Independent Schools: In Their Own Words

Ben Lippen School

7401 Monticello Road, 29203

500 St. Andrews Road, 29210

(803) 807-4000

Ben Lippen School educates more than 750 Pre-K through 12th grade students from a Christian perspective, providing a superior educational experience that is unlike any other in the area. Beginning at the preschool level, students are challenged to become critical thinkers and problem solvers while thinking creatively, working collaboratively and learning to communicate effectively. Ben Lippen takes pride in having National Merit Semifinalists on a regular basis.

Our teaching philosophy emphasizes mentoring and personal relationships with faculty members serving as club sponsors, coaches and advisors in addition to being classroom instructors. Most importantly, our curriculum is taught from a distinctly Christian worldview. The faculty also fosters a community experience in which students and families are known by name.

Ben Lippen offers a diverse campus with international students from 10 countries comprising approximately 20 percent of the high school population. With so many nationalities represented, students have the opportunity to learn from other cultures and gain experience working with individuals from diverse backgrounds. 

Confidence, personal interests and talents are developed through a wide array of co-curricular opportunities in academics, arts, athletics, leadership and service. Both inside and outside the classroom, students are encouraged to develop spiritually, academically, socially and physically as they utilize their God-given talents while displaying Christian character.


Cardinal Newman School

2945 Alpine Road, 29223

(803) 782-2814

Cardinal Newman is committed to helping every student in its diverse population reach his/her potential in a safe, nurturing and structured environment. Whether a student requires a rigorous academic challenge or an academic assistance plan to ensure success, our guidance counselors, faculty members and administrators stand ready to assist. We partner with parents to develop the whole child –– mind, body and spirit. We are: “Redefining excellence in the classroom, on the field, in the community, for their futures.”

In the Classroom

•    Teacher/student ratio 1:11

•    Top quintile SAT score of 1340 over the last three years

•    Top quintile ACT score of 29.7 over the last three years

•    Classroom environments are engaging and interactive


On the Field (2015-2016)

•    120 SCISA region or state honors

•    60 percent athletic participation rate

•    New, state-of-the-art facilities for all sports


In the Community

•    More than 25,000 hours of service in the Midlands

•    101 students received Presidential Volunteer Service Awards

•    Raised more than $40,000 for worthwhile community organizations

•    Helped hundreds of families at Thanksgiving and Christmas through food and toy drives


For their Futures

•    Students earned on average $66,000 in College Merit Scholarships in 2016

•    Graduates attend prestigious universities, such as University of Notre Dame, Case Western University, Colgate University, Furman University, as well as the honors colleges at the University of South Carolina and Clemson University


Hammond School

854 Galway Lane, 29209

(803) 776-0295

For more than 50 years, Hammond has been recognized for the strength of its academic program and success in preparing students for life in college and beyond. Academics, though, is only half of the story. We boast a unique experience that follows students throughout their lives. The Hammond community is a nurturing family where faculty and coaches work alongside students in a small, caring environment. Lifelong friendships are forged, a love of learning is instilled and talents are nurtured. Students of all ages and grades have opportunities to participate in experiential learning, and the school’s focus on a global curriculum is a hallmark of the Hammond experience. 

In addition to unique and innovative programs for early learners through high school students, we boast equally impressive athletic and arts programs. The small environment affords students the opportunity to participate in athletics, and the school’s teams have earned a reputation for success on the playing fields and courts. Likewise, the varied palette of arts programs allow students the chance to explore interests and talents in an emotionally safe environment. 

Community service opportunities are expansive from the youngest grades to the oldest and are an integral component of life at Hammond. We are proud of the well-rounded students who graduate each year and find success in whatever their chosen endeavor. While Hammond is a Pre-K through grade 12 school, we consider ourselves “pre-kindergarten through life.”

•    The average SAT score is 1214, and the average ACT score is 27.6

•    14 percent of the class of 2016 were named Palmetto Fellows

•    2016 academic scholarship offerings topped $7 million, with 85 percent offered academic scholarships

•    The class of 2016 was extended offers of acceptance to 101 institutions in 28 states, the District of Columbia and the United Kingdom

•    93 percent of students in middle and upper grades participate on an athletic team

•    Hammond’s athletic program was awarded the SCISA President’s Cup for best athletic department for three consecutive years

•    The drama department won the SCISA State Championship for two consecutive years

•    The Select Ensemble choir regularly performs at home and abroad, most recently singing throughout Austria and Italy, and for Pope Francis at New Year’s Mass

Heathwood Hall Episcopal School

2000 S. Beltline Boulevard, 29201

(803) 765-2309

For more than 65 years, Heathwood Hall has been an educational leader in South Carolina, providing a distinctive learning environment, a challenging curriculum, and signature programs that create unique opportunities for higher-level learning. While Heathwood’s outcomes are second to none — our students compete nationally and achieve at the highest levels — each student’s Heathwood experience is profoundly unique, reflecting his or her specific talents, interests and learning style. Our focus on the whole child cultivates tenacious, sophisticated thinkers who value service to others over self-interest. Our graduates are engaged, empathetic leaders, prepared not only to take on a dynamic world but to transform it.

Heathwood’s teachers have an average of 17 years of teaching experience, and more than two-thirds of them hold advanced degrees. They are committed to building strong relationships with each student to facilitate confident and engaged learning. That’s why, since 2001, 11 members of the Heathwood faculty have been named SCISA Teachers of the Year.

Heathwood is also distinguished by its signature programs that offer exceptional opportunities for academic and personal growth:

Columbia Connections — School-wide program that connects students with leaders from the academic, cultural, scientific, nonprofit and business communities in Columbia for real-world application of what they’ve learned in the classroom

Winterim — A weeklong experiential learning program in which students broaden their educational experience through internships, short courses, community service or national/international travel

PEAK — Heathwood’s signature outdoor program, which provides students of all ages with hands-on opportunities in wilderness exploration, environmental education and leadership development

Hands-on Science — Our Tinker Lab, Life Sciences Lab and Honors Science Research program provide learners of every age the opportunity to experience and analyze the world around them

Senior Exhibition — A yearlong scholarly research project that is the culmination of our school-wide focus on strong writing skills. Students select a topic and demonstrate mastery of it through a lengthy research paper and a public presentation.

Heathwood’s resources, including a 122-acre campus with five distinct habitats, a thriving fine arts program and outstanding athletic facilities, also enrich students’ experiences, as does our Episcopal identity, which encourages spiritual growth for students of all faith backgrounds.


Heritage Christian Academy 

649 Barr Road, 29072

(803) 951-3901 

A Classical, College Preparatory Education that is both Challenging and Distinctively Christian 

On a serene 10-acre campus used exclusively by the school on Barr Road in Lexington, Heritage Christian Academy offers a comprehensive education to students from kindergarten through high school. Founded in 1996, Heritage provides a unique educational experience to its students, who study art history, classical music, French and Latin. Teachers integrate the Christian faith within all areas of learning. Limited class sizes of 14, a philosophy of nurturing and resources for success have resulted in a track record of high achievers for more than 20 years. 

Heritage Christian Academy is accredited by the South Carolina Independent School Association and is a member of the prestigious Educational Records Bureau (ERB) based in New York.


Montessori School of Columbia

411 South Maple Street, 29205

(803) 783-8838

The Montessori School of Columbia sits on a peaceful, wooded 2-acre campus in the heart of the city, just minutes from the University of South Carolina and Downtown Columbia. We serve 115 students from 3K through 6th grade. We are a warm community of families, staff and students where children are inspired to learn.

We offer an authentic Montessori education driven by each child’s innate love of learning. Children are provided with a rigorous, self-paced and individualized curriculum. The Montessori School of Columbia strikes a good balance between recognizing children’s freedom of choice and ensuring that they receive the instruction they need. 

Students work in multi-aged classrooms. We do not assume that every 4-year-old child is the same because they’re 4 or every 9-year-old is the same because they’re 9. People have strengths and weaknesses. Allowing children to work in mixed age groupings allows for a window of opportunity for children to work with others at similar levels, regardless of age. We value each child as an individual and ensure that every child is challenged according to his or her ability in every subject area.

The Montessori method is designed to work with the child’s nature by allowing children to move, speak and be comfortable so they can maximize learning with little distraction. Concepts are taught using hands-on manipulatives, then those concepts are gradually moved to abstraction. With the Montessori materials, children truly understand what they are learning and are active participants in their learning process.

At the primary (3K-5K) level, children learn without realizing they are learning. By the time a child leaves the primary program, he or she has a quiet sense of competence. The child has been introduced to story-telling, mathematics, geometry and the arts, and the groundwork has been built for what comes next.

At the elementary level, in addition to language and mathematics, children study geometry, geography, history, life science, physical science, art, music, Spanish and Latin. We focus on teaching students how to research, and we have a robust writing program.

At all levels, children learn to respect themselves, others and their environment. We make every effort to prepare the whole child intellectually, socially, emotionally, linguistically and physically. Children develop a sense of personal responsibility. A child who completes our program over nine years is centered, competent, confident and ready to take on any challenge.


Northside Christian Academy

4347 Sunset Blvd., 29072

(803) 520-5656

“…so the generations to come might know Him.” Psalm 78:6

Christ. Connection. Cultivation. By God’s divine providence, Northside Christian Academy opened its doors in 2011. It exists so children from infants to 12th graders might know the love of Jesus in a life-changing way. We are unified in our commitment to partnering with families to promote a Biblical worldview.

Unashamedly, we teach Scripture is the infallible Word of God and that only Jesus saves. Instructors lovingly lead and equip students to believe, defend and proclaim the Truth so students may thoughtfully respond to God and succeed in this world.

We are a community connected by a desire to glorify God through fellowship, discipleship and stewardship. Students have ample opportunities to develop abilities, talents and character by working together on service projects, participating in fine arts, joining athletic teams and collaborating academically. The culture of NCA builds relationships, foundations and life-long skills which we believe are critical to achieving the balance desired by our Creator. 

Cultivating growth in every area of the student is our focus. NCA achieves academic excellence while holding ideas from all subject areas up to the light of scripture. Chapels, Bible courses and spiritual retreats help students think Biblically about our world. The curriculum recognizes individual giftedness and equips students to fulfill their unique callings for life. 

We are privileged to make an eternal investment in the lives of our students as we help prepare them to make an eternal impact on the world.


Sandhills School

1500 Hallbrook Drive, 29209

(803) 695-1400 

Sandhills School gives bright students the tools they need to succeed and become leaders among their peers and in the community. At Sandhills, highly specialized teachers focus on the strengths of each student and help them navigate traditional obstacles of learning. Sandhills provides a supportive, college preparatory environment where first through 12th grade students rediscover the joy of learning and renew their intellectual curiosity. Through authentic success in small, hands-on classes, leadership opportunities on the sports field and the stage, traveling internationally and serving the community, our students gain confidence in their abilities, while fears and anxieties begin to fade. Sandhills parents notice a positive difference in their child almost immediately. 

For more than 40 years, Sandhills School has changed the lives of young people diagnosed with language-based learning differences such as dyslexia or ADHD. As the only Orton-Gillingham accredited college-preparatory school in the Midlands, Sandhills has teachers who are highly trained to provide research-based, individualized instruction tailored to each student’s academic needs. This approach produces tremendous progress in everything from reading, writing and math to study skills, organization and college entrance test preparation. Our graduates go on to the colleges of their choice, are recognized by state and national scholarships and are equipped with the tools they need to succeed in college and beyond. 


Timmerman School

2219 Atascadero Drive, 29206

(803) 782-2748

Timmerman School is the largest independent 2-year-old through eighth grade school in the state. It was founded in 1954 by Mrs. June H. Timmerman. Mrs. Timmerman began her teaching career in Alabama’s public school system where she designed the 5-year-old kindergarten phonics program for her school district. After transferring to Columbia with her husband, John, she saw a need for pre-school education; therefore, she decided to start a school just to prepare five-year-old children for the rigors of first grade. The school quickly grew, adding grades and outgrowing three campuses. Mrs. Timmerman hosted a daily live children’s educational television show through ETV for many years. She was awarded The Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor for its citizens, for her contributions in educating students throughout the state of South Carolina. 

Today the school enjoys a beautiful campus in Forest Acres serving 2-year-old children through eighth grade students. A highly-qualified staff guides and instructs students through an advanced academic curriculum with an extremely small teacher/student ratio. If needed, Timmerman’s LOGIC Program, consisting of small groups and individualized instruction, enhances academic proficiency. Administrators at Timmerman have been recognized with both the Dr. Charles Aimar Educational Leadership Award and the SCISA LEAD award, both statewide recognitions. 

The performing arts are an integral part of the total Timmerman experience. A comprehensive athletic program, including the new football and sporting clays competitive teams, is building character and teamwork. The girls’ volleyball team boasts consecutive tournament championships. Timmerman students achieve success in any high school environment. The mission of Timmerman School is to foster the three R’s; Respect, Resourcefulness and Responsibility.