Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know about Sea Island School.

What is Sea Island School?

Sea Island School is essentially a one-room school house of independent learners. The school is opening in the fall of 2023 in Mount Pleasant at a church on Rifle Range Road (exact location to be released as soon as the lease is finalized). It is Christian and Classical and its chief distinctive is that it focuses on building independent learners who can learn, think and create on their own.

Who is starting this school?

Sea Island School (SIS) is the creation of Stephen Wilkins, an educator. He is both a teacher and a former principal of Cornerstone Academy in San Francisco, one of the largest Christian schools in America, with over 1500 students. Mr. Wilkins has mostly lived in Mount Pleasant with his family since 1999.  While double majoring in Business Administration and Computer Science, Mr. Wilkins discovered a gift and a love for teaching, eventually going back to school to pick up a credential and later a Master’s in Education.

Why a one-room schoolhouse?

In the one-room school house, also referred to as a multi-age classroom, students do not follow a one-size-fits-all curriculum at a prescribed pace regardless of ability.  Students learn independently of each other, and to an extent of their teacher. On the other hand, students are very much dependent on each other in the sense that advanced students help the other students, which reinforces the learning of the advanced students. The multi-age classroom is a much more natural environment, free from many of the social difficulties of an age-graded classroom.

Is this an untested experiment?

No! The modern system of education, the paradigm we all know, is the experiment and it is an experiment that has failed. Independent learning in one-room school houses, as well as other less common forms of school, dominated education during the time when America went from being a meager population scratching out a civilization in the wilderness, to producing half the world's goods by 1900.  Author Richard Yates notes, "They say that we are better educated than our parents' generation. What they mean is that we go to school longer. They are not the same thing." If we look back just one or two generations, modern education doesn't seem to have declined too badly. But if we look back to the mid-1800s, when the government starting taking over education, we see a dramatic loss in educational attainment. In the words of Joseph Sobran, "In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching remedial English in college."  And to borrow from C.S. Lewis, "When we have lost our way, the quickest way forward is usually to go home." Going back home to what worked is the intention of Sea Island School.

Is Sea Island School a Christian school?

Absolutely! Besides teaching Christian doctrine, we believe every subject points to God. We show God at work in history, in science, even in math. We evaluate the actions of characters in our literature according to the scripture.  Of course, our favorite subject is the students, and we desire to build into them Christian character: love, patience, joy, peace, discipline, kindness and courage.

What ages are served?

In our first year, 2023, we are serving students approximately 6-12 years old.  Students have to be reading and writing independently, and able to count to 100 and add and subtract single-digit numbers.  If we have sufficient demand and we have a great teacher, we would add a pre-grammar class for children not yet reading and writing (approximately kindergarten and first-grade).

How much is tuition?

Tuition is $9,500 per year.  Charter members, the families of the first ten students enrolled, receive a 20% discount. Families with more than one student enrolled will receive a 10% discount on the second student enrolled, 20% on the third, and 30% for the fourth child and any more following.

Are any scholarships offered?

We do not have any scholarships of any kind at this time, but we plan to create a separate 501(c)(3) entity where persons, churches and others can contribute to a fund for scholarships.  In our experience, the awarding of scholarships should not be in the hands of Sea Island School.

What is a normal school day like?

The school day is from 8:00 to 3:00, 180 days per year.  We will largely follow the Charleston County School District's calendar concerning holidays. Their calendar is due at the end of March, and ours will follow shortly.

What are traditional teaching methods?

In particular we rely on memorization at the grammar level.  Memorization is mocked in the modern education establishment, but it is essential to getting a good education.  Students need to memorize math tables, grammar rules, syntactically complicated poetry, a catechism, important Bible passages, and great speeches.  Children’s minds are especially adept at memorization in these younger years and brain research shows that functions of the brain that are not used are lost.  Having this information at your fingertips is a great advantage in life.  “We cannot desire what we do not know” - Latin Proverb

Why poetry?

For one, poetry is an encapsulation of our culture’s experience, beliefs and values.  Secondly, the memorization of syntactically complicated poems and passages at a very young age is essential to developing the mind’s linguistic skills. Andrew Pudewa says, “A child with a rich repertoire of memorized poetry will inevitably demonstrate superior linguistic skills, both written and spoken, because of those patterns which are so deeply ingrained in the brain.”  Parents would do well to help their children memorize poetry long before their kids can read.  For more on the subject, read “In Defense of Memorization” by Michael Knox Beran, and “One Myth, Two Truths” by Pudewa.

Why an emphasis on writing?

Francis Bacon’s quote, “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man,” sums up much of our thoughts concerning education.  In reading, we gather facts and the ideas of other men.  In discussion, we get immediate feedback on our own ideas that we have generated, but in writing our ideas down, we become exact in our thinking.  Writing is probably the most loathed assignment a teacher can give because it requires thinking and it demands the exercise of our mental capacities.  Now a seven-year-old will probably not be prepared to write a twenty-page thesis, yet. But we can begin working in that direction with the basics of sentence construction, paragraphs, word choice and so on. 

What about projects?

Many of the most important things learned are not learned at a desk.  Students at Sea Island School will be working on hands-on projects: learning how to create, how to build, and how to take initiative.  By projects, we don’t mean so much something the whole class does in unison in one afternoon, like weaving lanyards, but something more akin to a hobby the individual student wants to pursue.  What those projects are depends on the student’s interests as well as the guidance of the parents and teacher.  Some examples would be building models, quilting and gardening.  As in academics, we are looking for mastery.

Still have questions?

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