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With almost 80% of our middle school students scoring in the top 5% of national standardized tests, SPMA excels at educating children in a social, community-oriented environment.


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Admissions & Tuitions

This page contains all the information you need to learn more about Sea Pines Montessori Academy's application process and tuition. Please note financial assistance is available for those who qualify. 

Joni VanderslicePresident, J Banks Design

Socially, it was our hope that the environment at SPMA would allow our daughters to delay encounters and issues that are typical of Middle School today elsewhere, allowing them to mature in a safe setting. This paid off incredibly well as they entered Hilton Head High. The surprise that they felt in situations that seemed normal to their counterparts from other schools made them appreciate the fact that they had this time at SPMA. Academically, our girls were prepared for the work. The biggest adjustment was in having many teachers, classes, and understanding their style. It was easy for them to talk to their teachers and work through any issues, which I believe came from their experience at Montessori as well.

We are pleased with our decision to keep our daughters at SPMA through 8th grade.

What We Do Best

Social Atmosphere

A community oriented school, SPMA focuses on respect for others and a socially engaging environment. 

Educational Environment

We challenge students to challenge themselves. A spiral curriculum allows for a deeper understanding of subjects and use their natural curiosity to their advantage. 

Awareness of the World

Community outreach, fundraising, and volunteering for good causes are an important part of an SPMA student's life. 

Get to Know Us

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.

Lead Middle School Teacher

John Dogger is the Lead Middle School Teacher at Sea Pines Montessori Academy.

He is dedicated to adolescent education, curriculum development, and Montessori research.

A middle school teacher since 2012, John also coached Cross Country for several years and coached at CTF.


Lead Infant/Toddler Teacher

Kayla Bass is the Lead Preprimary Teacher and is dedicated to aiding children in the independence of self-directed exploration. Her goal is to foster growth and development in a safe and complete learning environment.

  • 10+ years experience working with young children in both classroom and private setting
  • Certified Infant Toddler Montessori Teacher

As a mother to a 6-year-old girl and a 2 year old boy, Ms. Bass is committed to expanding her knowledge of child development and translating teachings into actionable developmental assistance for infants and toddlers.

With her extensive background in child care, Ms. Bass is uniquely qualified to offer Sea Pines Montessori’s youngest students a safe place to develop emotionally and physically.

Carrie Comeau - Preprimary Teacher Sea Pines Montessori Academy
Upper Elementary Teacher

Ms. Comeau is an Upper Elementary 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
  • Certified Montessori Elementary II teacher

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 loves to bring yoga into SPMA!

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

Mrs. 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, 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, playing on the beach with her German shepherd, Hampton, or visiting new parks/nature preserves in her travels.

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

Read Melinda’s Head of School Welcome .

Jordan Gort teacher sea pines hilton head private school
Assistant Preprimary Teacher

Ms. Gort is the Light Green 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.

Lauren Kelley teacher sea pines hilton head private school
Primary Teacher

Ms. Kelley is the Primary Teacher in the Red Room and is dedicated to developing independent, critical thinkers.

Her qualifications include:

  • SPMA teacher for 14 years
  • MEPI Montessori Training
  • B.S. Degree, East Stroudsburg University

Lauren loves to bake, practice yoga, and read. She is often found digging into geography and finding interesting ways to teach the children.

Priscilla Kelly teacher sea pines hilton head private school
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher

Ms. Kelly is the Lead Lower Elementary Teacher. Dedicated to providing a fun, learning environment, she works hard to be a good role model for her students.

Her qualifications include:

  • High School – Hilton Head Prep
  • Degree in Elementary Education, Belmont Abbey College
  • Lower Elementary Montessori Certification, SeaCoast Training Center

Priscilla is the Club Volleyball Coach for the Low Country Volleyball Club. She went to Nationals in 2013 and 2015 after winning the region.

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.

Board Treasurer Erika Morgan
Director of Operations

Erika Morgan is SPMA’s Director of Operations.

Mrs. Morgan worked as the Director of Finance & Operations in a Montessori school in Northern Virginia and brings with her an extensive background and knowledge of managing a large private school.  She moved to Hilton Head in 2008 and has recently served as an officer (Treasurer) in the Board of Trustees.  Erika joins us from the Financial & Accounting department at Carey & Company on the island.


Kalen Wolf Arts Educator at hilton head private school
Art Educator

Ms. Wolfe is the Art Educator at Sea Pines Montessori Academy. She is dedicated to helping students appreciate the creativity of others.

Kalen wants students to develop an appreciation and understanding of how Art reflects and impacts life and individuals. In addition to helping students create art, she teaches students to respond to art in a responsible, respectful manner.

Her qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts, Massachusetts College of Art
  • Master of Art, Phoenix University
  • Trained to help students answer the essential Questions of Artist: Envision, Correct, Observe, Expressive Spirit, Develop Craft, Stretch & Explore, Engage & Persist, and Reflect
  • Ongoing training in Professional Development, Arts Organization, Continuing Education, Art Workshops and Classes

Kalen is passionate about Art. She believes the arts help children learn to say what cannot be said and that the arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience discover what we are capable of feeling.

Nikki Wright Assistant Teacher Infant Toddler Program at hilton head private school
Assistant Teacher, Preprimary

Ms. Wright is an Assistant Teacher to the Infant & Toddler Program. She is dedicated to helping our children learn and grow.

Her qualifications include:

  • B.A. Sociology, University of Southern Mississippi
  • Minor in Non-Profits, University of Southern Mississippi
  • Child Development
  • Mother of 2

Nikki loves reading, which she enjoys doing throughout the day with her students. She’s also a runner, which helps to stay active with the kids.

Chris Harris, Office Manager
Office Manager
Mrs. Harris is the Office Manager for Sea Pines Montessori Academy.
She has worked and been a parent at SPMA for close to 20 years total. Her children attended SPMA. She left to work for another island school, but rejoined the SPMA family in 2002.
Chris moved to Hilton Head in 1979. She raised three children here, two of which attended Sea Pines Montessori in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Nicole Roberts, Board Chair
Board Chair
Nicole is a Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in the treatment of children speech, language, motor planning, fluency and social-pragmatic disorders. She also has background in Child Development, Developmental Psychology and Education.
Nicole is certified with the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the State of South Carolina. She is also internationally certified with Speech-Language and Audiology Canada and the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Manitoba. Nicole holds certifications of specialty in the PROMPT motor therapy technique, Lidcombe Fluency Intervention, and Hanen Early Language Stimulation Programs.
In both her career and family life, Nicole’s goal is to help each child become the best version of themselves. The Montessori philosophy and SPMA truly encompass this goal. Nicole serves the families and children of SPMA with great passion and joy.
She serves as chairwoman of the board.
Cliff McMackin
Board Vice Chair

Cliff is the Director of Resort Development for Sea Pines Resort who’s responsibilities include leading all master planning, design and construction efforts throughout the resort.

He is a LEED Accredited Professional (US Green Building Council).

By way of his profession, Cliff is passionate about civic planning and looks forward to helping with improvements to the SPMA culture and community.

Cliff serves as a member of the board.

Glynn Capell
Board Member

Glynn L. Capell is an attorney and founder of The Capell Law Firm, LLC established in 2010 on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  Mr. Capell focuses his practice on construction law, primarily representing building owners in construction defect litigation.  Mr. Capell graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1999 and is licensed to practice law in South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida.

Mr. Capell loves to travel with his family so that his children can learn about and experience different cultures.

He serves as a member of the board.

Dean St Hillaire
Guitar Instructor

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.  Dean teaches guitar instruction (individual and group) to the students.  Additionally, he helps with the school musical.

He is a graduate of Greenville Secondary School.

Athletics Director

Dat Phan brings a decade of coaching experience to Sea Pines Montessori Academy, including having coached several sports throughout his athletic career.

A graduate of Rutgers University, Coach Phan received two degrees in Exercise Science & Sport Studies and Communications. An earlier ACL tear disrupted his chance to play basketball at the collegiate level, so during his years at Rutgers, he focused on team management and coaching.  Coach Phan was a student manager for the men’s basketball team and a student intern for the WNBA’s New York Liberty.  Additionally, Dat ran his own basketball academy where he focused on skill development and tournament hosting.  These experiences allowed him to learn the nuances of running a successful program and the dedication required to be a great coach.

Over the last nine years, Coach Phan has coached various sports at the middle and high school levels, most notably volleyball and basketball, and was an Assistant Director of Athletics at established and new independent schools in New Jersey and New York.  As a coach, Dat has been blessed to work with committed athletes and supportive parents who believed in his coaching philosophies. Through the years, he was able to develop these athletes into high school and college players while also competing for league championships. Most recently, as Assistant Director of Athletics at The World School in New York City, Coach Phan was able to create a strong foundation for an athletics and physical education program that continued to evolve over the years. What began as a young and inexperienced program turned into a program that competes for division and state championships each year.

Despite his busy schedule, Dat continues to compete adult league basketball tournaments and enjoys hanging out at the beach, working out, and playing golf in his spare time.

Spanish Teacher
Board Member

Raised in Savannah, Georgia, Rick graduated from Vanderbilt University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering.  Rick then moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he completed his Master’s Degree in Building Construction at Georgia Tech. From 2007-2011, Rick worked as a Vice President of Acquisitions for a full-service multifamily investment and development company based in Atlanta, Tribridge Residential. He then had the opportunity to move to Hilton Head in 2012 to work for his family’s business, Hilton Head Exterminators.

Rick and his wife, Jamie, are busy raising their two children: Catherine Rose (3), who is currently attending SPMA, and Thomas Lawton (1), who will start in Fall 2018 at SPMA.   As a family, they are members of the First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head.

Rick is currently serving his first term on the SPMA board and believes in the importance of establishing a sense of purpose and community for young children, and promotes the Montessori Method of SPMA.

In his spare time, Rick enjoys cooking, playing golf, fishing and chasing after his two rugrats.

Board Secretary

Shelly Ringer and her family moved from Connecticut to Hilton Head Island in 2014. She is a breast surgeon with the Medical University of South Carolina.

The Montessori teachings and child rearing have always been important to Shelly. Her children were each enrolled in a Montessori preprimary program at 18 months in Connecticut, and the family was happy to find a great Montessori school on Hilton Head Island to continue their education.

SPMA is a wonderfully nurturing environment for children to learn not only the curriculum but also about themselves. The size of the school allows people to know each other but is large enough for diversity.

Preprimary Assistant Teacher

Ashley is an assistant in the Light Green Room.  She is dedicated to the care, safety, and happiness of all of the children at SPMA.  Ashley is also a certified Montessori Early Childhood teacher.

Preprimary Assistant Teacher

Marie is an Assistant in the Light Purple and works with the youngest Preprimary children.  She has worked previously as a the Lead Infant Toddler teacher in Northern Virginia.

Her strengths include:

-Maintaining an open, friendly, and cooperative relationship with each child and family,

-Organizing each day’s activities to provide children with a variety of experiences and opportunities that allow them to develop curiosity, initiative, problem-solving skills, and creativity, and

-Conducting developmental screenings and ongoing assessments of infants to determine motor, language, social, and emotional skills.

Katherine De Freitas Sea Pines Montessori Music Teacher
Suzuki Piano Teacher

Katherine G. De Freitas is the Music and Suzuki Piano Teacher at Sea Pines Montessori Academy. She is dedicated to enriching every child with a love and appreciation of music.

Her qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communications, Minor in Music, Ohio University
  • Certified Music Together teacher
  • Certified Montessori Para-Professional
  • Suzuki Association of Americas (SAA) certified through Suzuki Piano Book

Katherine loves to sing, dance, and play all types of music. She enjoys the quality time with SPMA students and is passionate about teaching music.

With a child who attends SPMA and one who will as soon as she’s old enough, family and quality education are Katherine’s priorities.

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.

Meg O'Brien Primary Teacher at Sea Pines Montessori
Primary Teacher

Ms. O’Brien is a Primary teacher in the Red Room. She is dedicated to instilling curiosity and great joy of learning in her students.

Her qualifications include:

  • 27 years teaching experience at Sea Pines Montessori Academy
  • 35 years as a Montessori trained education
  • Pan American Montessori training

A graduate of William Paterson University, Ms. O’Brien love to read, cook, and is currently exploring photography.

In the classroom, she especially enjoys creating art lessons and presenting different works to the students.

Margo Fletcher SPMA teacher
Upper Elementary Teacher

Ms. Fletcher is an Upper Elementary Teacher dedicated to teaching children to love learning.

Her qualifications include:

  • Upper Elementary Certified (ages 9-12) from the American Montessori Society
  • Lower Elementary Certified (ages 6-9) through Montessori Educational Programs International (MEPI)
  • Primary Certified (ages 3-6) through MEPI
  • Certified Montessori Model United Nations Coordinator
  • Bachelors Degree from Virginia Intermont College

Margo is passionate about animals, fitness, and photography. She enjoys teaching children about animal welfare and the important of exercise to stay healthy.

Joy Krimm music teacher sea pines hilton head private school
Music Teacher, Suzuki Violin Instructor, & 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.

Tour Our Campus

Sea Pines Montessori Academy features 9 classrooms, one library, three music rooms, an art and music studio, dedicated Spanish classroom, multipurpose room, and an extensive array of authentic Montessori materials. Extending from the building is approximately one acre of outdoor play space with two playgrounds, one for Preprimary students and a larger one for the Primary and Elementary students.  There is also a beautiful outdoor green space used as a community amphiteater and sports venue.

Start the Enrollment Process

We are honored that you are interested in Sea Pines Montessori Academy for your child. The admissions process is quite simple. We encourage you to schedule a tour prior to starting your application. Call the front office at (843) 785-2534 or email to schedule a tour and classroom observation. 

SPMA Admissions Policy and Procedures

Application (may be completed after tour)

A completed application form, including the non-refundable Application Fee of $100.00, must be submitted to the office. Checks should be made payable to Sea Pines Montessori Academy (SPMA).

Applications are accepted year round, and it is to the student’s advantage to apply as soon as possible. The school has an open enrollment policy whereby students may enroll during the year if space is available. If space is not available, applications are kept on file.

Admissions Process

1. Parents/guardian complete a campus tour and classroom observation. The initial campus tour and classroom observation are best with only parents/guardian in attendance. A follow up student visit will occur where your child can explore the environment. 

2. A completed application and fee returned to the office.

3. A student visit with the appropriate grade level teacher.

Notification of acceptance to the school will be communicated. If any of our programs carry a wait list, parents will be made aware during the admissions process.

Sea Pines Montessori Academy Admissions Process and Tuition

Age Requirements

Age groupings are based on a child’s age on September 1, which is South Carolina's required cut-off date. Applicants to the Preprimary Program must be 12 months of age on their first day of school.

Parent Campus Tour / Observation Experience

Tours of the school campus are by appointment. Please call (843) 785-2534 to schedule your campus tour. During the tour, information is provided about the history of the school and the Montessori Method. While on the tour, we welcome questions and answers.

You will also observe a classroom after the tour. Plan for a minimum of 30 minutes (longer if you'd like!).  Seeing the students work in the classroom is truly the best part of what we do!

Student Visit

Each child will have the opportunity to tour the school as part of the admission process. The child has a “visit” as part of his or her familiarization with the school and our familiarization with the child. School personnel will take the opportunity to assess your child for school during this visit.


Families will be notified of student acceptance at the end of the admission process, or shortly thereafter. If accepted, the family will receive the necessary papers to complete the enrollment process. In January, re-enrollment forms are sent to currently enrolled students, and by mid-February vacancies for the next school year are filled from applicants in the waiting pool ready to be admitted.

Admissions is rolling throughout the school year so long as there is space in the program.


An applicant is formally admitted after the office receives the signed enrollment contract and fees. There are non-refundable Enrollment Fees and Student Fees that must accompany the enrollment contract. Additional papers are required as detailed in the enrollment forms.


Each child will attend an orientation program to become familiar with the routines of the classroom.  Parents should also become familiar with the SPMA Parent Handbook.  

For planned [extended] absences, please refer to the Attendance and Tardy Policy.  Parents should meet with their child's Upper School teachers and submit an Independent Study Form to the Head of School for approval as well.

Dr. Jocelyn EvansMiddle School Graduate Parent

As a mom I feel as if Phillip became a Montessorian the day he was born. 18 months old through 8th grade, and if I had it my way he would go to Montessori College and Life thereafter.

One of the greatest qualities that comes from a Montessori education is an inherent desire to learn. Phillip loves to learn on his own, as manifested by his reading a book a week on history, economics and political science.

The encouraging, non competitive environment engenders intellectual curiosity. Spma set him on a positive course to thrive in a public high school. He has repeatedly expressed gratitude at the myriad ways in which SPMA prepared him well by fostering his interest at a young age for the Constitution while exposing him to Model UN in middle school. He continues to participate in the Montessori Model UN in NY as a Dais, as well as the Hilton Head High School Model UN in Atlanta.

It is a joy to reflect on my days as an Spma mom. The teachers care, the parents are involved, and I miss having you guys take him out of his car seat so he can enter "THE HAPPY ZONE". Thank you for giving me an opportunity to shed light on all the "goodness" that pervades SPMA.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition and fees are used to cover the day-to-day operational expenses of the school. Approximately 85% of tuition and fees is used to pay for salaries and benefits.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

We continue to offer scholarships to those who would not otherwise be able to attend Sea Pines Montessori Academy. Our goal is to continue financial assistance for the child’s subsequent years to follow at SPMA.

If you are interested in applying for financial assistance, contact the SPMA office to obtain more information.

Applications for financial aid assistance are accepted year round.

Get Started Today



Questions? Please, call or email us. We're happy to provide additional information. Call (843) 785-2534 or email.



Call the front office to schedule your tour and classroom observation. Appointments may be made with the front office at (843) 785-2534.



Complete and submit your initial application and we will be in touch. (The next step will be a student visit with the appropriate grade level and teacher.)

Ready to enroll? Download the application now.