Preschool Director Joanne Karipidis Kefalas is a prolific writer who recently began publishing children’s stories. Meet her!
Meet Joanne Karipidis Kefalas
Born and raised in Queens and Long Island, NY, Joanne Karipidis Kefalas traces her Greek roots to Veria and Kalavryta. Just as the characters in her stories, Joanne grew up in a multi-generational home.
“My grandparents lived with us. My mother now lives with us. It’s an experience I treasure.”
Joanne has a master’s degree in reading. For 8 years, she was a Kindergarten teacher at The William Spyropoulos Greek-American School of St. Nicholas (Flushing) and a reading teacher in the Levittown public schools. Joanne took some time off when her children were born. Joanne and her husband, Kostas have three sons.
Knowing the importance of reading, she approached the priest at her parish of St. Paraskevi in Greenlawn, NY, about starting a bilingual Mommy & Me ministry, with reading at the core. Wth Fr. Demetrios Moraitis’ enthusiastic support, she started the group with 6 kids. Ten years later, it grew into a bilingual preschool serving Mommy & Me, 3 & 4 year-olds, as well as Kindergarten. Joanne serves as the director of the Greek American Pre-School at St. Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Shrine Church.
Writing children’s books
Joanne has been writing stories since she began teaching.
“As a Kindergarten teacher, I teach letter, and words. Back in my class at St. Nicholas, I got the idea to read a book with Greekness in it. This planted the seed for me to write a book. Shortly thereafter, I realized I needed more material. So I started writing stories.”
A prolific writer, the stories were piling up. She didn’t publish them due to time. After she stopped working in the public schools, she began self-publishing her stories.
Her stories are about her family. She believes that makes the stories relatable.
“Especially to Greeks, since the characters are Greek, and there is a yiayia and papou, etc.”
This story was inspired by Joanne’s childhood fear.
“I was petrified to go to sleep at night. My yiayia would show me there was nothing to be afraid of.”
Joanne hopes this story will show children to not be afraid at night. She also wanted to show the importance of grandparents and intergenerational experiences. Her children are in the books. The boy in this story is her son, Yianni.
This story follows two brothers, Dean and George, who are getting ready for their first day of school. One is excited, the other is not. With family at the core of all the stories, Mom, Papou, and Yia Yia are there to help. In the end, the boys learn that the first day was nothing to worry about, and they’re enthusiastic about the new school year.
“The boys in this story are my sons, Gabriel and Argyris. Recently, I was on the radio show of Father Eugene Pappas of Three Hierarchs in Brooklyn. Gabriel called in. Father asked him about being in the book. He said, ‘I love it! I’m so happy!’”
Promoting her books
Joanne has been reading her books at parochial schools as well as public schools. She’s also done readings at churches and festivals. The books have been very well-received.
Book 3, a Greek children’s cookbook, will be out soon.
“It’s full of easy recipes to make with the kids. Non-Greeks can do it too. It’s easy and fun!”
In 2017, she plans to publish more of her stories. The next one, she said, will have a religious theme.
“I want to teach students about church and religion.”
Watch for more great stories from Joanne Karipidis Kefalas.
Joanne Karipidis Kefalas’ books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.