2020 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Supervisor of Guidance
Efthymia Rafaelides is a passionate child advocate who will take whatever actions are necessary to meet the needs of each and every Hicksville student. She is as effective an educator as she is devoted, having designed several critical programs to promote increased student achievement.
Working with the district’s supervisor of world languages, Ms. Lisa Estrada, Ms. Rafaelides developed the Parent-Student University (PSU) to connect the parents of English Language Learners (ELLs) with what is happening in their schools. The PSU meets throughout the year and incorporates guest speakers on a variety of critical topics, such as following a successful path to citizenship and navigating the college admissions process. Ms. Rafaelides also advocated for and achieved the addition of three bilingual guidance counselors to better support ELLs at the middle and high school levels.
This year, in partnership with Nassau BOCES, Ms. Rafaelides spearheaded the creation of the Working to Inspire, Nurture, Grow and Succeed (WINGS) program, which provides at-risk students with a non-traditional classroom setting during afterschool hours to help them become more successful. She was able to accomplish this impressive undertaking through the support of Superintendent Marianne Litzman and the Hicksville Board of Education; Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Anthony Lubrano; Hicksville High School Principal Raymond Williams; and the hard work of an incredible school counseling team, fellow administrators and parents.
Ms. Rafaelides, along with high school administrators Ms. DuBeau and Mr. Sweeney, oversees this full-service educational program, as well as the Nassau BOCES Twilight High School Program. Twilight High School provides small class settings with more individualized teacher attention, empowering students to achieve traditional Regents-based high school diplomas or equivalency diplomas. The positive effects of both programs are already evident in the form of increased student academic performance and attendance.
Ms. Rafaelides created a Peer Mentoring Academy (PMA) in the middle school. The goal of the PMA is to have high school students mentor and tutor middle school students who are struggling academically and who would benefit from connecting to an older peer. Students in the middle school relate to leaders from the high school, who in turn assist the middle school students with homework and serve as positive role models.
In collaboration with the school counseling team and fellow administrators, Ms. Rafaelides brought the web-based, cross-curricular career exploration program Naviance to Hicksville. Under her supervision, school counselors and teachers worked together to develop lessons marrying students’ college and career interests with critical academic skills, such as reading and writing. Similar programs have since been mandated by the New York State Education Department.
Recognizing the importance that mindfulness adds to Social Emotional Learning, Ms. Rafaelides has been instrumental in organizing district-wide mindfulness trainings and workshops for administrators, teachers, school counselors, social workers, psychologists, clerical staff and parents. Students engaged in mindfulness practices are learning techniques to calm the mind and body, reduce their sense of stress, and increase attention spans in the classroom.
“It has been my honor to serve with my colleague, Efthymia Rafaelides,” wrote her award nominator. “She is simply one of the hardest working and most dedicated educational professionals that I have met in my 30-year career. Her actions speak to her deep commitment to the students of Hicksville. She is truly selfless.”