I just stumbled upon these recent reviews of ECMCS and have to refute some of the comments. Regarding the lottery to get in, there is absolutely no priority given to students who come from a montessori school or any other specific background. It is purely "luck of the draw" and completely unbiased. Our children got lucky and got a spot as incoming 1st graders years ago. They did not have a montessori background. There was also a review stating that children leave ECMCS unprepared for a traditional school. Of course, all children are different and some may not handle change well, but the students I know personally are thriving - at schools such as Academic Magnet, SOA, Wando and others. The principal, Jody Swanigan, is professional and a visionary who has built a successful school from the ground up. The school staff is dedicated and caring with very little turnover.
I agree with the other post, the principal seems to have some vision of what children should be, and if your child doesn't fit, then prepare to hear how bad they are. We left last year after 4 years. Today, my child is doing great in her traditional school. Her math map scores jumped 30 points. She likes her teachers and not once have I received negative remarks from her teachers or principal. A school's first job is to ensure the children learn the material. They are not there to judge the children if they don t fit in some mold, or make sure they make right choices, or kind to the environment, etc. Of course these are very important, but they are NOT the first job of a school. This school puts all those things above actually teaching the kids, and then blames the kids for making the wrong choices if they are behind. Please consider all options in choosing a school for your child, and DO NOT be led to believe just because a school has desk and classroom structure that it is a bad school, and detrimental to your child. They will try to get you to believe that.
How is this school allowed to exist as part of Charleston County Schools? We were told our child would get preference for enrollment if she attended Sundrops Montessori Preschool. That means people who can afford 1000 plus a month can get enrollment preference? And a lot of the people who know the awful principal or who are affiliated with Sundrops have or have had a child who goes to or went to ECMCS. Sounds like someone created a school for her own control purposes to weed out the "riff raff" and inspire people to spend money at Sundrops. Pay attention to the staff reviews. Why is Charleston County giving this school a building when other charters are truly trying to help a diverse population of students?
This school was a nightmare for all three of my children. The principal is detached and even cruel to children who do not fit into her mold of an acceptable student. The teacher turnover rate is horrendous, which is a direct result of her poor leadership ability. Children do not learn basic skills necessary to walk into high school prepared to organize their homework assignments, take notes, or understand the importance of tests and exams. The learning curve is massive. One of my children's ECMCS teachers were unable to show me how she determined grades, was unable to show me a workbook with my child's assignments. She was a disorganized mess. Parents are forced to volunteer because the leadership is unable to inspire volunteerism. So glad my children now attend wonderful schools where individuality and education are valued. Trust me, we did not find that at ECMCS. Please feel free to apply. Unlike other charters, there are always openings because of massive student turnover.
I have 2 boys at ECMCS, one in 1st and one in 3rd and we couldn't be more pleased with this school. My 3rd grader transferred to ECMCS in 2nd grade after attending a private school for K and 1st grade. What I found at the private school was a plethora of worksheets and zero use of critical thinking skills that left my bright child completely apathetic towards school. Transitioning from a traditional classroom to the montessori classroom took some time but within the first week at ECMCS I noticed a renewed enthusiasm and joy for learning. Admittedly, doing independent work and staying focused remained a struggle for some time but the rewards have been immeasurable as I see both of my children engaged and eager to go to school everyday. We love this school for so many reasons. To name only a few, one is definitely the dedicated teachers and staff. Also, the enriched learning environment, the opportunity to excel at your own pace and the emphasis on discovery and community. I can only speak to my own experience with the principal, which has only been positive. I know her only to be engaging, receptive, approachable and supportive. We are so thankful to be at ECMCS!
My daughter loves to go to school since we moved her from a traditional school with its daily tests, quizzes, homework, and high stress levels. Now, she is so excited about what she's learning and wants to talk about all the wonderful things she's discovering at ECMCS. This school is a gift to any child lucky enough to be enrolled.
My daughter has been attending ECMCS for the past 4 years and has never once asked to stay home. She simply thrives in the educational setting and loves her school. Her loving teachers have helped her develop into a well rounded child with strong values and good work ethic. I am saddened to see bitter comments from a couple of folks. Sometimes things just don't work out the way you plan... To displace blame because you don't understand the lesson present is weak. Montessori is not for every teacher nor for every parent. It is a way of life that requires sincere commitment. I am also a former employee of 2 years and had nothing but a great experience from that position. It is extremely difficult to make everyone happy all of the time but I feel like Ms. Jody and her team do a great job! The children are a direct example of what a great community they have developed.
Jody Swanigan, the principal, is a nightmare. As a past employee, I can honestly say that I was treated very poorly and unfairly. I witnessed with my own eyes, Jody putting on a fake smile to parents and then talking badly about them behind their backs. She is a bully, is unprofessional, and fake. It is not a pleasant place to work... just check out the turnover rate. I'm thankful to be out of that environment.
I taught at this school and have only positive words. The Principal is open to new ideas, supportive of professional growth, and sets high standards for all. The staff she brings on are dedicated to Montessori education and their students. It was a place you loved to work at everyday - I haven't found a school quite like it yet. Public Montessori may not be for every parent or every teacher, and I feel some of the negative comments represent the small minority, vs. the large majority that feel ECMCS has changed their child's life.
Another teacher just quit and the year hasn't even started! Honestly, you can't keep fooling yourself by the pretty building and smiling faces. Just look at the unheard of amount of teacher turnover at this school. In the five years since my son was there and later removed, the entire staff except for one teacher is gone. The excuses are always there but they all come from the true cause of these problems: the principal. It seems that people try to do something but give up because unless this principal is replaced nothing will improve or change. She is a control freak and has a horrible grip on teachers. It is unpleasant to work there as many have claimed because of their dealing with her, otherwise, it would be a dream job and school. It's a real shame.......many would return if she left.
I have 2 sons who attend this school, and they are very happy there. We are zoned for a "Blue Ribbon" school, but chose to go to ECMCS because of the impressive amount of time the teachers spend with individual children. There is a true sense of community, as well as an interest to do what is best for each student. I would gladly recommend this school to anyone who knows what a Montessori education is all about!
I was a student.This school is awful.The admin is completely incompetent. I came into the school ready to learn-however, my 3rd grade teacher decided that though I knew how to do long division,I needed to learn how to count to 10,with a 1st grader.To learn any real math,I studied by myself.Scores on standardized tests did not affect what I was taught.I was denied many opportunities offered to favored children.I was disorganized;never was I taught organizational skills.I had to learn organizational skills in high school.I was never told how to study.This lowered my grade dramatically,as I had never been able to gain these skills that everyone else seemed to have.Also, the social experience at ECMCS is horrible.The principle chooses favorites.ECMCS has more biases than any other school I ve heard of.It offers great opportunities to select children.The favorites are allowed to do whatever they want;without regard to anyone else.The favorites can bully the rest of us;the admin does not care.They lack compassion.They refused to investigate learning disabilities,which were revealed after I left this school.ECMCS overlooks every indicator.ECMCS is absolutely horrible.
I have a feeling the negative comments on here are from one disgruntled parent. My daughter has shown phenomenal growth since in enrolling at ECMCS. I can't believe that anyone would have anything but wonderful experiences at this school. If you're thinking about enrolling, come for a visit, you'll see for yourself what a great school it is!!
We love ECMCS. We have 2 children at the school and they are both thriving in the nurturing environment provided by the teachers and staff. The teachers go above & beyond the call of duty. The individualized workplans are wonderful.....challenging/encouraging the child to their fullest potential. The school teaches the child to be a caring human being with Year-Long Peace projects. The principal is very dedicated and knows all the children and interacts with them.
This is by far one of the best schools in the area. My second grader is absolutely thiriving here. She receives great academic instruction- her math skills are right on track for her grade level ( I am judging this by MAP scores) and she is reading two grade levels above hers, thanks to the individual attention she gets. Her self-confidence has increased dramatically since she began attending here. I love that children are taught how to treat one another with respect daily and to work to help one another. It is like a family there. This is definitely not something you find in other schools. The teachers and staff treat my child as an individual, not just a number. The principal is very responsive to concerns. I was surprised how well she knows all of the children and interacts with them. I was concerned that perhaps a public school would not be able to stick to the Montessori method and be public, but they really do. The science that she comes home and tells be blows me about and my husband away. I know she is learning things that she would not be learning elsewhere. I give the school an A and feel grateful that my child is fortunate enough to attend there.
When I first walked into ECMCS for a professional observation, I had no idea what the Montessori Method entailed, but I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this incredible school community. I waited two years and happily took a 50% pay cut so that I could join the ECMCS family. Every day, I am blown away with the level of parent participation, absolute dedication on the part of my colleagues and the administration, and, mostly, the wondrous minds and spirits of our students. How many first graders at a traditional school are given the opportunity to discover how plate tectonics work? Or can explain the fundamental principles of force and friction? Or are regularly encouraged to make an active difference in the world around them? In all my educational experiences, I have never encountered a better school. The faculty and administration strive for excellence in every aspect of school life and the students not only learn to read and write, but also learn to be globally minded citizens. If every child had the opportunity to grow in the care of ECMCS the world would be a significantly better place.
My children have only attended Montessori schools and are currently happy students at ECMCS. I have never seen a school more focused on the whole child. This school encourages children to reach their full potential. The academics are solid, but there is so much more. My children are contributing members in our household, our neighborhood and our community. I have friends at other Mt. P public schools whose children are regurgitating facts to "pass the test." My children are thinking critically, getting their hands dirty and caring for others (animals included!). The teachers at this school obviously care about the children and aren't just collecting their paycheck. In my humble opinion, none of this would exist without excellent leadership. I would highly recommend this school to anyone... in fact, I frequently do!
My daughter attended ECMCS for first grade. There was little instruction, independent learning served no purpose for my child who was struggling to learn to read and count properly. When I expressed concerns that my child needed speech therapy, they refused to test her. I expressed concerns that my child needed help with reading and counting. I was told she could add numbers in the thousands. I was referred to a reading tutor in the neighborhood down the street at a price of $75/hour for tutoring. My child was bullied by older girls daily. The school was unconcerned. In February, after the school refused to address my concerns, I registered her in a local public school. The new school, realizing that my child needed immediate assistance enrolled her in speech therapy and reading recovery. ECMCS has a great parent base and facility but fails because of one thing: poor leadership.
Be prepared to homescool your child. I can't believe this school received a Palmetto Gold award with cildren in the third grade not being able to do basic reading and math. Look closely at the numbers. The data is right there. The principal states it is because the students don't take tests. Well they should know how to do math and read. Montessori methods pride themselves on their math. My children were so behind and they were in a montessori school since they were toddlers and reading and multiplying at age of 4. But they never progressed. In fact, they regressed. This school should be closed down. The teachers are loving but some can't teach. The ones that can teach, can't do what they need to do with their dominating leadership. Find a better alternative. If you want your child to have a brain, the public schools are exceedingly better!
While ECMCS has a lot to offer, as a parent of several children who has been at the school over 5 years, I am seeing a disturbing trend. There are people who start in the school and leave to go on to other schools that offer more opportunities. The school needs to be careful that the Montessori method doesn't give the teachers a "pass" not to teach on a daily basis. Boys seem to have a harder time at this school than girls. Before enrolling your child, talk to some parents who already have children there. You will get mixed reviews. The method is not for everyone---a lot of independent work with very little instruction. And be prepared to assist your child with the course work he is not receiving instructions on in class. I give this school a "C."
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