The School You Choose With Your Head and Your Heart
The faculty and staff extend a very warm welcome to our new and returning families. We are looking forward to another successful year educating your children, being committed to promoting excellence in education, and creating a partnership with you and your family to best meet the needs of each student.
Through the strong leadership and dedicated, professional educators, we continue to clarify and improve the alignment of the Montessori curriculum with the South Carolina State Standards ensuring that we meet or exceed standards, while staying true to the Montessori Method of educating the child’s spirit. Through the assessments inherent in charter school development, we have had the opportunity to further assess and realign our mission each year to provide excellent Montessori education in the public sector. Authentic assessment of student achievement continues to be at the forefront of our vision and mission. We continue to look inward and outward for improvements as we firmly believe Montessori education deserves a seat at the public school table.
With the increasing demand on today’s students to master a complex set of skills to be prepared for college and career, it is essential for students to understand and refine their personal gifts. Experiences must match those gifts. Our faculty will work diligently toward helping your child master his/her potential while nourishing his/her own personal gifts. ECMCS believes the Montessori educational philosophy meets the demands of a changing world, and we are eager to partner with you to prepare your child(ren) for life experiences and challenges.
Our mission is to provide rigorous Montessori education, guiding children toward academic excellence, lifelong learning, and stewardship of the greater community. In keeping with our mission, our students are given rich academic experiences in the core curriculum areas, but they are also encouraged to support their community through a year-long peace project. Together, these experiences provide academic and social opportunities for high self-esteem and personal empowerment while learning to learn and supporting individual growth needs.
Grace, courtesy, and community development are important components of the Montessori philosophy. As adults, we must always remember to model an attitude of dignity, respect, self-discipline and cooperation – all attributes we would like our children to emulate. One of our goals is to provide parents support to incorporate these aspects of the Montessori curriculum into home life, further supporting the child’s development and growth at home. Throughout the year we offer parent education opportunities as well as community opportunities for parents to socialize and earn parent participation hours toward the required parent volunteer hours.
Additionally, we will keep families plugged into school happenings through schoolwide newsletters, Parent App, classroom updates, report cards, parent conferences, phone calls, volunteer opportunities, parent education events, social media and your own visits to the school.
We appreciate and honor your trust, enthusiasm, and judgment in placing your most precious gift in our daily care and educational setting. Any time that a question or concern may arise, please feel the freedom and responsibility to inquire. We welcome and support your suggestions. Some of our best ideas have come from parents. May this be our best school year yet! There really is a Montessori difference!
Jody Swanigan, M.Ed
Hours of operation: 7:30am - 5:00pm
School day hours: 8:00-3:00
Address: Address: 1120 Rifle Range Road, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
Telephone: 843-216-2883 Fax: 843-216-8880
Principal: Jody Swanigan
Assistant Principal/School Counselor: Lara D’Eugenio
Academic Administrator: Nikki Hollander
Director of Finance: Billy Koll
Admissions/Front Office Administrator: Lori Gleaton & Carrie Walker
School Nurse: Alicia Rhoades
East Cooper Montessori Charter School - ECMCS is an amazing success story. The school has evolved from one 1,200 sq ft rental trailer with 44 students in first through third grades in 2003, to now serving over 400 students ages 3 through 8th grade. In 2014, ECMCS began a new chapter with a 2-year move with a multi-faceted renovation into a Charleston County School District building, giving the school access to amenities such as a kitchen, cafeteria, and 50,000 additional square feet on 9 acres.
ECMCS is a public school using a Montessori philosophy of education to apply curriculum. Admission is open to any student within the Charleston County School District based on space availability. Charter schools receive public funding based on the number of students served. Though we are a public charter school, we remain dedicated to an authentic practice of the Montessori pedagogy.
Who Was Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori, a noted Italian educator and physician (1870-1952), was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She worked in the fields of psychiatry, education and anthropology. She believed that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed, rather than as a "blank slate" waiting to be written upon. Dr. Maria Montessori revolutionized early childhood education by advocating that children be allowed the freedom to explore and develop their own creative potential through a wealth of self-teaching educational materials. Maria Montessori developed much of the educational equipment found today in the Montessori classroom over 100 years ago. The Montessori practice is always up-to-date and dynamic because observation and the meeting of needs are continual and specific for each child. When physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs are met, children glow with excitement and a drive to play and work with enthusiasm.
The Montessori Method offers an enriched curriculum which incorporates and extends district, state, and national standards. Scientific and mathematical aptitudes, appreciation for history and timelines, literacy across disciplines, research and development of community help students flourish in the Montessori classroom. Students are actively involved in their education, learning the habits and skills necessary for self-directed, independent, life-long learning.
The Individual Learner is at the heart of the Montessori approach. Montessori teachers individualize instruction so each child works at a level and pace which is comfortable and challenging. Learning occurs in large groups, small groups, individually and in cooperative peer learning situations.
Montessori Educators Montessori teachers are the dynamic link between the children and the Prepared Environment. They systematically observe students to interpret their needs and modify the environment to meet the needs and interests of the children. They present clear, interesting and relevant lessons, model desirable behavior and evaluate each child’s individual progress. East Cooper Montessori teachers are state certified, Montessori certified at the level taught and Gifted and Talented endorsed.
Cosmic Curriculum Montessori considered two things to be necessary for the creation of a peaceful human being: an awareness of interdependence and a sense of gratitude that comes from it. In the children's ongoing experiments with community, gratitude is one of the antidotes to aggression, overweening pride, and ostracism of those different from oneself. Moreover, Montessori is careful not to limit this gratitude to human beings alone, but extends it to all the elements and forces of nature, the plants, the animals (extant and extinct), the rocks, the oceans, the forests - even the molecules and atomic particles. The child who comes to see him/herself as the beneficiary of such cosmic largesse cannot but feel, as an adult, both a rightful sense of importance and purpose as well as a sense of responsibility to find and live joyfully in his/her own vocation.
Multi-grade Classrooms provide wide ranging academic and social growth. Younger children benefit from positive learning and behavior models provided by the older children. Leadership and social responsibility are developed by the older students. Staying with the same teacher for three years has a positive effect on students' attitudes and performance.
Long Uninterrupted Work Periods enable students to explore a topic or material thoroughly and to carry it through to completion. Whole-class instruction time is minimal; the school day is structured to allow students to spend long blocks of time on work that they choose within the framework of their work plan.
Hands-on Materials encourage active learning in all subject areas. Montessori said, "The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence." The materials are designed to teach, to test understanding, to correct errors, and to lead to the understanding of abstract concepts. Students have ready access to the materials which are arranged on shelves according to subject areas.
Technology Resources include access to laptops and iPads for research, computer labs, Smartboards in every classroom, Chromebook Program for students in upper grades, and ready access to computers in classrooms. The school also has access to a protected, filtered complex network including internet and WiFi. These resources support students as they engage in research and projects. Montessori education is rooted in the natural curiosity of children about life and the world around them. Students learn how to learn: how to pose questions, design investigations, interact responsibly online, and gain the skills necessary to express and pursue their own research interests. Information Literacy (the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information) is embedded throughout the curriculum to give students the critical skills necessary to become self-reliant lifelong learners. These skills help children know when we need information and where to locate it effectively and efficiently while also analyzing and evaluating the validity of resources.
Admissions Requirements and Procedures
Detailed admissions information is available on our website.
All fees are payable online
Registration Fee - $45 (all students)
Classroom Supply Fee - $35.00 classroom supply fee which covers the standard classroom supplies (all consumables including paper, notebooks, composition books) as well as community supplies (snack supplies, classroom tissues, etc.) which are standardized across grades for size and quality.
Technology Fee - $20 (students in 1st - 8th grades) which covers instructional software and programs that students can use at school, and in many cases at home. Information regarding specific learning programs that students will have access to for home and school will be shared at Back to School Parent Information Night. This fee does NOT cover the cost of a personal device which is recommended for students in 4th grade and up.
Preschool Practical Life Fee - $20 ( 3, 4 and 5 year old students in primary)
This fee covers our preschool practical life consumable activities, including food preparation works, flower arranging works, consumable sensory works, and so on.
Other Fees - There are other fees throughout the school year that include field trips, breakfast and lunches. See lunch section and field trip section for further explanation.
*Fees can be waived for those who qualify for free or reduced price lunches. Scholarships sponsored by the Governing Board for some school sponsored activities are also available. Contact Billy Koll, Financial Director at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
After school enrichment programs are also available for an additional fee. Further information is provided in the designated sections of this handbook and also on the ECMCS website.
All other fees are also payable online via the This secure online payment system is accessible via our website. Simply click SHOPPING CART on the home page to be directed to our online store where you can pay for registration, field trips, and ECMCS merchandise.
Charter schools are public schools and do not charge tuition. Like other public schools, charter schools are funded according to their enrollment (also called average daily attendance, or ADA), and receive funding from the school district and the state according to the number of students attending. However, the ways and amounts at which charters are funded compared to their district counterparts differ. On average, charter schools are funded at 61 percent of their district counterparts. Furthermore, unlike traditional district schools, most charter schools do not receive funding to cover the cost of securing a facility.
Furthermore, as a charter school, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. We provide an excellent Montessori education with high quality materials and pedagogy that includes a teacher and an assistant in each classroom providing 12:1 student-teacher ratio, global learning opportunities, STEM program with a dedicated STEM coordinator, and more.
The Annual Fund is a source of revenue from generous parents and community members that directly support educational programming otherwise not provided in our annual budget. Make your gift here: https://eastcooper.ccsdschools.com/giving/annual_fund
One of the most important tasks is generating class lists for student placement. Most parents/guardians are understandably concerned that their child will be placed with a caring and competent Montessori teacher for the three-year cycle. It is a task we take very seriously, focusing on the creation of balanced, well-matched learning environments. Input from teachers, specialists and parents is highly considered and appreciated when given.
Student Placement is based upon following beliefs:
· Learning occurs best for all students in heterogeneous classes.
· Parents know their child best and parent input is valued in this decision.
· Teachers provide important information for consideration when placing students, including teaching styles, learning styles, academic progress, and classroom social considerations.
The placement committee intends to accomplish the following:
· Create heterogeneous classes that will provide balance of: age, gender, academic levels, personality types, and social skills.
· Challenge each student academically and socially to do his/her very best.
· Provide students with the opportunity to work and play with a variety of different children so that they can accept and celebrate differences and learn to get along with all kinds of people.
· To the best of our ability predict and provide a complementary match between the teachers and student.
Siblings: Students will not be assigned to classrooms with their siblings or step-siblings. Due to the special nature of the relationship between twins, the option exists for placement of twins within the same classroom. The placement of twins will be a joint decision between the principal, the parent(s), and their current teacher(s). Consideration will be given to each individual case. In the event that the “twinship” becomes a detriment to the twins’ learning or that of the classmates, the placement may be changed by the administration.
Changes: Once a final decision has been made for classroom placement, changes rarely occur and only under extreme circumstances. Transfers during the school year can be made by the principal only. Placements will not be changed due to any staffing changes which occur following completion.
Parent requests: Each spring a parent input form is shared with families of students bridging to another Montessori level in order to gather parent feedback regarding their child’s future class placement. Parent requests for specific teachers will not be considered.
Enrolling New Students during the School Year: Students will be placed in the classroom where space is available, making every effort possible to consider the above mentioned factors for creating a well balanced Montessori classroom. A transfer of all school records will be requested and additional service requirements will be put into place.
Summary of Attendance Requirements
(see *Student Code of Conduct for complete information)
Students have the responsibility to be on time and attend all classes. Students are expected to attend school 180 days.
Lawful Absences (excused) shall include but are not limited to:
Unlawful Absences include but are not limited to:
What to Do If Your Child Is Absent
All absences require a written explanation from the parent/guardian within three (3) school days of return from the absence. Written explanation of absences must include:
Absences in excess of ten days per year will not be considered excused with a parent/guardian note unless they are accompanied by official medical or legal documentation.
Parents will receive an automated CCSD Parent Link phone call if your child is marked absent without an excuse. If your child accrues three (3) consecutive unverified absences OR five (5) unverified absences in total, their attendance record will be flagged as truant.
Arrival: School begins at 8:00am. Students should start arriving at 7:30am and be inside the building before 8:00am. Students arriving through the door at 8:00 or later will be tardy.
During morning arrival, parents may drop off at the roundabout facing Rifle Range Road -OR- the school entrance facing Myrick Road. Should you need to enter the school, please find a parking place away from the pick-up line in the designated parking lots. A staff member will be in the carpool line to greet you from 7:30-8:00. Due to the volume of traffic at this time, we ask families to not have lengthy discussions concerning your child’s schoolwork or other issues during carpool times.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT ALLOW your child to enter or exit your vehicle before pulling up to the designated spot during drop off and pick-up. Wait in line for an ECMCS staff member and/or student crossing guard to assist in this process.
Dismissal: School ends at 3:00. Carpool will begin at 3:00 and end promptly at 3:15. For the majority of students during afternoon pickup, the Myrick Road entrance will be the location utilized. All families must enter the carpool line from Chuck Dawley Blvd. to ensure that all cars only make a left hand turn to enter the carpool lane. Families may not enter the carpool line from Rifle Range Rd, requiring a right hand turn into the carpool lane. When exiting the carpool lane, families will be required to make a right hand turn back onto Myrick Rd heading back towards Chuck Dawley Blvd. Making a left hand turn out of the carpool lane onto Myrick Rd will not be permitted. This is to expedite the flow of traffic in and out of the carpool lane.
As a reminder, ECMCS is not permitted to back up traffic onto Rifle Range Rd. Do not arrive before 2:55 for carpool to avoid creating traffic. If you arrive early, please park in the Myrick Road parking lot and wait until 2:55 to line up. Cars arriving at 2:55 should give the right-of-way to cars exiting the parking lot.
Please note that for a select group of families (i.e. those with a large carpool or preschool aged child) Rifle Range Rd will be the dismissal location. Any family assigned to the Rifle Range location for dismissal will be notified individually - all other families should use the Myrick Road dismissal location.
Note: Students may not be checked out of the front office past 2:15 as the dismissal process is already underway. If a student needs to be checked out for an appointment you must arrive to the school before 2:15 or wait in the office until the Silent Dismissal Program is engaged.
Silent Dismissal System
We utilize the “Silent Dismissal” system. Each student is provided a unique number for the Silent Carpool system to place on the passenger-side visor of your car or rearview mirror tag. These numbers are linked to each family and as the numbers are called into the office, students will be dismissed to carpool. You can also request a group carpool number if you drive for a carpool or your child participates in a carpool.
Parents should download the Silent Dismissal app to be able to authorize changes to the dismissal plan for example authorize a playdate pickup or change the student from a walker to carpool pick-up. You can also send reminders to your child that will show on the Smartboard at pick-up time.
NO CHILD WILL BE DISMISSED FROM SCHOOL TO AN UNAUTHORIZED PERSON. If someone other than a parent is picking up your child, you MUST notify the office in writing at email@example.com , through the Silent Dismissal app or by phone PRIOR to his/her release. Even if a person is listed on your child’s pick-up list, we need confirmation from either parent stating that this is an authorized pick-up. The designated pick-up person will be required to show identification. Messages and emails are checked throughout the day. Carpool changes coming in between 2:30 to 3:00 may not be received by the carpool leaders in time, so drivers should be prepared to park.
The dismissal time ends promptly at 3:15. If you arrive after the carpool loaders have left, you must park on the Rifle Range side of the building and walk into the front office to have your child called from after care.
Access to Main Building: All visitors to ECMCS must enter through the main office via Rifle Range Rd. A remote-controlled doorbell system provides access between the main building and the annex. The front office staff uses video surveillance to monitor and control the students and visitors access between the buildings.
Bicycle Riders and Walkers
Students who have parental approval to walk and/or bike to school must live within a 3 mile radius of the school. Students must also proceed directly home from school when released from the supervision of the school. Additionally, students will only be dismissed to an authorized person or via walker/biker authorization.
Students may ride their bicycles to and from school, as well as walk, as long as written authorization is sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Silent Dismissal App stating days that student will be riding. Bikes need to be parked upright in the bike rack, located on the Myrick Rd side of the school. Without proper authorization the student will be placed in the After School Care and the parent/guardian will be billed at the standard rate. Walkers and Bikers will be released in rain unless parents instruct otherwise.
ECMCS Parent Volunteer Hours
The ECMCS charter application was written to include parent volunteers as part of the academic and financial success of the school’s infrastructure. Volunteers must understand that volunteering is a privilege, not a right, and the school may, in its sole discretion, decide to discontinue any volunteer participation at any time and for any reason or no reason, with or without notice or warning. All volunteers must consent to a criminal background check before being left alone with children in the school setting and be placed in the “approved volunteer” database compiled via Raptor. Volunteers must adhere to the same ethical and dress standards of teachers. Confidential information accessed during volunteering must remain confidential.
The Parent Agreement included in the initial student application reflects the 20 hour per family volunteer commitment. Volunteerism is vital to success of the school and many families contribute more than the required amount of hours. The school seeks to engage those precious hours in the most effective manner for the school and the family.
In an effort to strategically coordinate available resources for classroom needs and upcoming projects, the school utilizes a parent coordinator for each volunteer area, including Special Events, In-School Volunteers, Fundraising, Yearlong/School Project Volunteers, and Volunteer Hours Recording. In addition to helping families track their progress toward the volunteer goal, the school tracks the hours for the annual audit to show that volunteers save public resources and the hours are used to procure grant funding for the school.
There are many opportunities both in and out of school as well as both during schools hours and things that can be done after school hours. We like to think we have rewarding ways for every family to invest in their child’s education and future.
Attending informational meetings or functions such as Parent Teacher Network meetings, committee meetings and orientation also count towards service hours; however, recreational functions including, but not limited to, sports events, school plays, performances, and recognition ceremonies do not constitute as time that may be utilized towards service hours, unless otherwise specified by school. Leading a committee or taking on certain tasks can even double your hours or in some cases count for all of the hours. If volunteering is a burden for your family, please contact the administration.
Suggestions for ways you can integrate into the community will be available at Back to School Parent Information Night, through weekly Office Notes, at PTN Meetings or by contacting your child’s teacher. To submit your hours, go to the Volunteer tab on our website and complete the Volunteer Tracking Form.
Curriculum and Support
Textbooks are owned by the state of South Carolina. They are on loan to students for the year. Every book has a barcode on it and can be tracked to each child. Lost or damaged books must be paid for by parents in order to have a new book issued, and for the student to receive a report card or release records. Please be sure that students return books in the same condition as received. These books will be used for several years.
The Montessori Homework experience is meant to support the parent-child connection to learning. Homework is designed to support skills already taught by a teacher, and/or project based learning experiences which are occurring at school. It is difficult to recreate the hands on Montessori materials to experience at home. Homework is viewed as an important opportunity for families to stay connected to your child’s learning and development.
Homework is not assigned nightly or returned daily. It is shared one week at a time to allow families to budget their time around outside extracurricular activities and so forth.
If your child is having difficulty with homework assignments, please make sure to communicate with your child’s teacher in order to make a modified plan to support success. Students with academic learning disabilities may have homework assignments modified to fit their learning needs.
The ECMCS report card reflects homework as part of the grade. Parents also have a responsibility to provide a time and place at home for students to complete homework, to encourage and support student effort, to regularly ask students for correspondence sent home by the teacher, and to communicate with the teacher if there are concerns regarding assignments. Students have a growing responsibility as they mature to ask questions about assignments before leaving the class, to manage assignment due dates and completed work, and to maximize the effectiveness of homework assignments for their own learning by putting forth their best effort.
Homework may serve one of three purposes:
CCSD and ECMCS recommends the following guidelines for the maximum amount of time required to complete all assignments be considered when assigning nightly homework:
Kindergarten 10 minutes
Grades 1-2 20 minutes
Grades 3-5 90 minutes
Grades 6-8 120 minutes
Grades 9-12 180 minutes
Students’ different rates of task completion should be taken into account as appropriate. This regulation is not to be interpreted to mean that students MUST have this amount of homework every night or in any way to imply a minimum amount of time for nightly homework.
As part of the curriculum, the elementary and middle school students are responsible for service learning community service called Peace Projects. Projects may include Beach Sweeps to clean the local beaches, Pennies for Patients, volunteering time and talents to the SPCA, Cooper Hall or other organizations. Students are encouraged to think about where the community needs are and how they can help. We ask students to concentrate time on projects they can complete without asking for donations so they are really using their hands to help. Students will be asked to give updates on projects at the end of each semester (twice per year). The project will be recorded on the 2nd and 4th quarter report card.
Time Requirements per level:
Lower Elementary - 8 hours annually
Upper Elementary - 20 hours annually
Middle School: All hours completed in school
Note: 50% of the hours can be completed in the summer. Remember to keep up with data collection and display artifacts that will be used for the presentation during the school year.
ECMCS is unique in that is must stay true to the Montessori philosophy (which measures progress, but does not grade in the traditional sense) while meeting the requirements of a public charter school dictated by SC law. Because of this unique anomaly the administrative and teaching faculty has spent countless hours and attention to create a thorough and multifaceted system for individual assessment.
Report cards disseminated quarterly reflect progress. Upper Elementary and Middle School students receive interim reports midway through each quarter.
Primary and Lower Elementary classes do not use grades in the typical A-B-C-D-F format. Instead they use a developmental approach which shows parents how students are progressing within the framework of the Montessori curriculum and the SC Standards.
Upper Elementary/Adolescent classes use a 10 point grading scale which equates to an A-B-C-D-F format - this was a change implemented by CCSD in 2016. The grading system will also be reviewed at Back to School night with families.
Types of assessments used at ECMCS:
* See School Calendar on ECMCS website for specific testing dates.
East Cooper Montessori Charter School receives a state report card along with every other public school in the state of South Carolina. ECMCS is evaluated on student achievement as dictated by state assessments and can be located on SC State Department of Education website. ECMCS produces a comprehensive annual report detailing annual goals adopted by the ECMCS Governing Board. These documents can be found on the ECMCS website under “About Us- ECMCS Annual Reports.”
In addition to the survey administered by the South Carolina State Department of Education to a small group of families and faculty, ECMCS also conducts a school-wide survey of parents, students, and faculty regarding their perception of the school/teachers and programs. We invite you to provide feedback to allow us to continually improve our program. These results are shared with the Governing Board, staff and principal to effectively plan and implement positive school change. Many of our best ideas come from the parents.
There are important factors to be considered by the teacher before determining that a student will progress to the next grade.
Student promotion at ECMCS is based upon an evaluation of each student’s achievement in terms of appropriate instructional goals. The basis for making the determination should reflect teacher judgment based on consideration of the following: quarterly report cards, classroom assignments, daily observations, standardized tests, student portfolios, Academic Success Plans (where used) or IEP plans (where appropriate, county approved) and other data as appropriate or required. The primary responsibility for determining each pupil’s level of performance and ability to function academically, socially and emotionally at the next grade level is that of the classroom teacher, supported by the educational and developmental data available and/or promotion/retention committee.
It is important to note that the promotion and/or retention of any student must be discussed as a team starting in January, which includes the principal, teacher and parent(s) using the “LIGHTS Retention Scale.” The decision regarding promotion/retention must ultimately be made by the School Principal as he/she is the only one authorized by the state to grant additional state funding to any student.
The Learning Lab is open to parents and students for book and project check-out, as well as learning time together. The Learning Lab will be open on most days until 4:00 and on special project dates to be announced throughout the year. The vision of our new Learning Lab space is more than just books - instead a place that is alive with projects, tinkering, collaboration and innovation. Events will be posted in school communications as they become available.
Birthdays are are very special and unique in the Montessori environment. While each level celebrates slightly differently depending on the age of the child, ECMCS honors birthdays as a beautiful Celebration of Life.
Primary and Lower Elementary students concretely walk around the representation of the sun once for each year of their life usually accounting for reached milestone in each year. In primary, families are invited to provide a birthday snack without sugar as one of the first three ingredients. In lower elementary, we put the emphasis on the child and not on the snack. Students share a pictorial or other representation demonstrating the passage of time and snack is not part of the celebration.
Upper Elementary and Middle School students celebrate at lunch with an exuberant birthday anthem sung by all students in the same lunch period. Snacks and pictorial displays are not part of the celebration. Check with your child’s teachers for further details and timing.
In order that students may benefit from experiences that make learning more relevant, memorable, and meaningful, ECMCS supports and encourages the extension of learning through instructional field trips (as developmentally appropriate). ECMCS does not endorse field trips when their primary purpose is to reward students without any academic benefit.
Various field trips occur throughout the year to expose children to a variety of academic and social lessons beyond the classroom. Field trips may include walking tours, recycling trips, aquarium trips, trips to various museums and historical sites, as well as overnight bonding experiences that support building community. Trip dates, costs, venues and information will be shared via Schoolwide Office Notes and weekly Class Notes.
ECMCS staff is authorized to establish regulations and procedures to ensure that:
Safety and Supervision
On overnight trips involving co-ed groups, at least one chaperone of each gender must be included in the total group of chaperones.
*Parents will be asked to acknowledge the transportation agreement found in the Policies Agreement Form.
East Cooper Montessori Charter School (ECMCS) is a non-denominational school and does not affiliate itself with any religious organization. Religion is personal to each family and best learned in the home. Though ECMCS does not teach or preach any particular religious doctrine, ECMCS does share other cultures to encourage tolerance and understanding by recognizing the cultural occasions of the various children represented in each class and welcomes the parents who may wish to help us explain the festive occasions of their cultures or religions to the class. However, ECMCS realizes that because of different religious beliefs, this might interfere with a particular parent’s religious philosophy. Please let us know if there are certain activities in which you would prefer your child to not participate or are uncomfortable. In various years, parents and teachers have shared the festivities of the Chinese New Year, Persian New Year, Santa Lucia Day (Danish), Chanukah, as well as special festivals of Mexico, India and Japan. Students also express interest in researching or studying other religions as a part of their natural curiosity and interests and ECMCS does not encourage or discourage that curiosity.
In addition, the South Carolina Standards may address address Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire from a historical perspective.
Related Arts are offered by Educational specialists and can include Art, Music, Spanish, Physical Education,and Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics (STEM). Please see Student Code of Conduct for Technology Usage Policy. The frequency of Related Arts offerings varies from level to level as resources provide, and as developmentally appropriate. The Related Arts schedule for your child will be shared at Back to School Night.
ECMCS is committed to providing services to exceptional learners. The school has a special education team including access to related services as deemed necessary by an Individualized Special Education Plan (IEP). English Second Language learners may receive additional supports from contracted services as determined by additional assessments. If you are concerned about your child’s progress, contact the school’s psychologist for information on how to support your child’s academic growth.
ECMCS provides a vibrant and innovative inclusion Gifted and Talented program within the regular education classroom with all lead teachers being certified in the instruction of gifted learners. All students in the second grade are assessed for eligibility for the Gifted and Talented status. Annually thereafter, parents, teachers, or students can recommend testing again. Contact your child’s teacher if you would like information about how your child’s gifted and talented needs are being met.
ECMCS works with the Charleston County School District Artistic Gifted department to determine students who qualify for the artistically gifted and talented program. Information will be disseminated when portfolios or auditions are being held.
At East Cooper Montessori Charter School, we strive to foster clear and robust communication between home and school. The chart below offers guidelines regarding the proper channels to use for gaining information and solving problems.
Point of Contact by Area
Behavior and discipline
Pedagogical questions or concerns
Educational initiatives and concerns
Curriculum and instruction
Learning concerns or challenges
Gifted and Talented Education
Social-emotional competencies for all students through a school counseling program
Transition to high school
Behavioral or attention challenges
Director of Admissions/Front Office Administrator
School wide communication
Front Office Administrator
Vision and Hearing Screening
Families can opt out of having their child interviewed or placed in any ECMCS media by indicating your wish on the media release section of the policy form.
As a successful school of choice in the Charleston area, our school is often asked to participate in local media opportunities. These opportunities usually come without much notification. Photographs/interviews/video tape of student work or portions thereof may be used for public viewing including but not exclusive to: press interviews, school news programs, newsletters, yearbook entities, website development, slideshows, presentations by East Cooper Montessori Charter School employees at conferences and/or workshops, created and printed media and/or newspapers.
Agreement releases any photographer or interviewer acting on behalf of East Cooper Montessori Charter School from any future claims, as well as liability arising from the use of said photograph/interview/videotape or portions thereof used for public viewing. Student names are generally not used in social media.
School pictures are taken in the fall by a professional photographer. A fee schedule will be produced each fall. Pictures are compiled in a yearbook sold at the end of each school year regardless if a family purchases individual pictures.
Cell Phone Policy
See Student Code of Conduct
ECMCS Conflict Resolution Procedure
Misunderstandings and problems may arise in any situation. Communication built on respect is essential for open and honest conflict resolution. The parent conflict resolution procedures, as well as the grievance process, are outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.
Nutrition and Lunches
Students in 1st-8th grade are permitted to bring nut products in their lunch. There are designated tables in the cafeteria where students can eat nut products. These designated nut tables are given additional cleaning, and the remainder of the lunch tables do not permit nuts.
Nuts are prohibited in:
Breakfast is available for purchase at ECMCS prior to the start of school. Students must use the district online account to purchase meals including breakfast.
Nutritious lunches are very important to your child’s good health. Students who do not arrive with a lunch will be provided a lunch and the family will be billed.
Pack a Lunch box: This option is available every day. The lunch should include one component of protein and two components of fruit and/or vegetables as well as 100% juice, water, or milk. Don’t forget to put an ice pack inside the box to keep everything fresh. A microwave is not available for heating up lunches. Please do not send candy, sodas or junk food. “Grow food” for growing minds and bodies should be the major component of your child’s lunch.
Student Run Pizza Business Fridays: The middle school business will organize and offer pizza every Friday. The students are fully in charge of their business and will be responsible for taking orders, creating a spreadsheet, tracking orders, balancing their account and delivering pizza to each customer. Pizza comes with a veggie and drink. The cost will be announced in Schoolwide Office Notes.
School Hot Lunch: Please refer to the CCSD website for the annual cost of school lunch.The preferred method for paying for lunch is using the Prepay Meal Payment account on the CCSD website; or you can send a check (made payable to CCSD) or cash with your child. Unless you specify otherwise, change will be applied to your child’s meal account.
Lunch Prepay directions:
*Free and Reduced Lunch applications are available in the front office..
Thanks to our parent volunteers, “snack” is available each day. Snack consists of cheese/crackers, chips and salsa, fruits and vegetables only.
Health Services and Medication Procedures
ECMCS employs a full time registered nurse to monitor student health records and provide aid for student health concerns. A completed medical information form is required for school admission. It is the parent’s responsibility to update the form if their child’s condition changes. In addition, an individualized health plan will be developed for specific conditions such as asthma or other ongoing health concerns. Our nurse is an RN and can be contacted at email@example.com.
No student shall carry medicine in school except for students given permission to do so by the Individualized Healthcare Plan (IHP) to guard against a life threatening condition. All medications must be brought to the school by a responsible adult and delivered to the school nurse, or in the absence of the nurse, to the school employee designated by the principal. The responsible adult delivering the medication may be required to count the medication with the nurse or school employee. Medication may not be transported to or from school by students. CCSD and ECMCS has established a policy (JLCD) identifying procedures for the safe administration of medications and/or medical procedures performed during school hours.
*The form can be found on the Forms section of the website.
In order to decrease the possibility of infecting others, students should not be brought to school ill. If your child will be absent due to illness, please notify the school between 8:30-9:30 am. Notification regarding the nature of your child’s illness allows us to advise other parents in order that they may act proactively and help prevent an outbreak of further illness. Returning to school is based on the child being fever free (without medication) for 24 hours (this is not 24 hours from the time of pick-up from school but 24 hours after the fever breaks).
Guidelines regarding readmission after common childhood illnesses:
Colds: Students may return when there is no presence of yellow or green mucus, which may be related to an infection (may return if there is no elevated temperature, sore throat, or severe cough).
Conjunctivitis: Students who have pink or red eyes, and who have eye pain, reddened eyelids, with white or yellow discharge, or eyelids matted after sleep, may have purulent conjunctivitis and should not be in school until treatment. Diarrhea: Students may return when free of diarrhea for 24 hours or more if caused by illness and not medication.
Fever: Students must be fever-free without medication for at least 24 hours.
Head Lice: Students may return after completing an approved treatment. A parent must accompany the child into school upon return and provide proof of treatment (the lice shampoo bottle or medication box). No live lice or nits may be present at the time of re-admittance.
Strep Throat: Students may return after treatment with antibiotics for at least 24 hours.
Vomiting: Students may return when free from vomiting for 24 hours or more.
More detailed descriptions of all illnesses that require school exclusion can be found in the Nurse Services Department section of the CCSD website.
Note: A faculty member certified in CPR and/or first aid is available at all times during regular school hours. ECMCS also has an AED Defibrillator.
Conduct Expectations (See the Student Code of Conduct)
ECMCS believes in the dignity of all and that everyone, including students, families and staff, should be treated with dignity and respect. As a part of Cosmic Education (a study of each cosmic unit in relation to the whole), Maria Montessori was an advocate of Peace Education: the idea that the study and understanding of different cultures and societies would lead to acceptance and peace between nations.
In general, East Cooper Montessori Charter School uses redirection and verbal explanation for most discipline issues. The best deterrent for discipline problems is to have appropriate faculty-child ratios and enough equipment and activities to build choice into the child’s world. Discipline is verbal with a clear, concise and short message. This verbal discussion may also be recorded on an incident report, discussed and then signed by the student, teacher, principal and parent. If a conference is necessary, all of the above parties would participate in the conference. Behaviors are also subject to other consequences as outlined in ECMCS Code of Student Conduct.
In accordance with these principles, ECMCS will not tolerate any behavior by students, families or visitors which is insulting, degrading or stereotyping of any race, religion, gender, disability, physical characteristic, ethnic group, sexual preference, age or nationality. ECMCS staff also expects disagreements among adults to be handled professionally and without aggression.
Dress Code (see Student Code of Conduct)
*The complete Dress Code Policy is in the Student Code of Conduct which can be found at “For Parents - Handbooks - Code of Conduct” on the ECMCS website. The dress code does not apply to the Primary Program (ages 3-6yo).
Lost and Found
Students should assume responsibility for their belongings at all times. Parents and students should make periodic/weekly checks of the lost and found to collect lost belongings. Uncollected items are donated to charity on a quarterly basis. Labeling is the best way to help the school help your child retain his/her belonging.
First Aid Kits
Kits are located in all the classrooms and checked regularly by the nurse.
Fire Drills and Other Emergency Drills
Fire drills and other emergency drills are conducted on a monthly basis in compliance with DHEC. Drills are usually unannounced. Fire drill and other emergency drill routes for students are posted next to the exit of each classroom. All equipment including the fire extinguishers, alarm systems, bathroom strobes and exits are checked and tested on a monthly basis.
During times of inclement weather, ECMCS follows the Charleston County School District regarding closing. When CCSD announces closings due to weather, ECMCS will also be closed. You can also check for inclement weather updates the CCSD and ECMCS Facebook pages.
Criminal History/Background Checks
All individuals employed by, volunteering for, or working in a consulting relationship with ECMCS, including support, clerical administrative, Governing Board, food service or custodial staff, who have unsupervised direct contact with ECMCS students (even if such contact is on an occasional basis) are subject to criminal history review. The School may conduct criminal record checks through V-Soft Raptor, an electronic tracking system.
Reporting Suspected Child Abuse
All ECMCS employees are mandatory reporters (and volunteers are encouraged to report) suspected child abuse by any person, even if such person is not the child’s parent or otherwise responsible for his/her care. Any ECMCS employee or volunteer who reports suspected child abuse should have no fear of reprisal.
Definition of Child Abuse: South Carolina code 20-7-490, et. Seq., defines an abused or neglected child as any child less than 18 years of ages:
Indicators of Abuse and Neglect
Physical neglect is one of the most widely recognized forms of neglect. It is important to keep in mind that all incidents in which a person fails to provide for the basic needs for a child are necessarily considered neglect.
Some Indicators of Neglect: underweight, poor growth pattern, and failure to thrive; inappropriate dress, consistent hunger, and poor hygiene; consistent lack of supervision; unattended physical and medical problems and needs; and abandonment.
Some Indicators of Physical Abuse: human bite marks, lacerations or abrasions, burns in the shape of an iron, grill or cigarette, immersion burns and any other significant unexplained marks or bruises.
Some Indicators of Sexual Abuse: difficulty walking or sitting; torn, stained or bloody underclothing; pain, swelling or itching in genital and/or anal area; pain during urination; bruises, bleeding or lacerations in genital and anal area; venereal disease.
Some Indicators of Mental Injury: speech disorders; lags in physical development or failure to thrive; hyperactive and/or disruptive behavior; isolation; withdrawn.
Who must report child abuse and neglect?
South Carolina state law provides that certain people are mandated to report when they learn information in their professional capacity that leads them to believe that a child is harmed or at significant risk of being harmed (abused or neglected) by their parent, guardian or other caregiver as defined by statute. All other persons may report when they believe a child is harmed or at significant risk of being harmed.
The Code of South Carolina, Section 63-7-610, requires that certain persons, including teachers and other persons employed, report suspicions of child abuse or neglect within seventy-two (72) hours of “first” suspicion. Failure to file such a report within the prescribed time limit is a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine up to $500 and/or jail up to 6 months. Any employee or volunteer of ECMCS who suspects child abuse or neglect should immediately notify the Principal.
How to make a report:
(Mandated reporters can access on-line training at
The person who believes that a child has been or is being harmed or is at significant risk of being harmed should
Trained staff will assist the person to make a report and assess the information to determine if it meets screening criteria for investigation.
Reports can also be made at the South Carolina Report by County (in state): 803-898-7318.
Privacy Rights of Parents
ECMCS recognizes the legal requirement to maintain the confidentiality of student education records and personally identifiable information contained in the education records of students. The procedures for the confidentiality of student records shall be consistent with federal and state statutes and regulations, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and its implementing regulations.
Parents/Guardians may have to submit identification to be allowed access to their child’s permanent file and also may be charged for copies. Parents/Guardians have a right to obtain a copy of the charter school’s policy and accompanying regulations pertaining to the confidentiality of student education records. Requests are to be received in writing and given courtesy of 24-hour notice.
Student education records and personally identifiable information contained in a student’s education records may not be released or disclosed without the prior written consent of the parent/guardian of a student under 18 years of age or a student over 18 years of age (eligible student), except as otherwise authorized by law.
In accordance with law, prior written consent from a parent/guardian or eligible student is not required for ECMCS to disclose information contained in a student’s education records if access to, and disclosure or, such information is made available under the following circumstances:
1. To individuals employed by them either as an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support faculty member including health or medical faculty, law enforcement unit personnel, school board members when acting as a corporate entity in the discharge of statutory duties and responsibilities; and individuals with whom ECMCS has contracted to perform a special task (i.e. the school attorney, auditor, medical consultant, or therapist.
2. To another school in which a student seeks to enroll or intends to enroll, upon request by such district and in accordance with law.
3. As otherwise expressly permitted by law.
Search and Seizure
Pursuant to state and federal law, any person, student or adult, entering the school campus voluntarily suspends his or her rights and may be subject to a search and/or seizure by the appropriate authorities. Pursuant to S.C. Code Annotated Section 59-63-11 10 et seq. “any person entering the premises of a school in the State of South Carolina is deemed to consent to a reasonable search of its person and its property.”
Parents and visitors are cordially invited. We require that upon entering the property, all visitors must go directly to the office for proper direction and to obtain a visitor’s pass.
ECMCS reserves the right to deny visitors access to the school building.
Parent visitors as volunteers are greatly appreciated. Volunteer duties are best scheduled in advance through the classroom teacher. Expectations of parent visitors as volunteers include appropriate interactions with students and teachers at all times. This includes not occupying the teacher such that he/she may not safely supervise students at all times. Parent volunteers may not, under any circumstances, request to only volunteer with specific students and/or their child(ren) only.
NOTE: If you need to access the building as a visitor beyond the office doorway in either building, you must check in at the front office of the main building and be given a visitor pass. Visitor parking is located in the circular driveway facing Rifle Range Road, as well as designated parking lots. Parking in the circular driveway is prohibited between 2:15-3:15.
As per the defining concept of charter schools, East Cooper Montessori Charter School maintains its success by the strong leadership of its governing board. The three-part alliance between faculty, parents, and community members is critical to enabling the board to focus on results based effective strategic planning. Board members annually participate in training to define the enormous responsibilities of leading a public school. The ECMCS Governing Board is annually (spring) elected by parents and faculty to fill the positions of (4) parent members and (3) community members. Board members are strategically selected for their skills, knowledge, and commitment. Responsibilities include promoting the East Cooper Montessori Charter School’s mission, hiring and supervising the administrator, setting policies, raising funds, conducting a yearly fiscal audit, and developing the school budget.
The Governing Board meets at ECMCS on the third Thursday of each month at 6:00pm. Governing Board Meetings are public meetings and attendance is encouraged.
*For more information about the Governing Board visit “About Us - Governing Board” on the ECMCS website.
ECMCS Parent Teacher Network
“Parents and Teachers Working Together”
The function of the Parent Teacher Network (PTN) is to build community, volunteerism, support fundraising endeavors, deliver parent education, and offer an avenue for parents to connect with other families.
Parental involvement in education is the foundation for increased academic achievement of students and, thus, the PTN is designed to support and advocate parents working in conjunction with teachers to empower our students and build a school-home learning connection. The mission of the PTN is met by: coordinating activities that increase community awareness, hosting PTN Educational Events, providing a venue to showcase student accomplishments, researching additional available resources and executing fundraising activities, which all directly and indirectly add to the betterment of ECMCS and the Charleston County area educational community.
The Parent Teacher Network meetings will be posted on the ECMCS online school calendar as well as in the schoolwide Office Notes - all families are invited and welcome!
After School Care
East Cooper Montessori Charter School offers a quality fee-based aftercare program (ASC). ASC is provided for ECMCS students Monday - Friday from 3:00pm-5:00pm and offers Monthly enrollment as well as daily/drop-in stays.
August only ------------------------------------------ $105.00
Drop-in ----------------------------------------------- $16.00/day --- NO exceptions
After Enrichment Activity--------------------------- $8.00/day
Late Payment ---------------------------------------- $20.00/month
Late Pick-Up Fee ------------------------------------ $1.00/minute after 5:00pm, up to $35.00.
After School Care ends at 5:00 pm SHARP. Please be courteous to our staff and respect this policy. Late fees of $1.00/minute after 5:00 pm are due at the time of pickup.
Non-Payment or excessive late pickups may result in loss of privilege to participate in the ASC program.
The average school month consists of twenty-one days; the exceptions are the Winter and Spring Breaks. These shorter months factor into the low average daily rate for monthly enrollees of $10.00 per day and cannot be reduced further. Therefore, the monthly enrollment fee is not prorated for shorter months. We will charge a reduced rate of $105 for the month of August.
We offer a discount to families with more than one child enrolled in Monthly ACS. The charge for the first child is $210/mo and each additional child is $175. The sibling discount does not apply to Daily Drop-in care.
As needed or drop-in attendance for ASC must be requested by 12:00 pm in order to ensure that proper student to teacher ratios are maintained. Notification can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Online payment is due prior to the release of your child. It is mandatory for the safety of our students that all children not picked up at carpool go to ASC. The ASC Program starts at 3:00pm. Should your child have to attend ASC until your arrival to pick him/her up, your cost will be the full daily rate of $16.00.
After School Enrichment
If your child participates in a school-sponsored extracurricular activity and a parent or designee is not there to pick up the student when the activity lets out, the child will go to ASC, and you will be charged $8.00. These fees are due on or before the day service is rendered.
If the school-sponsored extracurricular activity starts after 3:15 pm, students will be allowed to attend ASC until the program starts free of charge.
All parents pick up students from the front office entrance located on Rifle Range Road.
After School Enrichment
East Cooper Montessori Charter School offers on-site and neighborhood activities sponsored by external vendors and teachers, such as yoga, karate, archery and other exciting opportunities from 3 PM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday, (at an additional fee and subject to availability). Detailed information is available through the Schoolwide Office Notes, and on the school website.
It is our on-going goal to provide weekly and periodic opportunities for students to expand their minds and increase their experiences outside of the classroom setting. In addition to providing fun and practical situations for building on classroom skills, these programs are a unique opportunity for the student to embrace their community, learn its role in their lives, and their role in its vitality. All of the extra-curricular activities will enhance the children’s self-awareness, allow them to build their strengths, and address any weaknesses in order that the students become self-confident in their abilities and in their search for knowledge.
As a public school of choice, additional opportunities may arise enabling our student population to participate in extracurricular activities with other public schools in District 2. We would welcome the opportunity to support these activities with parent, staff and student time, energy and commitment. ECMCS will post information about these extra- curricular activities as they become available. As the elementary student population grows, we hope to be able to support more on-premise extra-curricular activities such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, sports, choir, etc. Additional extra-curricular activities that may arise would occur under the provisions provided by charter and State law with the mutual consent of both the charter school and any participating public schools.
No Babysitting Policy
When ECMCS employees provide childcare for families of currently enrolled children, they potentially expose the school to lawsuits if the child is harmed under the employee’s care.
A lawsuit can be based on the family meeting the employee through the school and implicitly relying on the school’s representation that the employee is qualified to work with children.
Under our No Babysitting Policy, ECMCS strongly discourages employees from offering to provide childcare to currently enrolled students outside of school hours.
A teacher or employee may enter into an agreement with parents for tutoring children for a fee. This practice must be limited to children other than those for whom the teacher or employee is currently exercising teaching, administrative or direct supervisory responsibility. These restrictions are to assure all students receive reasonable assistance without charge from their own teachers, as well as to avoid placing a teacher or employee in a position where he/she may have a conflict of interest.
A teacher or employee may not tutor any student for pay during his/her regular working hours. A teacher or employee may provide tutoring services to students under the above criteria on school premises outside of working hours.
Additionally tutoring services externally contracted by parents may not occur within the school day for any reason, in accordance with the law requiring each child receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
Family Court Dispute Policy
Due to student privacy and other concerns, ECMCS will comply with court mandated subpoenas and will not voluntarily provide information (outside of regularly disseminated information regarding child or parent) in family court disputes. During all matters of family dispute, any legal documents requesting information on behalf of the school, family enrolled in the school, or student enrolled in the school must be submitted to the Principal.
Montessori and Charter School Organizations
American Montessori Society www.amsq.org
The Montessori Foundation www.montessori.org
National Charter School Clearing House www.nationalcharterschoolclearinghouse.net
SC Assoc. of Public Charter Schools www.sccharterschool.org
To Educate the Human Potential Maria Montessori
The Montessori Way Tim Seldin & Paul Epstein
From Childhood to Adolescence Maria Montessori
Montessori Today Paula Polk Lillard
Raising Self-Reliant Children In A
Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for
Developing Capable Young People H. Stephen Glenn and JaneNelsen
Children: The Challenge Rudolf Dreikurs and Vicki Soltz
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen
and Listen So Kids Will Talk Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Nurturing the Spirit Aline Wolf
The Guide to Bringing
Up Your Child Bruno Bettelheim
Becoming Better Parents Maurice Balson
ECMCS 2017-18 Policies Parent/Guardian Signature Page
See the Google doc on the front page of the ECMCS website to complete this page electronically.