April 14, 2024

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Science It Works

Wilmington is home to Ivybrook Academy’s newest location

WILMINGTON, N.C. — A new preschool in the Tar Heel state takes a new, child-centered approach to learning that focuses on discovery and imagination. Only eight of its kind exists in the state, and this is the first one to open on the coast.


What You Need To Know

  • Ivybrook Academy combines Montessori academics and the Reggio Emilia approach.
  • There are 31 locations across the country and eight locations in the state.
  • Co-owners Krista Smart Beall and Nicholas Beall opened their own Ivybrook Academy before the age of 30.

Ivybrook Academy is a half day preschool program with a blended curriculum of Montessori academics and the Reggio Emilia learning approach. It’s a multisensory, discovery based program that allows children’s natural love for learning to flourish. 

The combination of the two methods creates a unique learning enviornment.

“With a traditional Montessori school, those are amazing, especially for kids who are able to continue on with the Montessori schooling throughout their academic career,” said Krisa Smart Beall, owner and principal of Wilmington’s Ivybrook. “But here we also prepare children who are going to go into a more traditional school setting after they leave preschool, so we kind of offer the best of both worlds when it comes to that.”

Krista Smart Beall and an Ivybrook Academy student play together

Krista Smart Beall and an Ivybrook Academy student play together

There are more than 30 Ivybrook academies across the country, but this is the first of its kind in coastal North Carolina. 

Smart Beall and her husband and co-owner, Nicholas Beall, wanted to open a school where they would be able to utilize children’s imaginations and help create a lifelong love of learning.

“Kids at young ages have such amazing imaginations,” said Beall, “And I think it’s really important to be able to foster and develop that and give them a sense of wanting to find things out on their own and be able to want to find things out on their own and use their imagination to be part of their education.”

Ivybrook Academy student drawings on display

Ivybrook Academy student drawings on display

It’s also something they were considering as they started to think about growing their own family.

“Looking around at all the local preschools and realizing I wanted to build a school that would work for our future family,” said Smart Beall. “So we haven’t started a family of our own yet, we wanted to create a school and space that would work well for our family and hopefully other families locally.”

And although they haven’t had children of their own yet, they care about the kids at Ivybrook just as much.

Ivybrook Academy student playing and learning

Ivybrook Academy student playing and learning

“I just hope that they get the best possible education and that they have a really bright future,” said Beall, “And I hope that we can be the first steps in the process of that.”

Ivybrook Academy has class offerings for toddlers, two year olds, three years olds and preschoolers. You can find out more about Ivybrook on their website, here.