Malcolm C. Hursey Elementary School continues to make academic gains, as students and staff embrace Montessori education


‘Never Stop and Never Settle.” that’s the motto at Malcolm C. Hursey Elementary in North Charleston.  The school continues to make academic gains, as students and staff strengthen their commitment to learning, discipline, and character building.   We’re in Charleston county with our Cool School of the week.

Malcolm C. Hursey Elementary has a lot to be proud of.  The Title-One school  is now a partial magnet school with a Montessori  program.  School principal Dr. Tim Schavel says, “We are a dual track school. We have a magnet program for Montessori which runs from three years old through eighth grade.  We also have third and fourth traditional classrooms, and we also have special needs classrooms here at Hursey.”  Fifth-grade student Ny’Asia Singleton says, “Montessori, I like it because you can do things independently, and it’s really peaceful.”

In the Montessori classroom, students work with specially designed materials to master a particular lesson.    Dr. Tim Schavel says, “Each classroom is set up in a three year range.  We have primary 3,4, 5 year-olds, lower in our first, second, and third graders, upper 4th,5th, 6th graders, adolescents are our 7th and 8th graders.  They’re the leaders of our school.”  The school has transformed into a thriving environment.  “Students are doing great,” says Dr. Schavel. “We were an “At Risk” failing school six years ago.  We’ve moved up the rankings to an average rating from an “At Risk” rating.  Our rating was from an F to a B, so we’re seeing lots of growth and we’re excited about that.”
He says students have reached and even surpassed their academic goals.   Sixth-grade student Kira Hamrick says, “You get to chose what lesson you want to start with. There is peaceful music. I like sitting on a mat.”

Susan Ash is president of the school’s PTA.  She says, “It’s the best way to incorporate their learning and let them to learn at the pace they need to. They get to go around the classroom and chose work,  whether it’s a practical life work, soil work, math and geography, and they build on that with the teacher’s help, and they get to work independently.”

The garden class at  Hursey includes all children.  They  grow their own vegetables.  Student have a farmer’s market and sell to community members.  They also have garden dinners in the spring where they partner with  the food bank.  Sixth-grade student Albert Smalls says, “We grow different types of fruits and vegetables.”  “I like this school because it’s fun, and you can do a lot of creative things,” says Ny’Asia.  “I really like the garden because we can grow our own fruits and vegetables.”

Lisa Racioppo is a music teacher and Teacher of the Year at Hursey.  She says, “The kids that it works well with it’s really good. They get the independent work, they get self motivation, they get to work with their peers on a regular basis so i think it’s great.”   Five-year-old Molly Janes is in the school’s Montessori primary program. “I like it because the lessons are cool,” Molly says.

The conversion to Montessori has  been an eight year process for Hursey.  The school will have a full Montessori program in the next two years.

Coming up Friday on News 2, we’ll present Hursey Elementary with our Cool School award.

We want to hear about the good things that are going on at your school.   Just send an email to Octavia at omitchell@


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