Shared Passion for Top-Quality Education Drives the Leadership Team at Ivybrook’s Castle Rock Campus
Mark and Alison Arbitrio are raising a little one of their own in Castle Rock, Colorado. When the time came to look for preschools for their son, they were surprised to find limited early childhood education options in their suburban town on the outskirts of Denver.
“We started looking around for quality preschools,” Mark says. “We were struck by the limited number of available options that provide the quality of education and the flexibility that we were looking for.”
Mark took matters into his own hands, embracing the “build it and they will come” mentality. Serving as owner and business manager, he opened the doors of Ivybrook Academy’s Castle Rock campus last year.
He and Alison are excited to enroll their son in a school with an innovative curriculum designed to establish the foundation children need to enjoy a lifetime of learning and discovery.
Mark says a career in early childhood education offers a rewarding sense of fulfillment that is unmatched.
“At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel good about what they do when they come home from work,” Mark says. “We’re growing and developing creative minds and preparing children for lifelong success. It’s hard to imagine any other sort of business or work that’s more rewarding.”
The couple has a history of developing strong relationships within their communities and they are proud to serve Castle Rock families who are searching for a top-notch PreSchool experience.
Principal Harrell Brings 28 Years of Experience to the Castle Rock Campus
Before opening the doors, Mark knew he needed to find an experienced educator and leader to serve as Ivybrook’s principal in Castle Rock. Shannon Harrell is the exceptional educator appointed to that role, and she shares Mark’s passion for Ivybrook’s approach to learning.
Shannon delivers an impressive resume that gives parents confidence in the leadership guiding their children each day. A native of Colorado, she has 28 years of experience in early childhood education.
“I am proud to lead young learners in Castle Rock,” she says. “Every child needs a safe environment where they can explore and grow. Ivybrook Academy is the place where a strong education and freedom of individuality combine so that each child can thrive.”
Shannon and her husband, Mark, know as well as any parent that children have different personalities and styles of learning. Together, they have four children, including a set of triplets! She says each child has unique interests and specialties, and she believes that this must be reflected in a school’s curriculum.
“Ivybrook Academy is unlike any PreSchool in our community,” Shannon says. “I am thrilled to work with parents in Castle Rock to understand their children’s needs, and to provide a customized curriculum in our flexible learning environment.”
Shannon was drawn to the opportunity at Ivybrook Academy for its collaborative approach that places students at the helm of their education.
Ivybrook’s Curriculum is First of its Kind in Castle Rock
Like Shannon, the Arbitrios were drawn to Ivybrook because they share the school’s belief that the individual voices of children must be heard and their ideas honored as they actively participate in their learning.
Mark and his wife were both raised in homes with a strong emphasis on the importance of education. Mark’s mother was a fourth-grade teacher, while both of Alison’s parents were career educators.
“Children learn best when they are excited about what they’re learning,” says Mark. “It’s our job to nurture those passions.”
Ivybrook Academy’s award-winning half day PreSchool is recognized for its unique take on early childhood education. The curriculum fuses concepts from Montessori and Reggio Emilia learning methods with elements of Multiple Intelligences Research. The result is an emergent curriculum designed to create intentional environments where children can express their interests and play a collaborative role in their education.
“What I felt was special about Ivybrook was the individualized group learning sessions and the documentation of each child’s learning journey,” Mark says. “At any point in time, you can see where your child is in their development areas and you know what they’re excited about.”
Shannon says Ivybrook Academy’s hybrid curriculum provides children with the right balance of organization and independence.
“While there is structure and guidance, there’s also a freedom to explore and see what children are interested in,” she says.
Ivybrook Academy opened its first campus in 2007 in Weddington, North Carolina. Founded by first-grade teacher Jennifer McWilliams and her husband, Drew, Ivybrook Academy seeks to provide the multidimensional opportunities students deserve in communities across the United States.