I currently have a 1st and 3rd grader. My third grader has been at ECMCS for 2 years. I feel that the Montessori approach instills confidence in each of my children, as it promotes independence of learning. I am pleased with their teachers and the love and support they have experienced.
You could say the way the homework assignments are given once a week could put more on the parents. But, I took it as a learning opportunity. My first child learned quickly to do her homework in after school so that she could play when she go home because homework was done!
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.