by Phil Watson
Emily Watson has served as the director of Ivybrook Academy Greenville since July 2019. The half-day Reggio Emilia/Montessori blended curriculum gives students individualized learning plans and small classes.
What are some things people might not know about your job?
As an administrator, one of the joys of my job is to get to watch children progress from their first day away from home to their graduation from Ivybrook. Our preschool is a progressive model, meaning students can start the program at 18 months, and the curriculum grows with them all the way through transitional kindergarten. To get to watch a student grow from that first day to graduation and see how far their confidence and socialization has come is one of the biggest perks of my job.
How has COVID-19 changed your job?
Our school has always been about community, and while we’re still a community-focused school, we’ve had to make adjustments. We have formed several micro schools in which classes only have contact with each other and their teachers. The classes don’t share restrooms or play together. We’re looking forward to when we don’t have to do this anymore, but so far this, coupled with stringent daily disinfecting of the entire school, has kept our students and staff free of any COVID cases.
What’s the most memorable day you’ve had at Ivybrook?
Not long before COVID we had a fairytale ball social event at the school where our students and their families came for games, refreshments and fun. To see all these different families mingling and becoming friends is what Ivybrook is about. Many of the families had recently moved here from other places, and I was proud that Ivybrook was the common bond they shared as they got to know each other and become friends. That was a special memory, and I’m looking forward to when our community can be whole again.
How has your job changed you personally?
It has made me realize how many amazing families we have in Greenville and how important having a social structure is for all of us. It means a lot to me when I see families who have recently moved here be able to plug in and meet other Ivybrook families, often forming longtime family friendships. This job has made me go beyond wanting the best education for children, but also wanting to help their families find their place in the community.