Middle School

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What Makes a Teacher Great?

Middle School Sea Pines Montessori students

Was your favorite teacher a "by the book" type?

Did they drag out a textbook to answer questions and lecture?


Your favorite teacher was the one that put away the textbook

You left the classroom feeling energized and empowered.

Your favorite teacher didn’t talk at you.

They made you a part of something.

Great teachers respect and challenge you.

SPMA recruits GREAT teachers. Teachers that encourage, inspire, and turn problems into problem-solving opportunities. And that's just the beginning of what we have to offer your family.

    Social & Academic Environment

    Middle School Sea Pines Montessori Kitch

    Food Chemistry... yum!

    Sea Pines Montessori Academy's Middle School serves children 12-15 years of age, through the 8th grade. 

    The SPMA Middle School Program is a safe and social community with a challenging academic curriculum.

    We are a community. A community that believes children should ask questions. An academic community with support for both individual and collaborative learning. More importantly, we are a social community that honors the personalities, talents, and strengths of each student.

    Research shows that Montessori middle-school aged students handle social situations better than their traditionally schooled peers. ​

    Sports, arts, music, and volunteering play an important part in student life. 

    Featured Student: Phillip Evans
    Sea Pines Montessori Academy Student Perspective Phillip Evans, Middle School Graduate A Parent's Perspective Dr. Jocelyn Evans, Phillip's mother As[...]

    We Don't Teach to the Tests

    79 %
    Score in the Top 5% Nationwide

    We reach beyond them.

    Testing skills are critical for future school success. We embrace the challenge of preparing students for testing in high school, college, and beyond. SPMA teachers continually work with students to develop and advance their test-taking abilities throughout the school year.

    Students love learning at SPMA... and it shows.

    A fully accredited school with highly qualified teachers and credits that transfer, SPMA students consistently rank in the top 5% of students nationwide.
    8th grade standardized achievement scores
    79% of our Middle School graduates enter high school performing, on average, at or above 11th grade level on almost every standardized testing achievement test. 

    What Our Families Are Saying

    Students say the social and academic structure of SPMA helped them in high school, college, and beyond. 

    Joni Vanderslice President, J Banks Design Group, Inc.

    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.

    The Future of Education Has Been Around For Over a Century

    Experts agree, today's traditional schools are not meeting the needs of teenagers. Here's why our educational model works.

    Meet the Middle School Teachers

    Great teachers makes all the difference. 

    SPMA teachers are dedicated to helping your child grow, socially and academically. Teachers and staff are highly qualified, accredited, and experienced. From scientists to artists, we have your child's interests covered. 
    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.


    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 .

    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.

    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.

    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.


    True to the Montessori educational approach, the Middle School Program offers a multi-age classroom setting that encourages collaborative learning and instruction. Hands-on experiments ensure students truly understand math and science concepts. Teachers are accredited, qualified, and work with students one-on-one and in group settings. 

    Credits transfer when your child enters high school, often with honors.

    Click on a tab for detailed curriculum information. ​
    • Language arts
    • MATH
    • Technology

    Our science, social studies, and language arts curricula are based on primary source materials, not textbooks.

    Students become technologically literate through the use of Google Chromebooks (one per student), and the Google Education Suite for paperless assignments and unique classroom collaborations.

    Through the integration of media arts with our Art Teacher, Kalen Wolfe, students present their research in many ways – movies, songs, slide decks, murals, dioramas, and more.

    In addition, students can choose to learn to program in RobotC language with Lego robotics and Java using Alice 3, both from Carnegie Mellon University.

    • Social studies
    • how students learn
    • electives
    • sports

    SPMA offers a variety of electives within the school day and outside of school to address the diverse interests of our curious students. All students participate in art and music classes weekly. Art classes cover media art, drawing, painting, engineering, photography, and more. Music instruction covers music theory, percussion, voice, and composition. Students also do independent study in areas like French, robotics, computer programming, and media arts.

    Chinese immersion Sea Pines Montessori Academy

    Curriculum Enrichment

    Music, Art, & Sports

    Middle School students participate in daily and weekly curriculum enrichment. Your child's extracurriculars are tailored to their needs and interests:

    • ​Music
    • Art
    • Spanish
    • Suzuki Violin and/or Piano
    • Cross-country
    • Golf
    • Tennis
    • Daily Fitness
    • National Junior Beta Club
      National Junior Beta Club
    • Tennis instruction at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy
      Tennis instruction at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy
    • Art based projects
      Art based projects
    • Piano
    • Cross Country
      Cross Country
    • SPMA Family
      SPMA Family
    • Field trips
      Field trips

    Students who enjoy sports have access to a wide variety of programs. Ask us for more information about sports during your campus tour.

    Sea Pines Montessori Academy provides a safe, social, and academic environment where middle schooler students can thrive. 

    Financial aid is readily available to qualifying families. Contact us, and let's work together to find the right school environment for your child. All inquiries are held in the strictest confidence. 

    Families Choose SPMA

    Dr. Jocelyn EvansParent, Middle School Grad

    ...SPMA set him [Phillip] 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...

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