RI Teacher of the Year’s White House Photo Goes Viral
Sunday, June 18, 2017
On Giannopoulos' own Facebook page, his public post had over 11,000 likes on Saturday morning.
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"Rhode Island Teacher of the Year 2017 meets the 45th President of the United States. That's all. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead," he wrote, with "pride" flag emojis.
Giannopoulos was honored in a surprise ceremony on June 9. According to the Rhode Island Department of Education:
Mr. Giannopoulos, who has taught at Beacon for the past six years, co-teaches classes in algebra, chemistry, and filmmaking. Mr. G, as he is known at Beacon, is also responsible for creating transition plans and evaluations for the students at Beacon with special learning needs, and he is the sponsor and coordinator the Gay Straight Alliance at the school.
“As we focus on coursework that is rigorous and relevant and on the importance of engaging students in challenging courses, I am glad that we have chosen as our Teacher of the Year an educator with such a diverse set of interests and skills,” said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Along with his responsibilities as a special-education transition coordinator, Nikos Giannopoulos teaches a wide range of courses, covering the arts, science, and mathematics. Additionally, as a sponsor of the Gay Straight Alliance at Beacon, he is committed to diversity and to creating a safe and secure learning environment for all. He is an excellent choice as the 2017 Teacher of the Year.”
Mr. Giannopoulos, who was raised in Pennsylvania and lives in Providence, holds a bachelor’s degree in French and the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his teacher certification in Secondary Special Education and Secondary English as a Rhode Island Teaching Fellow through the New Teacher Project.
In his Teacher of the Year application, Mr. Giannopoulos wrote: “The reason I remain a teacher today is that nothing I have ever done makes me feel as good as teaching does. I truly believe that the life of a public servant is as much a gift to the servant as it is to the people he is serving. … My greatest contributions and accomplishments as an educator are not awards or accolades. They are the students and artists I have nurtured over the past six years at Beacon Charter.”
In support of his application, one of his colleagues noted: “Nikos is as humble as he is effective, and, though he would never say it, he is without doubt the Beacon teacher who has had the most significant impact on students’ lives.”