Frequently Asked Questions

What is University School of the Lowcountry?
Founded in 2007, University School of the Lowcountry (USL) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, independent intermediate/middle school/high school (grades 3-12) in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. It has been accredited by the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) since 2008, and It serves families and the communities within the greater-Charleston area of South Carolina.

Why was USL founded?
The founding members of USL recognized the strong demand for a high-quality independent school for high-achieving students that was located in the East Cooper area of the Lowcountry.  After a thorough feasibility study, they gathered together a team of expert advisors and like-minded parents to bring their vision to fruition. USL is an independent school because this model allows the freedom to nimbly pursue our mission and engage in important learning activities for our students like exploring houses of worship, learning about civics and politics first-hand, studying multiple languages concurrently, discovering the world through weekly field trips, and empowering our faculty to teach as professionals in an environment in which they are respected and supported by families, students, and the administration.

What is the mission of University School of the Lowcountry?
"University School is an independent, co-educational, non-sectarian school that offers a challenging and individualized curriculum. It fosters high academic achievement and emphasizes balanced growth - intellectually, physically, emotionally, ethically, and socially - for every student. Within a highly supportive community, University School is committed to maintaining a caring and creative environment that encourages children to love learning, take intellectual risks, self-advocate, treat others with respect and empathy, and aspire to make a positive difference in the greater community and world."

Where is University School located?
University School operates on the campus of Hibben United Methodist Church in Mount Pleasant (690 Coleman Blvd.). We are fortunate to have such a versatile, safe, and conveniently-located facility for our use, and we are grateful for the warmth and generosity of the Hibben UMC community. Click here for a map of the location. We anticipate this site serving as the home of USL for the forseeable future. USL will establish its own campus when the School can do so and remain centrally-located near downtown Charleston and not disrupt the prudent financial model or mission of the School.

What is an independent school?
An independent school is governed by a board of trustees and funded by tuition, endowment and contributions.  University School is a not-for-profit institution, with no government or religious affiliation, and is not a charter school. The decision to operate under an independent structure was made conscientiously and stems from four principles:

1) The public purpose of private education - USL fulfills a public purpose by meeting clear community needs: 1) For high-achieving students; 2) In terms of programs, teaching/learning styles (mentioned above in why USL was founded), and individualization for each student; 3) In maintaining a positive and nurturing culture that fosters achievement, service, and a sense of belonging. This endeavor involves students, teachers, parents, mentors, and members of the community; 4) for a strong community presence that positively affects its community, especially other schools and non-profit institutions. USL is friends with Sweetgrass Assisted Living Village, Crown Leadership Academy, East Cooper Montessori Charter School, Christ Our King-Stella Maris School, Moultrie Middle School, Trident Academy, Windwood Farm Home for Boys, Meeting Street Academy, Montessori of Mount Pleasant, Hibben UMC Preschool, and Charleston-area homeschool families and includes them in activities and cultural events. 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 12 nonprofits and public schools across the Tricounty area (for the 2016-2017 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 the 2016 slideshow of our day!

2) Accountability through accreditation - USL's goal is to be nationally-recognized as a leader in independent school education. This entails seeking the highest level of voluntary accreditation that an independent school can attain. USL has been accredited by the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) since 2008, and It serves families and the communities within the greater-Charleston area of South Carolina.

3) Institutional Independence - University School's mission informs all decisions that are made. No external influences shape our adherence to the mission, and this means putting the education of our students first. This commitment to our mission is reinforced by our prudent financial model, and the school expands as mission-appropriate students join (there is no financial pressure to diminish our culture or standards). In November 2016, we received the results of our annual audit (2015-2016 school year) from the accounting firm of Glaser and Company.  USL has its business-side in good order and carries no debt.  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 2015-2016, $0.90 of every dollar spent went back to supporting the mission of the School. For our peer schools, the average range is $.68-75.

4) Access and affordability - USL desires a diverse (economically, ethnically, etc.) community that reflects the rich and heterogeneous world in which we live. Shared experiences like schooling provide profound lessons of understanding and allow for the creation of powerful ties among disparate people, and University School actively fosters this. 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 2016-2017 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.

 

 

Middleton Place Expedition

survey of the culture and contributions of enslaved peoples on the plantation

 

 

 

 

What does "high academic achievement " mean at USL?
Small classes, engaged students and passionate "Renaissance Scholar" faculty combine to foster a love of discovery and a depth of understanding through a curriculum that is integrated and interactive. There is a strong degree of individualization for each student, and there are opportunities in each division to engage in work at the next level. For example, the average USL Middle School student earns 5 high school Carnegie units, and some have accrued as many as 11 (almost half of the credits required for a high school diploma)!

How does USL incorporate "balanced growth" into the curriculum?
Through a conscious school-wide effort to encourage growth in a positive and supportive culture, USL seeks to nurture each child to develop his/her talents and to incorporate a socially-conscious outlook. An extensive service learning program provides the opportunity for students to learn to serve the community, and these experiences will also allow each student to benefit from the powerful and personal connections to community members that will result. Students also mentor and receive mentoring. USL students also mentor each other and younger students from Hibben Preschool.

What does USL mean "to make a positive difference in the greater community and world?"
In addition to programs in world history and current events, world literature, religious literacy, and global languages, USL uses technology to establish global connections with schools across America and in other countries.  USL maintains a strong community presence that positively affects its community, especially other schools and non-profit institutions. USL is friends with Sweetgrass Assisted Living Village, Crown Leadership Academy, East Cooper Montessori Charter School, Christ Our King-Stella Maris School, Moultrie Middle School, Trident Academy, Windwood Farm Home for Boys, Meeting Street Academy, Montessori of Mount Pleasant, Hibben UMC Preschool, and Charleston-area homeschool families and includes them in activities and cultural events. 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 12 nonprofits and public schools across the Tricounty area (for the 2016-2017 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 the 2016 slideshow of our day!

 

 

University School makes connections to schools across the globe

 

 

 

 

What about the admissions process?
The admissions process is outlined on this site, and there are three major principles governing this aspect of USL. One, University School admits students of any race, color, religion, sex, and national or ethnic origin who demonstrate sufficient promise of academic success and parent-student agreement with and subscription to the school's philosophy and regulations. Two, University School seeks the curious, self-motivated learner who thrives in a flexible yet challenging academic environment and is kind and empathetic. Each potential student is evaluated on the above criteria through a comprehensive admissions process, and this information allows us to get a full view of the child. Three, in order to ensure the proper growth and development of the School's culture and the ability to provide a positive and engaging environment for its students, enrollment is limited in size.

Who is the 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. He is a member of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, where he serves on the Church Council and teaches 5th-6th grade Sunday School. 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.

How can I help?
The growth and development of University School of the Lowcountry is a community effort: interested businesses, foundations, families and individuals are encouraged to contribute through their time, their talents and their financial support.  Please contact us by phone (843-884-0902) or by email at info@uslowcountry.org for more information on how you can become involved.