Feat No 9: The Loras English Academy…the ground-breaker ……and…the heart-breaker

At the age of 17 I had obtained the necessary certificate and license to teach English as a Foreign Language. So I started doing exactly that.

I was mature enough to realize the financial situation of my family and felt the responsibility and duty to help them. To support them. To bravely tell them and show them they can count on me. Completely.

“How many hours are there in a day, Eugenia? Well then, you must work as many as you can handle. As many as you dare.” I dared myself and that was that:

* Private lessons at students homes all over our former residence, Ioannina, in Greece.

* I did not have a car and the means of transportation were not reliable enough to keep a tight schedule in order. So I went to all on foot. Carrying kilos of books in bags in both hands. And sometimes extra equipment like posters and board games on my back. In all weather conditions.

* Teaching at two private English Language Institutes.

* Teaching English at a private Nursery/Kindergarten.

* Doing translations at the end of the teaching day, meaning from 10.00 pm till 2.00 or 3.00am.

* But on which computer? I did not have one. So I provided volunteer work as a secretary at my uncle’s legal office who also happened to be a politician. Very busy. And he had a computer. So I would use that and his printer in return for my services.

And this went on every day – literally – Monday through Sunday. And all day – literally – from 7.00 am to about 2.00 am.

…for better or for worse,
for richer or for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish;
from this day forward,
until death do us part. I was married to my profession.

I was so ambitious, so powerful, so energetic, so passionate with what I was doing and how it was growing that I just could not stop. And I did not.

And I was helping my family. And I was helping my future family. And then I thought of a ground-breaking idea at the age of 23.

“I love private lessons because of their size. They are so productive. But I love the practicality of the Language Schools I teach at as you have all your books, resources, files, printers there…readily available. So why don’t I create a Language School but for private lessons, from one to three people?”

I said that exact phrase to my then fiancé, now husband, while having a rare coffee at one of the several, several though, coffee shops, Ioannina had and still has. Why rare? Because I never ever left a gap in my schedule. I would manage to fill it in with another student. But that day was one of the few that I hadn’t managed to do so. So while I was taking the second sip of that rare coffee, I released my idea loudly in the spring air and Thomas, believing in the potential, grabbed me by the hand and we immediately started searching for a small office. There went my coffee… Me and my big mouth… Me and my wild ideas… (Coffee Time for me had been transformed into something like a curse…while I was working even during the weekends, almost everybody else was enjoying their coffee…right in my face… While I was going back and forth, up and down, here and there. And I managed not to get distracted. At that age. In that lifestyle. I was working for Maggie and Nicholas and I hadn’t even met them. And I was even mocked for this gruesomely hard-working lifestyle. I was deaf and blind to it all).

In the heart of Ioannina, on a very popular and desired street, we found a 40 square-meter office. And I signed. While I was signing I started crying. Like a baby. In front of the owner of the office and the real estate agent. First time for a Scorpio like me to do that in public. “Why are you crying, what is wrong?” said one of the gentlemen. “She is happy and moved”, said Thomas. The truth? The first rent and the deposit was all the money I had in the world.

But I signed.

And innovated. The English Language School with a private tutoring concept did not exist in the books of the Ministries involved. So they made a combination of rules and that was our guideline. That was our innovation.

First year I was alone, pretending not to be sick, or tired. I couldn’t afford to be. Second year, Vicky had completed her studies and joined me. By the way, due to the same financial pressure, Vicky had managed to complete her studies in a record time. Making her own line of sacrifices. We divided the office into two smaller offices and followed the same successful recipe. Work. Hard work. No diversions. No regrets.

We were so busy at some point that new clients would not even come to ask if we had free time. This would become a problem if we had not acted fast. We had to find somebody, beyond our family union, that we could entrust with our clients. Our treasures.

And we signed for the next door office and found our first teacher. And then the next teachers and then the next offices.

And it boomed! Truly Boomed! I can still remember the beautiful rumbling sound our school was making while booming.

More and more students, more and more teachers, more and more ideas, more and more smiles. Boom!

Students were on waiting lists for the next school year. They all wanted to be a part of this. Parents and children. What a pleasure I took with planning the new school year schedule. No matter how stressful it was. For me it meant success.

Teachers were being interviewed; native speakers or Greek English teachers who had studied and lived abroad. Some came, some left, all of whom worked WITH us instead of FOR us. And that, for me, meant success, too. We were a team. A fun one and a professional one. And after all the coming and going we had reached a point where we had formed the perfect team. Lambrini, Helen and Lisa, Chrissie and Melanie, Alexandra and Rea, Jahnavi, Melina and Anastassia…oh, how I thank you all for being a part of my life, a part of my family’s life. Such a special part. Such a huge support.

And of course, the Loras Trio. With Christine, our younger sister starting off as secretary and moving on to teacher, making her own line of sacrifices, as our story goes, we were all head over heels in love with The Loras English Academy. Our lessons would come to an end in the evening and we just would not want to. None of us.

And then there is my family. My precious parents. What efforts they have put into all this cannot be written. What self-sacrificing participation they have made in all this story and history cannot be described. A true family business. My husband with all his support and financial knowledge. His younger sister, Carolina, for being our reliable secretary in times of need. And his elder sister, Sandy for hiring me at her own English Language School at the beginning of my career.

The methodology, the innovation, the teamwork, the sensational atmosphere, the safety and security, the sense of family and love towards everyone involved. It was all there.

So it was time for Maggie. And it was time for Eugenia to become a bit more human and allow time to herself to rest. To breathe. To eat while sitting down. Maggie came to the rescue when she was born.

And her new bilingual school was in the making. Feat No 10.

Next step was to renovate the facilities with even more self-sacrifice but even more passion. We were close to perfect. How smoothly we all worked. Our beautifully the lessons were conducted. Like an excellent choreography. And Maggie’s new bilingual school was ready. Awarded and admired. Loved and enjoyed. Renowned and highly recommended. Our name was our guarantee.

And all this in a handicapped country. Unfortunately, the country that has given so much to this world, is the country that could not contain us.

Our ground-breaking Academy was about to come a heart-breaking finale in Greece. Feat No 11.

The Loras English Academy

The Loras English Academy

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17 thoughts on “Feat No 9: The Loras English Academy…the ground-breaker ……and…the heart-breaker

  1. […] breathed, slept, ate and lived the school.  The Loras English Academy was something we had created, something we loved so much and even went to on Sundays in our pyjamas […]

  2. swisssirja March 13, 2013 at 06:11 Reply

    While having my morning coffee (not rare!) and reading your post, i suddenly thought i was reading a book;-) wait for the next chapter!
    Hugs

    • Eugenia Loras March 13, 2013 at 08:32 Reply

      Have a beautiful day, dear Sirja! A very beautiful one!

  3. Matt H March 13, 2013 at 07:49 Reply

    Wonderful stuff… Thanks for sharing it! Most English trainers have daydreamed about opening up a school or small office while running up a hill with books in hand or diving into a bus as the doors close with a bag fit for an adventure on their backs – full of material & random objects to be used in an activity.

    Loving your story…. You’ve captured our attention! But why do I have the feeling something negative is about to happen?? :-0

  4. Eugenia Loras March 13, 2013 at 08:34 Reply

    Thank you very much, Matt! …and always after something negative, goods things happen! Have a great day, Eugenia.

  5. Fotini Sg March 13, 2013 at 09:49 Reply

    Good morning from Ioannina….not much to say except..that while reading it tears filled my eyes…I love you all!!! I still remember our lessons….

  6. Eugenia Loras March 13, 2013 at 10:03 Reply

    Good morning, Fotini! We thank you very much for all your support and for being a part of this. We thank you with all our heart!

    Wishing you a super day,
    Eugenia

  7. […] Today was Clifford Day at our English School. And Maggie was there, too. Just like she always has been these past eight years when she arrived and saved me from myself. […]

  8. ariascarm March 18, 2013 at 18:00 Reply

    Moving… like someone else said previously.. we are areading a novel- but really, really based on pure LIFE. Thanks, Eugenia !

  9. Zeynep Cihan March 19, 2013 at 10:05 Reply

    While reading it was like reading my own story, with few different parts. I bet we should write a book together 🙂 Here in Turkey ,as you know, me, my sister and my friend Gizem opened our own language school, Queen English Language School and had the same process as you did. When I think about the before and after of our school it feels so exciting, breathtaking! Well done my colleagues! You are the best! Hope to meet you soon and chat for hours 😉 Loves from Istanbul..

    Zeynep Cihan

    • Eugenia Loras March 19, 2013 at 11:40 Reply

      Thank you very much for your kind words, Zeynep and again Congratulations to all three of you for your great efforts. Hopefully one day we can all meet.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Eugenia

  10. Daria Breus-Samolada August 8, 2013 at 13:46 Reply

    Thank you both, Eugenia and Vicky, for sharing your hearts and minds…. so sincerely!! Your family teamwork is such a bright example. May God Bless your true initiatives and efforts! We met at the TESOL Greece Convention in March, I was one of the TG Board Members and co-organisers of the event. Unfortunately there was not enough time to get to know you better in person. I feel so sorry about that! But I find a real pleasure in following you virtually so far by reading your posts… and, you know, many of the things I read are a revelation for me, since I am also at the threshold of changing my life abruptly, leaving Greece and looking for a better future out there. I wish I had in my leap such a cooperative family spirit that you personify. There is a lot to learn from you, girls!!! Filakia apo tin Ellada 🙂

    • Eugenia Loras August 8, 2013 at 14:47 Reply

      Dear Daria,

      We too thank you very very much for your beautiful comment! Thank you very much for expressing yourself so sincerely! Thank you for your kind words and thank you for feeling comfortable to open up to us as well.

      We wish you all the best personally and professionally. Please feel free to contact us for anything you may need or just a Hello at loras@lorasnetwok.com. We would be very happy!

      Efxaristoume gia ta filia apo tin omorfi kalokairini Ellada!

  11. […] on at our Language School in Greece, The Loras English Academy, we continued hosting such events with the aid of technology: our interactive white board, videos, […]

  12. […] rumbling noise this time was not from The Loras Academy but from Maggie and Nicholas’ passionate footsteps. Back and forth, back and […]

  13. […] times; on my good days and my bad days. So here goes nothing: My heartbreaking (to this day) story :https://eugenialoras.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/feat-no-9-the-loras-english-academy-the-ground-breaker… AND my pride-and-joy story […]

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