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by Frank Maley, Socrates Academy parent

Parents who send their children to Socrates Academy hear the question often from friends and family, and it's one they likely asked themselves before driving their kids to school on Day One: Why Greek?

Why put your child through two daily sessions of Greek – one a language course, the other a mathematics course taught in Greek – to make them proficient in a language that fewer than 20 million people speak. It's not among the 20 most-spoken languages in the world. It has fewer speakers than some languages likely unknown to most Americans, including Lahnda -- spoken in Pakistan -- Telugu and Marathi, both common in India. Spanish, the second-most-popular language in the United States and the world, seems more useful to many people, and several schools near Socrates Academy offer it.

But for English-speaking students, Greek offers benefits that other languages don’t. It works the brain harder by forcing it to learn a different alphabet. It fosters a deeper understanding of Greek culture, which helped shape the cultures of Western Europe and the United States. And like Spanish, it helps English speakers understand their own language better, since a large percentage of English words directly or indirectly come from Greek. Socrates Academy is the only public elementary school in North Carolina that focuses on Greek.

Learning a second language early also makes it easier to learn other languages, says Reagan Ponder. She graduated from Socrates Academy in 2015 and now attends Piedmont High School in Monroe. She recently spoke to students at her alma mater's Greek Letters Day celebration and told them that what she learned at Socrates, combined with her scores on the Ellinomatheia Greek language exam allowed her to earn all her foreign-language credits required for graduation from high school. She now studies French in high school and earned a perfect score on her exam. “Following this path can allow you to take other electives that fit your interest, or you can do what I did and start a new language. Without the self-discipline and studying habits I was taught through Greek at Socrates, I wouldn't have been inspired to continue to challenge myself by taking French.”

Socrates Academy is public charter school that educates more than 660 scholars in kindergarten through eighth grade. In partnership with parents and the community, it encourages students to develop critical analytical-thinking skills and become self-confident in a high-achievement, multicultural environment. Particular emphasis is placed on developing proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics in English and reek through the use of the Socratic Method.


Greek Letter Days' Award Recipients