Frequently Asked Questions


How do I enroll?

The first step in enrolling an elementary student who resides in Georgetown County is to fill out an  Application for Enrollment Consideration form. If there is availability you will be asked to complete a New Student Enrollment Packet.  There is no test required for admission though there is the possibility of a lottery if the number of first grade applicants exceeds the number of openings.  Open Enrollment begins every October and ends in December.  Learn more about Admissions and the Lottery.

Who can attend Coastal Montessori Charter School (CMCS)?

All elementary-aged and middle school-aged Georgetown County students (1st – 8th grades) are eligible for admissions regardless of race, gender or religious affiliation.  Preference is given to siblings of enrolled students and Georgetown County residents. If oversubscribed, students will be admitted by a lottery system. By law, charter schools must have a fair and open admissions process, conducting outreach and recruitment to all segments of the community they serve.

What grades are offered at CMCS?

Grades 1st – 8th are offered at Coastal Montessori Charter School.

The CMCS elementary school is 1st through 6th grade. Montessori has three-year class cycles, so our classrooms are structured as follows:

  • Lower Elementary classrooms – ages 6, 7 and 8 (grades 1st – 3rd)
  • Upper Elementary classrooms – ages 9, 10 and 11 (grades 4th – 6th)

Our middle school adolescent community is 7th – 8th grade.

Where is CMCS located?

We are so happy to be in our brand-new, beautiful building at 111 Old Plantation Drive, Pawleys Island, SC  29585, on the west side of Hwy. 17, just north of Allston Plantation.


What are school hours?

School is in session from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Morning drop-off is from 7:30 – 7:55 a.m., and afternoon pick-up is from 2:55 – 3:15 p.m. After School Enrichment is $7 per day and goes until 4: 30 p.m. Specialty Club Programs, such as The Sewing Hour or Art Club etc., are often offered for an additional fee.

Do you provide transportation?

Yes we do. Although charter schools do not receive funding for transportation, we are fortunate to partner with the Georgetown County School District to provide busing for those students around the county who are unable to arrange carpooling.

How are students placed in classes?

Keeping in mind that Montessori students stay with their teacher for three years, placement of students is carried out very thoughtfully. We ask parents to complete a comprehensive questionnaire about their child to best match the student’s personality with a CMCS teacher. In addition, gender equity is considered in creating balance in a classroom.

Do CMCS students wear uniforms?

It is our school policy that all children in grades 1 through 6 wear a CMCS school uniform when attending school. Our policy is designed with health and safety in mind. We believe that a school uniform:

  • promotes a sense of pride in the school while creating a sense of belonging and community
  • identifies our students with CMCS (particularly on school field trips)
  • is practical, affordable and helps level the socioeconomic “playing field” while still allowing for self-expression

VERY IMPORTANT: Purchasing uniforms will never be a barrier to attending our school. If purchasing uniforms creates a financial burden for you, please contact the CMCS office immediately at 843-235-0413.

View Complete Uniform Policy or view specific items by vendor

Is there before and after-school care?

While we do not have a formal “Before Care”program, we do allow students to be dropped off as early as 7:30 a.m. (though bused students may arrive earlier depending on their scheduled route).  CMCS has a rich yet affordable  After School Enrichment Club that starts immediately after school and goes until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday for $7 per day if signed up in advance. We even offer Specialty Club programs that are an additional fee depending on the program.  Art, music, martial arts and yoga are a few of the Specialty Club programs we’ve offered in the past.

How much homework do you assign?

While CMCS does have daily homework, it is intentionally kept as minimal as possible.  Dr. Maria Montessori believed children should do their work at school.  She placed a high value on children developing their relationships with their family and members of their community when they were not at school.  Today parents are constantly trying to model a healthy balance between work and family and Montessori encourages children early on to understand that a well lived life involves more then just disciplined work. It also involves time spent caring for the people and environments where you live and having time to relax and rejuvenate and reflect and meditate.

Homework is assigned appropriately for each grade level (younger students should spend less time on homework than older students).  The general rule at CMCS is for 3rd graders to perform about 30 minutes of nightly homework and 6th graders 40 minutes.  Remember this is focused, on task time.

What is Montessori?

Montessori is a century-old teaching method designed to lead children to ask questions, think for themselves, explore, and become self-directed learners.  It is scientifically based on actual observation of children by the first female Italian physician, Dr. Maria Montessori (link to Maria Montessori page), who first used the method to teach children who were considered “unteachable” in the slums of Rome.  After seeing great success with these students, the Montessori teaching method spread quickly through Italy and then the world.

Montessori is…

  • A unique philosophy of education
  • Multi-age classrooms
  • Individualized instruction and self-paced learning
  • Hands-on materials
  • Specially trained teachers facilitating each child’s own discovery of knowledge
  • Freedom within limits fostering individual responsibility
  • Social as well as academic development
  • A global perspective which integrates the study of diverse cultures and respect for basic human rights
  • Stewardship of the environment

Read more about Montessori

How do Montessori students transition to conventional classrooms when they get older?

CMCS currently goes through sixth grade and may soon go through middle school, but at some point our students will have to transition to a non-Montessori classroom. Though all children respond to transitions differently, keep in mind that Montessori develops problem solvers, children with a high degree of self-motivation, coping skills, and respect of others, all skills that will serve them well whether transitioning to a new school or to a new job later in life.

A research study by Kathryn Rindskopf Dohrmann, Tracy K. Nishida, Alan Gartner, Dorothy Kerzner Lipsky & Kevin J. Grimm (2007), “High School Outcomes for Students in a Public Montessori Program,” Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 22:2, 205-217 tracked 400 students in Milwaukee. Half the students received only conventional, public school education from kindergarten to graduation. The other half attended Montessori schools through 5th grade before transitioning into the public school system. The two groups were carefully matched in terms of gender, ethnicity and family financial status. Comparing test scores and GPA’s at the end of the study revealed the children with some Montessori education not only outperformed the other group in math and science test scores, but also graduated with higher GPAs. The conclusion of the study was that early Montessori education had a long-term impact on later public school performance. At the very least, students transitioned excellently on an academic level.

As a public Montessori school, do you participate in standardized testing?

All public schools, including charter schools, must administer the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) tests. Our school will be evaluated based upon our students’ achievement on the state standardized test. These tests are based on the curriculum frameworks adopted by the SC State Board of Education. As a public Montessori school, our challenge is to remain faithful to the Montessori philosophy while meeting the requirements placed on all South Carolina public schools. Coastal Montessori Charter School will maintain a highly-qualified, Montessori-trained faculty and adhere to the Montessori tradition in its teaching and learning activities, while promoting high performance on state-level standardized tests.

Do charter schools charge tuition or admission fees?

All charter schools are free public schools. Charter schools do not charge tuition or admission fees.  CMCS is part of the Georgetown County School District.

Charter Schools and the Freedom of Information Act.

Schedule of Fees for Public Records
South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (§ 30-4-30(B))

A reasonable fee not to exceed the actual cost will be charged for the search, retrieval, and, when appropriate, redaction, of records produced in response to a request for public records under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). Additionally, copies will be charged at a cost not to exceed the prevailing commercial rate for the producing of copies. In certain cases, particularly FOIA requests in which a large number of records or confidential information is requested, a deposit not exceeding 25% of the total estimated fee will be required prior to commencing the retrieval and production of records.

Reasonable efforts will be made to produce records at the lowest possible cost, and the following fee schedule will apply:

• Copying costs will be charged at a commercially reasonable rate of $0.10 per page, and, the fee for non-standard size documents, such as architectural plans or property plats, will be individually determined at the time of copying based on actual copying cost.

• Search, retrieval, and redaction costs of records will be charged at the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid employee who, in the reasonable discretion of the custodian of the records, has the necessary skill and training to perform the search, retrieval, and, if appropriate, redaction. Records requests involving specialized, technical, or confidential information, or otherwise requiring redaction, will in many cases require an employee with a higher salary to perform the search, retrieval, and/or redaction. The fee rate, accordingly, will vary based on the nature of the records requested, depending on the necessary skill and training level necessary. Employee time will be billed based on 1/4 hour increments.

The fee schedule may vary from time to time as salaries and commercially reasonable copying costs change.

Fees will not be charged for examination and review of documents to determine if the documents are subject to disclosure. Additionally, copying costs will not be charged for copies of records that are transmitted in electronic format, although if requested records are not already in electronic format, fees will be charged for staff time required to transfer the documents to electronic format.

How are charter schools funded?

Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools receive similar state foundation funding for education as other public schools. Foundation funding is determined by a formula based on the number of actual students enrolled and attending the school.

What makes charter schools different?

Charter schools operate like all other public schools with three exceptions.

  1. Charter school curriculum varies from the school district adopted curriculum. The charter school submits a “charter” requesting an alternative curriculum and teaching approach. The alternative curriculum must be approved by the local district school board and the state school board.
  2. The charter school has its own governing board comprised of school parents and community members as elected by the school’s parents and staff. These board members oversee the mission of the school, ensuring that the integrity of the charter is maintained.
  3. The charter school is supervised by an administrator, in our case a director, Dr. Nathalie Hunt. She is responsible to the CMCS governing board but must ensure that the charter school adheres to local and state educational policy.

Are charter schools religious schools?

No. In addition to other requirements of state law, a charter school must be nonsectarian. Religious affiliation is not permitted.

How much parental involvement is required?

A high correlation exists between parental involvement and student success in school and all parents are expected to participate as partners in the education of the child.  Volunteering at CMCS is easy and the school will try to match each family to their strengths, interest, and abilities with the needs of the school. Learn more about volunteering (link to Volunteer Opportunities).

Will CMCS serve students with special needs?

Just like all Georgetown County public schools, charter schools provide programs and accommodations for children with special needs. CMCS welcomes children of diverse backgrounds and various levels of ability that are able to progress in an environment where independence, self-motivation, and freedom with responsibility is the foundation of the academic culture. Students who have pre-established IEP’s (Individual Education Programs) will have those plans evaluated by CMCS’s IEP Team to determine the appropriateness of our program for the student’s specific educational needs. The appropriateness of placement is based on two main criteria:

  1. Children must be able to function within their age group with minor accommodations to the classroom program.
  2. Inclusions must not materially alter the mission, vision or philosophy of the program offered.

What about Gifted Students?

The Montessori program is inherently suited for the gifted learner. The curriculum is open-ended and presents many opportunities for problem solving and critical thinking. Learning is self-paced, allowing individual students to advance independently of their peers. Long uninterrupted blocks of time allow for in-depth study of topics of choice.