Training the “Community Servant”: The Greek Orthodox Church of America and the Teachers College of St. Basil’s Academy,1959-1973
The history of Greek educational institutions and Greek American women’s participation and experiences in their development in the United States remains largely absent from the scholarly literature. Despite the emphasis of the vital importance of Hellenic-Christian paideia found in official church documents, the press, and other sources, the Greek Orthodox Church community’s expansive educational efforts, as well as the role of Greek American and Greek born women who staffed the expanding community day and afternoon schools throughout the twentieth century have yet to be the subjects of comprehensive studies. As Greek women in America were actively supporting the expanding Greek Orthodox educational system as teachers, secretaries, choir directors, and fundraisers, it was the church hierarchy which articulated the needs of the Greek immigrant community and constructed a physical and ideological space for women to fulfill those needs. In doing so, the hierarchy ultimately directed their resources and efforts and defined their position within the community. In this essay, I examine the role of the Greek Orthodox Church of America in shaping the trajectory of St. Basil’s Academy Teachers College during the period 1959-1973. Although the College was established in 1944, I focus on the time period when Archbishop Iakovos assumed his position and turned his attention towards expanding Greek education. This study ends in 1973 when the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America (hereafter Archdiocese) along with community leaders decided to merge the Teachers College with the newly established Hellenic College in Brookline, Massachusetts. To that end, three questions guide this paper: What was the purpose of the Teachers College and how did it change over time? Who defined this purpose and why? Who was the college designed for?
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- Power and Authority in the Eastern Christian Experience: Papers of the Sophia Institute Academic Conference, New York, December 2010