Teachers Before Townsend: A tour of the various pre-THHS teaching gigs of Dr. Colakis


Samira Li

Dr. Colakis, Latin and Greek teacher at Townsend Harris,

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While some teachers dabbled with different careers before arriving at Townsend Harris High School, classical languages teacher Marianthe Colakis has always been part of the teaching world. 

Dr. Colakis, who got her Bachelor’s degree from Barnard college and her PhD from Yale University, first started out as a college instructor, which made teaching high school students “a big adjustment.” She found that more effort was required to keep students interested.  Ever since then, she learned to develop her own teaching style.  

She taught at The Covenant’s School in Charlottesville for 8 years after teaching at a private school in Tampa, Florida called Berkeley. She was also an adjunct (part-time professor) for a time at the University of South Florida, Queens College, and Brooklyn College. She has taught at Trinity College at Hartford as well.

While Dr. Colakis’s career before THHS involved multiple stints at various schools, one of her most memorable experiences outside of the classroom occurred while she was a THHS teacher: she appeared on the television game show, Jeopardy. When asked about her experience, she said “it was kind of frightening, but also interesting.” She recalls how the stage was much smaller compared to its appearance on TV and that the Jeopardy show was over very quickly. “I was disappointed that the champ made a run-away so I didn’t have a chance at becoming the champion, but I was the only one to know the final jeopardy where the topic happened to be about moons and mythology.” Dr. Colakis also shared how exciting it was to chat with the host and said, “I still have a picture of myself with Alex Trebek, which I cherish even more now that he’s passed away.”

After teaching at many schools, Dr. Colakis wanted to move back to New York as her mother was aging and needed assistance. She said that “the job at Townsend Harris happened to turn up as I was looking, so I took it. I’ve always been glad that I did.”