As East Cooper Montessori (ECMCS) completes its 18th year as a successful public Montessori school of choice within the Charleston County School District, we reflect on many successes despite the continued challenges presented by managing Covid in the school environment. Guided by the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori, ECMCS is meeting the vision to develop world-class skills and career characteristics of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate by providing an authentic, rigorous public Montessori experience for students in preK-8th grades. The school continues to be awarded for high achievement and is recognized as a model public Montessori program within our county and state.
The mission of ECMCS, in part, is to provide a rigorous Montessori education that guides children toward academic excellence and a lifelong love of learning. Rigorous curriculum expectations are met through learning experiences that capitalize on collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication. The school fulfills its mission by allowing students to develop their abilities both academically and artistically. This occurs by posing questions, collaborating with others, designing investigations, and gaining skills necessary to express and pursue research interests. Scientific and mathematical aptitudes, appreciation of history and timelines, literacy across disciplines, and the development of a student’s humanity toward the local and global community are all part of the curriculum at ECMCS.
The second part of the school’s mission is to encourage stewardship of the greater global community. Students annually participate in global learning projects including the World Peace Game, Social Justice project-based experiences, and the Model Montessori United Nations simulation program. Thanks to our partnership with the Clemson Extension, we continued science and STEM in the garden with planting beds for every classroom
Lastly, community service projects such as Oyster Bed Restoration or clothing drives for the Florence Crittenton home still occurred despite the seasonal surging of Covid and extended absences for both students and teachers. The middle schoolers learned about micro-economy through running several businesses. The students have also begun the process of studying beekeeping and the benefits of honey projects.
The halls seem to have a special sparkle this year coming to life with arts, music, STEM, studio arts as well as digital art studies. The school made significant investments into the fine arts program in recent years including all-new audio, and visual display screens and a new stage curtain. Those investments have produced a formal choir along with the first musical theater production. Our vibrant hands-on approach to teaching and learning through personalized curriculum, interactive technology, a Gifted and Talented Immersion Program, foreign language, high school credit courses in middle school coupled with strong arts programming in musical theater, chorus, studio art, STEM, and digital arts program continue to set the ECMCS experience apart from other programs.
Our Montessori program continues to lift student achievement and reach new heights because ECMCS invests in practices for the attraction, growth, and maintenance of a strong, professionally engaged faculty. Our retention of educators has remained relatively high due to our educator-retention practices that put educators in the heart of decision-making along with the students.
The consistent and professional leadership of the Governing Board and the school administration remains a cornerstone of its financial and academic success. People truly are the heart of our business.
Jody Swanigan, Principal
Abby Kazley, ECMCS Governing Board Chair