Kate Shorter is one smart cookie, and through the Cooper School and Meeting Street Education Group, she is dedicating her work to making sure the next generation of batches are just as bright, and perhaps more importantly, balanced. A career spanning the past 20 years has built block upon block for Kate to “create what you want for the world at home.” And so goes the story of how Charleston became home to The Cooper School. Forget your kids, future kids or neighbors’ kids, we guarantee you will want to enroll yourself.
The Cooper School is a private, independent, non-sectarian school, founded in 2007 and nestled in the old Oaks of Avondale. More importantly, it is a haven that prides itself on developing your energetic, Cheerio-worshipping heir into the collaborative problem solver he or she has deep inside.
“We understand that we are laying the foundation for a lifetime of success and happiness.” Kate assures that children participate daily in “work that is purposeful, relevant and engaging.” When Mandarin is on the curriculum beginning in kindergarten, we don’t dare disagree.
The Cooper School’s teachers, hailing from Senegal to Chicago, are fans of the present and creating a sense of significance in each child’s daily endeavors. The foundation’s goals of conflict resolution and self-advocacy are seen at the Peace Rock, where children go to resolve issues and develop problem-solving skills to be utilized throughout life.
Kate describes the Morning Meeting, a ritual activity for students and the teaching team, as “creating a sense of belonging, importance and fun through a joyful start.” We’d venture to say that could be the new tagline for the school.
Much like her students, Kate realizes that learning has seasons and with progress comes an inevitable graduation. It is difficult to quantify benchmarks for altering and shaping the lives of 80 students, especially within a school that does not issue grades.
However, after fulfilling her dream of creating a school, graduating her own two children and growing class sizes annually, it became time for Kate’s next adventure. She is currently transitioning to the role of Executive Director for Meeting Street Academy Group.
The Academies, which have realized wild success in working with children from under-resourced neighborhoods to excel in academics, are expanding to a new partnership with the Charleston County School District.
In the quest to create a “sky’s the limit” prototype for this first-of-its-kind private/public partnership, Kate “aims to prove what’s possible for all children.”
Words by: Meredith H. Siemens
Photography by: Olivia Rae James