Montessori School
of Pawleys Island

Our Mission

To provide a safe Montessori environment that empowers and challenges children to achieve, and promotes independence, self-confidence, and the love of learning. Founded in 1984, Montessori School of Pawleys Island is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization owned by parents and governed by an administrator and elected volunteer board of directors.

We are a true
Montessori School

Montessori offers a unique approach to education where emphasis is placed on all five senses, not just listening, watching or reading. It is implemented using specially designed and constructed hands-on materials in a carefully prepared environment in which children are guided through a choice of activities from numerous possibilities. Utilizing a child’s natural tendency to learn by active participation, the Montessori method offers multiple levels of progress assuring that each child can learn at their own individual pace. All of our lead teachers are certified by the American Montessori Society. In addition, MSPI has met the requirements as an Internship Site School in Elementary Teaching for ages six through nine. Children are placed in three-year age groups allowing younger students to learn from older students, and older students to serve as mentors and reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered. Montessori School of Pawleys Island offers three education programs:

Children can enter our school at any of these program levels.

School Hours

Academic School Hours: 8:30 am – 2:30 pm

Optional services offered by Montessori School of Pawleys Island:

Early Work: 7:45 am – 8:15 am; no fees

Afternoon Care: 2:30 – 5:30 pm; children can attend regularly from 1 – 5 days per week; drop-ins if space allows;  available for all ages.


For All Families

We are open year round and only close a handful of days, mostly on national holidays, to accommodate working parents. However, every family is unique and requires different levels of care. That’s why we offer two foundational programs with plenty of options for adding extra care when you need it:

  1. Academic Year Program:  August – May; 8:30 am – 2:30 pm, with optional add-ons such as Afternoon Care and Summer Programs
  2. Year Round Program: one fee includes Academic Days, Afternoon Care, Vacation Care days (times during the year that schools are typically closed; i.e. spring break) and Summer Programs

Summer Camps

Montessori School of Pawleys Island offers eight weeks of summer camp, a wonderful opportunity to hang with old friends and make some new ones. Sometimes working individually, sometimes working as a team, we offer a summer of delightful exploration with active, exciting, and educational themes for each week. It is silly, it is serious. There are times of great noise and laughter, hands-on activities, and other times of quiet concentration in this wonderful world of discovery.

Summer Camps are Offered in Age Groups.

Infant (from 8 weeks to 18 months) – this is a year-round program, so no summer camps are offered for this age group

Toddler (18 months to 3 years)

Primary (3 years to 6 years)


Lesley Byrne-Steedly – Director
Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Lesley completed her teacher training for both primary and elementary levels at the AMI Montessori College, Dublin. In 1992 she moved to Greenville, NC to establish an elementary program at Greenville Montessori School.  It was the beginning of an inspiring and genuinely fulfilling career working with children and their families in both private and public school settings.

In 2011, Lesley moved to Blacksburg, VA, where she worked at Salem Montessori School as Educational Director.  Moving from the mountains to the sea, Lesley and her husband, Chip, relocated to Pawleys Island in 2013, where Lesley was delighted to find a nurturing Montessori community with a genuine love for working with children and a commitment to offering the best to each child every day.

Lesley enjoys yoga, beach walks with her dachshunds Harvey and Mabel and trips back home to her Irish family.

Melanie Neidig – Office Administrator
Melanie started with MSPI in 2015 as the school’s Office Administrator after being a stay-at-home mom for five years. Her two sons, Hunter and Alex, both currently attend St. James schools. She was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania and has lived in Murrells Inlet since 2008. She enjoys spending time on the beach with her boys.


Leigh Roper – Lead Teacher
Leigh designed and founded this program and serves as Coordinator and Lead Teacher of our Infant Program. She has an infant toddler Montessori certification from The Center for Montessori Teacher Education, N.C., and has a degree in health science and dental hygiene.

Born in Pennsylvania, Leigh grew up in Annapolis, Maryland,  and moved to the beach in 1994. She is married and has two children currently receiving Montessori educations. In 2010, her daughter, Ragan, was the youngest student to ever attended MSPI.

Brie Anderson- Teaching Assistant





Paget Graham – Teaching Assistant





Dolores Michalski – Teaching Assistant
Delores retired from the Pediatric Dental Department of Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland and moved to Pawleys Island in July 2011.  It is the best move she ever made.

She started working at MSPI part-time in the infant room in 2013 and enjoys the experience of watching the infants grow into the toddler stage and beyond.

Shauna Sterle – Teaching Assistant



Regi Yonkers – Lead Teacher Primary 1
A true local, Regi Yonkers grew up in Pawleys Island and comes from a family of educators (her sister and mother are also teachers).  She studied art at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA, after gradating from Waccamaw High School, then received her Montessori Infant and Toddler certification from the North American Montessori Center. She firmly believes that kindness is the most important virtue, it is felt in her classroom.  In her spare time Regi likes to travel, cook, garden, and read.


Kaye Beckroge – Lead Teacher Primary 2






Jane Hall – Teaching Assistant





Lee Williams – Teaching Assistant

A South Carolina native, born and raised in Columbia, Lee received a BS in psychology from the College of Charleston and moved to Atlanta to earn a MS degree in counseling and psychological services. She enjoyed a career in Atlanta as a Licensed Professional Counselor working with children, adolescents and families  and also enjoyed working in the pharmaceutical research industry in the Atlanta area.  After 24 years in Atlanta she moved to Pawleys Island to enjoy golf, the beach, reading and spending time with friends and family. Her two Bichons Frises, Norman and Lucy, bring extra happiness to her life.

Gabrielle Griggs – Teaching Assistant




Pamela Rhodes – Lead Teacher
Pamela has been with MSPI since 1996, when the school was knows as Pawleys Island Montessori Day School and was located in what is now Landolfi’s. She started as an elementary assistant and primary assistant. In 2001, she completed her Montessori certification at the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education and has been a Lead Teacher in Primary since2001. Pamela has lived in Pawleys Island since 1992, and enjoys traveling, gardening, walking, biking, reading, DIY projects, and spending time with my family.

Kristin Croker – Lead Teacher





Heide McCarty – Teaching Assistant, Music Teacher





Karen Moree – Teaching Assistant
Karen has been part of the MSPI family since 2010, as both a Toddler and Primary teaching assistant.  She was born and raised in Washington DC, and has lived in Pawleys Island since 1998.  Karen has two children and three dogs and loves being part of the MSPI community.



MSPI keeps tuition affordable through parent participation in the following volunteer committees. Please contact us if you would like to get involved.

  • Building & Grounds
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Fundraising
  • Long Range Planning
  • Marketing
  • Social

Employment Opportunities

The staff at the Montessori School of Pawleys Island are dedicated to providing a safe Montessori environment that empowers and challenges children to achieve. If you’re ready to make a difference, browse our current openings. Please send us your résumé and a cover letter and we will get back to you in a timely fashion. Thank you for you interest in our school.


  • Montessori Certified Primary Teacher
  • Toddler Aftercare Teacher
  • Substitute Positions

Please send cover letter and résumé to: pawleysdirector@pawleysislandmontessori.org

Montessori Supporters

  • Dead Dog Saloon
  • Interstate Batteries
  • Burgeon Legal
  • Cart-to-Class Lowes Food
  • Fusion Capital
  • Waccamaw Oral Surgery
  • The Claw House Restaurant
  • Myrtle Beach Building Supply
  • Seaside Dermatology
  • Candy Cottage
  • South State Bank