Profile of Pete Tsimikalis, Principal, Toronto Prep School

“My dad never hid away in his office, and neither will I.”

Although Pete Tsimikalis only recently took over the position of principal after his father’s passing, he has been involved in the school since its inception. Pete’s parents, Steve and Fouli Tsimikalis, founded Toronto Prep School (TPS) in 2009. Prior to opening TPS, Steve and Fouli each had over 20 years of teaching and administrative experience at another private prep school in Toronto but dreamed of creating their own school. Pete and his sister Maria joined the school, making it a true family business.

Pete TsimikalisIn those early days, Pete Tsimikalis was part of the admissions department, working alongside his mother. He was also playing professional hockey at the time. He had an all-star career in the Ontario Hockey League, then the American Hockey League, and he played in Sweden before retiring in 2011. Once he retired from professional sports, Pete decided to dedicate his career to post-secondary education, earning an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto and a master’s degree at the University of Oxford. He’s currently working towards his PhD at the University of Toronto, specializing in ancient Greek and Hebrew texts. “All of my academic experiences have deepened my understanding of the expectations TPS students will confront in the years ahead, and how we can best equip them to succeed.”

When Steve Tsimikalis passed away in September 2021, Pete stepped into the principal’s office, making a few changes to the space to make it his own, while honouring his father’s legacy. Pete maintained the wall space dedicated to rotating student art. Students take great pride in having their work displayed there. There are also several family photos, including a portrait of Steve. “Before he passed away, my dad asked me to hang it in here so he could always be watching over my shoulder as I took on the job of principal. … I had no idea how meaningful it would soon become.”

Pete maintains his father’s commitment to being firmly entrenched in the daily life of the school, just as his father did for 12 years.  “My dad never hid away in his office, and neither will I.” 

Pete’s philosophy of education is largely influenced by his family’s history. His grandparents were immigrants from Greece. His grandfather passed away when his father was just two years old. His grandmother raised her son alone on social assistance, but always putting his education first, instilling a strong belief in Steve that education opens up choices in life. Steve often shared this story with TPS students in an effort to instill a sense of gratitude and responsibility in his students, whose parents work hard to invest in a quality education at TPS. 

One of the changes Steve and Fouli implemented at TPS that remains today is the school’s hours. The school day runs from 10 a.m.–4:10 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays and 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on Fridays. The later start time is based on brain science. “When he started the school, my dad did a lot of reading on adolescent sleep patterns because he’d recognized over his years teaching high school that teens avoid morning classes. Their brains are wired to stay up late and sleep in, and this is our way of accommodating their peak learning times.”

Steve’s legacy can be felt everywhere in the school. His values of hard work and integrity are deeply ingrained in the culture of TPS, but while Pete shares many of his father’s ideals and his educational philosophy, he also introduced some of his own ideas including a commitment to facing social issues confronting today’s youth like anti-Black racism and LGBTQ+ equality.

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