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Mother-daughter duo tackles education field

Published: Monday, May 5, 2014 2:28 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided)
Westbrook Elementary District 57 Principal Mary Gorr (left) has learned much from her mother, longtime Grove Avenue – Barrington Elementary School Principal Cindy Kalgeropoulos (right). "Dr. K," as Cindy's students call her, plans to retire at the end of the 2015-16 school year. Barrington 220 Spokeswoman Morgan Delack said Dr. K will be greatly missed as a pillar of the community.

BARRINGTON – Although their days start early, it is often well into the evening before things calm down enough for Cindy Kalogeropoulos and her daughter Mary Gorr to chat with each other.

Kalogeropoulos is principal of Grove Avenue Elementary, 900 S. Grove Ave., Barrington, and Gorr followed in her mother’s education footsteps and is principal of Westbrook School for Young Learners, 103 S. Busse Road, Mount Prospect.

As Mother's Day approaches, the two discussed their shared passion for teaching.

“I call her Grove phone number before I call her cell or house, even on the weekends,” Gorr said.

The two often turn to each other for ideas and advice. Although it would be easy to assume mom would teach daughter more than the other way around, Kalogeropoulos disagrees.

“I see wisdom in her and it’s something I relish,” Kalogeropoulos said.

Kalogeropoulos’ pursuit of education began when as a child. She lived across the street from the school she attended, and would often head over on Sundays to see if she could help the teachers with anything. At the beginning of the school year, she loved helping the teachers set up their classrooms.

“I would be in bliss if I could do anything,” Kalogeropoulos said. “It was just total bliss for me to be around.”

She began in education in 1972 and has been a principal since the young age of 29. She spent five years as a principal in Buffalo Grove and has been principal at Grove Avenue Elementary for 29 years. She plans to retire at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

It’s not just Kalogeropoulos that has spent a lot of time at Grove, though. As a working mother, she would often bring her children back to school with her on nights or weekends when she had work to do.

“I definitely grew up in my mom’s school,” Gorr said. “It was like my second home.”

Kalogeropoulos said she would load up her three kids, their bikes, roller skates and toys to play at the school.

“I would roller skate up and down the hallways after preschool,” Gorr said. “I loved helping teachers. We put on plays in the gym.”

Kalogeropoulos said of her three children, Gorr probably spent the most time at the school. Gorr even still comes back regularly to complete murals and artistic bulletin boards for her mom’s school.

“We do lots of collaborating and have lots of conversations,” Kalogeropoulos said.

Gorr has been in education for eight years and has been a principal for three. Like her mother, she became principal at a young age.

“I could only hope to have a parallel career to hers,” Gorr said.

However, while Kalogeropoulos always knew she wanted to go into education, the path wasn’t so clear for Gorr. In fact, when she first entered college, she thought she might go the legal route. But Grove Avenue Elementary intervened. When Gorr was home for winter break her freshman year of college, she filled in as a one-on-one assistant for a student in need of help.

“That was the time when she made the decision, ‘I know what I want to do with my life and that’s be a teacher,’” Kalogeropoulos said.

“I felt so excited about every day and those were the moments I became aware maybe I wanted to do that with my life,” Gorr added. “It’s been unbelievable to have my mom as a role model.”

Gorr has admired her mother’s career and Kalogeropoulos’ ability to really set down roots, effect change and influence children’s lives in her career, especially at Grove.

“She gives me advice all the time,” Gorr said. “I constantly am calling her. She’s never afraid to challenge me to think differently about a situation. She’s just someone that really has challenged me to push myself.”

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