Coach will lead new team as charter school director
A familiar face is taking over as director of the Coastal Montessori Charter School.
The charter school’s board voted this week to hire Chris Bergeron, the school’s physical education teacher, to succeed Rosemary Gray, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
“I’m really excited about the things that have been going on here,” Bergeron said. “I just want to be a part of its future and I think I can bring some leadership qualities to the table that can help propel us forward.”
“We are excited to have Chris as the next CMCS director,” Tyler Easterling, board chairman, said. “He has a love for the school and its community. We are confident that he will foster the growth and well-being of the students and staff while furthering the mission of the school.”
The new school year begins July 1, but Bergeron expects to start getting up to speed in June once classes are over. The school district has moved to a modified year-round calendar, which means teachers return to work in late July and students in early August instead of mid-August.
“The biggest thing is making sure our teachers and our students get the full benefit of the summer and come back refreshed and ready to go,” Bergeron said. “Losing two weeks is going to be an adjustment period for everyone, myself included. I think we need to make the start of the school year exciting for everyone.”
Emphasizing the positives of the new schedule – like extra weeks off during the year and ending the first semester before Christmas – will be a priority, Bergeron added.
A New Hampshire native, Bergeron has worked for 27 years as a teacher and high school athletic administrator. Since moving to Pawleys Island 11 years ago, Bergeron has worked as the physical education teacher and assistant director at the charter school, and mathematics and physical education teacher at Waccamaw Middle School. He has also been a head coach and assistant coach for multiple sports at Waccamaw High.
Bergeron’s wife, Tia, has worked at the charter school since it opened.
Bergeron and the other two finalists for the job – Karen Vassell and Michelle Ammann – participated in an open house at the school before the board met on Monday. More than two dozen students, parents, teachers and community members listened to a Q&A with the candidates, and then had time afterward for some one-on-one conversations.
Before taking the job at the charter school, Bergeron had no experience in a Montessori environment.
“A lot of the Montessori principles I feel are physical education principles. We have kids working with different implements,” he said. “We have kids working with balls. We have kids working with sticks. We have kids trying to practice their physical skills. It’s very similar to what our Montessori teachers are doing in the classroom.”
Before Gray took over two years ago, the last two directors had no ties to Georgetown County. Gray has worked in county school’s for more than 30 years.
“I think being part of the community is very important. Integrating us more into the community is going to be beneficial for our school,” Bergeron said. “I am looking to keep us moving forward, bringing our staff together and giving our staff the resources they need to help make our school successful.”
Bergeron has not made a decision on whether he will resign his position as varsity boys lacrosse coach at Waccamaw High. He doesn’t want to shortchange either job.
“I have to think long and hard,” Bergeron said. “I need to do both jobs well if I was going to do both jobs. I need to come to a determination of whether I can do that. It’s not fair to either one to not be able to commit to full time to it.”