Jody Swanigan is the founder and Principal of East Cooper Montessori Charter School. She is a passionate proponent of the effectiveness of authentic Montessori practices in our public programs and serves proudly on the South Carolina Montessori Alliance Board of Directors. The success of ECMCS has brought several humbling personal accolades such as Charleston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 Award (2007) for professionals under the age of forty making a difference and the Public Charter School Alliance, Administrator of the Year in 2010. The success of ECMCS has served as a model for the effective implementation of Montessori methods and charter schools on both the state and national levels.
Jody holds a Bachelor’s Degree and South Carolina State Certification in Elementary Education, Montessori certification at both the primary and elementary levels, plus a Master's Degree and State Certification in Elementary School Administration. She taught Montessori elementary students for 10 years before accepting the position as Principal of East Cooper Montessori Charter School (ECMCS) in 2003.
The arrival of Jody’s first child and her title change to working mom in June of 2010 has served to reinforce Jody’s commitment educational innovation and authentic Montessori practices for both the community and her beautiful daughter.
Nikki Hollander joined ECMCS in 2005. After starting her Montessori teaching journey, she returned to her home in the DC area for 6 years. During this time she served as an Assistant Principal and Head of School for two of the oldest, independent Montessori schools in the metropolitan area. She is most proud of a project to build a 100K Natural Playground, as well as founding the Greater Washington Montessori Conference. She is a licensed Principal, Montessori teacher, holds her Masters Degree in Literacy from The Citadel, and attended George Washington University for Educational Leadership and School Administration. She is a certified Instructional Coach from the University of Florida Lastinger Center as well as a certified OGAP (Ongoing Assessment Project) Math Trainer. Her passions include supporting teachers, curriculum and instruction, and students with learning differences. She believes the success of every ECMCS student continues to pave the way for equal access to a Montessori Education for all.
Kira Shipley is thrilled to return to Charleston and join the staff at ECMCS. She was raised in Murrells Inlet and was privileged to be a student at Pawleys Island Montessori school from age 3 through 3 grade. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Psychology and earned a Master's degree in Counselor Education from the Citadel Graduate College. She worked as a school counselor in Charleston County for 6 years, at the elementary and middle school levels. Kira moved to Asheville with her husband in 2015, and has served as the Prevention Educator for the Mountain Child Advocacy Center for the past 3 years. She is certified in Primary Care Triple P (level 3 and level 3 teen) and is an Authorized Facilitator of Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children, a child sexual abuse prevention program. She and her husband enjoy spending time with their 9 month old daughter, Addie, traveling, cooking, and cheering on the Gamecocks!
Director of Finance
Billy Koll joined the ECMCS family in 2017 as the Director of Finance. Prior to joining the school, Billy was the Senior Finance Officer for James Island Charter High School for eight years. Billy graduated from Clemson University with a BS in Accounting and is a Certified School Business Official.
Billy lives in West Ashley and during his downtime, he loves to go fishing, skiing and enjoying the outdoors.
Lori Gleaton grew up in Atlanta, GA and worked in the computer software field as a graphic designer and product-marketing manager until her children were born. She and her husband, Slade moved to Charleston in 2002 because it is the ideal place to raise their three children. Once her children reached school age, Lori resumed her work outside of the home as an Administrative Assistant. As a supporter of progressive education, Lori ended up at Addlestone Hebrew Academy where she also worked as the Director of Admissions, the perfect segue to her role at ECMCS. Her other interests include nutrition, fitness, and arts and crafts of all kinds.
Carrie Walker grew up in Charleston, WV and graduated from Marshall University with a double major in Business and Spanish. She studied abroad in Spain to complete her Spanish degree and after graduation moved to Mt. Pleasant in 2006. Ms. Carrie brings with her experience as a Client Relationship Manager since 2006 and we are so excited to welcome her as our new Office Administrator! She lives with her husband, 2 children, who love being in ECMCS Primary, and their golden retriever Clark. During her downtime, Ms. Carrie enjoys all things nutrition, local events, family time and sunny beach days.