A personal tribute to one of my favorite teachers at Koraes Elementary School. Mrs. Sandra Bekiaris.(Miss Sperakas).

koraes 4th grade
Here is my 4th-grade class photo at Koraes Elementary School. Mrs. Sandra Bekiaris is at the top row, the sixth photo. I am in the second row, the second photo. 

The first time I met her was in the fourth grade in 1972. The church and school were located at W 83rd St and S Damen Ave in Chicago. I started at the school in first grade and it was located at E 73rd St & S Stony Island Ave in the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago. The Damen location was only temporary until the new church and school were being built. We stayed there for three years. Both places were unique, and I still miss them.

Miss Sperakas taught us mostly in the Damen location. One incident that I do remember was that she gave us an assignment about the human body. She selected each of us to write a composition about a certain area of it. Mine about the eyes. When I was at home, I studied them and try to write about it. I just couldn’t do it, because I have been bullied at times at school and was frightened. I wrote two paragraphs about the eyes. The next day, everyone turned in their compositions. At the end of the session, Miss Sperakas summoned me and wanted to speak to me. She asked why I turned such a shoddy composition. I told her I was so distracted by the bullying and couldn’t concentrate. I was too scared. She gave me great advice and said to me, “Don’t let the other kids get to you. I have my eye on them. I don’t tolerate nonsense.” She really put me at ease and my homework improved greatly.

She was a remarkable teacher and most people cherished her. She very was knowledgeable and fair. She was most encouraging to me even though the bullying continued. Off and on she overheard and witnessed anything that happened to me and did her best to stop it. When my family moved to Ashburn in September 1974, I found out she lived in the neighborhood too. One day, my brothers were riding their bicycles and somehow they discovered her house. She noticed them coming to the door and invited my brothers to come in. They told me she was gracious and offer them something to eat. I was absolutely surprised when my brothers came home and told me.

Mrs. Bekiaris (Miss Sperakas) stayed at Koraes until she retired in June 2019. We became friends on Facebook and talked once in a while. A few years ago on Memorial Day, I ran into at Evergreen Cemetery. When she saw me, she recognized me immediately. I am the admin of two Koraes Facebook groups. She loved all the nostalgic photos that I posted. I still felt shy and nervous when I spoke to her because she was my teacher. I really am going to miss her. Most of the teachers when I was at school are gone, but only Sandra remained there for many, many years. What a legacy! Thank you. Pete Kastanes. Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.

2 thoughts on “A personal tribute to one of my favorite teachers at Koraes Elementary School. Mrs. Sandra Bekiaris.(Miss Sperakas).

  1. What a great anecdote. I love it. I remember as far as pre-k in 1975 but some grades like 4th, I don’t recall anything but a few moments in class with classmates and books. It’s odd because for preK and Kindergarten I remember many things. I wish I had an anecdote for you that you can relate to. I’m from Elgin, Illinois, but my story began in Carpentersville, Illinois in 1984 as that’s the year I moved to the United States.

  2. While searching Koraes on Google I came across this. I was in Mrs. Bekiaris’ last class at Koraes. I know hate is a strong word, but that whole year, it genuinely seemed as though she hated me. I didn’t know my times tables, I couldn’t do long division, and she would get very mad at this. That year seemed like the worst year of my life at the time. I now realize she was just trying to push me to learn, a bit harshly, but she helped me focus my energy into learning. I now love math. I wish I could thank her as I never did, for she truly helped me learn. I showed my friends who were in that class with me this picture of ’70’s Mrs. Bekiaris and we all laughed and shared memories. Thanks.

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