30 Years of Schools

Typography

Lowcountry learning, from the beginning

THE HISTORY OF HILTON HEAD ISLAND AND BLUFFTON SCHOOLS

Schools are not just places where children go to learn. They play a tremendous role in the quality of a community and the quality of its population. They are also a reflection of the community itself, its growth, its values and its future.

And on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton, schools have played huge roles in the history and very fabric of the Lowcountry.

That history goes back to 1861, when Union troops took control of Hilton Head during the Battle of Port Royal. One of the first things the Union troops did was help freed slaves create Mitchelville on the north end of the island. The Union troops also established laws for the island, the most significant of which was that black children between the ages of 6 and 15 had to attend school. It was possibly the first such law in the South.

Freed slaves flocked to the community, where, for the first time, they could attend classes.

In 1866, Hilton Head Island was divided into five school districts: Mitchelville, Marshland, Seabrook, Stoney and Lawton. In the Mitchelville district, the American Missionary Association supplied most of the teachers and offered primary, intermediate and high school classes at the various churches that had sprung up in the area.

There were as many as 238 students being taught in the district at one time, with classes meeting for up to five hours per day.

In 1937, descendants of the first Mitchelville residents built a one-room schoolhouse,  HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_Hill_School" \o "Cherry Hill School" Cherry Hill School. In the 1950s, Hilton Head Elementary School was built to serve black students and Cherry Hill School closed — though it was bought by St. James Church and still stands today as a multi-use room for the church. Hilton Head Elementary was replaced by an integrated school constructed on a new site in 1974.

Several other one-room schoolhouses were located around the area during this period. For instance, in 1969 author Pat Conroy taught underprivileged children on Daufuskie Island at the Mary Fields School, a one-room schoolhouse that closed in 1995. He recorded the appalling conditions black children faced in the schoolhouse in his book “The Water is Wide.”

SEA PINES MONTESSORI ACADEMY

Mary Stone FraserDuring the late 1960s and ’70s, there was an explosion of schools built on Hilton Head Island.

One of the first — and still one of the most important — was Sea Pines Montessori Academy.

Mary Stone Fraser, the wife of Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser, began the nonprofit school in a one-room classroom in 1968, according to the school’s website. She wanted to provide a Montessori education for her own two daughters as well as the growing Sea Pines and islandwide community.

Sally Cook came from Kansas City to become the first director of the class of 33 children. Class was held in one room of the Tree House Restaurant complex, now a convenience store on South Forest Beach.

In 1977, Sea Pines Montessori moved to its current location at 9 Fox Grape Road, with three primary classrooms. The enrollment included 84 children from 70 families.

Over the years the school continued to grow, and in 1992 a 7,240-square-foot building expansion project was completed.

Then in 2000, 11,000 square feet were added to provide for a library, music programs, physical education, recreation programs, drama, meetings and conferences.

“We have so much to offer,” said Melinda Cotter, the head of the school. “It goes back to our history and the founding by Mrs. Fraser, who believed Montessori was the best method of education. We have a curriculum that is individually based and plays to a child’s strengths, that creates independent and confident children. We appeal to so many families and new parents in this community.”

The school, which now has an enrollment of 150, also appeals to the public at large with its open events, such as music programs that have included opera performed by the children and a variety of other programs.

HILTON HEAD PREPARATORY SCHOOL

hh Preparatory SchoolAnother big player in the community has been Hilton Head Preparatory School, which was founded in the mid-1960s and is the oldest operating school on the island.

When Sea Pines Academy expanded in the 1970s, it was educating children in first through 12th grades at its 15-acre campus two blocks from the ocean, adjacent to the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. This tract of land is the current home of Hilton Head Prep.

In 1971, May River Academy opened its doors to a class of first-grade students in Bluffton. By 1985, May River was integrated into Hilton Head Prep.

Since then, Hilton Head Prep has grown and flourished and is known as an outstanding school. In fact, 100 percent of its students are accepted to college. Additionally, 100 percent of its students earned a 3 or higher in AP physics, studio art and calculus — 5 is the highest score.
What makes Prep so successful?

“We are rooted deep on Hilton Head Island,” said headmaster Jon Hopman. “We create and build on the strengths of our students in all facets of their lives, whether it’s academics, arts, sports or other facets. We are always striving to push our students to excel and to get involved in our island community. I constantly speak to the students about challenging themselves and getting outside their comfort zone.”

One area that Prep has been focusing on is volunteerism.

“We want our students to be involved with community service,” he said. “They benefit in so many ways from that and the community benefits, too.

“Put simply, Prep is a very special place.”

HERITAGE ACADEMY, HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN ACADEMY, ST. FRANCIS CATHOLIC SCHOOL 

Three other private schools on Hilton Head are Heritage Academy, Hilton Head Christian Academy and St. Francis Catholic School.

Heritage Academy opened in 1993. It formerly was ESI International Academy, offering morning classes for 17 international and non-local tennis players and golfers. The school was located on the Van der Meer Tennis University campus.

St Francis Catholic SchoolAccording to its website, co-ownership between Dennis Van der Meer and Ray Travaglione began in 1997 and enabled the student population to grow from 17 in 1993 to 72 in 2001 as the school became the academic complement to tennis, golf and visual and performing arts training.

The school moved to a new campus at 11 New Orleans Road in November 2002 and changed its name to Heritage Academy.

At Heritage, students commit to a passion in athletics, academics and research, or the visual and performing arts.

Heritage also has a diverse student body, with students who come from many countries and states.

Meanwhile, another school that is a longtime fixture on the island is Hilton Head Christian Academy.

It was started by George and Mary Winn Lent, who moved to Hilton Head from Greenville in 1979 and wanted a Christian school for their children. Hilton Head Christian was founded with 18 students who met at Grace Church on Mathews Drive.

The school continued to grow through several moves, and by 1987 the kindergarten class was bursting at the seams with 31 students.

In 1989, Hilton Head Christian opened a new building on Gardner Drive to more than 170 students. Today it is home to almost 400.

The school is known for its high academic standards. In fact, 100 percent of its graduates are accepted to college.

St. Francis Catholic School, which opened in the late ’90s, has about 187 students. It recently added a 3,500-square-foot Fine Arts Center and a 15,000-square-foot gymnasium/auditorium.

St. Francis is known throughout the community for its outstanding academic programs and it parental and volunteer support.

ST. GREGORY AND CROSS SCHOOLS

On the other side of the bridge, private schools have opened in the last several years to serve the astounding growth in Bluffton.

crossschoolCross Schools was established in 1998 to serve a growing community that was void of an independent grade school, according to its website. In 1999, it welcomed its first students to first grade. Since then it has expanded its campus on Buckwalter Parkway and now educates over 400 students in preschool through eighth grade.

St. Gregory the Great Catholic School opened in August 2006 at the off-site location of St. Andrew Hall. In August of 2007, St. Gregory the Great opened in its current location in Bluffton on Fording Island Road with seven classes in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

Its population has exploded. It added sixth grade in 2008, seventh grade in 2009 and eighth grade in 2011.

In 2013, with the opening of John Paul II Catholic School, St. Gregory the Great became a pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade school.

Both schools are known for their high academic standards and dedication to Christian values.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

In 1974, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts and the new Hilton Head Island Elementary School were opened. In 1983, Hilton Head Island High School opened its doors. Hilton Head Island Middle School was built in 1992, followed by Daufuskie Island Elementary in the mid-‘90s.

In Bluffton, Michael C. Riley Elementary School opened in 1991 and Bluffton Elementary School in 1999.

Things exploded in the 2000s, particularly as Bluffton grew and grew. H.E. McCracken Middle, Okatie Elementary, Bluffton Middle, Bluffton High and Red Cedar Elementary schools all opened their doors.

Over the years, academics have improved dramatically in the public schools. According to U.S. News & World Report, Hilton Head High and Bluffton High are among the top 10 high schools in the state.

Hilton Head High principal Amanda O’Nan said the school continues to close the achievement gap and improve its performance on various standardized tests. She also said parental expectations are high for the school.

“We have so many transplants that bring their expertise and background here,” she said. “Parents who come here have a vision of paradise and they expect state-of-the-art education for their children. And while that creates challenges, it’s a blessing to have so many parents with so many capabilities who can contribute to making our school the best that it can be.”

One measure of success is standardized test scores, which have improved for all types of students throughout the district. Ratings on state and federal accountability measures have also improved; high school graduation rates have increased; and district schools, students and teachers have earned numerous state and national honors in both academics and athletics.

“We’ve got a school district that’s one of the fastest-improving districts in the state, with cutting-edge innovations like district-wide school choice and Connect2Learn, which puts a mobile computing device in the hands of every student,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “The U.S. Census released a report two months ago saying that we’re one of the Top 20 fastest-growing regions in the nation.  And when all of those new families move to Beaufort County, that means lots of additional students in Beaufort County’s schools. The district is projected to enroll 3,000 additional kids over the next decade, the vast majority in Bluffton and Hilton Head.”

With that growth, even more schools are needed. 

The Beaufort County School District has approved an official list of projects to be placed on the November referendum ballot. The list includes two new schools in Bluffton as well as additional classroom construction at Bluffton’s River Ridge Academy, Hilton Head Island Middle School and Hilton Head Island High School — all three of those are currently full or nearly at capacity.

“Our schools are definitely part of the attraction for families interested in moving here,” said Moss. “This a wonderful place to live, and that’s sort of an open secret.”

TCL

The Technical College of the Lowcountry is one of 16 public two-year technical colleges in South Carolina. Its main campus is in Beaufort and it serves students in Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties.

According to its website,  HYPERLINK "http://www.tcl.edu" www.tcl.edu, TCL traces its origin to  HYPERLINK "http://www.tcl.edu/alumni/the-mather-school" \t "_blank" The Mather School, which was founded in 1868.  

It has approximately 10,000 credit and continuing education students, a mix of traditional, non-traditional, full time and part time.

TCL offers associate degrees, diploma and certificates in wide variety of subjects. It prepares graduates with knowledge and skills for transfer to senior colleges and universities and for careers in computer technology, industrial technology, engineering technology, occupational technology, business, health sciences and public service.

Offerings include developmental education; arts and sciences; career development; specialized contract courses tailored for specific businesses and industries; and continuing education to meet the workforce needs of the Lowcountry.  

USCB

Another higher education school offering programs in the Lowcountry

is the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

“Situated in the Carolina Sea Islands in a region rich in history, steeped in natural beauty, teeming with extraordinary opportunities for those who participate in golf, tennis and water sports of all kinds and thriving as one of the world's great resort destinations, USC Beaufort offers students an exceptional place to learn and live in an environment focused on growth, preservation and opportunity,” according to its website, www.uscb.edu.

The Hilton Head Gateway Campus (Main Campus), which opened in 2004, features on-campus student apartments and a new Campus Center with dining, recreation and fitness facilities.

USCB's Historic Beaufort Campus on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway is located in downtown Beaufort and is home to its Studio Arts program, Center for the Arts and many other cultural centers.

Both campuses offer undergraduate programs of study to some 1,500 students, who pay state university tuition.

FEATURED SCHOOLS

30yearsofschools2A look at a few of the Lowcountry’s most popular schools and institutions. 

Cross Schools

495 Buckwalter Parkway, Bluffton, SC 29910

Type: Private
Grades: PK-8
Headmaster: Shawn Young
Director of Admissions: Allison Howard
Phone: 843-706-2000
Student Population: 440

Established in 1999, Cross Schools provides a Christian-based day school for children in prekindergarten through eighth grade. Cross Schools strives to create an atmosphere where children love learning through small classes, rigorous academics, various enrichment courses, and faith-based learning. At Cross Schools, students can experience weekly chapel, an in-class Bible curriculum, numerous clubs such as Battle of the Books and Math League, and sports such as cross-country and volleyball. The main tenets of the Cross School community are academic excellence, respect for and service to others, and a commitment to know, love and follow Jesus Christ.

Hilton Head Christian Academy

hhChristian Academy

55 Gardner Drive, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

Type: Private
Grades: K-12
Headmaster: Daniel Wesche
Director of Admissions: Jen Denton
Phone: 843-681-2878
Student Population: 384
Mascot: Eagles

Hilton Head Christian Academy is a non-denominational Christian and college preparatory school that inspires in its students “a growing relationship with Christ and a relentless pursuit of excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts.” With an average class size of 15 students, Hilton Head Christian offers a rigorous curriculum including AP and honors courses. Athletic teams range from football and cheerleading to clay target, while clubs and activities include The Talon yearbook, Key Club, Discipleship Groups, and senior missions trips. Hilton Head Christian has a reputation for excellence in many areas, but most notably in the caring faculty and families it fosters, who understand the world from a biblical perspective.

Hilton Head Preparatory School

hhPreparatory School8 Fox Grape Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Type: Private
Grades: PK-12
Headmaster: Jon Hopman
Director of Admissions: Bobbie Somerville
Phone: 843-671-2286
Student Population: 450
Mascot: Dolphins

Hilton Head Prep is an accredited private school with exemplary faculty who strive to create students of character, integrity and responsibility in a safe and welcoming environment. With an average class size of 12 students, Hilton Head Prep uses a traditional college preparatory curriculum that includes courses in liberal arts, science, technology and ethics, as well as rigorous Advanced Placement and honors courses. Participation in co-curricular arts, athletic programs and meaningful community involvement is highly encouraged. Hilton Head Prep has a boarding program for students on competitive athletic teams or after-school activities, and is partnered with Cambridge Institute of International Education to provide a premier education for Chinese and Korean students.

Sea Pines Montessori Academy

9 Fox Grape Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Type: Private
Grades: 15 months to 8th grade
Headmaster: Melinda A. Cotter
Phone: 843-785-9537
Student Population: 145

Mary Stone Fraser founded Sea Pines Montessori Academy in 1968 as a children’s house — the desks, windows, and tables were at eye level so that it was truly owned by the children. Today, Sea Pines Montessori includes 10 classrooms, a library, a Suzuki piano and violin studio, a Chinese language lab, an outdoor amphitheater and other amenities. In addition to offering golf and fitness classes, the tennis program is in partnership with the Van Der Meer tennis Center. Sea Pines Montessori builds on Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy on education, which includes a love of learning, strong social and problem-solving skills, a positive work habit and respect for community.

St. Francis Catholic School

45 Beach City Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 2992

Type: Private/Catholic
Grades: PK-8
Headmaster: Brian Pope
Phone: 843-681-6501
Website:www.sfcshhi.com
Student Population: 187
Mascot: Wolves

St. Francis Catholic School strives to “nurture students’ spiritual and intellectual growth” through its strong curriculum, enrichment programs and athletics. In addition to integrated faith formation through weekly chapel and religion classes, the curriculum includes reading, arithmetic, writing, science and more. Enrichment programs such the school musical and Geography Club and athletic programs such as basketball and volleyball allow students to further their talents and interests. St. Francis has an exceptional parental and volunteer support system environment that makes the school environment what it is — built on unconditional positive regard for each student.

Technical College of the Lowcountry, New River Campus

100 Community College Drive, Bluffton, SC 29909

Type: Two-year community college
President: Dr. Richard Gough
Phone: 843-470-6000

The Technical College of the Lowcountry provides quality, affordable academic and technical programs leading to associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in an environment fostering excellence in teaching and learning. The college prepares graduates with knowledge and skills for transfer to senior colleges and universities and for careers in computer technology, industrial technology, engineering technology, occupational technology, business, health sciences, and public service.

University of South Carolina Beaufort, Hilton Head Gateway Campus

One University Boulevard, Bluffton, SC 29909

Type: Public university
Chancellor: Dr. Al M. Panu
Phone: 843-208-8000

USCB offers the region's only human services degree as well as more traditional degrees such as English, psychology, business and education. The school opened a nursing facility in Spring 2009. Human simulators provide nursing students hands-on training opportunities. Another popular program capitalizing on nearby Hilton Head Island resorts is the hospitality management program which draws international students and provides internship experiences.

LOCAL SCHOOLS

Bluffton Elementary School & Early Childhood Center

150 and 160 H.E. McCracken Circle, Bluffton, SC 29910

Type: Public
Grades: ECC PK-1, Main 2-6
Principal: Christine Brown
Phone: 843-706-8500
Student Population: 714
Mascot: Wildcats

As a school of choice for animation, creation and design, Bluffton Elementary School teaches its students to think critically and understand all the creation that is made possible with technology. Dressed in uniforms of red, royal blue, yellow or white collared shirts over khaki bottoms, students attend school from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and gain hands-on experience with activities such as gaming and coding using programs like Toon Boom technology. Along with theme days and monthly community service projects, Bluffton Elementary teaches its students to be positive, respectful, independent, dependable, and put forth their best effort (show their PRIDE) as part of a positive behavior interventions and supports model.

Bluffton Middle School

30 New Mustang Drive, Bluffton, SC 29910

Type: Public
Grades: 6-7
Principal: Pat Freda
Phone: 843-707-0700
Student Population: 1,120
Mascot: Mustangs

At Bluffton Middle School, teachers inspire intellectual curiosity and instill in their students meaningful life skills such as responsibility, honesty and citizenship. One way that Bluffton Middle fulfills its mission of “cherishing and challenging every student” is through school-sponsored activities such as the National Geographic Bee, Pizza with the Principal, Career Day, Month of the Military Child, and Choice School Fair. With its recent 1-to-1 Dell device implementation, the school treats technology as a tool that enhances learning in the classroom and encourages students to critically question how things work.

Bluffton High School

12 H.E. McCracken Circle, Bluffton, SC 29910

Type: Public
Grades: 10-12
Principal: Denise Garison
Phone: 843-706-8800
Student Population: 1,313
Mascot: Bobcats

Named in the top 3 percent of America’s most challenging high schools by The Washington Post, Bluffton High School strives to assure that “students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to live as productive and informed citizens in an ever-changing society.” Offering 16 different AP courses and unique courses such as business education and sports medicine, Bluffton High prepares its students for college, potential careers and beyond. With sports such as baseball, lacrosse, soccer, and wrestling, and clubs such as Drama Club, Interact Club and JROTC, there are numerous ways for students to enhance their learning experience both during and after the school day.

Cross Schools

495 Buckwalter Parkway, Bluffton, SC 29910

Type: Private
Grades: PK-8
Headmaster: Shawn Young
Director of Admissions: Allison Howard
Phone: 843-706-2000
Student Population: 440

Established in 1999, Cross Schools provides a Christian-based day school for children in prekindergarten through eighth grade. Cross Schools strives to create an atmosphere where children love learning through small classes, rigorous academics, various enrichment courses, and faith-based learning. At Cross Schools, students can experience weekly chapel, an in-class Bible curriculum, numerous clubs such as Battle of the Books and Math League, and sports such as cross-country and volleyball. The main tenets of the Cross School community are academic excellence, respect for and service to others, and a commitment to know, love and follow Jesus Christ.

H.E. McCracken Middle School

250 H.E. McCracken Circle, Bluffton, SC 29910

Type: Public
Grades: 8-9
Principal: Todd Bornscheuer
Phone: 843-706-8700
Student Population: 983
Mascot: Bulldogs

At H.E. McCracken Middle School, an expansion of Bluffton Middle School, students build on their academic foundation while faculty promote high expectations, critical thinking skills, literacy, strength of diversity, and real-world applications of knowledge. Classes range from environmental science of the Lowcountry to world geography. Clubs and activities include Youth in Government and Science Olympiad. There is also a “Connections” program with a commitment to community involvement. As an Arts-Infused and Project Lead the Way Choice school, McCracken Middle provides additional opportunities for career and technology preparedness in the performing arts and STEM-related fields.

Heritage Academy

11 New Orleans Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Type: Private
Grades: 6-12
Headmaster: Gloria Shoemaker
Director of Admissions: Tina Sprouse
Phone: 843-842-8600
Student Population: 130

Heritage Academy provides a top school choice for scholar-athletes and performing artists requiring flexible course scheduling and individualized training so that they can pursue their dreams of earning a spot on an NCAA sports team or arts program. Heritage Academy serves local, national and international students from many different countries and states. The average class size is around eight students. The curriculum includes personalized college placement programs, honors classes, and AP classes. Heritage Academy has community partners in athletics and the arts, including Smith Stearns Tennis Academy, Van De Meer Tennis Academy, IJGA, JPGA, Bluffton School of Dance, Lawton Stables and others.

Hilton Head Christian Academy

55 Gardner Drive, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

Type: Private
Grades: K-12
Headmaster: Daniel Wesche
Director of Admissions: Jen Denton
Phone: 843-681-2878
Student Population: 384
Mascot: Eagles

Hilton Head Christian Academy is a non-denominational Christian and college preparatory school that inspires in its students “a growing relationship with Christ and a relentless pursuit of excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts.” With an average class size of 15 students, Hilton Head Christian offers a rigorous curriculum including AP and honors courses. Athletic teams range from football and cheerleading to clay target, while clubs and activities include The Talon yearbook, Key Club, Discipleship Groups, and senior missions trips. Hilton Head Christian has a reputation for excellence in many areas, but most notably in the caring faculty and families it fosters, who understand the world from a biblical perspective.

Hilton Head Island Elementary School IB

30 School Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

Type: Public
Grades: 1-5
Principal: Jill McAden
Phone: 843-342-4100
Student Population: 916 students
Mascot: Otters

The mission of Hilton Head Elementary School is to develop world citizens who are compassionate, lifelong learners. As an International Baccalaureate school, the school’s curriculum implements international ideas such as how governments and citizens influence one another, how people use their imagination to create stories for entertainment, and how people around the world make connections in work and play, and more. The dual language choice program also instills a global culture in the elementary school. Students at Hilton Head Elementary are encouraged to be active participants in extracurricular learning through clubs and activities such as Chess Club, Beachbotics, Student Council and Drama Club.  

Hilton Head Island Middle School

55 Wilborn Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

Type: Public
Grades: 6-8
Principal: Neodria Brown
Phone: 843-689-4500
Student Population: 979
Mascot: Stingrays

As an International Baccalaureate World School, Hilton Head Island Middle School shares a philosophy of commitment to high quality and a challenging international education. This program teaches students to be creative, critical and reflective thinkers both in the classroom, with traditional subjects such as geometry, earth science, and world language, as well as outside the classroom in unique clubs such as Earth Club, Area in Motion, and Model United Nations. Hilton Head Middle athletics include football, basketball, track and field, wrestling, and more. 

Hilton Head Island High School

70 Wilborn Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

Type: Public
Grades: 9-12
Principal: Amanda O’Nan
Phone: 843-689-4800
Student Population: 1,271 students
Mascot: Seahawks

U.S. News & World Report ranked Hilton Head Island High School No. 5 of all South Carolina high schools for its commitment to excellence and academic rigor, with opportunities to take AP courses and exams. Hilton Head High prepares its students to become responsible citizens in our global and technological age by providing a balanced curriculum, disciplined atmosphere, and quality facilitating, and excellent faculty. In addition to having a curriculum with traditional academic courses, clubs, activities, and sports teams, Hilton Head High offers an International Baccalaureate diploma, allowing students to earn college credits while in high school.

Hilton Head Island Elementary School for the Creative Arts and Daufuskie Island Elementary School

10 Bus Drive, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Type: Public
Grades: PK-5
Principal: Gretchen Keefner
Phone: 843-342-4380
Student Population: 800
Mascot: Seahawks

Hilton Head Elementary School for the Creative Arts uses an arts-infused approach to S.C. state standards by integrating arts into math and reading for students in kindergarten through fifth grades. While maintaining its primary focus on a creative learning environment, the school recently adopted the STEAM model into its curriculum to include science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Taught at the instructional level, students build skills such as confidence and a strong work habit, which is evident as they perform live and display their work in school and community venues. Other opportunities for students include Drama Club, Garden Club, Calypso Belles, and Robotics Club.

Hilton Head Preparatory School

8 Fox Grape Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Type: Private
Grades: PK-12
Headmaster: Jon Hopman
Director of Admissions: Bobbie Somerville
Phone: 843-671-2286
Student Population: 450
Mascot: Dolphins

Hilton Head Prep is an accredited private school with exemplary faculty who strive to create students of character, integrity and responsibility in a safe and welcoming environment. With an average class size of 12 students, Hilton Head Prep uses a traditional college preparatory curriculum that includes courses in liberal arts, science, technology and ethics, as well as rigorous Advanced Placement and honors courses. Participation in co-curricular arts, athletic programs and meaningful community involvement is highly encouraged. Hilton Head Prep has a boarding program for students on competitive athletic teams or after-school activities, and is partnered with Cambridge Institute of International Education to provide a premier education for Chinese and Korean students.

Michael C. Riley Early Childhood Center & Elementary School

172 and 200 Burnt Church Road, Bluffton, SC 29910

Type: Public
Grades: PK-5
Principal: Adrienne Sutton
Phone: 843-706-8300
Student Population: 920

Mascot: Eagle

Named after a native Blufftonian, Michael C. Riley Early Childhood Center & Elementary School empowers its young learners to become honorable and contributing members of society. The unique curriculum includes an EveryDay math research-based program, a balanced literacy program with reading and writing workshop, a whole-child transformation and leadership program, and a STEM program that uses the design thinking process — encouraging students to ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve. In every program, students build skills with group projects, mini-lessons, and instructional learning. M.C. Riley teaches its students to follow the EAGLE model of behavior by earning respect, acting responsibility, going safely, learning, and encouraging others.

Okatie Elementary School

53 Cherry Point Road, Bluffton, SC 29909

Type: Public
Grades: PK-5
Principal: Jamie Pinckney
Phone: 843-322-7700
Student Population: 600
Mascot: Owl

A science, health and technology-based school, Okatie Elementary School was recognized as a Palmetto’s Finest winner for adhering to its mission of “meeting students academic needs while also promoting character development.” Okatie Elementary teachers empower students to develop integrity and social responsibility by enacting a “Learning Through Leadership” approach. At Okatie Elementary, students engage in authentic service projects, gain access to facilities such as the Media Center, participate in clubs such as Spirit Squad, Recycling, and Electronics Club, take field trips to the surrounding Bluffton and Savannah area, and present their ideas with grade-wide projects such as the Science Fair.

Red Cedar Elementary School

10 Box Elder St., Bluffton, SC 29910

Type: Public
Grades: K-5
Principal: Kathleen Corley
Phone: 843-707-0600
Student Population: 713
Mascot: Foxes

Red Cedar Elementary School is a Title 1 school that fosters a love of knowledge, self, and others among its students, and was recently named the top public elementary school in the state with a Palmetto’s Finest award. The hallmarks of life at Red Cedar Elementary School include a high-quality staff, teaching to the state standards, and a sense of respect (as part of the positive behavior interventions and supports model). While the academic curriculum focuses on project-based and hands-on learning, students gain access to digital tools such as Rosetta Stone, BIG Universe and Odyssey/Compass Learning. Clubs and activities include the Foxes Trot Running Club, Robotics Club, Honors Choir, Red Cedar Gazette and many more.

St. Francis Catholic School

45 Beach City Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 2992

Type: Private/Catholic
Grades: PK-8
Headmaster: Brian Pope
Phone: 843-681-6501
Website:www.sfcshhi.com
Student Population: 187
Mascot: Wolves

St. Francis Catholic School strives to “nurture students’ spiritual and intellectual growth” through its strong curriculum, enrichment programs and athletics. In addition to integrated faith formation through weekly chapel and religion classes, the curriculum includes reading, arithmetic, writing, science and more. Enrichment programs such the school musical and Geography Club and athletic programs such as basketball and volleyball allow students to further their talents and interests. St. Francis has an exceptional parental and volunteer support system environment that makes the school environment what it is — built on unconditional positive regard for each student.

Sea Pines Montessori Academy

9 Fox Grape Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Type: Private
Grades: 15 months to 8th grade
Headmaster: Melinda A. Cotter
Phone: 843-785-9537
Student Population: 145

Mary Stone Fraser founded Sea Pines Montessori Academy in 1968 as a children’s house — the desks, windows, and tables were at eye level so that it was truly owned by the children. Today, Sea Pines Montessori includes 10 classrooms, a library, a Suzuki piano and violin studio, a Chinese language lab, an outdoor amphitheater and other amenities. In addition to offering golf and fitness classes, the tennis program is in partnership with the Van Der Meer tennis Center. Sea Pines Montessori builds on Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy on education, which includes a love of learning, strong social and problem-solving skills, a positive work habit and respect for community.

Technical College of the Lowcountry, New River Campus

100 Community College Drive, Bluffton, SC 29909

Type: Two-year community college
President: Dr. Richard Gough
Phone: 843-470-6000

The Technical College of the Lowcountry provides quality, affordable academic and technical programs leading to associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in an environment fostering excellence in teaching and learning. The college prepares graduates with knowledge and skills for transfer to senior colleges and universities and for careers in computer technology, industrial technology, engineering technology, occupational technology, business, health sciences, and public service.

University of South Carolina Beaufort, Hilton Head Gateway Campus

One University Boulevard, Bluffton, SC 29909

Type: Public university
Chancellor: Dr. Al M. Panu
Phone: 843-208-8000

USCB offers the region's only human services degree as well as more traditional degrees such as English, psychology, business and education. The school opened a nursing facility in Spring 2009. Human simulators provide nursing students hands-on training opportunities. Another popular program capitalizing on nearby Hilton Head Island resorts is the hospitality management program which draws international students and provides internship experiences.