Making the Grade



Good schools prepare children for the world of work and help them to develop their personal talents, discover who they are and gauge where they best fit into society. Schools also play a tremendous role in the life of a community and contribute to a feeling of belonging among residents. How much education is valued is a reflection on the community itself, its priorities and its future. For Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and the surrounding Lowcountry, schools have played huge roles in the history and development of the region. On the following pages, we’ve highlighted nine of the best schools, academies and institutions available right here at home.




education2About the school: Throughout its 50 years, Hilton Head Prep has been the place to be for the best education in the area and it is stronger than ever. Educating students in junior kindergarten through 12th grade, Prep is the place to be inspired and challenged, the place to be a family, a teammate and an artist, and the place to be charitable. The student/faculty relationship is at the core of Prep’s success through which students are inspired to pursue their passions and reach heights they never imagined on their way to the most selective colleges and successful lives.

Featured teacher: Bethany Battig Ramseur, an Upper School Spanish teacher, was recently awarded the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Societies South Carolina Spanish Teacher of the Year Award for 2017. She inspires students every day by infusing their learning experience with as much proficiency-driven, cultural exposure as possible and always puts the best interest of her students first. She will take a group of Prep students to Puerto Rico on a hurricane relief service trip in March.


education3About the School: Hilton Head Christian Academy is transforming learning in the Lowcountry. Our students are understanding that how they learn, through critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication, is as important as what they learn — reading, writing, and arithmetic. Our graduates are using their God-given potential to be global citizens who impact the world. HHCA is a K-12 Christian, College Preparatory Learning Community.

Featured Graduate: “Hilton Head Christian’s Diploma with Distinction study is amazing. It was THE best high school experience. I got to really dive into my passions and realize what I wanted to do with my life. The teachers who supported me helped me better understand who I am in Christ. Because of this project, I was awarded $100,000 in scholarship money to attend SCAD.” Chloe Strickland, HHCA Class of 2015.


education4About the School: Lowcountry Day provides a private, Christian-based year-round pre-kindergarten curriculum, as well as camp and after-school programs for students through third grade. Families from all denominations are encouraged to learn through a focus on the creative arts, and the school has a ballet and music studio on campus. Director Kimberly Duke-Clark holds a degree in social work and has an extensive background in child development and counseling. The state-licensed school’s mission is to provide a safe, nurturing environment, while providing the highest quality care that will meet the needs of every individual child.

Featured Graduate: Cheyanne Ward was one of Lowcountry Day’s first students, attending until elementary school. Despite incredible challenges, including her mother’s death from cancer and responsibilities caring for her younger sisters, Ward graduated from May River High School with honors. She returned to Lowcountry Day to work in the after-school program and was a camp counselor for pre-kindergarten students. She currently is studying nursing at University of South Carolina Beaufort.


About the School: The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of South Carolina Beaufort is devoted to providing intellectually stimulating, not-for-credit, educational opportunities to adults in the Lowcountry. The OLLI program at USCB is one of the largest programs in the country, with more than 1,500 members and 400 classes and programs each year. Classes are offered in Bluffton and Beaufort and on Hilton Head Island. Benefits of membership include access to OLLI programs, access to USCB’s libraries and dining, discounts to continuing education classes such as conversational languages, and participation in the OLLI LowCountry Community Concert Band.



education6About the School: The Technical College of the Lowcountry provides quality, affordable academic and technical programs. Students can earn associate degrees, diplomas and certificates in an environment that fosters excellence in teaching and learning. The college prepares graduates with knowledge and skills they will need to transfer to senior colleges and universities and for careers in computer technology, industrial technology, engineering technology, occupational technology, business, health sciences and public service.

Featured graduate: Takiya La'Shaune Smith's TCL story: When I started my first cosmetology business, my services were limited. TCL's two-year cosmetology program was perfect in guiding me to my dream business. The class schedules were flexible and my instructors helped me stay on the right track. My cosmetology classmates and I quickly became close knit and we are like family even today. My experience enrolling, attending and graduating from TCL has been life-changing. TCL has opened many doors for me including the launch of my second salon. I'm now a licensed cosmetologist and the founding owner of Beautique Lash & Brow and The Brow Company Beauty Bar & Makeup Studio.



About the School: The University of South Carolina Beaufort is a growing regional public university that has an enrollment of more than 2,000 students. The Bluffton campus offers cutting-edge computational science and nursing laboratories, and a broad range of academic degree programs. The Beaufort campus houses an innovative baccalaureate studio art program and is introducing honors programs in nursing and biology in the fall of 2018. The new Hilton Head Island campus, featuring an experiential learning hospitality management program, will open in the fall. USCB offers students an exceptional place to learn and live in an environment focused on growth, preservation and opportunity.

Featured Professor: Manuel J. “Bud” Sanders, a USCB professor and chairman of the mathematics department, is currently completing a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in Finland. Dr. Sanders is using his teaching research award to study mathematical competency at Tampere University of Technology and hopes to improve the undergraduate learning process at USCB for students in scientific disciplines.


education8About the School: John Paul II Catholic School is committed to preparing students with diverse learning abilities for the challenges of life through intellectual, physical and spiritual programs that advance academic excellence, leadership, a healthy lifestyle and service to others while fostering discipleship according to the traditions of the Catholic faith. At the center of everything John Paul II does is faith in God. In our modern society, it is critical that we instill in our children the values and attitudes necessary to make good decisions as they grow into active adults. We are blessed to partner with our parents to help our children grow in their faith.

Featured Teacher: Cadra Rooney joined the school this year. She has a master’s degree in educational technology and is an experienced STEAM coordinator. She holds certifications in International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement and plans to initiate new computer science courses, establish Project Lead the Way, and start a competitive VEX Robotics team at John Paul II.


education9About the schools: Established in 1998, Cross Schools provides a Christian-based education for children ages 18 months through eighth grade. Cross Schools strives to create an atmosphere where students develop a passion for learning through small classes, rigorous academics, various enrichment courses, and faith-based learning. At Cross Schools, students attend weekly chapel, participate in community service projects, and have the opportunity to join various clubs. Its athletic program, which features cross country, basketball, golf, soccer, and volleyball, encourages teamwork, discipline, and physical fitness. The guiding principles of the Cross Schools community are academic excellence, Christian values and community service.

Featured Graduate: Kate Diaz spent 8 years at Cross and had this to say of her experience, “I completely attribute my foundation in religion, education, and community to my years at Cross. Looking back, I see that my love for learning was firmly developed during those years because of the small school, family-like environment and the amazing teachers I had. Cross made me the unique, intelligent, driven person that I have become.” Kate went on to receive academic scholarships at the high school, college, and law school levels. Most recently she finished her first semester at Savannah Law School and plans to use her law degree to “really make an impact, potentially seeking a political position to truly represent the community.”


education10About the School: For the past 21 years, St. Francis Catholic School, a fully SACS-accredited parochial Catholic school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, has provided an excellent academic environment for all its students. St. Francis Catholic School’s mission is to nurture students' spiritual and intellectual growth in a Catholic community committed to academic excellence, with a focus on faith formation, quality academics and community. The school offers a variety of opportunities and enrichment activities for students and helps students mature in their faith through participation in the sacramental life of the Church. St. Francis strives to develop each child's intellect and motivate the child to action and service. Our hope is that every graduate is a person of faith, integrity and scholarship.

Featured Graduate: Former St. Francis Catholic School student Callie Smith boasts a generous list of academic accolades. She graduated from Hilton Head Island High School with a 4.352 GPA and earned an International Baccalaureate diploma. She was a Distinguished Diploma, Life Scholar and honor graduate, and received numerous awards including the Mayor’s Youth Volunteer Service Award for Community Service. Now a freshman at Clemson University, she said St. Francis taught her that “faith can help distinguish between right and wrong.”



About the School: Sea Pines Montessori Academy is an independent, nonprofit school offering the highest quality of private education based on the principles of the Montessori method. The student body is composed of children from 12 months through eighth grade, though the school is exploring adding programs for students ages 6 months to 12 months. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Sea Pines Montessori builds on Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy of education, which instills a love of learning, strong social and problem-solving skills, a positive work environment and respect for the community. The curriculum is geared to each child’s unique abilities and needs. 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 nine classrooms, a library, a Suzuki piano and violin studio, a language lab, a music room, an art studio, an outdoor amphitheater and many after-school sports and clubs.