MATTHEWS – More than 700 Socrates Academy students, teachers, staff, parents and community leaders surrounded the flag pole on a recent chilly winter morning for a flag-raising ceremony at the charter school.
Socrates students Andrew Mehringer and Alexander Murphy, with some help from school president and founder Larry Peroulas, attached a special flag underneath the American flag that was sent from the U.S. Department of Education.
That flag signifies that Socrates Academy is one of just 349 public and private schools from across the country that were given the 2018 National Blue Ribbon Award from the DOE.
Socrates was the only school in the Charlotte region selected for the award and the only charter school selected from North Carolina. In all, eight schools in the state were recognized with the national award. Less than 1 percent of all schools in the country received the award, which honors high levels of student achievement.
Yes, it was a big day at Socrates on Jan. 25.
“It is you scholars who earned this National Blue Ribbon this year because you are an exemplary, high-performing group of scholars performing academically in the top 1 percent in the entire United States of America,” Socrates Principal Sandra Brighton told the gathering. “You should be so proud of yourselves, and I am so proud to be your leader and principal.”
Socrates Academy is a kindergarten through eighth-grade charter school located on Weddington Road and students are taught language and math in English and in Greek in all grade levels. Instruction is provided by American teachers and Greek teachers in collaboration with the Greek government.
The school features a multi-lingual, multi-cultural curriculum that follows both the North Carolina essential standards and common core of language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, art and music. It also follows the National Greek curriculum standards of language arts, mathematics and Greek culture. Students come from not only Mecklenburg and Union counties but also from other surrounding counties.
“Our curriculum is very rigorous,” Peroulas said. “It is a research-based, evidence-driven curriculum. It has been proved to be very, very successful. We are a school for all kids. We are very proud to get this award.”
Socrates started as a dream in 1997. The school opened its doors in 2005 with 67 students in kindergarten and first grade at a location on Monroe Road. The school has since expanded to its current capacity on a multi-building campus. Plans call for adding grades nine through 12, as the school has purchased an additional six acres next to its campus.
“We have 700 students and a wait list of hundreds of students,” Peroulas said. “The academy has been a great success. We have a safe environment here. We have a low student-teacher ratio.”
Aphradite Davis enrolled one daughter in the school the first year it opened, and she has another daughter in the eighth grade. The Charlotte resident said her children have received a top-notch education.
“Part of it is I am Greek and then another reason was I wanted something unique for my children,” Davis said. “I wanted a smaller more intimate feeling where teachers have an opportunity to be more creative with their teaching.”
Brighton said it took a team effort from students, parents, teachers, staff members, members of the board and community members to win the award.
“We have worked hard to develop a multi-lingual and multi-cultural academic program that fosters critical thinking,” Brighton said. “This award reflects the fruit of those efforts.”
Now in its 36th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has named more than 8,800 schools as Blue Ribbon Schools. Officials from Socrates traveled to Washington, D.C. in November for an awards ceremony that honored the 300 public and 49 private schools that were awarded the prestigious honor.
— @Paul_Nielsen (@wsportspaul) February 1, 2019