University School at a Glance
The below points highlight some of the key attributes of University School. To gain a sense of the daily workings of the school, please review reflections and pictures from 2007-2008 , 2008-2009 , 2009-2010 , 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2015-2016 LOTC (field learning) experiences and guest speakers
* After exploring University school during the final weeks of the 2012-2013 school year, reporter Stratton Lawrence penned this story about what he discovered ("Learning Should Be Fun: A Revolutionary School Experience in Mount Pleasant").
* Grades 3-12. Co-educational, non-sectarian, non-profit independent school with tax-exempt status, 501(c)(3).
* 8:1 student to teacher ratio.
* Geared to students who are curious, hard-working, passionate, empathetic, nice, high-achieving, and above-average.
* Results - In University School's 10th anniversary year (2016-2017), our first high school class will graduate in May. It is only fitting, therefore, that the first member of USL's high school, senior Allison Horan, would be our first recipient of a National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Student award for the 2017 competition. Commended Students placed in the top 5% of the more than 1.6 million students who entered the competition by taking the 2015 PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). Congratulations, Allison! Kudos also to classmate Anne Adragna for her outstanding performance, placing in the top 6%!
* Results - 7th grade state-level recognition, scoring better than 50% of juniors & seniors, on the SAT through the Duke Talent Identification (TIP) program every year (over 40% of our participants since our founding). During the 2014-2015 academic year, seven of our 7th grade students qualified for State Recognition. This number is the same or more than any school, public or private, in South Carolina. This is the 2nd time in our school's eight year's of operation that we have had seven students receive State Recognition in one class. They earned the award by scoring at or above the national average (better than 50% of the nation’s high school juniors and seniors) on at least one part of the SAT.
* Results - Since the 2007-2008 school year, USL students have taken the Stanford Achievement Test and performed exceptionally well. These results were linked to each student's performance on the OLSAT ability test. This allowed for achievement test comparisons of USL students with other students of equivalent ability. Most USL students score 3-4 levels higher than their grade and outperform their ability peer group.
* Results - In early-February, 2016, the results for the Scholastic Art & Writing competition for the Southeast Region were revealed. This competition is for 7-12th graders, and this year our 7th-11th graders entered 120 works of fiction, nonfiction, personal memoir, and poetry and received an amazing 94 awards! 84% of our students were honored. 17 Gold Keys were won, and these pieces will move on to the national level. Typically the number of submissions in the region numbers in the tens of thousands and for the country is 250,000+. It is our practice and belief to have all of our eligible students take part in this competition. Our talented and driven group of learners have been inspired and guided to become better and more confident writers by their devoted teachers -- success that has been recognized by the Scholastic Writing Awards!
On January 12, 2016, we won Second Place Team at the South Carolina Independent School Association High School Math Meet! As our current highest grade is 11th, this is an amazing accomplishment -- including a top 3 individual high scorer! This is our second year of participating in this competition, and we’ve now placed Second and Fourth.
On January 19, 2016, we won First Place Team at the South Carolina Independent School Association Middle School Math Meet, and this included having two of the top three high scorers for the whole competition! Congratulations to all of the participating students and our Middle School Math teachers: Mrs. Brockman, Mrs. Lawrie, and Ms. Elmore. The following were our participating students: Thomas Boyle (Third overall individual), Ron Kalus, Sabrina Lawrence, Allison Li (First overall individual), Isabel Prioleau, Julian Hill, Daniel Kalus, Mary Lee, Cayleigh Nicholson, Alex Pawlik, Jack Woodward. This is our third year of participating in this competition, and we’ve now placed First, Second, and First. Coupled with our Second Place finish in last week's High School Meet, we are on quite a roll in Mathematics! This is quite a testament to our Math program at University School, and kudos go to our Math teachers in all three divisions: Mrs. Brockman, Ms. Donoghue, Ms. Elmore, and Mrs. Lawrie. Our students also benefit from our individualized approach to the subject. In the Middle School, for example, students take classes at the level where they need to be. This includes 8th graders taking Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra II. No other school in the state does this.
In 2014-2015 , our Middle School Quiz Bowl team won its region and won 2nd place in the State Quiz Bowl. In 2015-2016. the Upper School Quiz Bowl team won their region! We competed against Charleston Collegiate, First Baptist, and Northwood Academy, and our students won all three of their matches. This was an amazing outcome considering it was our first time ever participating in a high school quiz bowl competition!
* Learning by Doing - USL features "Learning Outside of the Classroom." Regular interaction with and service to the community are hallmarks of our program. The Lowcountry is our classroom, and students spend one day per week "learning by doing" through experiences that challenge and inspire them. This entails over 30 field trips per year. Explore the "Current Students" page to learn more about this year's experiences and find links to prior years.
* Learning by Doing - Service to the Community - University School has participated in the Trident United Way's Day of Caring since 2009, and most recently contributed over 500 hours of service at 13 nonprofits and public schools across the Tricounty area (for the 2015-2016 school year). USL students also host community groups, schools, homeschoolers, and the general public for shows and speakers 6-7 times per year. Click here for a slideshow of our projects for the 2015 Day of Caring!
* Learning by Doing - Faith Exploration - In order to prepare to be better informed citizens of the community and the world, University School students learn first hand about faiths by going to houses of worship to explore and talk to adherents of that religion. Since 2010, University School students have visited the following houses of worship: Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, Emanuel AME Church, Christ Our King-Stella Maris School, Synagogue Emanu-El, US Army Chaplain Center and School & Museum (Fort Jackson, Columbia), Louis Gregory Baha'i Museum, Hindu Temple and Cultural Center, Washington National Cathedral, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue, Central Mosque of Charleston,The Saint Louis Cathedral (New Orleans), Ebenezer AME, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, All Saints Lutheran Church, The Unitarian Church in Charleston, Charleston Tibetan Society (Buddhist), Brith Sholom Beth Israel Synagogue, St. Michael's Anglican Church, and Mepkin Abbey.
* Learning by Doing - Citizenship and Government - In order to prepare to be better informed citizens of the community and the world, University School students conduct exit polls across the Lowcountry and then make informed predictions based on their results. We are a school, serving grades 3-12, that explores elections and the democratic process, and this means hearing from different candidates, learning about different parties, and exploring issues of governance and civics. Exit polling is an annual endeavor at University School of the Lowcountry. This enables students to see firsthand the ebb and flow of turnout rates for the different types of elections because of the pattern of Congressional (and occasionally statewide and more) races in even-numbered years and municipal elections in odd-numbered years. The students have learned about the candidates, marketing, and the issues facing the community. We also hosted Brian Hicks for a presentation, whose biography of Charleston Mayor Joe Riley was released in November 2015. Ten students also attended the Mount Pleasant Business Association's October meeting which was a forum for the twelve candidates running for Town Council. Our students have also explored the value of exit polling in terms of statistics, sample size, location of precincts, turnout differences for different types of elections, and the diversity of voters they will encounter. These are great lessons for preparing our students to be active and informed participants in their country.Click here to learn more about our efforts for Election Day 2015 and in prior years .
* Learning by Doing - Arts - Arts classes are designed for immersion in the multiple media and forms of expression, and they allow for each student to develop and gain confidence in his/her artistic ability. Classes are year-round on Friday afternoons. Students also learn and create art projects related to their studies in their classes, especially Global Languages and Humanities. USL also engages in collaborative opportunities in the arts with community partners like Redux Contemporary Art Studio, ArtBuzz Kids, The Artists' Loft, and other arts organizations. University School also regularly (4-5x per year) hosts cultural performance groups and shares these events with the greater community. For 2015-2016 we are hosting classical pianists Vladimir Pleshakov and Elena Winther for a concert, YALLFest author Brendan Reichs for a joint presentation with Meeting Street Academy, the Fabulous Chinese Acrobats for a show, and the Russian dance troupe Baryna for a performance. Several of our Learning Outside the Classroom experiences (field trips) are also arts-focused. For 2015-2016, this includes trips to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater in Pennsylvania and Auldbrass Plantation in Yemassee, South Carolina. Students will also attend a production of Hamlet at the Gaillard Center, "A Seat for Justice" about civil rights efforts in South Carolina in the 1950s at the Dock Street Theatre, and a retrospective of African American music ("Songs from the Soul") at the Gaillard Center.
* Learning by Doing - College and University Preparation - Our rich and individualized academic program and our hallmark Learning Outside the Classroom program help foster critical thinking, develop one's ability to flourish in a wide array of situations, and stoke creativity and seeing connections among disparate topics as one explores the world first-hand. Although students begin taking part in programs and explorations at the College of Charleston in 3rd Grade, we regularly expose our students to a wide range of colleges and universities, professors, disciplines, so they can make informed decisions based upon real world examination. For example, USL students have explored an array of activities at the following colleges and universities through field trips, courses, weeklong divisional trips, etc.: College of Charleston, The Citadel, Charleston Southern University, Trident Technical College, University of South Carolina Honors College, Georgia Tech, Tulane University, Emory University, Rice University, George Washington University, University of South Florida, Western Carolina University, The University of Texas-Austin, Savannah College of Art and Design, and The University of Virginia. Our Upper School students are guided by two counselors, each with a unique perspective. Roger Smith, our Director of College Counselor, has a long history as an independent school college counselor, and he meets with Upper School students regularly beginning in the 9th grade. Don Burkard, recently retired from the College of Charleston after a 30-year career as Dean of Students and Vice President of Enrollment Management. He helps guide our 11th/12th graders, and his insider perspective is key in helping our students to determine the best fits for the next step on their journey through life.
* Learning by Doing - Topics related to the Military - Although the topic is the military, it really could be about any subject area that we explore at University School through our field trips. On our Middle School trip to Georgia in January 2015, we visited Fort Gordon near Augusta. It primarily houses Signal units -- dedicated to communication, military intelligence, and information management for the military. As is the case with all of the topics we explore, our Learning Outside the Classroom program allows our students to see and experience for themselves activities related to our military. Instead of just reading books or sending cards and packages to soldiers, we believe visiting 1-2 military installations / museums / National Park sites a year allows our service members to know that our school and students are interested in them and want to know more about what they do. Then our students can make up their own minds, with first-hand evidence, about subjects related to the experiences they have had -- science, military, historical, religious, political, etc. -- through our LOTC program. At Fort Gordon, students toured the base and the Signal Museum, learning the roots of the Signal Corps in the Civil War. What began with flag semaphore (communicating with flags) has now evolved to include cyber warfare (protecting America and fighting America's enemies electronically). We also met with the Installation Support Detachment's honor/color guard, and they taught each student how to fold the flag and how the colors are presented. It was a meaningful and rich experience! Since 2007, University School students have had the following experiences: US Army Fort Jackson graduation, Graduation at Marine Corp's Depot Parris Island (x2), D-Day Museum in New Orleans, SPAWAR and Joint Base Charleston, Fort James Jackson (Savannah), Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Castillo de San Marcos (St. Augustine), McEntire Joint S.C. National Guard Base (Eastover), Mighty Eighth Museum (Savannah), Patriots Point (x3), Fort Moultrie, S.C. Military Museum (Columbia), Fort Sumter (x3), Charleston Air Force Base (x3), Commemorative activities for the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Army's Pre-positioned Stocks Afloat (keeping equipment on ships across the world in case it is needed), Arlington National Cemetery, Tour of the USS Truxtun (DDG-103), The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and all the major war memorials in D.C., National Park Service field expedition to Morris Island for a study of the Civil War battles raging around Fort Wagner, George Patton Waters - grandson of George Patton – presentation, Maj. Gen. James Livingston, USMC, Medal of Honor recipient – presentation, Alan Moskin - US WWII vet and concentration camp liberator – presentation, Colonel Mac Radcliffe, USMC, (retired) – presentation, Col. Scott Kindsvater, USAF, Commandant, U.S. Air Force Weapons School, Nellis AFB – presentation, Lt. Col. Drew Schnyder, USAF, Flight Surgeon – presentation.
* USL is a laptop school. Each teacher and student is provided a wireless notebook computer for use at University School (1 to 1 ratio).
* USL students come from across the tri-county area: Charleston, Daniel Island, Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Sullivan's Island, and West Ashley.
* All students receive high-level instruction in Spanish, Mandarin and Latin. USL is the only school in the state that has students receiving high-level instruction in three languages at the same time.
* Our prudent financial model has enabled us to minimize tuition increases and provide an incredible value in relation to our peer national-caliber independent schools. University School carries no debt and has never run a deficit in its history. Although financial measurements will never be a true indicator of the School’s success, some are very important for the long-term health and viability of the school. One of these is how much of every dollar the School spends that goes to supporting its mission. In the case of University School for 2013-2014 (according to our annual independent accounting audit), $0.82 of every dollar spent went back to supporting the mission of the School. For our peer schools, the average is $.70. Approximately 25% of the student population receives financial assistance. For more information, please see the Admissions page.
* Many aspects of a student's course of study are individualized based on a student's interests and abilities. This includes our program for job shadowing to explore careers of interest to each student. Click here for an overview of the Job Shadow program.
Bulls Island Expedition
specimen collection and identification on one of the largest undeveloped stretches of beach on the Atlantic coast
* A key aspect of USL is the involvement of teenage and young adult mentors in the lives of our students. We have a mentor from every major high school option for our students, and the mentors are regularly involved in our students' lives at school and at evening and weekend school-sponsored activities. USL students also mentor younger students from Hibben Preschool.
* Inquiry-based, hands-on curriculum that features multiple teaching styles and multiple forms of assessment.
* University School has been awarded Darkness to Light's Partner in Prevention distinction every year since 2011. We are part of the inaugural class for this, and it honors our commitment to the prevention of child sexual abuse and to helping children grow up healthy and whole. USL faculty is trained in Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children program every August, and all parent volunteers for overnight trips take the same program and have their backgrounds checked.
* Memberships: Palmetto Association of Independent Schools (PAIS), National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA), Association for Experiential Education (AEE), Independent School Management Consortium (ISM), S.C. Association of NonProfit Organizations (SCANPO), Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC), and National Business Officers Association (NBOA).
* Accreditation: University School is accredited by the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) (initial accreditation in 2008 and reaccredited in 2011 and 2014). USL also intends to earn Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) accreditation.
* Standardized Testing for College Admissions Preparation and Accountability - PSAT administration in 8th-11th grades, Stanford Achievement Test (national and independent school norms) and Otis-Lennon School Ability Test administration in grades 3-8, SAT and/or ACT administration in Upper School, and participation in Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP) for 7th Graders (take the SAT). USL provides standardized test preparation for the SAT and ACT.
* Significant opportunities for earning high school credit in Middle School - Although many middle schools provide an option to earn credit in Algebra and/or a Global Language, University School provides opportunities to advance and to earn high school credit in Algebra, Algebra II, and Geometry (enhancing one’s options to take AP/IB/college-level math and science courses before graduating from high school). Students in USL's Middle School for all three years will graduate having completed Spanish I, Spanish II, Latin I, and Latin II for high school credit. Similar opportunities are available in other Global Languages and other areas of interest. Students move into the Upper School with between 2 and 10+ high school Carnegie Units.
* Tuition Assistance at University School - USL is committed to providing access to families who would not have the opportunity to attend at full tuition. We want to make our program accessible to qualified students in the Lowcountry. By having tuition assistance, many families realize that a University School education is within their financial reach. For the 2015-2016 school year, approximately 25% of the student body receives tuition assistance ranging up to 90%. For more information on this program, please see the Admissions page.
Founder & Head of School
Jason Kreutner, raised in Mount Pleasant and a current resident, is founder and Head of University School of the Lowcountry. He has extensive experience as an educator and leader in independent schools and is a recipient of a National Association of Independent Schools NAIS Fellowship for Aspiring School Heads -- (2006-2007 cohort). Prior to establishing USL, he was Dean of Students and then Director of Studies at Charleston Collegiate School, served as Upper School Dean and History Department Chair at Porter-Gaud School, and was Dean of Students and Humanities Instructor at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, SC. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the South Carolina Honors College (Baccalaureus Artium et Scientiae) and received his master’s degree from Emory University in History. Kreutner was recognized by the South Carolina Independent School Association as the Headmaster "Rookie of the Year" for the 2007-2008 school year. In 2013, he received SCISA's Dr. Charles S. Aimar Educational Leadership Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding leader among the association’s 100+ schools. His leadership of USL was spotlighted in USC's alumni magazine, Carolinian ("Chalkboard Champs"). He consults and has provided guidance to several existing and new independent and public schools. Mr. Kreutner is married to Ashleigh (Tasha) Eady, a member of the corporate management team for Gilligan's restaurants. They have one daughter, Kessler, and a son, John Ross. In addition to his work in education, he is Head Coach of Snee Farm Swim Team. In 2008, Mount Pleasant Mayor Harry Hallman awarded him the key to the city for his work with Snee Farm Swim Team since 1990.