In 2014, Clemson University Youth Learning Institute (YLI) gathered a group of educators and community leaders from the Aiken area to begin the discussion of a new charter school to be located on the campus of Camp Long in Aiken, SC. Leading this charge was Patsy Smith, the Director of School Based Programs for YLI. Committee members met, planned and labored for two years until August 2016 when the doors of Tall Pines STEM Academy opened with 96 fifth and sixth graders. Mrs. Smith retired in February 2022, and currently Sandee Blankenship is the Director of School-Based Programs.
Tall Pines has a STEM-focused curriculum and, like their sister school, Youth Leadership Academy (Pickens, SC), Tall Pines operates under the umbrella of a “Students First” culture and promotes leadership, physical activity, and academic success.
In August 2017, seventh grade was added for a total of 144 students; and the school capped out enrollment in August 2018 with the addition of eighth grade, and a total of 192 students.