students into two groups: the initiates, who not only attended classes in the morning but also resided on the premises at night. , and foreigners, who were day students only. However, over time the orphanage became separated from the school and eventually closed.
Basically, the Greek American Institute emphasized the importance of bilingual education. Pupils spent half their school day in lessons taught in Greek, covering a range of subjects such as reading, writing, grammar, spelling, mythology, Greek history, geography and religion. The remaining half of the day was devoted to English lessons, including math, grammar, history, reading and writing. Over time, the program has undergone changes, placing more emphasis on the English curriculum. Despite these changes, Greek immigrant parents continued to prioritize the Greek language, fostering an environment where children of the same culture could grow up together.
Despite its evolution, the Greek American Institute remains committed to its founding principles. It holds a remarkable history, shaped by the dedication of its founders and the continued vision of community leaders. Today, the institute presents itself as an educational institution that not only imparts knowledge, but also promotes the Greek language and the Orthodox faith. It serves as a vital bridge between generations, ensuring that Greek heritage thrives while students receive a well-rounded education.
The Greek American Institute is a testament to the determination of Greek immigrants to preserve their cultural identity and provide a solid foundation for their children. From its beginnings as a bilingual school with an orphanage to its current emphasis on Americanized education while retaining the Greek language and faith, the institute has adapted to the changing needs of the community. Through its rich history and ongoing commitment, the Greek American Institute continues to shape student lives and foster a sense of pride in Greek heritage for generations to come.