As the start of the school year looms, Lowcountry parents are eager to find a balance between school and safety amid the COVID crisis. The uncertainty of the upcoming school year prompted Daniel Island mom, Stephanie Swackhamer, to do some proactive parenting.
The mother of two boys decided to open a safe alternative to traditional public schooling on Daniel Island. Elevate Learning Project will be a Montessori inspired K-2 program.
Swackhamer has over 15 years of community based work and was a teacher in North Charleston where she started a Literacy Through Latin program. Swackhamer partnered with Adrienne Day, an educator with a variety of experience, including elementary public education and Montessori.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in South Carolina, lives in the community began to change in ways we never expected. Neighbors were forced from public spaces and were asked to isolate in their homes with their families. This led many community members to re-evaluate what was once taken for granted and see new opportunities arise. An already existing need for an alternative education model emerged, even more prominently, as families began to worry about what school schedules would look like in the
fall and concern for their children’s health and wellbeing increased,” explained Swackhamer .
Located at 250 Seven Farms Dr. in the space formerly occupied by Island Eye Care, the school will offer a Montessori-influenced curriculum. The community focused educational program is set to open on Sept. 9 for K-2 elementary school children.
Elevate will offer small class sizes, outdoor exploration, and individualized lesson plans for 18 students. Elevate also provides academic coaching for all ages and community education.
Daniel Island resident Trish Kometer is excited to have an alternative available close to home.
“The island is a perfect place to expand the parameters of elementary education, and to reimagine what school can look like in the 21st century. As so many parents are currently wrestling with the decision of how to best balance our children’s academic, emotional, and safety needs during the uncertainty of the upcoming 20-21 school year, it is wonderful we now have this new option to consider. My husband and I couldn’t be more excited to have our two children join the inaugural Elevate class,” said Kometer.
When Elevate opens in September, safety protocols will be in place to help ease parents’ fears. Visitor access will be strictly limited and sick individuals won’t be allowed in the building.
“We are taking a proactive approach including, but not limited to, temperature checks, a screening (answering a few questions each day at the door prior to entering the classroom), and increased daily sanitation and UV sterilization,” said Swackhamer.
“To increase safety precautions there will be 70 square feet of school space per student, frequent hand washing, and sanitation of shared resources between uses,” Swackhamer added. “Students change into their indoor shoes to help with the transition from outdoors to indoors. It of course also helps to mitigate the spread of germs within a space. Anyone that comes into the classroom will have to wear indoor shoes or socks.”
Elevate plans to have a virtual classroom platform as well, so they can swap to remote learning if needed for the whole class or select students.