AAPS bids farewell to district's 'ninja of finance' who will retire to native Cyprus

Marios Demetriou receives MSBO’s Distinguished Service Award during Board meeting

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

A role model for his children. A fixer. A skilled, focused leader committed to the students of Ann Arbor and throughout Michigan. A man who is other-oriented. A good friend.

The superlatives flowed Wednesday evening during a pre-Board meeting tribute for Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Marios Demetriou, who will retire at the end of this fiscal year June 30.

Marios Demetriou listens to a tribute during a Zoom meeting Wednesday.

“From a grateful community, our hearts are full,” said Superintendent Jeanice Swift, noting that the loss is more than balanced by the joy of knowing he will enjoy a well-deserved retirement in his native Cyprus.

During the Board meeting that followed, Demetriou received the Michigan School Business Officials’ state-wide 2020 Distinguished Service Award.

Executive Director David Martell said MSBO colleagues appreciate all he has done for students throughout the state.

“You are really a winner—and a winner for kids, which is the most important,” said Martell.

David Martell presents the Distinguished Service Award to Marios Demetriou.

MSBO’s Distinguished Service Award was established in 1987 to pay special tribute to exemplary current or former members of MSBO. It is given to members who provide inspirational service to MSBO and the school business management community. 

In 2013, Demetriou was named the 2013 Michigan School Business Official of the Year and received the 2013 Distinguished Eagle Award from the Association of School Business Officials International—the first national Eagle Award given to a Michigan school business official. 

Born and raised on the island of Cyprus, Marios Demetriou came to the United States to earn his bachelor’s degree in marketing and his master’s in accounting at Eastern Michigan University.

He chose Ypsilanti because the school is named for Greek war hero Demetrios Ypsilanti, and because many of his friends from Cyprus were attending it as well.

“Since I am of Greek descent, it made perfect sense,” he says. 

Demetriou began his career at EMU as an accounts clerk, then moved into public education in 1997 as Flint Community Schools’ chief financial and operating officer.

He next worked as Deputy Superintendent for Muskegon Intermediate School District until 2014 when he came to AAPS as assistant superintendent.

Demetriou (center) and others listen to former School Board Trustee Pat Manley say goodbye during a Zoom gathering.

He left for a challenging position as the Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations for Detroit Public Schools and Detroit Public Schools Community District.

In 2017, he returned to Ann Arbor to complete his career as assistant superintendent for finance and operations.

Physical Properties Executive Director Emile Lauzzana recalled the time there was a disruption in the human resources department when a technical glitch prevented a lunchroom aide from picking up her check.

The woman said she was in desperate need of the money.

Demetriou took $110 from his wallet, gave it to the woman, and said they’d work it out later.

It was at that moment, Lauzzana said, that he fully understood Demetriou’s character.

“It’s been a great honor, Marios, and I appreciate all you do,” he said, as Demetriou was visibly moved.

Former Board President Christine Stead recalled that when he was first hired, Superintendent Jeanice Swift excitedly referred to Demetriou as “the ninja of finance for public schools.”

“You really were, the entire time,” she said, noting that she was happy he did his magic both in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Demetriou’s assistant, Hanna Melangton, said her boss is very family-oriented, and notes that all the artwork in his Balas office was created by his mother, Yvonne. She said he loves his homeland of Cyprus, where his family had been driven out of their home by the Turkish military, who killed his grandmother.

She said it might surprise those who’ve come to know the soft-spoken, even-tempered Demetriou that when he served in the military in Cyprus, he had to serve five additional days for not saluting an officer and 10 extra days for going AWOL to watch the movie “Saturday Night Fever” off base.

“I will miss his sense of humor, our chats about music and politics, his no-nonsense way of getting things done, his philosophical waxings , his stories about his childhood, Cyprus, college, his career, etc. and the joy he shows for his family,” said Melangton.

Demetriou said he has enjoyed being part of a team solving problems, and as a former refugee, he had a special place in his heart for the disadvantaged.

“I feel I gave it my all during my career and it’s time for me to step aside and let someone else take the financial reigns of AAPS,” he said prior to the event. “I believe I am leaving AAPS in better shape financially than before I came.”

Asked what he’ll miss most about working for AAPS, he said: “I will miss all the people I work on a daily basis and the non-stop pace of been part of a superb team.”

At age 60, Demetriou is eager to return to the island with his wife, Angela, the district’s wellness coordinator.

“I look forward to spending time with my wife in the sunshine, having fun on the beach, playing guitar, and exercising on a consistent basis,” says Demetriou.  “I love AAPS and I strongly believe that the leadership is second to none with the right heart to navigate this district through the most turbulent times.  I am so lucky to be a part of this team twice.”

Click here to see a collection of tributes from his co-workers.

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