A primer on the area’s finest educational institutions.
Hilton Head Christian Academy
Address: 55 Gardner Drive, Hilton Head Island
Grades: Kindergarten-12th grade
Head of School: Doug Langhals
Director of Admissions: Dona Wood
Student Population: 400
About the School: HHCA is an accredited non-denominational Christian school that boasts strength in academics, athletics and the arts. HHCA offers 25 honors and AP courses, an award-winning fine arts program and over 30 sports teams with opportunities for students to excel — all within a Christ-centered learning environment. HHCA is proud of its 100% matriculation rate among seniors, 90% of whom earn merit-based scholarships and attend schools such as Duke, West Point, Georgetown, and the U.S. Naval Academy. Every year, HHCA graduates begin the next chapter of their journey equipped to use their God-given talents to impact the world.
What’s New: When HHCA relocates to its new state-of-the-art Bluffton campus in January 2021, it will be positioned among the top 1% of schools worldwide designed from the ground up to deliver a truly innovative learning environment. This exceptional 27-acre campus will include open-concept learning commons, outdoor learning porches, an indoor/ outdoor cafe, collaboration rooms, and active critique areas for one-onone instruction and mentoring — and it will be powered by HHCA’s faculty who have undergone four years of extensive training by the world leader in experiential learning education. While the new campus will place HHCA among an impressive shortlist of schools around the world combining the best in school architecture with the best in curriculum design, HHCA is even more excited about its expanding opportunity to build the next generation of world-changers.
Address: 495 Buckwalter Parkway, Bluffton
Grades: Ages 12 months to 9th grade
Head of School: Pete Laugen, M.Ed.
Director of Admissions: Jennifer Drury
Student Population: 560
About the School: Established in 1998, Cross Schools provides a Christian-based education for children ages 12 months through 9th grade. Cross Schools helps students develop a passion for learning through small classes, rigorous academics, various enrichment courses, and faith-based learning. Students attend weekly chapel, participate in community service projects, and have the opportunity to join various clubs. Its athletic program — which includes cross-country, basketball, golf, soccer, volleyball, an equestrian club, sporting clays, a tennis club, football, and baseball — encourages teamwork, discipline, and physical fitness. The guiding principles of the Cross Schools community are academic excellence, Christian values, and community service.
What’s New: The 2019-20 school year welcomed the addition of a Lego Lab and an outdoor amphitheater, along with “The Chapel at Cross Schools,” a 500-seat chapel. The 2020-2021 school year brings the school’s first freshman class, along with a new Head of School, Pete Laugen.
Hilton Head Preparatory School
Address: 8 Fox Grape Road, Hilton Head Island
Grades: Junior Kindergarten-12th grade
Headmaster: Jon Hopman
Director of Admissions: Bobbie Somerville
Student Population: 420
About the School: Hilton Head Prep is an accredited independent 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 an innovative college preparatory curriculum that includes courses in liberal arts, science, technology and ethics, as well as rigorous Advanced Placement and honors courses. The school is continually ranked among the top K-12 independent schools in South Carolina, and 100% of Hilton Head Prep graduates are accepted to college. School will open in August 2020 with a Hybrid Learning Program offering parents the choice to send their child to school or keep them home where they will have access to live-feed instruction directly from the classroom.
John Paul II Catholic School
Address: 4211 N. Okatie Highway, Ridgeland
Grades: 7th-12th grades
Principal: John McCarthy
Student Population: 220
About the School: John Paul II Catholic School offers students of all faiths an exceptional education in a safe and secure Christ-centered environment. Students are well prepared to succeed in college through our rigorous Honors and Advanced Placement and Pre-AP Programs. Beyond the classroom, an extensive athletic program, clubs and activities, and a growing performing arts program offer students the opportunity to learn valuable teamwork and life skills. Community service learning is embedded in our curriculum, allowing students to understand how their Christian faith calls them to be joyful servants to those less fortunate in their community. Our graduates are truly scholars with a soul.
Welcome to JPII: Anne McClure will join JPII as Coordinator of Admissions. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, she has previously worked in the insurance industry. McClure will oversee all aspects of the admissions process and will be the first point of contact for all new families joining our school. “My family and I are looking forward to being a part of this wonderful community,” McClure said. “JPII students are afforded tremendous gifts – rigorous academic programs, leadership opportunities, spiritual and service programs, and numerous extracurriculars – and given the ability to share these gifts with families in the Lowcountry is a dream job.”
May River Montessori
Address: 60 Calhoun Street; Bluffton, SC 29910
Type: Private, Non-profit Montessori
Grades: 24 Mo. – Grade 7
Head of School: Michele Quigley
Director of Admissions: Gail Daunt
Student Population: 180
About the School: May River Montessori has proudly served the children and families of the Lowcountry since 1987. Their mission is to nurture each child’s natural development; to inspire curiosity, creativity, and imagination and to foster academic excellence. They cultivate an environment rich with warmth, kindness and respect. They are committed to the development of the whole child, enabling each to celebrate individual gifts and reach his or her greatest potential. In addition to a rich academic learning environment, there is a strong emphasis on the arts and environmental and community stewardship through our unique whole-campus Organic Gardening Program.
What’s New: Beginning Fall 2020 they will welcome seventh grade students to our campus. Their Adolescent Program will be a farm-based model. In addition to a daily academic and traditional curriculum, adolescents will operate their very own organic, farm-based business.They will learn trade skills, financial planning and budgeting, human resource, and general management skills. Future plans include the acquisition and transition to a second “farm” campus dedicated to this program.
Sea Pines Montessori Academy
Address: 9 Fox Grape Road, Hilton Head Island
Type: Nonprofit, private
Grades: 12 months to 8th grade
Headmaster: Margo Fletcher
Student Population: 160
About the School: 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, multipurpose room, a Suzuki piano and violin studio, a Multipurpose Room, an outdoor green space and other amenities. In addition to offering golf at The First Tee of the Lowcountry and Sea Pines Resort, tennis with Van Der Meer Academy, and a thriving fitness program, the school offers numerous sports and clubs for all ages. Sea Pines Montessori instills a love of learning, strong social and problem-solving skills, a positive work environment, and respect for community.
What’s New: The school has invested in enough PPE and cleaning supplies for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year. Coupled with changes to the environment such as high-end air purification systems and hands-free sinks, the school is ready to offer in-person learning. A virtual option is available for students. Entering its 52nd school year, Sea Pines Montessori has low ratios and student standardized testing scores three grade levels above average. One-hundred percent of its teachers are First aid/CPR/AED certified in Infant through Adult.
St. Francis Catholic School
Address: 45 Beach City Road, Hilton Head Island
Grades: Pre-kindergarten-8th grade
Headmaster: Brian Pope
Student Population: 215
About the School: St. Francis Catholic School’s mission is “to nurture students’ spiritual and intellectual growth in an authentically Catholic community committed to academic excellence.” Children from ages 4 to 14 benefit from an integrated faith formation through weekly Mass, religion curriculum and service opportunities. St. Francis offers students a well-rounded and challenging curriculum that provides the foundation to be successful in high school. The school also has an exceptional parental and volunteer support system. St. Francis Catholic School accepts both Catholic and non-Catholic students; enrollment has increased more than 15% in the past few years. The increase illustrates the commitment to the spiritual and intellectual growth of our students by our faculty. More than 30% of graduating eighth-grade students earned the South Carolina Junior Scholar Award based upon their performance on the PSAT last fall.
What’s New: With the recent developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Francis Catholic School continues to work in providing an environment where students are nurtured to reach their academic potential in a faith-based environment. Since the pandemic started last spring, St. Francis Catholic School has greatly upgraded its technology infrastructure with high-speed internet throughout the entire campus, has increased the amount of one-to-one devices in the elementary school and plans to offer a blended learning environment in the fall. Students will be able to attend classes both in school or at home depending on their family situation and comfort level. Improvements in sanitation efforts and air filtration have also been made throughout the entire campus. We look forward to offering a welcoming, safe and consistent educational option for families in the fall.
Technical College of the Lowcountry
Address: 100 Community College Drive, Bluffton
Type: Two-year community college
President: Dr. Richard Gough
About the School: Technical College of the Lowcountry provides quality, affordable academic and technical programs leading to associate degrees, diplomas and certificates in an environment that fosters excellence in teaching and learning. The college prepares graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary 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.
University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for Event Management and Hospitality Training
Address: 1 Sand Shark Drive, Hilton Head Island
Type: Professional Development
Program Director: Keri Olivetti
About the School: USCB’s Center for Event Management and Hospitality Training offers professional development for hospitality professionals, ensuring exceptional experiences for our Island Guests. The Center is home to the Hilton Head Island Center, the Bluffton Center, the Education Center and the Research Center.
The Hilton Head Island Center offers the Island Ambassador Program, which educates hospitality professionals about the history, culture and ecology of our beautiful island. It helps businesses evaluate guest experiences for improvement opportunities through its Quality Management Program, and it supports our local community events through volunteer management. The Bluffton Center educates new Blufftonians as well as hospitality professionals about the rich history, eclectic attributes and unique culture of the Town of Bluffton.
The Education Center offers educational resources, including videos on current trends and topics in the industry promoting best practices. The Research Center joined with the Low Country Resort Island’s Tourism Institute in January 2020, continuing its excellence in hospitality research.
The Center’s focus continues to be providing the necessary education for hospitality professionals, enabling them to provide incredible experiences to our guests and ensuring a return visit.
Note: All school year start dates were accurate as of our press time.