For those who knew Hewlett High School teacher Ntina Paleos-Stemas, she was a person who touched the lives of thousands of students, families and co-workers throughout her years in the Hewlett-Woodmere School District.
The longtime Hewlett-Woodmere English as a New Language teacher died on Jan. 30 from Covid-19 complications. She was 55. Paleos-Stemas is the second Hewlett-Woodmere teacher to die from Covid-19 complications in the past month, Woodmere Middle School technology teacher Anthony Cardinale died on Jan. 6.
Paleos-Stemas’ was raised in Baldwin, and was a graduate of Baldwin High School. Her passion for teaching began overseas at schools in Switzerland and Argentina. She then joined the school district in 1998 and taught at the Franklin Early Childhood Center, Ogden Elementary School, and Woodmere Middle School before finding her permanent home at Hewlett High.
Fluent in English, Greek, Spanish and French, Paleos-Stemas helped spearhead the district’s first English as a Second Language summer program. She taught academics and exposed the students to the culture of a specific language through educational trips.
Superintendent Dr. Ralph Marino Jr. said in a statement on Jan. 31 that Paleos-Stemas was a beloved member of the Hewlett-Woodmere community despite not living there.
“She dedicated her career to our ENL families, and was well-known for her caring, compassionate teaching style and staunch advocacy for her cherished students,” Marino said in a statement. “Ms. Paleos-Stemas’ love for her students extended far beyond the halls of Hewlett-Woodmere, as she remained in contact with them for many years after graduation.”
Caryn Bachar is the lead ENL teacher at Hewlett-Woodmere, a friend and colleague, who said that Paleos-Stemas was a positive and supportive force in the lives of her students.
“Ntina dedicated her career to educating English Language Learners and advocated for them in school and in their lives,” Bachar said via email. “Many of her students stayed in touch with her long after graduation. She was invited to their graduations, weddings, and the births of their children.”
When not in the classroom, Paleos-Stemas loved to spend her time with her two teenage children, Nicholas and Zoe Stemas, along with many family members and friends. She also loved to travel and celebrate the beauty and wonder of other cultures, and spent much time in her native homeland of Greece.
Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association President Ric Stark said that a district scholarship in memory of Paleos-Stemas is being set up. He also urged district students and parents to continue following Covid-19 protocols.
“So far, we have been fortunate to avoid extended school closures other than twice in the middle school and once in Hewlett Elementary,” he said. “I ask your help in doing what is necessary to keep our schools open.”
Paleos-Stemas is survived by her parents, George and Vassiliki Paleos, her brother Kosmas Paleos, two children, Nicholas and Zoe Stemas. A funeral was held on Feb. 5 at the Saints Anargyroi, Taxiarchis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church in Greenport. She is interred at the Cutchogue Cemetery.
“Ntina was a strong woman, collaborative colleague, fantastic friend, and the role she loved most, a phenomenal mother,” Bachar added. “Ntina always prioritized her family, friends, students and the community. She was loved in life and will forever be remembered for her heart and advocacy.”