EDUCATION: School Profiles

Lowcountry families have many top-quality options for their children’s education. Experienced administrators, passionate teachers and motivated peers make the difference for students. This section celebrates first-class centers of learning in Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island.



stfrancis2For the past 25 years, St. Francis Catholic School, a fully Cognia-accredited parochial Catholic school for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, has provided an excellent educational 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. St. Francis Catholic School works with children and their families towards the goal that every graduate is a young adult characterized as an individual of faith, integrity and scholarship.


Amazing CreationsAmazing Creations is a licensed child-care center in Bluffton. Business partners (and mother-daughter team) Marsha Davis and Cathy Stevens opened the school with a dream and a promise to provide a loving, nurturing, learning environment so parents could go to work without any worries. The center has grown from a licensing capacity of 75 to 389 students. Amazing Creations serves children 6 weeks though Pre-K, and has an afterschool program for elementary school students. Amazing Creations has served the community since 1998 and looks forward to many more years.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Amazing Creations Preschool is proud to help others in the community. The school has adopted the Seniors in the Memory Care Unit at Sprenger Health. The school has held food drives for Bluffton Self Help, and its favorite charity is St. Jude Children’s Hospital. This year alone, the children raised $8,500 during a Trike a Thon.


uscbUSCB offers small class sizes and personalized instruction in 44 areas of study within 19 Bachelor’s degree programs and two Master’s degree programs. Associate’s degrees and 100 percent online degrees also are offered. The University specializes in experiential learning, with students participating in internships, community service projects, international programs, fieldwork and research. The Beaufort College Honors program is open to qualified freshmen of all majors and has specific cohorts in Biology and Nursing. USCB’s graduate programs are: M.S. in Computational Science and M.Ed. in Literacy. The USCB Sand Sharks compete in baseball, softball, soccer, golf, cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field. The Beaufort and Bluffton campuses house students from 31 states and around the world in apartment-style residences. USCB’s world-renowned Hospitality Program is based on the Hilton Head Island campus.

FEATURED ALUMNA: Antonia Quintero of Hilton Head Island graduated from USCB in Spring 2021 with a BA in Communications Studies and is working as a staff assistant for Rep. James Clyburn. She was recently accepted into the competitive Teach for America program and will spend the next two years teaching in a low-income community near Charlotte, N.C. While at USCB, Antonia served as vice-president of the student body and was selected for South Carolina’s prestigious Washington Semester.


FOLEYIvybrook Academy, an award-winning half-day preschool, is opening its newest location soon at 26 Cassidy Drive in Bluffton. Enrollment is open for the 2022-2023 school year.

Based in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, the academy is recognized for its multi-faceted approach to early childhood education. It combines elements of Montessori and Reggio Emilia education with Multiple Intelligence Research, crafting a balanced curriculum with emphasis on creating a continuous cycle of learning designed to reflect a child’s interests and needs.

“We are very excited by the interest the community has already shown in Ivybrook and hope to be a welcome addition to educational options for young families in the area,” says Stacey Foley, owner and Executive Director of the Bluffton location. “What I love most about Ivybrook Academy’s curriculum is that it is tailored to meet the needs of the individual child. It is not a one size fits all approach to learning.”

For more information, call 843-865-0113 or visit


heritageRooted in academic excellence and dedicated to students’ pursuit of extracurricular interests, Heritage Academy is a college-preparatory school where champions are made. The goal is to personalize education for each student ensuring success as student-artists, student-athletes, and students seeking to build their academic achievements. Whether their interest is academics only, a sport, the arts, or their own specialized extra-curricular activity, the educational standard to which students are held will prepare them for top-tier colleges and universities. Lowcountry students who have the desire to attend Heritage Academy, and the aptitude required, will find themselves learning alongside students from other countries. Students enter its halls driven to succeed. They graduate as life champions. That is the Heritage Academy difference.


Amanda Williams-O’Nan’s vision for the school is to support students in small classes, to provide a state-of-the-art college preparatory education, and to keep Heritage Academy affordable. Flexible hours and a comprehensive program allow students to end their school day early to enjoy and pursue what may be important in their lives. As the face of education is changing, Heritage Academy is committed to meeting these challenges by providing a flexible alternative for students who want a safe, supportive, accredited, fluid and versatile academic experience in place of spending most of their day in a rigid educational setting. Their special programs include aviation, sign language, computer animation, culinary arts, robotics and agriculture/animal science.


Island AcademyThe Island Academy of Hilton Head is a Pre-K through 12 school incorporating academic rigor into an inspiring learning environment that celebrates the individual voice, instills self-confidence, and fosters an understanding of our global interconnectedness. Students and teachers collaborate by a multidisciplinary approach to engage and develop higher order thinking skills around the big ideas in each of their subjects. This is done through exploration, problem solving, challenging work and play. Students practice teamwork, communication, adaptability, and digital literacy with the goals of maximum development of intellect and personal character.

Core learning traditions provide a structure for students to excel in their current environment and be best prepared for moving on, whether to a traditional four-year college of choice or any number of different paths.

WHAT’S NEW: The Island Academy is thrilled to have Ellyn Levin on staff as its College Counselor. With a master’s degree in education and 35 years of experience in U.S. higher education, including 21 years as a university guidance counselor at the International School of Geneva, Ellyn has successfully helped over 1,000 students of diverse nationalities create admissions applications, securing acceptances at the most selective universities and colleges in the world.


January marks one year since HHCA moved to its new, stateof- the-art campus in Bluffton. Designed to deliver deeper learning in an innovative educational environment, the campus is home to 545 students this year — a record in HHCA’s 42-year history. HHCA’s project-based learning model focuses on outcomes that matter, a culture that empowers, teaching that engages, and technology that enables - in a distinctively Christian environment. Students have the opportunity to learn by putting their hands to use with practical applications, giving them real-world experience that prepares them for future success in their desired field. HHCA has an extraordinary guidance team, dedicated to preparing students for college, career, and life. 100% of students who apply to college are accepted, and over 90% earn merit-based scholarships. Ranked among the top private K-12 schools in South Carolina, HHCA also boasts an award-winning Fine Arts program and over 30 sports teams offering students opportunities to excel. Interest in HHCA is at an all-time high, and families interested in admissions for the 2022-2023 school year are encouraged to begin the application process now.

WHAT’S NEW: Leading HHCA’s campus-wide transition to a project-based academic learning model is Melissa Crosby, Ed. D, Director of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Crosby joined the HHCA team in August 2020. With extensive administrative and instructional experience, Dr. Crosby made an impact in multiple educational settings across South Carolina and beyond before coming to HHCA. She opened the first core competency-based school in South Carolina and designed and implemented the first New Tech Network high school in the state. Dr. Crosby’s other accolades include her role as advisor to the South Carolina Department of Education on the creation and implementation of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. She also represented Colleton County in the TransformSC Network in partnership with the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. The experience and expertise Dr. Crosby brings to HHCA help to ensure that students are future-ready, and mentors are equipped with the cutting-edge resources necessary in HHCA’s exemplary, award-winning learning environment.


The Technical College of the Lowcountry elevates each student and every community it serves through transformative technology and exceptional teaching. TCL is the region’s primary provider of post-secondary education and workforce training. The public, two-year, community college serves approximately 5,000 students annually at its four Lowcountry locations and online. Its most recent campus, the Culinary Institute of the South, opened in November 2021 in Bluffton. The college offers a variety of curricular programs including university transfer options, career and continuing education, online learning, and dual enrollment for area high school students.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Dejarvis Eaddy turned to TCL to get his life on track and recently graduated with an associate degree in industrial electronics. “The cost was affordable, the classes were smaller, and the professors actually knew my name,” Eaddy said. “Technical College changed my life.”


Established in 1998, Cross Schools provides a Christian-based education for children ages 12 months through 10th grade. An 11th-grade class will be added for the 2022-2023 academic season. 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 can join multiple clubs. The athletic program features 10 sports and 20 different competitive teams. The guiding principles of the Cross Schools community are academic excellence, Christian values, and community service.

WHAT’S NEW: Cross Schools is excited to announce that its new high school auxiliary building will open in January. The three-story free-standing structure will consist of over 13,500 square feet of finished space that will feature a weight room/ training facility, administrative offices, conference room, faculty lounge/workroom, an art studio space, music suite, and six other classrooms.


USCB’s Center for Event Management and Hospitality Training offers valuable professional development opportunities, event management resources and assistance with service quality evaluation and management. Its Island Ambassador program is popular with local businesses and includes inperson or virtual seminars about the culture, knowledge and ecology of Hilton Head Island. After the three-part Island Ambassador session, attendees can discuss with island visitors and guests topics ranging from wildlife commonly seen on the beach to Hilton Head Island’s early history. More than 2,500 Island Ambassadors have been certified to date. A similar Bluffton Ambassador Program educates attendees in its virtual classroom about Bluffton’s rich history, unique amenities and diverse ecology. As part of the Center’s event management services, USCB students assist with community events to learn real-world skills and provide extra hands. The quality management program assists local hospitality businesses in their efforts to understand and improve the guest experience. The Education Center offers timely and insightful videos from industry professionals on current hospitality issues. The Research Center conducts festival and event research in compliance with the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 guidelines. For more information contact Keri Olivetti at olivetti@


The 2022 rankings are in, and Hilton Head Prep is leading the way in education — just as it has since its founding in 1965. As it has consistently for 55 years of educating the Lowcountry, Hilton Head Prep continues to inspire students to be exceptional. According to the Best Schools Rankings list from Niche, Prep is the No. 1 private K-12 school in Beaufort County, the No. 1 boarding school in the state, and in the top 2.5% of all schools nationwide. It all starts with Prep’s faculty — who average 20 years of experience and two-thirds have advanced degrees — and the administration, with more than 30 years of experience, on average — delivering Prep’s rigorous college prep curriculum, a strong arts and athletics program along with community service and character education. But here’s what matters more than the numbers: Faculty and staff members are passionate about learning and love the kids they teach.

FREDERICKALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Allison Frederick ‘12 graduated from Hilton Head Prep as a Lifer, having attended Prep for 12 years. After graduation, she pursued a pre-med degree at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. Genetics and research were her two passions. Upon graduation with honors, Allison was accepted to the University of South Carolina Greenville School of Medicine in 2017. She interviewed for a surgical residency, and MUSC of Charleston matched with her in March of 2021. She graduated from medical school in May of 2021 and received the Eugene M. Largan III MD Award for Outstanding Student in Surgery. On July 1, 2021, Allison started her surgical residency at MUSC.


Located in the heart of “Old Town,” Bluffton, May River Montessori has proudly served the children and families of the Lowcountry since 1987. Its mission is to inspire a lifelong passion for learning, to nurture creativity and independence, and to foster compassion and acceptance of others within an authentic Montessori environment enriched by the cultures and ecology of our Lowcountry home. The school cultivates an environment rich with warmth, kindness and respect. May River Montessori is 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 its unique whole campus Organic Gardening Program.


EXPANDED CAMPUS: To support the 

growing greater Bluffton community, May River Montessori is in phase 1 of a new building on campus to house its expanding Toddler program and middle school as well as a store supporting its students’ micro businesses and gardening programs. This expansion will allow May River Montessori to continue to build community and service within its campus and beyond.


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 its rigorous Honors, Advanced Placement, and Pre-AP courses. Beyond the classroom, an extensive athletic program, wide-ranging 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 its curriculum allowing students to understand how their Christian faith calls them to be joyful servants to those less fortunate. John Paul II’s students are truly scholars with a soul.

BUCKLANDFACULTY SPOTLIGHT: JPII welcomes college counselor Cara Buckland. She has more than 20 years of experience as a guidance director/ counselor, English teacher, and supervisor of Special Education Services. She graduated from St. Joseph’s University (Philadelphia, Pa.) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Rowan University with a Master of Arts degree in Student Personnel Services. “I am so excited to share my experience with JPII. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to serve others,” said Buckland, who lives on Hilton Head Island with her family who are parishioners at St. Francis.


Savannah Christian Preparatory School is an independent, non-denominational PK-12 college prep Christian school. The only Savannah school triple accredited through CESA (the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability), SAIS, and Cognia, SCPS offers 27 pre-AP and AP courses. Located just 34 minutes from Bluffton and six minutes from the bridge, consider Savannah Christian Preparatory School for your child’s education.


PROGRAMS SPOTLIGHT: At Savannah Christian, the mission is developing the whole person to the glory of God. In addition to its competitive academics, the athletic and fine arts programs teach students the value of teamwork, goal setting, and discipline. With 60 athletic teams available within 18 different sports and 33 fine arts program offerings from pre-k through 12th grade, there is something for every student at Savannah Christian. Your child can discover and explore various avenues for future collegiate and career options through the wide range of programs available.


First Presbyterian Day School was established in 1984 and serves working parents in the community. Open year-round from 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with the school year beginning each August. Tuition includes two healthy snacks and a nutritional, well-balanced lunch each day.


The Day School is licensed by the South Carolina Department of Social Services and holds an A+ ABC Quality rating through South Carolina’s statewide quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for early care and education providers. Applications are now being accepted for the 2022-2023 school year.

The Day School is a Reggio Emilia-inspired school, governed by the idea that young children are competent and capable learners. The curriculum emerges following the lead of the children and their interests as they explore and discover through a long-term project approach to learning. The program flourishes on relationships among children, teachers, parents and the environment while promoting independence.