Raising Healthy, Happy Children Since 1968


Serving children 15 months through 8th grade.


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A Learning Environment With a Proven Track Record of Excellence

Sea Pines Montessori Academy has been educating children for over 45 years. South Carolina's original Montessori preschool, we currently serve children 15 months to 8th grade. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina's first and only Montessori school.

An internationally recognized private school, Sea Pines Montessori Academy is dedicated to developing the whole child – socially, emotionally, and academically.

Our teachers and facility are accredited and highly qualified.

Phillip EvansGraduate

In my 14 some years that I was at Sea Pines Montessori Academy, I came to realize that the Montessori curriculum is the best method of education for primary and secondary age students. Coming into the public school environment I've learned to become self-motivated, I've learned to manage my time more effectively than my peers, and I've become a life-long learner that is passionate about learning just for the sake of becoming a better intellect.

​Keep reading to learn about all the Sea Pines Montessori has to offer your family. 

Welcome to the Future of Education

  • Counting down the hall
    Counting down the hall
  • Because she wants to
    Because she wants to
  • Small group learning
    Small group learning
  • Creative expression
    Creative expression

Picture this: A room of students, all aged within a few years of each other. The oldest help the youngest. The youngest eagerly learn from their peers. 

Did you know? The future of education has been around for over a century. ​

Kunich Family Alum

“We have been at Sea Pines Montessori since 1996...We have always felt there is no better or safer place for our children to attend school...Our children have learned how to respect themselves and others. They have learned to love learning. They will absolutely be better people because of the educational experiences and life lessons they have had at Sea Pines Montessori.”

Parents, Educations, and Researchers Agree

Read about the future of education, and you'll discover the Montessori Method is grounded in state of the art research and behavioral health. 

Montessori accredited teachers use advanced educational techniques that are proven to work. Traditional classrooms are catching on. Our methods work. 

  • ​Project-based learning
  • Self-directed students
  • Collaborative environment

Today's child development experts know that small group settings and community awareness encourage a healthy sense of self and are vital to meeting the social and educational needs of a child. 

Sea Pines Montessori Academy Math

The hand teaches the brain. Montessori students at work.

The GreensPrimary

We chose SPMA for our son after signs of him becoming overwhelmed at a larger school. This school is a "family unit"- all teachers and staff know my son's name and face, parent's full names, and even approved pick-up personnel. That is important to us as parents! 

Our school environment is exactly what children to thrive. 

Sea Pines Montessori Academy on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
" ...every other education method is based on an abstract model of the child and then derives educational models from that. Maria Montessori, a doctor and researcher, went the other way around: she experimented with methods and, based on the results, built up a theory of the child, which she then tested and refined through experiment." Pascal-Emmanuel Gorby, Forbes
Lynn NguyenParent

"...My son wakes up everyday looking forward to his day at school. I would definitely recommend this school to everyone."

We Foster Your Child's Natural Love of Learning

Conventional schools assume children must be forced to learn. 

We know differently. This video explains why an accredited Montessori environment helps children thrive, in school and life. No threats of pop quizzes, homework, or tests needed. (Don't worry, students perform grade levels above "traditional" students.)  

Standardized testing and test prep are offered throughout the year. 

Sea Pines Montessori Academy exceeds testing standards while preparing students emotionally and socially for high school and beyond.

A Highly Qualified School & Staff

Our Accreditations Stand for Our Commitment to Quality Education.

Member of American Montessori Society

The American Montessori Society sets high standards for qualifying as a member school. Our school is peer-reviewed, ensuring teaching principles and standards adhere to the Montessori philosophy of educating the whole child, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. 

Southern Association of Independent Schools

Overseen by the National Association of Independent Schools, the Southern Association of Independent Schools  accreditation demonstrates a dedication to highest standards of education and ongoing assessment and self-evaluation for continual improvement.

Member of Southern Association of Colleges & Schools

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation ensures that your child receives full credit for classes taken when transferring to high school. This rigorous certification took almost two years of assessments and applications to receive.

Certified teachers, scientists, musicians, and more. Our staff has the qualifications and education that matter to your family. 

Ashley Alcock - Sea Pines Montessori staff
Lower Elementary Teacher

Ashley Alcock is the Lower Elementary Teacher.

She is dedicated to guiding children to become respectful, responsible, and well-educated individuals that are inspired to help make the world a better place.


  • Bachelor of Science in Education
  • Certification in Early Childhood Education
  • Certification in ESL (English as a Second Language)
  • Elementary I Credential from Seacoast Center

Two of her passions that the children especially enjoy are Crafting and Singing. Ashley finds that crafting projects spur creativity and artwork, which makes learning hands-on and relevant – not to mention fun! She finds singing to be useful as a learning tool and helps to soothe the soul.

Jordan Gort teacher sea pines hilton head private school
Assistant Teacher

Ms. Gort is the Purple Room’s Assistant Teacher and is dedicated to inspiring her students to love learning. She is passionate about helping her students develop and achieve practical life goals.

Her qualifications include:

  • B.S. in Human Environmental Science, The University of Alabama
  • M.A.T. in Elementary Education, Liberty University
  • Virginia Elementary Teaching Licensure

Jordan loves reading books with her nephew and creating new works and crafts for the classroom.

Anne Hinley teacher sea pines hilton head private school
Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher

Ms. Hinely is the Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher. Anne is dedicated to fostering independence, confidence, compassion, and a love of learning within each child.

Her qualifications include:

  • Joined the staff of SPMA in 1996
  • Montessori Primary Certification (3-6 years), and worked in the Primary classrooms for 14 years
  • Between 2004 and 2007, Ms. Hinley served as an administrator in a church preschool

Ms. Hinely moved into the Lower Elementary Program to expand her knowledge and practice of the Montessori Method in 2013.

Anne has a passion for missions work, especially in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She works there every summer with children at The Valentine Children’s Home, and serves on the board of The Valentine Project.

Ashley Schilling teacher sea pines hilton head private school
Lead Teacher Primary

Ashley Schilling is the Lead Teacher in the Blue Room. She is dedicated to opening the hearts and minds of young children.

Her qualifications include:

  • B.S. in Sociology and Psychology
  • M.S. in Early Childhood Education
  • Montessori Early Childhood Certification

Ms. Schilling enjoys spending time with her family. Her husband, son, and two rescue dogs are eagerly anticipating the arrival of her daughter, due in February of 2016. She often volunteers at the local animal shelters.

Dean St Hillaire

Dean St. Hillaire is a music teacher at SPMA and dedicated to seeing more children involved in the arts.

Passionate about teaching music to kids, Dean is also a very successful local musician and works with some of the area’s top artists.

He is a graduate of Greenville Secondary School.

Spanish Teacher
Dr. Sarah W. Baird - Sea Pines Montessori Academy teacher
Lead Middle School Teacher

Dr. Baird is the Lead Middle School Teacher at Sea Pines Montessori Academy.

She is dedicated to adolescent education, curriculum development, Montessori research, and community outreach.

Dr. Baird holds a Doctorate in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and was a Research Scientist for over 10 years with more than 8 publications in top scientific journals including Nature and Science.

A middle school teacher since 2007, Dr. Baird also taught for two years at the Elementary level.

Additional Qualifications:

  • Teaching credentials include Lower Elementary and Secondary I from the American Montessori Society.
  • Member of the national American Montessori Society Research Committee; in charge of mini-grant program and contributor to the new Journal of Montessori Research
  •  Award-winning grant writer with over $20,000 raised for SPMA
  • 3-time speaker at the national American Montessori Society conferences in 2014, 2015, and upcoming 2016
  • Credential in RobotC language and Lego and Arduino robotics from Carnegie Mellon University

In addition, Dr. Baird is a musician and sings in the church choir. She also plays guitar, piano, percussion, and clarinet for the community.

Her interest in STEAM is an asset to her students. STEAM: arts and their relation to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics–trained by leading artists from around South Carolina, including Mary Edna Fraser for the inclusion of art with the study of the Lowcountry ecosystem.

More about Dr. Baird at www.sarahwbaird.com

Carrie Comeau - Preprimary Teacher Sea Pines Montessori Academy
Assistant Preprimary Teacher

Ms. Comeau is the Assistant Preprimary Teacher and is dedicated to encouraging children to express their creativity through all avenues of learning.

She holds the following qualifications:

  • BA in Liberal Studies, with a Minor in Elementary Education, from Endicott College
  • Masters in Elementary Education from Quinnipiac Univeristy
  • 4th grade teaching experience (Riverview Charter School)
  • Taught Kindergarten at Ridgeland Elementary School
  • Taught Upper Elementary at Coastal Empire Montessori Charter School and began her upper elementary Montessori Training from North American Montessori Training

With experience in both public and private schools systems, Ms. Comeau excels at guiding students through their work day.

She is also a registered yoga teacher who hopes to bring kids yoga to SPMA next year!

Melinda Cotter - Principal Head of School Sea Pines Montessori Academy
Head of School

Ms. Cotter is the Head of School for Sea Pines Montessori Academy. She is dedicated to advancing the academic success, social and emotional development, and independence of each student at SPMA.


  • BA University of Virgina
  • M. Ed from George Mason University
  • Early Childhood and Elementary Montessori Certification from the Insitute for Advanced Montessori Studies
  • SLLA K-12 Certified Principal, Board of Education

Melinda enjoys reading, creative writing, and art, and believes that these activities provide a foundation for literacy. An outdoors enthusiast, Melinda can be found hiking a mountain trail, running on the beach with her dog, or snowboarding in Charlottesville.

“When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength.” – Maria Montessori

Read Melinda’s Head of School Welcome here.

Beth McCune Elementary Teacher Sea Pines Montessori
Lower Elementary Teacher

Beth McCune is a Lower Elementary Teacher and is dedicated to educating the whole child by helping each child gain independence, self-confidence, and an awareness of the importance of their role in a building a peaceful, cooperative community.


  • BA in Education, Major in Special Education, University of North Florida
  • Teaching certificate Special Education, K-12 (Varying Exceptionalities, Multi-Categorical)
  • Teaching certificate in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)
  • Montessori training for Lower Elementary (ages 6-9)

Beth enjoys spending time out in nature with her family, with a passion for the beach and kayaking local waters. She is passionate about sharing with her students the importance of preserving our island.

You can find Beth frequently researching new lesson ideas and ways to make learning more beautiful.

Kerry McKinney Teacher Sea Pines Montessori Academy
Lead Infant/Toddler Teacher

With over 17 years teaching experience, Kerry has been a valued member of the faculty at Sea Pines Montessori Academy since 2004.

Kerry is the Lead Infant/Toddler Teacher in the Light Green Room and is dedicated to fostering each child’s unique attributes while teaching them how to work as part of a community of peers.

Her qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Child Development
  • Preschool/Kindergarten Montessori Training for children aged 32-months to 6-years from the North American Montessori Training Center
  • Infant/Toddler 0-3 Montessori Training from Montessori Educational Programs International
  • 17+ years teaching experience

Kerry loves the outdoors and exercise. She encourages children to learn through nature and start a love for an active lifestyle.

Her family is a top priority. Learning to love and nurture the different personalities that her own children have guides her in helping the families she works with to understand and nurture the personalities of the children she has been entrusted to guide.

Joy Krimm music teacher sea pines hilton head private school
Music Teacher & Enrichment Coordinator

Mrs. Krimm is the General Music Teacher & Enrichment Coordinator for Sea Pines Montessori Academy. In addition, she teaches Suzuki Violin. Joy is dedicated to fostering musical growth and appreciation for the arts in her students.

Her qualifications include:

  • Master of Music in viola performance, University of Hartford
  • Bachelor of Music in viola performance, East Carolina University
  • Completion of Suzuki Violin long-term training for Violin Books 1A-10, East Carolina University
  • Music Together teacher training

Personally, Mrs. Krimm enjoys baking, cooking, crafting, and dancing. She is also passionate about music history.

Student Life

At Sea Pines Montessori Academy, we focus on educating the whole child. From cross-country to Spanish, our students participate in fun, engaging, productive extracurriculars. Sports, games, and outdoor time help children learn.

  • Typical Classroom
    Typical Classroom
  • Cast members from the Wizard of Oz
    Cast members from the Wizard of Oz
  • Golf Instruction at The Sea Pines Resort
    Golf Instruction at The Sea Pines Resort
  • Safety lessons with the Hilton Head Fire & Rescue Dept.
    Safety lessons with the Hilton Head Fire & Rescue Dept.
  • Violin Lessons with Ms. Krimm
    Violin Lessons with Ms. Krimm
  • Happy Friends
    Happy Friends

Our group settings are exactly the right size for building confidence in your child.

How We Compare

What Sets Us Apart 

Sea Pines Montessori Academy is a private, non-profit school internationally recognized for promoting a healthy social atmosphere and recruiting stellar staff. Students consistently perform grade-levels ahead of traditionally-schooled peers. We offer an environment where students can develop the social and educational skills they need to excel in high school, college, and beyond.

  • Internationally recognized, certified teaching staff
  • Strong extracurricular and student life programs
  • Proven educational methods for developing social and critical-thinking skills

By The Numbers

Varsity Sports Participation of Grads
Top 5% Nationwide Testing Performance
High School Math in Middle School

The percentages above reflect the (M.S.) Middle School students. 

“…when strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools.”

Dr. Angeline Lillard, Professor of Psychology,

Author of Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

Research Results here

Our Programs

Sea Pines Montessori Academy has a long-standing tradition of dedication to the community and instilling in our children confidence and compassion. SPMA is a highly qualified Hilton Head Island school serving 15-months through 8th grade. 

Sea Pines Montessori Preschool Kindergarten and Lower School Pre K-1st grade

Toddler & Preschool 

Our Early Childhood Program sets the groundwork for instilling a love of learning in children. We foster independence, good manners, play, and personal and community growth. Accepting children 15 months to 6 years. (12 month program pending)  

Sea Pines Montessori Academy Elementary School K-5 grades


A natural continuation of our Early Childhood Programs, the SPMA Elementary program offers an award-winning educational model. The Lower Elementary serves ages 6-9 and the Upper Elementary serves ages 9-12.

Sea Pines Montessori Middle School Program grade 5-8

Middle School

A socially appropriate community led by the internationally recognized Dr. Baird. The SPMA Middle School offers an engaging social atmosphere and and high school preparatory environment that meets and exceeds the needs of students ages 12-15. 

The Right School

Early Childhood Classroom | Sea Pines Montessori

Sea Pines Montessori Academy offers a unique, challenging, and nurturing social atmosphere. 

If you’re searching for a healthy, safe, and social school with rigorous academic standards, the SPMA environment could be the right fit for your child. As you explore your school options, this checklist is helpful for interviewing schools in an effort to find the best fit for your family.

The most important thing you can do when interviewing schools is to sit in the classroom. Spend 30 minutes absorbing the environment that your child will spend the next year in. Talk to the teacher and introduce yourself to the students.

We're confident your family will love all that Sea Pines Montessori Academy has to offer. ​

To experience everything Sea Pines Montessori Academy has to offer, request a tour now. 

What Innovators Have In Common

Ask the founders of Google, Steve Jobs, Julia Childs, George Clooney, and over 6000 high-performing innovators where they went to school.

Their answer? Montessori.


We're happy to answer any questions. Contact Sea Pines Montessori Academy at (843) 785-2534 of email office (at) spma.com.