Creating Engaged Learners, For Life

What ages can attend?

Heathwood Hall has a renowned early childhood program for children ages 2, 3, and 4.

Why Heathwood Hall?

Young children learn best through experimentation and participation in their environment.

With more than 100 acres of outdoor classroom, Heathwood students can laugh, play, and learn outside with experienced teachers serving as facilitators. Student engagement and confidence are enhanced by unique facilities like our Tinker/Science Lab and Art Studio, by partnering with older students for learning experiences like our Biology Buddies program, and by family events like Paddle on the Pond and Merry Makers.

How much does preschool cost?

Regular Program | 8 am - 3 pm  | $950 per month
Extended Stay (includes summer!) | 8 am - 6 pm | $1250 per month

Tuition and Affordability

Watch video - Early Childhood Program

Early Childhood Program

Programs

Tinker Lab

A true STEM environment for early childhood students, the Tinker Lab offers opportunities for students to explore engineering, physical sciences, and applied math in a hands-on way that stimulates creativity, intellectual curiosity, physical dexterity, and more.

Related Arts

Heathwood understands the value of a well-rounded education starting from the earliest of ages.  As such, our curriculum includes fine arts, foreign language, physical education, library, and hands-on science, all taught by teachers who are specialists in those fields.

Early Childhood Music

The Early Childhood music program cultivates an environment that encourages each child to discover and express their unique musical abilities through singing, sound and instrument exploration, as well as playful creative movement. Children have the opportunity to engage in a variety of musical activities which promote and nurture the child’s cognitive, emotional, social, language and physical development.
In the spring, our youngest learners embark on a six to eight-week deep dive into a particular aspect of nature. Through research, exploration, and hands-on activities, they explore the bio-diversity of the five habitats represented here on campus - pond, field, wetlands, forest, and river. When Habitat Day finally arrives, the children are excited to share their newfound expertise during a performance for family members.

Biology Buddies

The Biology Buddies program pairs EC4 students with 11th graders to study plant biology. Their collaboration builds collaborative skills and confidence—and often leads to new friendships as well.

Year-Round, All-Day Care

Through our Afternoon Express program and Summer Camps, our teachers continue to develop the intellectual, creative, and moral capacities of young students while providing needed care for working parents.

Early Childhood Faculty

See All Staff
Read more about Kristin Austin

Kristin Austin

EC3 Associate Teacher
Assistant Girls Lacrosse Coach
kaustin@heathwood.org

Kristin Austin

EC3 Associate Teacher
Assistant Girls Lacrosse Coach

kaustin@heathwood.org

Kristin is a graduate of Newberry College and has a BA degree in Leisure Services/Recreation. She has taught courses in physical education at the college level and has coached women’s lacrosse at both the college and high school levels, including this spring season here at Heathwood. Kristin also served as the Assistant Athletic Director at Columbia College for three years.

Read more about Kim Bain

Kim Bain

EC & LS Librarian
kbain@heathwood.org

Kim Bain

EC & LS Librarian

kbain@heathwood.org

Kim joined Heathwood in the fall of 2009 as a third grade lead teacher. After 12 years in that position, she transitioned to become the EC/LS librarian. Her career as an educator has included experiences from Pre K - Middle School in both public and independent schools. She holds a B.A. from Converse College and an M.Ed. from Georgia State University, and she and her husband, Donnie, also have 30 + years of running a summer residential camp in Western North Carolina.

Read more about Melissa Brookshire

Melissa Brookshire

EC & LS Art Teacher
mbrookshire@heathwood.org

Melissa Brookshire

EC & LS Art Teacher

mbrookshire@heathwood.org

Melissa joined the Heathwood community in 2010 and loves fostering the creative learning of our youngest Highlanders. Melissa studied Studio Art at the College of Charleston, focusing on photography, printmaking, and metalwork sculpting. Later, she earned her degree in Early Childhood Education from Liberty University. Believing art is an integral part of teaching the whole child, Melissa feels creativity and the arts fuel and support a successful academic career. 

Outside of school, Melissa enjoys photography, graphic design, and gouache painting. She loves spending time with her family and her energetic dog, Rocky. 

Read more about Jamison Browder

Jamison Browder

EC/LS Science Resource Teacher
MS Boys Basketball Coach
jbrowder@heathwood.org

Jamison Browder

EC/LS Science Resource Teacher
MS Boys Basketball Coach

jbrowder@heathwood.org

Jamie comes to Heathwood after 17 years of experience as an early childhood and elementary public school teacher. He is a life-long learner with a B.S. in Anthropology; a B.S. in Elementary Education; and both a M.Ed. and a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education. As the Greenhouse Manager and EC/LS Science Resource Teacher, Jamie uses the greenhouse and edible forest to enhance his science curriculum. Jamie has a passion for all sports, in particular basketball. He has experience coaching AAU boys basketball, and currently serves as our Middle School boys' basketball coach. 

Read more about Rebecca Craig Busbee

Rebecca Craig Busbee

EC & LS Music Teacher
rbusbee@heathwood.org

Rebecca Craig Busbee

EC & LS Music Teacher

rbusbee@heathwood.org

Rebecca completed her undergraduate degree in Music Education with an emphasis in vocal and choral music from Winthrop University. While at Winthrop, Rebecca participated in various vocal ensembles including the Winthrop Chorale, the Madrigal Feast Singers, and the Opera Workshop ensemble. Following graduation, Rebecca became a member of the Columba Chorale Society and enjoyed many years singing under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt and SC Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Nicholas Smith. Rebecca began her teaching career with middle school chorus in 1993 and then transitioned into the general music elementary classroom. Outside the classroom, Rebecca has directed the Northeast Presbyterian Church Kids' Choir for 15 years, as well as served in the music ministry for the past 20 years as a vocalist and choir member. She previously served has the women's minister music coordinator for 10 years and the Sunday Kids' worship leader for 3 years. In addition, Rebecca has served at NEPC as the VBS music coordinator for the preschool and the elementary school-age children for 15 years. Rebecca came to Heathwood in 2019 along with her son Josh '28. Rebecca is the mother of 3 boys and loves teaching the amazingly bright children at Heathwood!

Read more about Brian Buscher

Brian Buscher

Head Baseball Coach
EC & LS PE Teacher
bbuscher@heathwood.org

Brian Buscher

Head Baseball Coach
EC & LS PE Teacher

bbuscher@heathwood.org

Brian Buscher is a Lower School Physical Education teacher and heads Heathwood’s baseball program. Coach Buscher is a graduate of the University of South Carolina , where he earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology. Before his teaching career started, he was a professional baseball player for nine years and Division 1 college baseball assistant coach for six years.

Read more about Mandi Dargan

Mandi Dargan

EC4 Lead Teacher
mdargan@heathwood.org

Mandi Dargan

EC4 Lead Teacher

mdargan@heathwood.org

Mandi Dargan has felt at home at Heathwood since she first joined the Summer Programs and Afternoon Express staff in 1997. She has taught kindergarten and EC4s preschool and considers herself fortunate to be part of a program so deeply committed to the importance of excellent early childhood education. Heathwood is a place where teachers and students alike are encouraged to learn and grow through meaningful experiences, and Mandi especially enjoys partnering with other divisions to create authentic learning opportunities with between our younger and older students.

Mandi holds a B.A. from the University of South Carolina.

Read more about Jennifer Davis

Jennifer Davis

EC2 Lead Teacher
jdavis@heathwood.org

Jennifer Davis

EC2 Lead Teacher

jdavis@heathwood.org

Jennifer holds a B.A. in Psychology from Converse College and an M.Ed. In Educational Counseling from the University of South Carolina. She began her career in Richland One, where she worked as a school counselor for five years. After staying home to raise her two children, she began teaching 3-year-olds at Shandon Methodist. Jennifer came to Heathwood as a 3-year-old Associate in 2017 and is currently teaching the EC2s. Her husband and daughter are both Heathwood Alumni ('92/'20)

Read more about Mary Kay Deese

Mary Kay Deese

Assistant Head of Early Childhood & Lower School
mdeese@heathwood.org

Mary Kay Deese

Assistant Head of Early Childhood & Lower School

mdeese@heathwood.org

Mary Kay joined Heathwood in 2017 as the Assistant Head of Early Childhood and Lower School. Since then, she has become a dedicated Highlander and shows her school spirit at Lower School Town Hall and cheering for The Hall at many sporting events. Prior to arriving at Heathwood, Mary Kay served as a site visitor, workshop leader, and consultant for the Primary Years Programme for International Baccalaureate for fifteen years. She and her family also spent a stint in Michigan where Mary Kay worked with Teach for America and the University of Michigan. For the first fourteen years of her career, Mary Kay worked at Spartanburg Day School as a third and fourth-grade teacher and IB Coordinator. Mary Kay graduated from Furman University with a BA in Elementary Education, and has an MEd from Converse College in Gifted and Talented Education and an EdS in Curriculum Development.

Read more about Katherine Draffin

Katherine Draffin

EC4 Lead Teacher
kdraffin@heathwood.org

Katherine Draffin

EC4 Lead Teacher

kdraffin@heathwood.org

Heathwood Hall is a very special place to Katherine ('94) and her husband, Stephen ('91), as they are both graduates of Heathwood Hall. Katherine attended Heathwood Hall from Kindergarten through 12 grade. Their three children are Highlanders as well: Walker '22, Ellie '23, and Ann Nelson '28. Her interest in Early Childhood Education started early and stems from her experience with her Senior Exhibition of Mastery here at Heathwood. Katherine earned her B.A. from Columbia College and has more than 15 years of teaching experience. She has taught 2-year-olds, preschool, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade in public and private schools. This is her ninth year back teaching at Heathwood and her third year as an EC 4 lead teacher. She truly enjoys spending each day with her students and nurturing their curiosity, enthusiasm, and love for learning. Katherine believes that Heathwood is by far the most rewarding teaching environment and community! She finds joy in watching her students grow and develop academically, socially, and emotionally here on campus for their entire school career from age 2 through age 18.

Read more about Julie Fewell

Julie Fewell

EC4 Associate Teacher
jfewell@heathwood.org

Julie Fewell

EC4 Associate Teacher

jfewell@heathwood.org

Julie began her career in education teaching in the Richland 2 school system. She taught the 4s at Eastminster Day School for two years and then came to Heathwood in 2006. She holds a B.A. from Columbia College and an M.Ed. from the University of South Carolina. Her younger son, William, is in the Heathwood Class of 2022.

 

Read more about Lynn Humphrey

Lynn Humphrey

EC & LS PE Teacher
lhumphrey@heathwood.org

Lynn Humphrey

EC & LS PE Teacher

lhumphrey@heathwood.org

Lynn has been a teacher and coach since 1984. She has coached Varsity Softball, MS Girls Basketball, Varsity Volleyball. She currently coaches with both girls and boys golf programs. Coach Humphrey competes in the LPGA Amateur Assoc. and volunteers with the organization's tournament operations staff. With a Bachelors and Masters in the Physical Education field, Coach Humphrey focuses on helping students find joy and success in movement and being physically fit.

Read more about Jenny Holder

Jenny Holder

EC & LS School Counselor
jholder@heathwood.org

Jenny Holder

EC & LS School Counselor

jholder@heathwood.org

Jenny Cathcart Holder is a local product, having lived in Columbia all of her life.  She is a graduate of Heathwood Hall, Class of 2000, where she was involved in several programs, participated in various sports, and earned the Headmaster's Award.  As a Heathwood student, Jenny was always fond of the school counselor, enjoyed being a peer counselor, and made it her goal to one day hold a similar post.  After earning a double major in Psychology and Spanish from Auburn University, she came back to Heathwood and began working as a teacher in the Afternoon Express program.  She has served in several other roles at the school, including Spanish/Study Skills teacher in the Middle School and Associate teacher and Spanish teacher in the Lower School.  While working in those various roles, she completed her Education Specialist degree in Counselor Education, School Counseling from the University of South Carolina in 2010.  As the Early Childhood and Lower School Counselor, Jenny is doing what she has desired since her Heathwood student days: helping to foster and support the community that she loves.  Her current professional affiliations include the American Counseling Association, American School Counseling Association, and the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Read more about Nikki Merritt

Nikki Merritt

EC & LS Administrative Assistant
nmerritt@heathwood.org

Nikki Merritt

EC & LS Administrative Assistant

nmerritt@heathwood.org

Nikki Merritt holds a B.A. from Sewanee. She worked in Heathwood's Development Office 1998-2001, then moved to Greenville where both of her children were born.  After four years in Greenville and four years in Houston, her family moved back to Columbia in 2009 and joined the Heathwood community.  Nikki worked as EC3 Associate Teacher for one year and then began volunteering with Heathwood's Auction and Parent Association and serving as substitute teacher until April 2018 when she joined EC/LS as Administrative Assistant.  

Read more about Kristi Plyler

Kristi Plyler

EC3 Lead Teacher
kplyler@heathwood.org

Kristi Plyler

EC3 Lead Teacher

kplyler@heathwood.org

Kristi has been teaching Early Childhood for 13 years and has loved every minute of it. She holds a B.A. and an M.A.T. from the University of South Carolina and came to Heathwood Hall in 2018 with her 3 children, Dylan '29, Delaney '31, and Deacon '35. Her husband, Daniel Plyler, is a local attorney and they both graduated from the University of South Carolina.

Read more about Stephanie Scanlon

Stephanie Scanlon

Head of Early Childhood and Lower School
sscanlon@heathwood.org

Stephanie Scanlon

Head of Early Childhood and Lower School

sscanlon@heathwood.org

Stephanie joined Heathwood as Head of the Early Childhood and Lower School divisions after eight years as the founding Head of St, Matthew’s School in Bedford, N.Y. She also worked for 12 years at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, CT in a variety of positions (Kindergarten teacher, Early Childhood Theology teacher, Coordinator of Early Childhood, & Director of Extended programming).  Stephanie’s career started at the Quaker Ridge School in Scarsdale, NY, where she served for three years as a Second Grade teacher.  Stephanie earned her B.A. from SUNY (State University of New York) Purchase in Psychology and holds an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Teaching from Fordham University and an MPS in Educational Leadership from Manhattanville College. 

Read more about Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith

EC2 Associate Teacher
rsmith3@heathwood.org

Rebecca Smith

EC2 Associate Teacher

rsmith3@heathwood.org

After earning a B.A. from the University of South Carolina Honors College and a Masters in Teaching, specializing in early childhood education, also from the UofSC, Rebecca began teaching for several years in the 4s in Richland One. She then became a stay-at-home mom to Christina ‘22 and Ethan ‘23, both “lifers” at Heathwood. After many years of being an eager volunteer and a homeroom mom, Rebecca came back to teaching as a substitute. She taught all over the EC and Lower School. Rebecca then joined the Early Childhood team as an associate in the 2s. Knowing what Heathwood has meant to Christina and Ethan and our family, Rebecca is excited to teach new generations of Highlanders.

Read more about Dawne Wallace

Dawne Wallace

EC2 Lead Teacher
dwallace@heathwood.org

Dawne Wallace

EC2 Lead Teacher

dwallace@heathwood.org

Dawne joined the faculty at Heathwood in 2019. Prior to that, she taught 2s and 3s at Eastminster Day School for 18 years.

Read more about Stefani Walston

Stefani Walston

EC & LS PE Teacher
Head Volleyball Coach
swalston@heathwood.org

Stefani Walston

EC & LS PE Teacher
Head Volleyball Coach

swalston@heathwood.org

Stefani joined the faculty at Heathwood in 2017. She currently teaches both Lower School and Early Childhood Physical Education. In addition to her work in the classroom, Stefani is the Head Women’s Varsity Volleyball Coach, and has previously served as Head Coach to the Middle School Volleyball program. Outside of Heathwood she has played and coached volleyball at both the colligate and club levels. Before moving to South Carolina, Stefani spent two years serving as the first assistant at Iona College for the Women’s volleyball and a year serving as the Second Assistant at Rider University. She has coached numerous camps and clubs for over 12 years. Stefani comes to us from Long Island, New York, where she graduated from Molloy College with B.A. in Communications with a minor in Psychology.

See it for yourself.

The best way to experience Heathwood is to tour our campus and talk to our teachers.