The Plato Periodiko

Stronger Together-August 2021 Issue

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Chairman's Corner

Dear Plato Academy Community,


I'd like to take the opportunity to welcome our students and staff back to school for the upcoming year! I firmly believe that the 2021-2022 school year will be excellent--we have grown in size as we add classes at Clearwater, Tampa, and Trinity and improved the quality of our educational and extracurricular programs at all of our schools thanks to our amazing staff, the collaborative efforts of our parent volunteers, and a combined, unwavering commitment to our mission. I am pleased to announce that the Board recently voted to approve our 5-year strategic plan, which provides a road map to making Plato Academy Schools among the best charter schools in Florida and will put them on the national stage because of their excellence. We will be sharing that vision in the coming months and will be asking you for your continued amazing support to achieve it. Above all, I want you to know that we will continue to put students first. We are going to continue to make that vision a reality as we relentlessly strive for excellence in all we do at Plato Academy.


Thank you,


Louis Kokkinakos

Chairman of the Board

Plato Academy Schools

CEO's Corner


Dear Plato Academy Family,


Welcome Back!

I've never been more excited for a new school year to begin. Although I'm grateful that last year we were fortunate enough to offer full-time face-to-face instruction at all times (unlike most other students across the country), it will be a huge blessing to have all of our students back on campus to learn and grow together. I will also be grateful to welcome our parent volunteers back into the building to do what they do best: show our students through our actions that school is a special place.


2021 FSA Results

Plato Academy is proud to announce that it continues to maintain its "A"-rating as its average for its family of schools. Notably, under Mr. Donnelly's leadership with a great team of teachers and staff, Plato Academy Largo boosted its school grade from a C to a B. Plato Academy Pinellas Park remains a B, and all of the other schools remain A-rated. Statewide, math scores saw declines last year, and Plato Academy has identified improving math as an area of particular focus this coming year. Nonetheless, our schools outperformed the district by over 20%. In ELA we outperformed the districts by approximately 50%. We also want to congratulate Mrs. Mazak, our Clearwater Campus's middle school math teacher, who helped 100% of her middle school students pass the high school credit level Geometry 1 end-of-course exam. As all of our students return to full-time in-person learning, we fully expect our scores to improve and appreciate parent support in ensuring our students continue to do their best and never give up!


STUDENT SAFETY

Although masks remain optional, I am strongly recommending all students and staff wear masks indoors, including for those individuals who are vaccinated. Please see the informative letter from Dr. Soto, below, who is also a Plato parent. I appreciate hearing her qualified, educated, and experienced opinion on health-related issues, especially when they refer to the safety of all of our students, including hers.



HOW THIS YEAR WILL BE OUR BEST YET:

  1. Student safety (physical and emotional) will remain our top priority.
  2. Academic excellence will be at the forefront of all our endeavors.
  3. We are raising the bar for educational technology, pursuing STEM certification, and increasing professional development and expectations about creative use of technology in the classroom.
  4. Greek will be improving its system-wide grade-level expectations.
  5. Parent volunteers will be welcomed back into our buildings to help support the efforts of our students and teachers, making our schools even more special.
  6. The board-adopted strategic plan will be communicated and implemented in the coming months, utilizing the expertise and passion of our employees and stakeholders.


Last, but not least, I want to thank all of you for choosing Plato Academy. Our principals, teachers, and staff choose to work here because they are 100% dedicated to helping our students and they are truly valued and given the respect and autonomy that they are due. Our parents choose Plato Academy because we put the needs of our students first within learning environments that are safe, small, and value high academic and behavioral expectations. Our students make good choices every time they choose kindness, work hard, and have fun doing the right thing. Thank you for your kindness, your collaboration, and your willingness to continue making Plato Academy the world-class schools that they are. Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated.


Sincerely,


Matt Gunderson

gundersonm@platoacademy.net

#platostrong

#forwardtogether

A Physician's Letter from Dr. Romy Soto: A Plato Academy Parent

Warm greetings from a fellow Plato parent. I know many of you are excited about the new start of the upcoming school year. Like me, some of you may be worried about the effects that the pandemic could have in our children's education this school year. Plato Academy did an amazing job last year in keeping our students and staff safe. We are a community here at Plato with a strong sense of responsibility, respect, and kindness for one another.


This year has been very difficult for everyone . Some of us healthcare providers have lost patients, friends, or family to COVID-19. In our practice, I have seen healthy 30-40-year-old patients intubated in ICUs, patients needing oxygen tanks from COVID lung damage, young college students that can no longer play sports because of lung issues or long COVID, amongst many other tragic cases. The new COVID Delta variant spreads much easier. The last few weeks we have seen a tremendous increase in new cases in both adults and children in Florida.

Evidence has shown that this pandemic has affected many children and adults mentally, socially, and academically. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a statement that says, "We need to prioritize getting children back into schools alongside their friends and their teachers----and we all play a role in making sure it happens safely." Evidence shows that combining layers of safety measures works best: wearing a mask, hand washing, sanitizing, staying home when sick, and social distancing. Adults getting vaccinated also helps decrease the risk of spread to children . Children under 12 do not have an approved vaccine yet, therefore masks are their only protection. Although none of these safety measures are 100% effective, they have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19, amongst other illnesses such as RSV and rhinovirus. I also recommend making sure our children get a healthy diet as this helps support their immune system.

By reducing the spread of infection we can also reduce the amount of quarantines that require a child to stay out of school. Some parents don't have anyone else to take care of their child if the child has to miss school because of quarantine, and they may have to miss work. If we continue on the upward trend for positive cases, we may face school interruptions again which so many families found incredibly difficult to manage between schooling and working last school year. If we can provide a simple measure to help slow the spread of infection such as by wearing masks, we should do it.

Plato excelled last year in COVID mitigation measures and keeping our children safe. This year may be more challenging as we will have double the amount of students on campus and we have a COVID variant that is more contagious, but I believe if we all work together and responsibly we can have a very successful school year and minimize interruptions to education.


Sincerely,


Dr. Romy Soto - Family Medicine

Plato Academy Wellness Message: 2021-2022 School Year

At Plato Academy, our number one priority is ensuring student and staff safety: Plato Academy Schools is committed to providing high-quality instruction and enrichment opportunities for all students, while also maintaining proactive wellness protocols for students and staff. We continue to closely follow CDC recommendations, state laws, and local Department of Health guidelines. As a family of schools, we are planning a traditional opening. However, we will continue to put safety at the forefront of all that we do and we will always lean to the side of caution to keep everyone safe and healthy. As governmental directives change, so may our requirements.


We strongly recommend and encourage mask-wearing while indoors and that all staff and students age 12 and over be vaccinated. Our policies and procedures to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 will remain generally the same as last year, with the exception that those who are fully vaccinated and not experiencing symptoms will no longer need to quarantine if exposed. It is important that our families be diligent in practicing safety protocols and that they monitor their students for COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, we ask families to keep students home if not well. Even though this year all instruction will take place in-person only, we do prioritize student educational and health needs equally. Therefore, if your student is absent due to COVID-19, they will have an opportunity to make up any missed work and we will do our best to work with all families.


It is our hope that we all remain healthy as we look forward to The Best Year Ever!

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Health and Wellness Protocols:

  • Face coverings will continue to be highly recommended (not mandatory) when indoors for both staff and students. It will not be monitored by staff and face coverings will continue to be made available for students and staff.
  • All buildings will continue enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols.
  • Social distancing practices, to the extent possible, will continue whenever possible for all school events.
  • Water fountains in all buildings will remain closed.
  • Seating charts for classrooms will be used.
  • Campuses will maintain a separate space for individuals exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Families are asked to inform the school immediately of any medical concerns and use best practices for sending students to school who show symptoms of any illnesses

Please Tell Us What You Want to Know!

A Message From Our New CAO - Ms. Cicetti

Welcome back to the new school year! As an educator for over 20 years, the most magical time of the year for me is always back to school: Back to school means new beginnings and endless possibilities! I am honored to return this year as the Chief Academic Officer of Plato Academy Schools and with a new opportunity to work with all nine Plato Schools. I am exhilarated at the possibilities of the upcoming year- supporting the leadership and educators in our system of schools to grow better together and ensuring our Plato students and family to achieve their full potential in a safe, supporting, challenging, and enthusiastic environment.


Happy New School Year!


Danielle Cicetti

Chief Academic Officer

A Message from our Athletics Director - Coach Justin Davis

Hello everyone, what a year it has been! We are pleased to announce that the return of sports is FINALLY here! As the school year approaches, we understand that this cannot be accomplished without the support of our great staff members and our awesome families. If you are interested in coaching any of our sports offered, please reach out to your principal for more information. These sports include Girls Volleyball and Boys Flag Football (Fall Sports), Girls Soccer and Boys Soccer (Winter I Sports), Co-Ed Ball Hockey with the Tampa Bay Lightning (Winter II Sport), and Girls Basketball and Boys Basketball (Spring Sports).


Additionally, it is with extreme excitement that we announce the addition of Volleyball as a sport offered moving forward! We will be looking to start Girls Volleyball and Boys Flag Football at the beginning of September


Once again, we are extremely excited to get sports going again and we look forward to seeing everyone out there this year!


Please be on the lookouts for updates from your principal as we get into the new school year.



Sincerely,


Justin Davis

Director of Athletics

A Message From Our Instructional Technology Coordinator - Amanda Pampena

Hello Plato Families! My name is Amanda Pampena- I'm a fifth grade teacher at the St. Petersburg campus and I'm also Plato’s Instructional Technology Coordinator: I serve as a resource for our teachers, providing guidance and empowering them to effectively use technology in the classroom! In assisting Plato’s teachers in finding comfort and benefits with technology, they can in turn instill that confidence within their students. Recently, our system of schools has achieved the prestigious Cognia Accreditation- and I'd like to see Plato Academy become STEM certified as well! My goal is two-fold: To ensure that our students are gaining 21st century-skills, and to bring to the schools a culture of STEM to better prepare them for a technology-based future!


Sincerely,


Amanda Pampena

Instructional Technology Coordinator

Congratulations to Our New Principal and Assistant Principals

Please join us in congratulating Emily Heilman and Megan Britz, the new Principal and Assistant Principal, respectively, of Plato Academy Tarpon Springs. Let us also congratulate Adam Viski, the new Assistant Principal at Plato Academy St. Petersburg as well as Mary Klay, the new Assistant Principal at Plato Academy Trinity. All four of our new leaders above have been serving our students and teachers in excellent and caring ways for many years before their new appointments. Congratulations!

ARETE AWARDS

Andoni Family Update

Dear Plato Academy Family,


Last month, we made an appeal on behalf of Mr. Petrikas Andoni and Mrs. Violeta Andoni, our amazing janitorial team at our Clearwater campus- In 2018, Dhimitri Andoni (their only child, then 19) tragically lost his life. Their wish was to honor their son's memory, and to do so meant funerary expenses of $9,000. Thanks to the agape and philotimo of the Plato community, we were able to raise a total of $15,000: $9,000 of which paid for Dhimitri's headstone and the remaining $6,000 went to the family in appreciation for all they do. On behalf of all of our leadership at Plato, we sincerely thank you for your generosity, agape, and philotimo.


Respectfully,

Matt Gunderson

CEO

Plato Academy Schools

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Meet the Home Office

Greek Word of the Month

Agape (also spelled agapi; Greek: αγάπη) is a Greek term that signifies a transcendent, unconditional, universal love and charity. In early contexts, agape extended beyond the emotions associated with love and how we lead our lives.


At Plato Academy, we believe agape is an integral component in achieveing Arete (excellence) in all things. Agape is a value that is not only expressed through emotion, but action- in doing so, an expression of agape is the most salient expression of love.

Contact our Board Members:

Louis Kokkinakos - Chairman of the Board: lkokkinakos@platoacademy.net

John Petalas - Vice Chairman: jpetalas@platoacademy.net

Yale Walker - Treasurer: walkery@platoacademy.net

George Antonaklas - Secretary: antonaklasg@platoacademy.net

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Plato Academy Schools Mission Statement

The mission of the Plato Academy Charter Schools is to assist students in achieving their full potential by requiring and nurturing high academic and behavioral standards in a safe, supporting, challenging, and enthusiastic environment, providing a well-rounded K-8 education fortified by a study of the Greek language and culture, and fostered by a commitment and cooperative effort among the school, students, parents, and community: our family.