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Hellenic Classical Charter School

Grades: Pre-K, K-8
Staff Pick
646 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11215
Phone: 718-499-0957

Our Insights

What’s Special

Rich instruction in Greek language, history and culture

The Downside

Long waitlist, no outside play area on site

Hellenic Classical Charter is a winning, spirited school with the kind of authentic content and instruction that motivates kids to participate wholeheartedly. Children study the world through the rich lens of Greek language and culture, and take their expertise into a wider sphere through their participation in local and citywide Greek events. This dynamic school community is a source of pride among the city's Greek community but has benefits for all students.

Kindergartners study Greek through games, flashcards, skits and songs. They also listen to Aesop's Fables and enjoy puppet shows, an important part of any Greek childhood. Greek instruction continues five days a week through middle school, where students add the study of Latin, and read excerpts from Greek classics such as The Iliad, The Odyssey and Plato's Republic.

The school embodies the Greek concept of "filoxenia," or hospitality. Children are taught to take ownership of their school by serving on the student government or as "ambassadors" in each classroom. At their open houses, students and staff receive visitors with smiles, snacks and information. The middle school science teacher said kids love all this warmth and community. "At the end of the day we kind of have to kick kids out of the building," he said.

Founded in 2005, Hellenic Classical Charter grew out of the Soterios Ellenas School, a longstanding Greek-Orthodox parochial school that has educated Brooklynites of Greek heritage for decades. Demographic changes reduced the number of local families wanting Greek parochial education, and the idea was born to create a not-for-profit charter school, based on Hellenic culture and drawing in a broader range of students.

The school population is ethnically and economically diverse with rising numbers of Hispanic students; not even one-quarter are of Greek heritage. Still, at least one hour of each 8 am to 4 pm school day is devoted to studying Greek with five native-speaking professional teachers. But other cultures are celebrated too. Each classroom studies a different country in preparation for the school's multicultural fair; Cinco de Mayo and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day are important holidays.

What's particularly successful here is how subjects are knit together for greater meaning. We watched theater/dance teacher Petros Fourniotis weave geography, history and language instruction into one of his Hellenic dance classes. Using a map, a child located the origin of the sharper, percussive dances of the mountainous Pontus region, and made a comparison to the smoother-flowing island dances. Sixth-graders danced with a respectful, Zen-like focus without a trace of the rebelliousness typically attributed to this age.

Since her arrival in 2007, Principal Christina Tettonis has increased arts and literacy instruction. More than 20 1st-graders receive one-on-one help in reading, and teachers work with coaches from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. "We put a lot of resources into the lower grades," Tettonis said.

The school also adopted the practice of Socratic Seminars, or "Paideia time," as it's called, as a way to debate topics. The result is a refreshing forthrightness in student discourse. Kids don't have to wait to be called on by the teacher, and in the older grades children serve as discussion leaders. A 3rd-grader explained Paideia seminars like this: "We all have different opinions. We agree. We disagree. You can speak more than once but not too much so others can speak." She added, "We love it."

Classroom teachers are responsible for science, a subject that typically falls to a specialized teacher in a larger school, and we saw evidence of science lessons, although children said that hands-on experiments occur more frequently in the 4th grade, a testing grade. "Science is strong in the building and we're looking to make it even stronger," said school director of operations, Joy Petrakos. Children grow seeds, dissect frogs and study mechanical science, she said, by way of example.

Any student may take advantage of free Kaplan preparation for the specialized high school test. About 12 percent of graduates qualify and others attend a wide range of public and private high schools. High school-level Regents classes are available in Greek, algebra and Earth science.

There is no outdoor play space so the younger children walk to a nearby playground.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Special education teachers work with children individually and in small groups. "We want to increase the special education population," said Petrakos.

ADMISSIONS: Lottery, with priority to District 15. There is a long waitlist. (Lydie Raschka, May 2016; updated August 2016)

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2022-2023 NYC School Survey

How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
80% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
56% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
78% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
0% Citywide Average

From the 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
1% Citywide Average

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
82% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
53% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
50% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
52% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
57% Citywide Average

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
39% Citywide Average

What is the Pre-K like?

From the NYC Program Assessment (CLASS and ECERS-R) Database through 2019-2020

Instruction: Teachers ask kids to explain their reasoning when they solve problems
Activities: Children explore art, music, sand/water, dramatic play and more
Language: Teachers talk and listen to kids in a supportive way
Interaction: Teachers ask kids good questions and invite back-and-forth conversation

Who does this school serve?

From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners
Pre-K seats

From the 2020 School Directories

How does this school serve special populations?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
27% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
21% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
17% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
12% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Sunset Park (District 15)
Trains: F Line, G Line to 15th St-Prospect Park; R Line to Prospect Ave
Buses: B61, B63, B68


Natasha Caban

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?

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