A Few Words From Our Parents

Our children are half fourth-generation Greek Canadians. The Greek side was in danger of being lost altogether, with no Greek spoken at home, and almost no Greek cultural influences. Socrates has changed all that. Our kids are now fluent in Greek, they feel a part of Montreal’s Greek community, and are proud of their Greek heritage. For this, and for the strong overall academic grounding they are getting, we are grateful.

Anna Asimakopoulos and Preston ChaseJournalist and Teacher

Everyone knows that Socrates provides our children with the possibility to learn three languages. The news and recent studies have clearly indicated that learning extra languages exercises the brain at a different level and enriches intelligence. This is why schools across North America are now trying to copy the Socrates model and teach three languages in their schools. The children that graduate from the Socrates’ schools are described by high school teachers as students who are very organized and disciplined in their studies. Until now I may have not told you anything you do not already know.

To a parent with children attending Socrates, however, it is a lot more than that. Socrates is a place which provides our children with a nurturing and stimulating environment which makes learning fun. When I ask my older daughter, Eleftheria, if she likes her school she says, “I love my school mommy. I love learning three languages and the teachers are nice and fun”.

Socrates is a place where the teachers are passionate not only about their jobs but also about their students. When I go to parent/teacher interviews, the teachers go beyond just talking to me about my daughters’ marks and academic achievements. They take time to talk to me about my daughters’ strengths and weaknesses as individuals. Above all the principal, teachers and administrative staff sincerely care for our children and go the extra mile to ensure their well-being.

When my younger daughter, Niki, was in kindergarten, she had the misfortune to have to undergo surgery. It was what is considered to be minor appendicitis surgery but to a parent, it is surgery nonetheless. When the time came to take her back to school, I was terrified, but it had to be done. Unfortunately I could not keep her at home in bubble wrap, although I so wanted to! The care and attention that she received when she returned to school was unbelievable. The secretary of the school, Despina, called me any time Niki wanted to speak to me and she never seemed to be bothered when I called and called and called again to inquire on how Niki was feeling. Niki would come home every day with stories of how the staff and teachers would watch over her and of how each of her classmates would help her by carrying her bag, reaching for her books or getting her lunch box. The wonderful educators at the after school program got all of the kids to sign a giant card for Niki. The older kids would watch over her so she would not get hurt. A year later, Niki unfortunately had to have another minor surgery when she broke her elbow. When she saw that I was hesitant to bring her back to school she said to me, “It is okay mommy you don’t need to worry, everyone will take care of me.” This time I went to work with a sound mind knowing that everyone in the school was looking out for my little girl and I didn’t call Despina quite as often as the first time!

They say it takes a community to raise a child and at Socrates we have just that. As a parent, it comforts me to know that my girls are going to a school that represents the continuation of the values we are teaching them at home. In this world of hustle and bustle, I feel a sense of comfort knowing that my daughters have this little gem of a home away from home which makes them feel cared for, gives them a sense of belonging and teaches them to take a moment to pray and to help others.

Irene ChrysanthopoulosLawyer

While more and more private high schools are incorporating the teaching of a third language as part of their main curriculum , recognizing the competitive edge of trilingualism in today’s academic and business world, Socrates has pioneered trilingual teaching for decades, starting at the ripe age of 6. We often underestimate the ability of our young children to acquire several languages simultaneously, and question the ability of a school to offer such a diverse program without compromising on the quality or depth of teaching for each individual language, or without taking away from some of the other core courses such as math, at the elementary level. I was also guilty of these misconceptions, when I struggled to choose “the best school” for my first-born when he came of age.

I took a leap of faith that proved to be one of the wisest parental decisions I have ever made. Socrates not only offers a rich academic program, comparable to some of the highly rated more expensive private schools, but does so in a caring, nurturing environment, with a strong sense of belonging, as well as pride for our cultural heritage and beliefs. The classes are small, allowing the teachers more time to focus on each individual student’s needs. The children are challenged to reach their full potential, but without the unnecessary intimidation and pressure to perform often encountered in other schools. Every class is equipped with Smart Boards, and the children have access to a newly renovated library. They are also sensitized to important contemporary issues, such as respect of the environment, as well as bullying. The family-like setting where everyone knows everyone builds confidence and fosters a love of school that is indispensable at this stage in life. I truly believe I have made the best choice for my children.

Dr. Polymnia GalatsiatosGastro-entérologue

As a parent I am very happy that I made the decision a few years back to send my daughter to Ecole Demosthene. Demosthene is a very family oriented school that promotes and teaches children their Greek heritage while making French the primary focus. I have seen many benefits to having my daughter attend Demosthene. The main benefit is that despite offering a curriculum that is predominantly French, the English and Greek language are also taught as primary languages. I can only see my daughter benefiting throughout her life from having become well versed in all three languages. I also feel that the school has taught and continues to teach my child strong moral values which are a strong attribute in today’s society. I am also confident that the challenging academic program will help ensure my child’s continued success in the academic world after leaving École Demosthene.

Kimberley GodonSoftware Licensing Specialist

Socrates schools offer the ultimate for the Canadian child of Greek heritage: the opportunity to attend an excellent private French school while developing a strong foundation and understating of our Greek culture.

As a private French school, students are exposed to a rigorous curriculum. I am quite impressed at the rate with which they advance and the depth of the lessons. Teachers are very dedicated and care profoundly about the student’s progress. By offering Greek classes daily, our children have the opportunity to learn and improve their oral/written Greek in a significant and meaningful way. Furthermore, they are taught Greek history and religion and partake in many customs that serve to ingrain a lasting love for our Greek traditions.

Devoted and professional teachers; an enriched French and English program; extra allocated time for physical education; valuable door-to-door school bus service; these are the reasons that I feel Socrates offers an outstanding educational experience. As parents, we are grateful that our children have the chance to attend an exceptional private French school while embracing and enriching their proud Greek heritage.

Areti KaradimosProject Manager R&D

Choosing the right elementary school for our children was one of the more challenging decisions my husband and I had to make as parents. And although there were certainly many excellent schools to choose from, we believe that choosing École Socrates was the right decision for our family.

Our son entered kindergarten speaking primarily Greek and within weeks, he was already making full sentences in French and his thirst to learn more was extraordinary. He embraced the school and felt right at home thanks to the incredible teachers who are trained to recognize that many of the students like my son, have not been raised in a unilingual francophone environment. They patiently exposed my son to each of the languages using the appropriate methods and tools to help him flourish, and he has. As he nears the end of his first year, he is already able to express himself with ease in both French and Greek, and he has begun reading and writing in both languages as well. The school has also helped me meet my objectives as a mother, which includes teaching him about his culture, history and religion, and encouraging him to embrace his heritage. He comes home every day having learned something new about where he comes from and witnessing this continued enthusiasm and progress has been a joy.

Adamantia MaltezosNotary

My daughter Olivia had a number of wonderful years at Démosthène. She not only became trilingual, she also learned to dance Greek dances, she sang in a choir, she participated in various shows and in several sports tournaments, and she got to know her Greek culture. The school’s team is very involved in the lives of the children, so much so that their proactive approach gives parents confidence that their children are in good hands. Olivia’s years at Démosthène not only gave her a lot of confidence, but also a sense of belonging to an extended family.

In fact, we had such a great experience with our daughter Olivia we did not hesitate to place our son Christopher in kindergarten at Démosthène. What a great decision! He wakes up happy and eager to go to school every morning, and is already speaking French fluently, a language he barely spoke before entering kindergarten! Christopher will continue his studies at Demosthenes, while Olivia will commence her studies at a private high school with all the necessary tools to continue her education in French … and succeed!

Irene MichaelakisLaw graduate / Lawyer

Our need to find a school(s) to have our daughter become fluent in French and English along with maintaining and developing a love of our culture, heritage and language all within a strong academic framework was not an easy task. Consulting friends, relatives and acquaintances about various schools, we started to see a very strong pattern of success with children and young adults that had finished the Socrates/Demosthenes program. Many children were in top rated French private high schools, and many were honor roll students in both public and private high schools. The vast majority of former students that were older were excelling in various Cegeps and Universities, and there were two (one a first cousin) and one a friend’s nephew that had been accepted into Harvard. If all of this was not enough what really convinced us was a conversation with two former neighbors that were retired high school teachers at the prestigious College Stanislas. In a casual conversation one afternoon they asked where we were thinking of sending our daughter to elementary school. I answered Socrates (not knowing what to expect), their answer surprised me. They answered “you have made a fantastic decision, all the children that we taught over the years from Socrates were always amongst our best students. They were always polite, well behaved and academically very strong”. Our decision had been made.

On the first day when the bus picked up Pamela at our door with her name tag indicating her classroom and teacher we were told not to worry and not to follow the bus to school. Having been the nervous parents that we were, and feeling that we were throwing our precious little girl into the world all alone, we refrained from following the bus to school (we abided with the school’s wishes) instead we decided to take an alternate route. When we arrived we saw the children getting off their buses and being greeted and made to feel comfortable by their teachers. We quickly realized that our little girl was safely in good hands. When the day ended she was safely returned back home to our front door with a big smile and a sense of accomplishment. Over the last few years this daily ritual has been repeated over and over. Pamela has excelled academically and has developed a love of learning and many friendships which I am sure will last a lifetime. Socrates has become more than a school for us and more importantly for Pamela; it has become part of the family.

Nick PapapanosInvestment Advisor

In 2004 when our first child was ready for pre-school my husband and I were in the difficult position of having to select the right school in which to entrust our child. We wanted a school that not only offered a strong academic program but also provided a safe and welcoming environment in which our child would flourish. We feel fortunate today that we selected Socrates school in Laval. The school has not only met our expectations, it has surpassed them. The school provided and continues to provide an environment that promotes each child’s individuality and self-confidence.

The trilingual program has provided our children with an exceptional academic experience where they have been able to embrace their rich Greek heritage while at the same time preparing them for higher studies and life in Quebec and Canada.

Like many other parents we chose to send our children to Socrates V Elementary School in Laval, and as the years have progressed he have seen the teachers and administrators continuing to raise the bar in all aspects of the schools day to day offering. Their continued dedication and commitment to their students continues to surpass our expectations not only from an academic point of view but also with respect to instilling morals and values that we as parents cherish.

I am grateful to the Hellenic Community and the countless volunteers and employees who have worked tirelessly to provide my children with the exemplary program that they are following. Our children are proud of their Greek heritage and their culture and I am confident that after finishing their studies at Socrates and continuing on to higher levels, like so many other children that I know, they will have the tendency to stand out given their self-confidence, organizational skills and general knowledge.

Matina TsoukatosBMO Cash Management Specialist

Our daughter, Ioanna Katravas, has attended Ecole Socrates-Demosthene (the Demosthene campus), since kindergarten 2010. It is with pride that we as her parents consider Ioanna one of the true success stories to come out of your school. If you will allow me I would like to tell you why…
Our daughter entered your school with a zest and excitement to learn, a passion for sports and physical activity, and a curiosity and interest to discover all about her culture and what it means to be Greek. She has excelled in each and in all of these areas with the help of your exceptional staff. Our expectations and Ioanna’s were surpassed by leaps and bounds. Every teacher that she has had throughout the years has guided her with patience, taught her with incredible experience and skill and helped her to grow and mature with a commitment and love that will never be forgotten.
Ioanna has remained in the top of each grade with an overall average that never fell below 94%. An accomplishment in and of itself! But there was so much more…
Ioanna’s Greek teachers (K. Katerina Maris, K. Anastasia Politou, K. Evangelia Tsalkidou, K. Tassoula Tzotzis and Christina Kopanitsanou) opened the doors to a world that taught her where she came from and the pride and love that comes with being Greek. We could never thank them enough for teaching our daughter the things that were beyond our grasp.
Ioanna has participated in every March 25th parade since Kindergarten.She has also participated in other events that enriched her pride in being Greek; including talking to a Greek radio station about her school, having her compositions printed in the Greek newspaper and appearing on Greek TV to talk about October 28 and what it means.
Eric, the gym teacher at campus Demosthene, has been the one constant in our daughters’ life since the beginning. He has taken her love of sports and physical activity to whole new level. The more proud he became of her the more she pushed herself to go even higher, ever better…sometimes times for her teacher and always for herself. This is what he has taught her!
Ioanna has participated in all the Alexandria races where she has placed in the top 3 except for one year when she came in 4th overall.She has also excelled in other areas of physical education. She has made and broken her own records in sit-ups, the Beep test and the Cooper test. She has received many trophies every year she has attended school, whether it was for most valuable player or most points achieved. She has been captain of numerous teams when our school was in tournaments and star of the month in gym class multiple times. When Ioanna was in grade 5 she was honoured and proud to be invited to participate in a soccer tournament in Quebec City with the grade 6 class.
Of course her success in class is due in large part to an amazing group of French and English teachers that we will always be grateful to. Each one starting with kindergarten has been exactly what our daughter needed to excel and prosper every year. Her teachers, our teachers, your teachers are beyond compare and quite simply the best!
She has been class president, student of the month numerous times and always on the honour roll. She has formed bonds and friendships that have become a part of the very fabric of her life.
To complete this incredible success story, Ioanna has been accepted to every high school that she applied to. College Ste. Anne, College Pensionnat du Saint Nom de Marie, College Beaubois, College Laval, College Regina, College St. Sacrement, College Boisbriand, College Citoyen…
It has been an amazing seven years and although it is with sadness that she will leave her beloved school at the end of this year, Ioanna walks away as a well rounded young girl with a top quality education and a world of memories, laughter and joy that she will carry with her always.
Thank you,
from a proud Mommy and Daddy

Bessy Kyres and Tasso Katravas

A Few Words From Our Former Students

I attended Socrates 3 from the young age of four years old, beginning my journey in pre-kindergarten and graduating eight years later from grade 6. Today, I am an attorney, practicing for two years and owe much of my success to the elementary school that taught me motivation, leadership and a love for learning that has never left me.
It is said that the best things parents can give their children are roots and wings. A school has to be more than just a great academic environment; it must be the place where parents can give their children those two special gifts. Socrates provided me with the tools to be able to “spread my wings” and strive for my goals as well as allowed me to deepen my connection to the history and culture of my Greek roots which has been an essential part of my academic success.
I can confidently say today, as I have narrowed my way through the educational system in Quebec that Socrates adequately prepared me for what was to come after grade 6. I attended the French high school, Collège Sainte-Marcelline, whose French curriculum was and still is very demanding. However, I possessed the right skills to keep up with the challenges without much difficulty and happily succeed. After high school, I continued on to Marianopolis College and then attended law school at Université de Montréal, having just recently completed my juris doctor in Common Law. Today, I am proud to be fluent in three languages, and feel that Socrates played a great role in providing me with the foundations to strengthen that very skill.
Although it is hard to remember all that I learned throughout my years at Socrates, I will never forget the values and skills I acquired, the teachers who were passionately committed to their work and the many friendships I formed and have kept until today. It is a place I will always remember and one which I will continuously and wholeheartedly support.

Denise ApostolakisJuris Doctor in Law, University of Montreal

Having attended Socrates Elementary School for six years helped shape me into the person that I am today. Socrates solidified my abilities to communicate, express myself and write in Greek, along with giving me the opportunity to establish friendships and relationships that have lasted to this day. Having been given the opportunity of being taught three languages was a great privilege, a privilege that has lasted and helped me throughout my academic years. The ability to communicate in three languages is an added advantage which I am certain will make me more competitive in the business world and help advance my career.
Looking back today, I am grateful to Socrates for enhancing and teaching me about Hellenic history, culture and tradition. Learning about my roots and heritage today plays a crucial role in my identity which I intend to pass on to my children. My love and pride of Greek culture keeps growing and I thank the faculty of Socrates for giving me the knowledge I needed to start my journey.

Georgia BabaroutsisBachelor of Arts and Science, Concordia University

Going to Socrates Elementary School served as much more than a starting point to my formal education. It served as the foundation to what would ultimately shape who I am, both as a person and an individual of Hellenic origin living in Montreal. Having the opportunity of being taught three different languages is something that has helped me all throughout my life, as I have been able to communicate with a variety of people in many different fields of work and study. In addition to being fully trilingual, I have learned and retained some of the most important features of the Hellenic culture: our language, our history, our religion, and our traditions. This is all thanks to Socrates and the teachers who served as mentors in some of the most crucial years of my formation.
Furthermore, having gone to Socrates allowed me to make many friendships that have lasted for years. I have also had the pleasure of taking part in many different cultural events, such as the annual Greek Independence Day parade and different religious ceremonies during the holidays.
Thinking back, my overall experience of having attended Socrates was great. I know more about my roots and my heritage, and it made me proud to be Greek. It is through Socrates that future generations of Greek-Canadian children will have the same opportunity I did to learn about an ever-evolving and ever-growing Greek history and culture.

Athanasios BoutasUrban Planning, Concordia University

Attending Socrates V was one of the most rewarding and memorable periods in my life. My name is Dean Liarakos and I am a proud graduate of Socrates (Laval). Socrates offers a challenging curriculum given it teaches students in three languages, which I feel properly prepares students to attend some of the toughest French high-schools out there. What I really liked is how the teachers pushed us to work hard and be the best. Presently I am in secondary four at College Laval and fluently speak three languages. Looking back, I now realize that I was not an easy student, but I now understand that the teachers really cared about not only me but all the students. When I was out of line they knew exactly how to handle my behavior and put me back on track again in order to succeed.
Thinking back at my elementary years brings a smile to my face because we worked hard but we also had fun. The teachers made learning fun in a creative way. A major positive of attending Socrates is the teaching of the Greek language. Not only did I learn to read and write in Greek, I also learned about my roots. We learned the culture of the ancient Greeks to the present. Two years ago I visited Greece with my family and visited the museum in Athens; my parents were amazed to see how much history my sister and I knew, thanks to Socrates. Over all I want to say that Socrates is a fantastic school for those who want challenging curriculum and a great education. Someday I hope to send my children to Socrates as well.

Dean LiarakosCollège Laval

As my college career draws to a close, I have found myself reflecting on what got me to where I am today. Invariably those reflections begin with my primary school education at Socrates. The summer before third grade, my mother was considering pulling me out of Socrates and enrolling me in a local public school so that I could be with my neighborhood friends. I was having some disciplinary problems at Socrates and I didn’t have very many friends at the time, so my mom thought that I would do better if I was happier at another school. I also detested the uniform and was excited at the prospect of being able to choose my own clothes every day. At the very last minute my mom somehow changed her mind and sent me to Socrates again that year, my friends at the public school told me my name was even called out during attendance on the first day. I’ve often wondered how things would have turned out if I had actually left Socrates. My disappointment at the time was immense, but I now look back on my four ensuing years at Socrates as a truly formative period of my life. I have always had some difficulty expressing exactly how I benefited from my education at Socrates, or why other parents should send their children there. The benefits of learning Greek and holding on to our Greek heritage are obvious, but I think I got a lot more than that out of my time there.
Something that defines me as a person is the fact that I speak three languages. I picked up Greek and English as a child growing up in a Greek family, talking to my friends, and watching English TV and movies. The biggest challenge was learning to speak French. My parents didn’t speak French very well back then, but they recognized the importance of French in Quebec. It is hard to imagine that I would have gotten into a private French high school if I had gone to an English public school instead of Socrates. Although I struggled initially keeping up with the French speakers once I was in high school, my grammar, written and reading comprehension skills were almost impeccable thanks to the daily focus on French at Socrates. This is one of the great strengths of Socrates’ educational philosophy: graduates speak at least three languages coming out of elementary school, and have the ability to perfect them or even to learn other languages much more quickly and intuitively than someone who speaks only one or two languages. It has definitely helped me a lot over the years.
Socrates also played a large role in awakening my curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Ever since the fourth grade, my favorite subject in school has been History. Learning about Ancient Greek history, how it affected and influenced the world, and how important it was to our heritage left me wanting more. I started to read anything I could find about Greek mythology, the Spartans, the Peloponnesian wars and anything else I could get my hands on. I was so hooked that I would even read these books under my desk until I got caught red-handed when I couldn’t resume the lecture from where the last person left off. Eventually, reading about history led to reading much, much more. I owe a lot to the teacher who sparked that curiosity.
Finally, one of the best things about Socrates was the fact that all the students shared the bond and the responsibility of being Greek. For me this meant that once I broke out of my shell, I found that I had a lot in common with most of my classmates. I think that being in a school with other kids who had a similar background to me broke down a lot of the barriers to forming friendships. I never felt nor did I consider anyone else to be an outsider. More importantly, our shared heritage made us unified as a student body. I’ll never forget how, during our graduation ceremony at Saint Georges, every single one of us received our diplomas to the loud applause and cheers of our fellow classmates despite the Pater’s insistence that we remain silent. To this day, it’s one of my many memories from Socrates that still brings a smile to my face.

Alexander MeletakosComputer Science, Harvard University

I attended Socrates 2 (Montreal) where I did all my elementary school studies. Since my graduation from Socrates, I have been a student of Collège Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur and I am now in Secondary 5.
I now see that the years that I spent at Socrates were very beneficial. The teachers were kind, patient and always explained lessons in a clear and structured manner. When I look back not only do I feel that the courses were interesting and captivating, but I feel as well that I became more autonomous and learnt to properly manage my time.
Being of Greek origin I now greatly appreciate that I was able to study Greek and to discover my families origins and culture. I strongly encourage parents to take advantage of our wonderful schools by enrolling their children at Socrates.

Christos PanaritisCollège Notre-Dame

I remember during my last year at Socrates how excited I was for High School and it is only now, after three years of actually attending it, that I realize that my most memorable moments were not spent on the campus of College Jean-de-Brebeuf, but amidst the company of my elementary school friends and teachers. Of course, there’s nothing more terrifying than that first day of high school; you’re in a completely new and different environment, surrounded by new people, new cultures, and new challenges. As daunting as it might seem, Socrates, equipped with its truly amazing staff, is what really allowed me to get through that first year of high school. Without the guidance and counsel of my elementary school teachers; I am certain I wouldn’t be the person I am today. At Socrates they don’t only make you feel as if you are part of one big Greek family, they help mold the minds of tomorrow. I don’t think I was ever as happy as when I was at Socrates, and like Marcel Proust once said: “Let us be grateful to the people that make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

Harry PapageorgiouCollège Jean-de-Brébeuf

My name is Evangelia Theodosopoulos. I am 21 years old and a proud graduate of École Primaire Socrates in Roxboro. I graduated from the school in 2003 and went on to do both my high school (Collège Ste-Marcelline) and CEGEP (Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf) education in French. I am currently studying Medicine at McGill University.
While I was attending Socrates, all I knew was that I loved my teachers, my friends and I was happy to be learning new things every day. Little did I know then, that my earliest education would give me the foundation I needed to one day realize my dreams.
I remember my elementary years fondly. I started attending Socrates in pre-kindergarten at the age of 4 and I remember the excitement I felt going to school on the “big bus” with my older sister. I remember celebrating our Greek Independence Day and participating in every parade on rue Jean-Talon. I especially remember when we had to be bundled up because of a snow storm or cold weather!
I remember the yearly Apokries Dance, school plays, Greek pride, Canadian pride and singing songs that we learned in three different languages. I remember looking out at the audience from the stage in our school gym and seeing my parents and grandparents smiling back at me with pride. The school was an extension of my family and I felt right at home.
I remember my wonderful and dedicated teachers, our compassionate principal and a school that gave me a trilingual education that I have come to value above all else.
I’m now in my second year of Medicine at McGill University and even though many years have passed since I’ve walked the halls or ran through the playground with my friends, Socrates will always be a part of who I am and the person I’ve become.”
I will always be proud to say that I am a graduate of Socrates!

Evangelia TheodosopoulosMedicine McGill University

My name is Peter Tsonis and I am 14 years old. I currently attend Collège Notre-Dame and I will be entering grade 10 in the fall. During elementary school, I attended Socrates 3 (Roxboro) where I had a wonderful experience.
I realize today that it was great to have an education which consisted of learning three languages at a very young age. I also have fond memories of all the school staff who were superb and looked to help the students with all their needs and wants. I also believe and see today that the skills that I learned at Socrates are highly pertinent and helpful in my daily life and the daily lives of all the schools’ students, past and present.

Peter TsonisCollège Notre-Dame