Sea Pines Montessori marks 50 years



Hilton Head Island’s Sea Pines Montessori Academy celebrated its 50th anniversary Nov. 10 with a ceremony under the Liberty Oak at Harbour Town in Sea Pines. 

During the ceremony, the school’s founder, Mary Fraser — wife of Sea Pines developer Charles Fraser — addressed the gathered crowd and reflected on the school’s early days. A commendation the Town of Hilton Head marked the occasion and honored her contribution to the Lowcountry: “The work of Mary Fraser pioneered early childhood education on the island,” it read. The commendation also included a proclamation from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster recognizing Sea Pines Montessori as the first Montessori-style school in the Palmetto State.

Other speakers during the anniversary ceremony included Sea Pines Montessori’s current head of school, Melinda Cotter, as well as Laura Lawton Fraser, daughter of Mary Fraser; school board chairwoman Nicole Roberts; Steve Birdwell, president of Sea Pines Resort; students from the academy; and Mary Bernard of the American Montessori Academy, who consulted with Fraser during the school’s founding. Audience members included current and former students and their families, including Anuska and Marc Frey, publishers of Hilton Head Monthly, and two generations of the Scarminach family.

Following the ceremony, the school buried a time capsule that will be dug up in 50 years.

Sea Pines Montessori Academy was founded in 1958 by Fraser, who wanted to provide her children with a Montessori education. Its first class included 33 children. Today, the school educates children from ages 12 months to eighth grade.

Melinda Cotter, head of school at SPMA