Building 21st Century Skills

Thank you to all the parents who attended Curriculum Chat!  I hope that the presentation of our curriculum goals gave you some insight into the dispositions that we value in our students at Plato Academy. 

Our curriculum is driven by the 21st Century Skills that students will need to fully participate in today’s global community after they leave Plato. These skills are critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. Our goal for Plato graduates is to be able to solve problems, to think outside the box, to work together with others towards a common goal, and to be able to convey their ideas quickly and effectively. Integrating a Habits of Mind framework into our curriculum helps to ensure that all of our students have the dispositions needed that will lead to their success.

Every time I enter the school, I realize how blessed I am to have led such an innovative and spirited school for the last 20+ years! As I look around I see that our teachers and students approach learning with a joyful attitude!  All students are focused and driven to succeed, and supported by peers when things become challenging. Our amazing Plato teachers create personalized learning environments as they promote the Habits of Mind in their classrooms. Kids are challenged to persevere, to question and to think flexibly and creatively, to strive for accuracy, and to listen to others with empathy and understanding. Students engage in Socratic dialogue and are expected to participate in asking and answering questions, forming hypotheses, making predictions, and testing those ideas! This discourse happens with the youngest student during play and continues as our approach not only to literacy and social studies, but also to math, science and the arts!

Our goal is for our students to respond to the world with wonderment and awe, just as they did when they were babies and toddlers! And of course, along the way to find humor and delight in their learning!

I feel proud of every student’s sense of self and of the memories we are building together. We are part of a dynamic community that is caring and loving and that takes action when any member needs help! We strive to practice philotimo as part of our daily life, and support each other when needed. We stand beside the Bolos family and our warrior, Leo, as he fights a battle no child should ever have to fight! Thank you to the Plato community for all your support, positive energy, and prayers!

Welcome to our new school year!

Beginnings are always filled with much excitement and much anticipation. “The start of something new brings the hope of something great and anything is possible”.

Plato Academy’s mission statement “Challenging students to be their best selves while finding the genius in each” is, however, not new. Our ongoing commitment to philotimo and to critical thinking has always been at the heart of our mission statement. Every day our talented teachers will always strive to make sure that each of our students feels that they are capable and competent, and that they know their worth is not measured by a test score. In return, we expect our students to work hard, learn from their mistakes, always take pride in their learning, and make philotimo a part of their everyday lives. Their success depends on them!

Each of our students follows in the footsteps of our graduates. Take a look at the alumni page on our website and read about the amazing humans that we are very proud to call alumni. Attend our graduation ceremony and listen to the words of our alumni guest speakers as they describe the role that their education at Plato Academy played in their lives. One day your students’ names and accomplishments will be posted on our site, as all of our students contribute to the legacy that is Plato Academy.

We thank you for trusting us with your children’s education and for partnering with us to send compassionate, caring, and intelligent citizens into the future.

“It takes a village to raise a child” and we are honored that you have chosen Plato Academy to be part of your village.  We look forward to a great school year!

-Marianthi Koritsaris, Director

Special Tribute…

As you all may already know, Plato Academy lost two champions earlier this month. Board of Directors member Stacey Sauvageau lost her fight with cancer… I’m pretty sure it’s the only fight she ever lost! I also lost a best friend, a partner in education, and a true intellectual who could discuss any topic for hours over a cup of coffee.

A few weeks later we lost another member of our founding Board, Dr. Catherine Antonopoulos, who was also a former Plato Academy principal in the 1980’s and also a force to be reckoned with. The three of us were an unbeatable team! We navigated the school through turbulent times, having to move into four different buildings until we finally found our amazing and forever home last year.

When Stacey, Catherine, and I incorporated Plato Academy as an independent progressive school in 1999, we had a very clear vision. We wanted to create a school that honored children and how they learn. We wanted to allow children to play, be curious, be problem solvers and ultimately become critical and analytical thinkers. We also wanted to be sure that our students maintained that love of learning that every toddler exhibits as they explore the world. We wanted to create a school where students were not defined by grades and standardized tests. In this way we would not be inclined to compare one child to the next. We wanted to create a school where students are honored for thinking “outside the box:”  We wanted to create a school where the most important lesson was that of philotimo. In our vision, there was to be no predetermined curriculum, but rather one that emerges from the interests of the learners themselves. Our hope was that the lessons our students learned during their time at Plato Academy would impact their lives in such a way that they themselves would become future champions of education and philotimo!  

Plato Academy has a dedicated and diligent School Board, a talented staff and an amazing director at the helm. We are all completely dedicated to the Plato Academy mission and ideals.

Stacey and Catherine, your spirit will continue to help guide the Plato Academy team as we continue our purpose of educating the citizens of tomorrow!

From our principal…

What a great start to our new school year! Teachers and students have been working hard engaging in a rigorous and relevant curriculum! We are soon approaching our student-led conferences, a wonderful opportunity for our students to share a portfolio of their work and reflect on their progress. Student-led conferences help our students take ownership of their own learning.

I am personally so proud of all of our Plato Academy students who come to school every day ready to learn! I am also pleased to continue to learn of the successes of all of our graduates. It’s gratifying to see how well they integrate what they learned at Plato into their high school experience, college, and ultimately into their professional and personal lives. Please take a look at our alumni page to see the diverse paths our graduates have taken. They all tell us that their Plato Academy education helped lead them to where they are today!

Constructivist education philosophy, informed by experts such as Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and John Dewey, has always guided our practice. However,at Plato, we try to never rest on our laurels. We are always pondering what we can do to make the educational experience even more exceptional for all of our students! We always consider all of the most current research about learning and the brain to assure that we are preparing our students for the acquisition of the 21st century skills that will lead them to success.  These skills are Collaboration, Critical thinking, Communication, and Creativity. During parent conferences, you will see how these skills are manifested through the students’ work.

Of course our guiding principle of education is rooted in our commitment to Philotimo. In addition to promoting 21st Century Skills, we try to always instill a commitment to excellence as we aspire to graduate students who are honorable human beings. You can take a look at the Philotimo video here to understand what this word truly means.  We hope your children will not only talk about it with you but practice it on a daily basis, as well.

As we continue our educational journey with your children, please know that  Ms Maria and I, along with the School Board and our entire staff, share these commitments.  We are all here diligently working to provide a school experience that will ensure that your child/children will always be honored, loved and challenged to be their best self!

During this Thanksgiving season, I would like to share my personal gratitude for your continued support and commitment to a Plato Academy education. Thank you for entrusting us with your precious children.


“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

Philanthropy can be broadly defined as love for humankind. It is derived from the Greek words “philos,” which means loving and “anthropos,” which means humankind. A person who practices philanthropy is called a philanthropist . I am taking this opportunity to acknowledge the philanthropists of Plato Academy. Young children who see a need in the community and rise to the challenge of addressing that need in a very real way!
A number of years ago, I became familiar with the St. Baldrick’s organization through my daughter, who was an anesthesia resident at Rush Medical College at the time and became a chairperson of their event. I introduced the event to our middle school students and initially they held a bake sale to raise money for the cause. The following year, those same middle school students attended the St. Baldrick’s event sponsored by Notre Dame High School. They came back to school saying, “We could do that here!”  That is when The Plato St. Baldrick’s event was born! Since then, our event has raised tens of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research, and has also raised awareness and brought in young cancer survivors for us to meet, befriend, and honor. Each of these events starts with the passion of a single volunteer who is willing to shave their head or cut off their ponytail to provide wigs for children touched by cancer. The passion that these young Plato students have shown for compassion and caring is remarkable.
You may ask, “What does social justice have to do with education? Social justice education has the ability to help students develop their critical thinking and questioning skills while also developing soft skills such as empathy, compassion, as well as a desire to get involved in their communities. Social justice education is at the core of what we do at Plato. It is the highest level of curriculum theory…it is Praxis, which means informed, committed practice. What we learn in school, leads us to how we can use that knowledge to impact the world in some small way. It’s the Plato way!



This is a word that you have encountered on our website and on the walls of our classrooms.

We frame our curriculum around it.

We use it to drive our exploration of identity.

We consider it when we think about who we are and what we do that honors others.

We use it as a guide to help others simply because they need help.

We do the right thing because we believe it is our duty, even when nobody is looking.


The socioemotional health of our students is of utmost importance, especially in this time of a global pandemic and quarantine from our family, friends, neighbors, and loved ones. This is why we have stayed so committed to onsite learning at Plato and took the difficult steps needed to assure everyone’s  safety. We thank our staff, families and students for being diligent and caring. This has been a way for us all to demonstrate our commitment to philotimo. And even if we need to move to remote at some point, our responsibility to our students and families will not waver.

A wise person recently wrote, “If a child can do advanced math, speak 3 languages or receive top grades, but can’t manage their emotions, practice conflict resolution or handle stress, none of that other stuff is really going to matter”
Well, of course we want them to be mathematicians, of course we want them to be good communicators, of course we want them to be deep learners. But all of that must be done in the context of an environment that honors each and every person’s emotional well-being. Therefore, we spend as much time on helping our kids, teachers, and administration live up to the values of philotimo in our classrooms as we do focusing on their “academic” skills.
Along with our goals promoting the  21st century skills of Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking, we are guided by philotimo as we try to promote a healthy sense of self, empathy, and altruism.
There is strong scientific evidence to support this important relationship between social emotional learning and cognitive development.

Philotimo embraces all of the values that lead us to wisdom and integrity. A commitment to love and kindness, as well as a respect for family and community, is embedded into our curriculum across the disciplines. It is embedded in the novels we chose to read and explore. It is embedded in the many experiences that kids have to feel capable and competent. It is embedded in the moments kids have to be critical thinkers and see problems as opportunities to find creative solutions. This is what often sets Plato Academy apart!
          I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them” JFK

Multi age classrooms at Plato Academy

For the last twenty years, Plato Academy has framed our curriculum in a multi age philosophy and the academic and professional success of our graduates certainly seems to support that we are doing it right!
Grade level curriculum is an arbitrary construct. At Plato we have chosen to teach taking into account each student’s actual level of achievement. All students differ in abilities from subject to subject and mixed age grouping eliminates the standardization of curriculum and looks at the needs of each individual student.  We all work in settings where age is not a determinant of success, a younger person is often a mentor or an older person. Why would a classroom of kids be different? 
In a mixed age classroom, learning is not linear but rather holistic and it is supported by the needs of each student in the community. Various ages and ability levels in a classroom add complexity and richness to the kids’  learning explorations. Classrooms read and explore literature that is beyond “grade level” and we teach math concepts in ways that are relevant and make sense to kids regardless of how old they are.
In same age classrooms, kids are taught a standardized curriculum that assumes that because kids are the same age, they are developmentally, emotionally, and academically the same. So a small percentage excels, as defined by a grade (A or B) a percentage is average (C) and that’s good enough and the rest fail. A mixed age classroom avoids this. Students  are aware of each other’s talents and challenges but they are less likely to compare themselves by age.  All students are given the time they need to progress and excel.
As for the decisions made for grouping, we typically try to keep our learning communities together as they progress from teacher to teacher. This year due to pandemic constraints about group size, we needed to make decisions also based on other factors as we reduced group sizes to 10. Much care was made to keep parts of communities together as we also considered the social emotional development of our students.

Regarding content, as you know, each teacher explores different topics of study. Subject matter varies from year to year and is not standardized.  The indepth study of the topic is what is valued and the integrations of math, science , literacy and the arts so that the students’ understanding is deep.  It’s not at all about accommodating the learning of a 2nd grader vs a 3rd grader vs a 4th grader. We don’t at all consider curriculum in this way. Our goal is to graduate students that can walk confidently into any high school, including those with selective enrollment and be able to rise to any academic and social challenge. The journey at Plato from prek- 8th grade is what leads kids to that success.
For further reading:
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson
Free to Learn by Peter Gray