Teacher of the Issue: Mrs. Harriet Lappas


Tommy Pero

LappasMalvern’s government guru discusses herself and her career.

After living all across the Northeast, Lappas believes she is finally home.

Lappas grew up the daughter of Greek immigrants in an ethnic area of Jackson Heights in New York City. “It was a great way to grow up. It was like it takes a village to raise a child,” she said.

Lappas went on to New York University where she majored in Political Science and double minored in English and Psychology. Later, she received a teaching degree also from NYU.

One of Lappas’s first jobs was working in a fur market in New York City. She taught at a few other schools before moving to the Southeastern Pennsylvania area, where she taught at Merion Mercy for four years.

Lappas’s husband, Steve Lappas, worked as the head basketball coach for Villanova University and later for the University of Massachusetts. Now, he is a CBS Sports Network College Basketball Analyst.

When the Lappas family moved to Massachusetts, she took time off to raise her two children and later worked as a substitute teacher. The Lappas family later returned to the Philadelphia area after Mr. Lappas’s coaching tenure at UMass ended, and Mrs. Lappas decided she wanted to return to teaching full time.

“Even though I’m a New Yorker, I’ve moved to Philadelphia three times,” Lappas said. “And this is the third time, so I always say ‘three time’s the charm.’”

Lappas said she and her family couldn’t decide where they lived, but she eventually concluded that Philadelphia was her home.

Lappas and her family bought a house in Malvern before Lappas had even known there was a job opening at Malvern Prep. “My fate sent me here,” Lappas said. She said she is lucky that the job opening was for government, her area of expertise.

Lappas loves the service aspect of Malvern, “I think it adds dimension to the students here that a lot of schools don’t have,” she said. “A lot of the private schools in the area are great academic schools, but I really think they’re missing that empathy and that compassion that I think we teach here.”

She also loves the talent diversity at Malvern. “I love that there’s kids dedicated to the yearbook, or to the newspaper, or to the play, and obviously our athletes are great,” she said. “I love that [Malvern is] a little bit of everything.”

While she says her greatest accomplishments are her children, Lappas is proud of her work with Malvern’s student mentoring program, The Adelphia Society.

According to Lappas, the idea for a student mentoring program came from the Board of Trustees a few years ago. They later asked Lappas and Mrs. Eileen Day, who is no longer at the school, to head the program.

“It’s only the third year [of The Adelphia Society], so there’s a lot of room to grow.” she said. “I think it’s been a great thing. It’s really helped freshmen transition.”

Outside of Malvern, Lappas loves going to the beach, spending time with family, reading, and cooking.

For the future of Malvern, Lappas hopes the Diversity Initiative is implemented. She also believes Malvern is ahead of the curve in its new education philosophy.

“The rest of the schools in this area, and in the nation, are going to have to play catch-up at some point, and we’re going to be sitting in a really good spot,” she said.