Walking along Homer Street in Earlwood, you’re guaranteed to come across elderly Greek migrants sitting at the local café sipping their coffee and catching up with friends. But nothing can prepare you for the group of people gathered around a newly launched Street Library right outside Greek-owned tutoring business, First Education.
Street Libraries are a relatively new movement across Australia which encourage people to “share the joys of reading” with their local community. They can do this by giving, taking or sharing free books from Street Libraries set up on local Sydney streets.
Harry Mavrolefteros, who owns First Education, was so inspired by this idea that he decided to launch four Street Libraries outside his tutoring centres in Earlwood, Bondi, Maroubra and Mascot.
“The idea was born out of COVID because I wanted to have more communication and more contact with parents to support them in any way we could,” Harry tells The Greek Herald exclusively.
“We thought that if we can have books available for parents to take and give to their kids and support them, that’d be great.”
Typically, Harry fills the Street Libraries with free school books in subjects such as Maths, English and Science, but he says that over time this has evolved into people donating home appliances and Greek textbooks as well.
“It started off as a school book type of thing but it’s evolved… We had four tomes of some Greek very hard-core looking text that I was worried wouldn’t go, but somebody took them,” Harry says with a laugh.
“In reality, it doesn’t really matter and the good thing is that the turnover is quick. I was worried that books would just sit there forever but that really hasn’t happened. The books disappear after a few days.”
‘We believe in building our students’ passion’:
This clear passion for the Street Libraries is not surprising as Harry has always advocated for community initiatives within the Greek community which foster the sharing of knowledge and information.
In fact, that’s why he started his own tutoring business back in October 2010 in a small room on top of his parent’s optometry shop in Maroubra.
“I always had this feeling as a kid where I never understood why people didn’t like maths and I found other people that were like that about English and History and Science as well,” Harry explains.
“I think if you find the right teacher, the right mentor, the right guide, then learning becomes the privilege and honour that it’s meant to be rather than something that you’re meant to do. You can just think more clearly because you understand things on a deeper level. So I wanted to share that with kids.”
It’s this realisation which saw Harry expand First Education from its Maroubra home-base to tutoring centres in the aforementioned Sydney suburbs of Earlwood, Bondi and Mascot as well.
At these centres, students from Kindergarten to Year 12 are given one-on-one tuition by dedicated tutors in a range of school subjects, and there are also group debating classes and study sessions for the Year 12 Higher School Certificate exams.
Harry says he’s incredibly proud of what his team has achieved so far.
“We really believe in building our students’ passion and confidence. There’s a big focus in everything we do on getting the students to enjoy the learning, to see the value in it and to believe in themselves,” he concludes.
A worthwhile goal for a Greek Australian who’s tutoring centres and Street Libraries are leaving their mark on the lives of students and parents across Greater Sydney.