Forty-five years ago, Mary Wyman Stone Fraser, wife of Sea Pines Plantation developer Charles E. Fraser, founded the Sea Pines Montessori School (SPMS), the first Montessori school in South Carolina. She was guided by her desire to provide Montessori education for her own two daughters as well as the growing Sea Pines Plantation and island-wide community of children. From the beginning, Sea Pines Montessori School (later Academy) has always been an outstanding and exemplary school in the national and international Montessori community.
Class was held in one room of the Tree House Restaurant Complex, now a convenience store on South Forest Beach. Dr. Elizabeth Caspari, a student of Dr. Maria Montessori, trained the original teachers from the school. In 1977, the school moved to its current location on Fox Grape Road. Over the next 45 years, Sea Pines Montessori School added Lower and Upper Elementary classes, then a Middle School program in 2009, changing its name to Sea Pines Montessori Academy. The Middle School program, led by Dr. Sarah Baird, uses inquiry-based and project-based learning techniques to give teens 21st century skills necessary for future success.
Trained at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Baird fully integrates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into the classroom with Lego robotics and RobotC programming. In addition, with art teacher Mrs. Sarah Perry, they will be turning STEM into STEAM, adding art and creativity into the mix. Sea Pines Montessori Academy has won numerous awards and grants, including recognition from the Ford Foundation for outstanding pre-school in the country, 3 Palmetto Electric Bright Ideas grants, and 2 grants from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.
Sea Pines Montessori Academy looks forward to another 45 years of leading the island in effective education of children ages 18 months to 15 years, creating tomorrow’s leaders.