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Beginning Learners

Capturing the imagination of young children is at the heart of our preschool and kindergarten programs. With a focus on early literacy, math skills and social development, students are immersed in a predictable, developmentally appropriate learning environment. Practicing independence, working with friends, and becoming a part of a learning community complement the endless opportunities for academic growth.

Our Early Childhood Center includes junior pre-kindergarten (age 3), pre-kindergarten (age 4) and kindergarten (age 5). 

Junior Pre-Kindergarten

Promoting natural curiosity, well-designed play, purposeful discovery, and meaningful exploration within a literacy and numeracy rich program are at the heart of our JPK classrooms. Focusing on social and emotional development, our program provides the fundamental building blocks for early development. The program includes Spanish, P.E., music, library, and science on a rotation basis. The daily schedule is designed to foster the social, physical, and cognitive development of our youngest learners. JPK students may be enrolled for three or five days a week with daily dismissal at 1 p.m. They bring lunch from home.

Pre-Kindergarten

A year of endless imagination, our PK students join their friends each day, eager to learn. Our Pre-Kindergarten classrooms create a community that is play-based, and prepares children for the literacy and numeracy rich world in which they live. Our classrooms promote constructive learning through inquiry, and provides powerful and playful ways to guide children to learn about letters, sounds, words, and number concepts. A few of our pre-kindergarten traditions include a Thanksgiving feast, gingerbread man hunt, king and queen of hearts day, and luau in the spring. The program includes Spanish, P.E., music, library, art and shop, and science on a rotation basis. Every week in pre-kindergarten brings new opportunities for each child to learn and grow. The daily schedule includes lunch in the dining hall and daily dismissal at 1 p.m.

Kindergarten

With enthusiasm and endless energy, our kindergarten students soar as learners. Kindergarten is a magical year that engages students’ imagination and builds their academic skills. Well-planned literacy and math workshops allow students to build a foundation for future academic success. The program includes daily P.E. and Spanish, and music, library, art and shop and technology on a rotation basis. Having a fifth grade buddy and acting in a school play are highlights of the kindergarten year. Daily dismissal is at 3 p.m. 

Eco-literacy Initiative

Junior PK, PK, and Kindergarten students embark on a day of eco-literacy learning outside one day each week. Students bring boots and rain jackets to school in case it rains on their outdoor day.  All learning and exploration lessons take place outside within our early childhood gardens, outdoor classrooms, and hiking trails. The goals of this program are to increase fine and gross motor skills, develop and increase social emotional learning skills, communication skills, and problem solving and critical thinking skills, while giving children the opportunity to be curious and drive their own inquiry for learning within nature. Outdoor learning leads to greater resilience because students are encouraged to take appropriate risks, be challenged, ask questions and ponder. Developing a love and respect for nature and how we interact with the environment is key to the mission of Bright, where students learn to become “wise and compassionate citizens of the world.”

Early Childhood Science 
In addition to one day of full eco-literacy learning outside the classroom, JPK-K students will also take part in environmental science lessons twice a week led by our eco-literacy specialist and master gardener. This additional special area class will build a strong science foundation leading up to our 1-5 science program. 

After School

Our after school program, called Bright Afternoons, allows parents the flexibility of keeping their child at school longer during the day. We offer after school classes for preschool ages that last until 3 p.m., and Bright Afternoons is open until 6 p.m. every day. To learn more, visit our Bright Afternoons page.

Summer Program

We offer Bright Days, a summer program for early learners, starting in June and running through the first week of August. Bright Days is available to preschool age children to rising third graders in the community. To learn more, visit our Bright Days page.

Teachers

Rachel Berger

Junior Pre-Kindergarten

Joined Bright faculty in 2018
B.A., University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Karen Thompson

Junior Pre-Kindergarten
Joined Bright faculty in 2000

Jenna Leckenby

Junior Pre-Kindergarten

Joined Bright faculty in 2020
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Ed.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Emily Hon

Pre-Kindergarten

Bright alumna '86
Joined Bright faculty in 1998
B.S., Vanderbilt University

Jill Johnson

Pre-Kindergarten

Joined Bright faculty in 2018
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Jasmine White

Pre-Kindergarten

Joined Bright faculty in 2017
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Bill Greene

Kindergarten

Joined Bright faculty in 2015
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Sonal Patel

Kindergarten

Joined Bright faculty in 2020
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
M.Ed., Tennessee Tech University

Katie Shirley

Kindergarten

Joined Bright faculty in 2015
B.S., University of Tennessee, Knoxville
M.Ed., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Assistants

Hannah Bradford

JPK Assistant

Joined Bright faculty in 2019
Current UTC student

Chasity Robinson

JPK Assistant
Phone: 423-267-8546

Joined Bright faculty in 2017
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Mary Katherine Wheeler

JPK Assistant

Joined Bright faculty in 2020
Student, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Amy Hutcherson

Development Assistant

Joined Bright faculty in 2020
B.S., Vanderbilt University 
M.Ed., Vanderbilt University 
Ph.D., Vanderbilt University

Abigail Ballard

PK Assistant
Joined Bright faculty in 2020
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Emily Taylor

PK Assistant

Joined Bright faculty in 2020
B.S., University of West Georgia

Kayla Greco

Kindergarten Assistant

Joined Bright faculty in 2017
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Olivia Fine

Kindergarten Assistant

Bright alumna 2005
Joined Bright faculty in 2021
B.A., University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Bailey Fraebel

Kindergarten Assistant

Joined Bright faculty in 2021
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

School Affiliations