Griffin Gist Update

September 13, 2021

Dear Plato Academy Families,

I have bittersweet news to share with you... I have always expressed and put into action that family is first, so during this most challenging pandemic, I have made the decision to resign and focus on my family. I hate to leave such an amazing and passionate group of coworkers, and dedicated families, but I am excited about my future and the time I will get with my family. Plato Tampa will continue to thrive and remain an "A" school.

For the past 5 years, I have been honored and humbled to have served Plato Academy Schools in the capacity as a first grade teacher, fourth grade teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Plato Academy schools will always have a place in my heart. I sincerely thank you for an amazing 5 years. My last day will most likely be during the week of September 27th as I help make the transition as smooth as possible for our new Principal, Mrs. Heather Jenkins. Mrs. Jenkins tentative start date is September 27th.


Mrs. Edmond

Introducing Plato Tampa's New Principal, Mrs. Heather Jenkins

Sometimes, unexpected change leads to the most amazing opportunities. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Mr. Gunderson and Mrs. Edmond as fellow charter school principals in Hillsborough County for several years. I’ve always admired all of the incredible accomplishments of Plato Academy Tampa, and the tight-knit family you’ve all created together. When I heard the news that Ms. Edmond would be leaving, I knew that her absence would be felt throughout the community. And when I was given the opportunity to join this school, I knew I could not pass it up. I am so excited to take up the baton that Mrs. Edmond is handing me, and to run the race in a way that honors all the hard work that came before me.

The famous Zig Ziglar quote says, “Success is when opportunity meets preparation,” and I have been preparing for this opportunity for a long time. Born and raised in a suburb of Detroit, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Spanish and English, and began my teaching career in 1995. I spent 11 years as a teacher, and earned my first M.A. in Education from the University of Michigan. From there I spent three years working in the Office of State and Federal Programs as a curriculum and assessment specialist.

Always willing to try something new, I accepted a position as a principal at an American international school in Malaysia and remained for six years. Upon returning to the U.S., I continued my career as a principal in the great state of Florida for the last 6 years. During that time, I’ve earned an additional M.A. in Theology and an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction.

I am also fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive husband, and three fantastic children- two sons, ages 23 and 17, and my 11-year-old daughter who will be joining the 6th grade class at Plato.

I look forward to experiencing the greatness that is Plato Academy-Tampa, and working together with all of you to make it even greater!

Heather Jenkins, Principal

Message from Mr. Gunderson

Dear Plato Academy Tampa Family,

As you have now read, Mrs. Edmond is moving on to put more of her focus on her family. Like you, I'm sad to see her go, but it's what she needed to do and it's what's best for her family. So, despite these feelings of sadness, I'm actually genuinely happy for her. We wish Mrs. Edmond all the best and we want her to know that there will always be a home for her at Plato Academy.

I am also very excited to welcome Heather Jenkiins to her new, but familiar, role as principal of Plato Academy. Mrs. Jenkins has been a friend and colleague of mine for years. I have always found her to be professional, enthusiastic, incredibly smart, and 100% caring. She is experienced, strong, and excited to begin working with our students, one of whom will be her own daughter. Please hear me when I say this: Mrs. Jenkins will be excellent. I have no doubt. she and Mrs. Edmond are already working to ensure a seamless transition.

I am visiting Plato Academy Tampa today, touring classes, talking with teachers and students. The students are happy, working hard and doing a great job following procedures. It is so nice to see their smiles and hear the joy in their voices. I am also incredibly impressed with our teachers who are creating classroom cultures that make kindness and caring so important.

So, please join me in wishing Mrs. Edmond all of the best and welcoming and working with Mrs. Jenkins. Goooooo Giffins!

Thank you,

Matt Gunderson


Plato Academy Schools


"Plato Academy Tampa - Official PTO Group"

Principal: Charity Edmond