East Cooper Montessori celebrates 10 years of educating children

  • Tuesday, June 11, 2013

East Cooper Montessori School second grader Phillip Gillespie shows off his face painting. PHOTOS PROVIDED


The story starts with a vision, some dedicated charter members, 44 children and a trailer.

East Cooper Montessori Charter School received its charter from the Charleston County School District and began educating children using the Montessori method in 2003.

Since opening the doors to the original “learning cottage,” the school has grown to 258 children in grades one through eight.

Currently it is located in the I’On community, on land donated by Vince Graham and the I’On group.

The community-like environment includes many opportunities for hands-on learning including a school garden, a new bee hive, outdoor classrooms and multiple arts programs, as well as academic studies that focus on the individual child.

Students are required to participate in peace projects throughout the year educating them in the importance of being philanthropic and working to make the world a better place.

To celebrate 10 years, the school hosted a birthday party located at the Trident Academy park, boasting pony rides and jump castles provided by Lowcountry Party Animals.

Pot Kettle Black and Lowcounty Creole food trucks provided delicious treats while Ryan with Party on Wheels kept the party moving.

Jody Swanigan, principle and founding charter member, presented a founder’s plaque which will hang in the school, and artist Karen Larson Turner presented Swanigan with a beautiful rendition of the school titled “Time Well Spent.”

More than 600 guests, including students, teachers, alumni, parents and family members devoured 600 cupcakes provided by Bridges Learning Academy and sang happy birthday at the top of their lungs.

The 10-year-olds at the school- born the same year as ECMCS – delivered their top 10 lists including “Quirky Things about Attending a Montessori School” (Kids walk in clumps not in a line, Montessori students want to instruct the instructors on field trips,) “Montessori Bumper Sticker Slogans” (Montessori kids think outside the desk, Make a better choice…choose Montessori,) and Reasons ECMCS Rocks (Our teachers are highly qualified and awesome, We are a cool school-literally.)

In the past 10 years, ECMCS has achieved the Palmetto Gold or Silver Award every year since inception for achieving excellent ratings both in absolute and growth categories, the graduating adolescents (eighth graders) are being accepted at schools such as Academic Magnet and Charleston County School of the Arts, and the graduating high school seniors- who spent their formative years in this small learning cottage - are going on to do wonderful things including attending Ivy league schools.

All of the lead teachers at ECMCS are both state and Montessori certified; in addition, they are gifted and talented certified.

This allows the GT program to be infused in the classroom so that all children at the school have the opportunity to be exposed to the GT material.

The new school song begins with the phrase, “It started with two cottages and just a little dream..”

Who knows what exciting and incredible opportunities are in store for the next 10 years at this Montesorri school.

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