The leadership at this school is terrible! As a result almost 40% of the staff left at the end of the 2015-16 school year. The principal is very authoritarian and her decisions are capricious and arbitrary and without any sound rationale. Also, there is no clear curriculum other than to say "We're Montessori". There is no curriculum document to guide the teachers and ensure that they are teaching the state standards. As a result the quality of each classroom varies wildly. There is this bizarre culture of fear and passive aggressiveness among the staff. I know this because I was a parent and a lead teacher at this school for multiple years. There is nothing I can recommend about this school. With all of the other great schools in Mount Pleasant, East Cooper Montessori Charter School should be your last choice.
As a parent, I had to teach my children how to write because there was no direct teaching of the writing process in class. Interestingly, each quarter there was a big writing project assigned as homework. It was as if the teachers were trying palm off the responsibility on the parents.
Administration seems more interested in aesthetics, leaving academics in the dust. There is such potential there, but sadly not close to being realized. Administration largely reactive to situations, do not plan ahead effectively leading to many last many changes and poorly thought out "new" initiatives. For example, students this year are leaving for other programs with proven STEM programs because for years, YEARS, parents have been begging for such programs. Only after mass exodus of students (i.e. funding), does the administration react to this "new" idea which other area schools have implemented. Decent experience for Lower Elementary (grades 1-3). After that, students are better served at truly academically rigorous environment where there are not missed opportunities for education. (no wasted days/weeks watching movies or learning to make friendship bracelets, or making presentations, etc).
My husband and I have a second grader at this school and are very pleased with the school. The classroom is multi age and is led by two teachers, Montessori and teacher certified with the lead also gifted and talented. The classroom is very structured, contrary to popular belief. The kids in Montessori learn in both large and small groups the necessary life skills of academics, leadership, community, responsibility, time management, independence, task prioritizing, problem solving and creative thinking. My daughter was diagnosed with ADD this year and until then struggled in school. At each conference her teacher came to the table prepared with a strategy to put in place to help her. She was also set up with speech therapy without my needing to ask. The teacher is very willing and open to come up with ideas to help her, or meet with us. It is a lottery with only children of staff and siblings getting priority. Maria Montessori developed this classroom environment and teaching method specially to help low income students, so these schools have the ability to teach all. It is an option worth looking into for everyone.
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.
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!