Creating Ideal Educational Environments
Michael Antonelli is the new principal of Carolina Park Elementary School, opening this month, August 2017.
His motto? Create an educational environment where teachers want to teach, parents want to send their kids and kids want to spend their days.
As the former principal of Laurel Hill Primary School for the past eleven-and-half years, he did just that.
Antonelli was responsible for setting the vision of the Charleston County School District’s first primary school at Laurel Hill. During his time as principal there, the school established instructional best practices, had model classrooms, maintained high academic achievement and received several awards, including receiving the top rating for all primary schools in South Carolina in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
“I am honored that I am able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of my neighbors’ children,” Antonelli says. “As a stakeholder in my community, I am humbled that the district has so much faith in me.”
Carolina Park Elementary will start with 650 students from preschool to 5th grade. Antonelli expects it to grow quickly, stating that the school will cap at 900 and could reach 1200 with a wing that could be added in the future.
Antonelli is particularly excited about the location of Carolina Park Elementary. “It is located right across the street from Wando High School, so we’re looking forward to many partnerships with them,” he says.
Some of the plans are to have Carolina Park Elementary students visit the horticulture classes at Wando and to observe the teacher-cadet program. Antonelli is also excited about having some of the athletes visit with the elementary school students. “There are also many opportunities to partner with the public library down the street and the nearby fire station,” he adds.
Antonelli admits he didn’t intend to pursue a career in the educational field. Moving from New York in the early 90s to attend Clemson University, he obtained a degree in architecture.
“My first job out of college was for an architectural firm in Charleston designing schools and other public buildings,” he says. “I was always the one they sent to speak to the children on career days or when kids would come to the office. I enjoyed those days the most during my career in architecture.”
Antonelli entered the Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE) program in 1999. He was qualified to teach visual art through the program based on his experience in architecture. His first teaching position was with the Berkeley County school district before joining the faculty at Pinckney Elementary as an art teacher. While teaching there, he earned a master’s degree in Elementary Administration from The Citadel, and then accepted the position of assistant principal. In 2005, he assumed the role of principal at Laurel Hill Primary School.
Antonelli explains his favorite part of being a principal is seeing students after they’ve left school. “I love seeing my students 10 years later and hearing about what they are doing.”
Terri Nichols, assistant superintendent for the Charleston County School District says, “I am delighted that Mr. Antonelli will lead the new Carolina Park Elementary school. Michael brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, but most of all he brings a genuine love and concern for children. He cares deeply about serving his community, the families and every student that will enter Carolina Park. We can expect him to carry on the tradition of excellence that he started at Laurel Hill Primary.”