Ioannis Tsikopoulos (1839 - July 1, 1912)

Ioannis Tsikopoulos was an important personality in the educational and social life of Serres during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His long teaching career, which spanned a total of 25 years from 1878 to 1904, established him as a prominent figure in the local community. During this period, Tsikopoulos assumed the role of principal of Serres High School, where he played a key role in shaping the educational path of his students.

After his term as director, Ioannis Tsikopoulos assumed the duties of a Greek teacher at the Girls' School of Serres. His teaching contributed significantly to the education and spiritual development of young girls in the area, providing a strong educational foundation for his female students.

Apart from his educational duties, Tsikopoulos also had an active role in the administrative activities of the local community. Specifically, he got involved in the administrative affairs of the Macedonian Phileducational Association in Serrais. Through his activity in this club, he contributed to the promotion of the educational and cultural goals of the region, strengthening the spirit of the national and cultural consciousness of the people of Serra.

Ioannis Tsikopoulos (Katafygio Kozani, 1839 - Athens July 1, 1912) was a Greek philologist, scholar, writer and professor of the 19th century who worked mainly in Macedonia and was one of the first editors of the Great Historical Dictionary of the Greek Language of the Academy of Athens.

He was born in Pieria Refuge in 1839 where he learned his first letters. Katafygi was one of the few privileged communities in Macedonia that, during the difficult years of the Turkish rule, had an organized school several years before the Revolution of 1821. Much later, during the last quarter of the 19th century, this school developed into a model Urban School, a brilliant educational institution with a special offer and contribution to the struggle for the education and awakening of the Hellenism of Western Macedonia. It had a rare library of works by Greek authors published in Leipzig, and the building has been classified as a historical monument. In addition to Ioannis Tsikopoulos himself, G. Papageorgiou, N. Oikonomou as well as the Graduates of the Philosophy School of the National University of Athens, professors Ioannis Gazis and Nikolaos Maloutas taught in it. Many excellent students graduated from it, such as the doctor Dimitrios I. Birdas and some who became High Priests, such as Kyrillos of Grevena and Kolindros Samuel (in the period 1872-1888), as well as our contemporary Metropolitan of Pergamum Ioannis (Zizioulas).

It is worth noting that, when the young Ioannis Tsikopoulos, a child of 7-8 years, began to learn to write and read, the historical school of the Refuge adopted the educational method of mutual teaching. However, he was not satisfied with these first letters and continued his studies in the schools of neighboring Velvendos and Siatista. Until the beginning of the 1860s he taught as a co-teacher in schools in the Kozani area.

But he was not limited to this activity. "Your nature is right and you plow towards the letters", as I. Dellios mentions, he wanted to pursue university studies. As there was no University in Macedonia in those years, he was forced to live in Athens and after successfully passing his exams, he entered the Philosophical School of the University of Athens in 1863. His studies lasted 4 years and after their end he returned to his homeland. Now, apart from the Ottoman dynasty, Bulgarian nationalism, incited and encouraged by the Turks, had to be dealt with. The claims of the Bulgarians for the establishment of an autocephalous Church erase unpleasant prospects and do not bode well for the subjugated Macedonians, who nevertheless continued to hope and fight for the quick realization of their national desires. Ioannis Tsikopoulos, under different circumstances, could have had a brilliant career in free Greece after his university studies. However, in 1867 he immediately returned to Macedonia and assumed the directorship of the famous Municipal School of Kozani. He worked in Kozani for 4 years and then taught until 1878 in Edessa and Thessaloniki. In Thessaloniki, apart from his educational work, he also had a rich social activity by actively participating in the action of the newly founded Philekpaideutiko Synllogo Thessaloniki, a cultural association with the main purpose of strengthening and spreading Greek letters both in Thessaloniki and in its surroundings. The young I. Tsikopoulos was one of the most active members of the club, actively participating not only in its administrative committees, but also in other events and activities. In 1878 he was invited to offer his services in Serres. At that time, Serres was the largest economic and intellectual center of Eastern Macedonia with a long educational tradition dating back to the end of the 17th century. The propaganda of the Bulgarians continues to intensify and spreads in the area of ​​Eastern Macedonia.

In 1878, the year of the Russo-Turkish war, the situation escalated dangerously with the signing of the well-known Treaty of Saint Stephen, which handed over almost all of Macedonia to Bulgaria, and which was finally overturned a little later at the Berlin Conference. It is obvious that Macedonian Hellenism is going through the most critical and difficult hours of its struggle. In such circumstances, Ioannis Tsikopoulos comes to Serres, one of the theaters of the cruel and merciless Macedonian Struggle. He served in Serres initially as the director of the town's high school and later as a Greek teacher at the Parthenagogeio, one of the most notable schools in Macedonia. He works hard and non-stop and spends the hours he is not teaching in schools helping, from responsible administrative positions, in the action of the Macedonian Phileducational Association of Serres. It remained in the eastern Macedonian megalopolis until 1904, i.e. for a full 25 years. It is the period when an unprecedented educational and cultural orgasm takes place in Serres, the likes of which the city has never known since its liberation. The contribution of the Katafugiotis scholar was great. As Petros Pennas observes in his book on the History of Serres (p. 426): "... Tsikopoulos really comforted the life of the progenitor of education in Serres...".

From Serres he was again called to Thessaloniki and, although he was already 65 years old and facing health problems, he continued in the Macedonian capital to offer the valuable services of the wise teacher as a professor of Greek in the newly founded secondary school. He worked there until 1911. In that year, the then independent Greek state, appreciating his work and in particular his great studies on the vernacular, but also his deep knowledge of Turkish, invited him to Athens to work as editor of the great Historical Dictionary of the Greek Language. Ioannis Tsikopoulos was already very old. He worked on the compilation of the dictionary for about a year and on July 1, 1912, quietly and quietly, as he had lived all his life, he breathed his last bent over the manuscripts of his favorite studies on the Greek language.

Both for his life and activities as well as for his written work, Ioannis Tsikopoulos is considered (together with our contemporary Metropolitan of Pergamum Ioannis Zizioulas) as a leading spiritual personality not only of the Refuge but also of Greece.

Author's work
Ioannis Tsikopoulos was prolific with a large writing work and left a large number of manuscripts, many of which, together with his personal library, he donated to enrich the library of the Model School of his beloved birthplace, Katafygio, which flourished at that time. Unfortunately, however, with the burning of the settlement by the German occupiers in December 1943, most of this work was destroyed. The Study on the Dictionary of our vernacular language is saved digitized by the Library of the University of Crete, as well as the EXHIBITION of the Macedonian Phileducational Association in Serrai on the 11th anniversary of the Association's foundation. While the work of the public teacher's assistant for spelling exercises is preserved digitized by the Papacharalampio Public Central Library of Nafpaktos. Many studies of historical and linguistic content were published, while scattered manuscripts were also saved in the various cities he lived in as well as in the Academy of Athens. Of those that were saved, the following are mentioned:

Linguistic study "About the dictionary of our vernacular language" awarded by the association "KORAIS"
"Teacher's assistant for spelling exercises" awarded by the "Hellenic Philological Association of Kon/polis"
Published paper "Out of the myriad samples of the unified Greek language"
Published work "History of the schools of Thessaloniki"
"Macedonian glossary" archive of the I.L.N.E. of the Historical Dictionary of the Greek Language
"Glossary of the Refuge of Macedonia" archive of the I.L.N.E. of the Historical Dictionary of the Greek Language
"Loans from the Turkish language" archive of the I.L.N.E. of the Historical Dictionary of the Greek Language
Manuscript "Historical overview of Refuge", historical chronicle
Unveiling ceremony of the bust of Ioannis Tsikopoulos 1966

"KORAIS" Association Award for the study "About the dictionary of our vernacular language".
Award from the "Hellenic Philological Association of Kon/poleos" for the project Assistant to the elementary school teacher for spelling exercises.
In recognition of the greatness of the personality of Ioannis Tsikopoulos, the name of the main street that crosses the new settlement of "Refugees" in Katerini was given in his honor, while on 11.04.1966, in the yard of the "Educational Union of Refugees (MEK)", it was the unveiling ceremony of the bust of Ioannis Tsikopoulos, where the first speaker of the unveiling ceremony was the Metropolitan of Kitros and Katerini, Varnavas.

Dimitrios Kritos, Education in the Pierion Refuge during the Turkish Occupation, MEK, Katerini 1995.
Dimitrios Kritos, Ioannis Tsikopoulos: A forgotten Macedonian scholar, Makedonika v. 29, 1994.
Kleanthi A. Nastou, SHELTER OF Pierion-Kozani, Historical-Folkographic Overview, Thessaloniki 1971.
Asteriou D. Gatzara, Antilalos from Katafygi, Thessaloniki 1954
Panagiotis N. Lioufi, History of Kozani, Athens 1924
Evaggelidis Tryfona, Education under the Ottoman Empire, Volume I, Athens 1936
Petrou Penna, History of Serres, from its occupation by the Turks to its liberation by the Greeks (1383 - 1913), Athens 1966
Anthimou T. Vandella, Memories and Thoughts, Athens 1995