Kristin Watts officially joined the Bright School faculty and staff on July 1. She spent the morning touring renovation areas around school and getting settled in her office. She talked to teachers and students at Bright Days, our summer program for early learners.

"What a great start to my first day at The Bright School! In addition to beginning to get settled in my new office, I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time touring the renovations and visiting with several camp classes. Watching the excitement in the children brought me a lot of joy, and I am looking forward to the start of school in August," she said.

Mrs. Watts says she is eager to connect with all faculty and staff before school begins and meet all parents, students, alumni, donors and friends.

Mrs. Watts previously served as the director of St. Anne’s Day School and Enrichment Programs in Atlanta for five years and was director of admissions for Trinity School in Atlanta for 11 years prior to her time at St. Anne’s.

During her professional career, she has worked with all levels in education from college to infants but found elementary to be the best fit. After college, she worked in admissions at Siena Heights University in Michigan before working in both development and admissions at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

She moved on from that position to become the director of enrollment management at University Lake School in Hartland, Wisconsin. Mrs. Watts taught leadership skills classes in the high school at University Lake but found herself drawn to the lower school when she did assessments for preschool and younger grades. “I knew my next role had to be in elementary,” she said. That is when she moved to Atlanta to be director of admissions at Trinity School, which enrolls ages 3 years through sixth grade, a community very similar to Bright.

Mrs. Watts grew up in rural Adrian, Michigan, where her parents still live. Her father was an accountant, and her mother was a nurse and earned a master’s degree in vocational education. Her brother is an elementary learning specialist outside of Detroit.

Her first impressions of Bright School came through meeting faculty and administrators when they visited both Trinity and St. Anne’s when she worked in Atlanta. Her impressions of Bright were very positive and reconfirmed when she interviewed for her current role last fall.

Most recently, a group of early childhood teachers visited St. Anne’s Day School to see the outdoor classroom after Bright started its eco-literacy program in fall 2019. “I was so impressed with their professionalism and enthusiasm. I learned a lot from them and thought Bright would be a great place to be,” Mrs. Watts said.

Teachers visiting other schools is a long tradition at Bright, going back to when founder Mary G. Bright took her teachers to schools around the country to observe and study. Bright is often a place where teachers from other schools visit as well. Mrs. Watts has done the same at St. Anne’s and will continue to encourage teachers at Bright to travel.

This past school year was exceptional and challenging for teachers and administrators at all schools, but especially for Mrs. Watts, who was guiding her school through the pandemic and transitioning to Bright without the ability to meet people as much as one would normally because of health restrictions. 

She is eager to build relationships with faculty and staff, students, parents, alumni and all other members of the school community. “Relationships are the most important. I am excited about the opportunity to get to know people,” she said.

Trinity helped spark her interest in the overall operations of a school, and she aspired to lead a school. When the St. Anne’s position opened, she jumped at a chance to grow professionally. The most important skill she honed at St. Anne’s was managing, overseeing and collaborating with 40 teachers. Certainly, last year was the biggest test of that.

“When the school year ended, I told teachers to go back and read their emails from last August and remember all the what-ifs and fears we had when school started,” she said. “I feel good about what we accomplished.”

Now her attention turns to Bright School, where she is ready to forge new relationships with all ages within our community.

Mrs. Watts comes to Chattanooga with her daughter, Colby, who will be entering second grade. Her husband, Jay Watts, has been the director of athletics at GPS since 2017 and is a graduate of the McCallie School. Her stepson, Campbell, is a senior in high school this fall in Atlanta.

Please join us in welcoming Mrs. Watts to Bright School!