When Denise Pearsall, the Christ Church Episcopal School’s Lower School Director of 19 years, retired last year after a combined 29 years of service to the school, the whole school felt her absence. But before she left, she equipped her replacement, Mr. David Johnstone, for success, giving him a “running start for the job.”
A Background in Education
Growing up in Greenville, Mr. Johnstone was no stranger to CCES. He’d watched nieces, nephews and friends attend the school and had seen the CCES administration implement the IB program at his own school. Now that he’s part of the Christ Church family, Mr. Johnstone appreciates it even more, noting that knowing about the school was “not the same as living it every day.”
Mr. Johnstone wasn’t a stranger to education either; prior to CCES, he’d spent 27 years in public education with 20 of those years as a school principal. Now, as the Lower School Director, Mr. Johnstone oversees the teachers and assistants for the Primer to 4th grades and reports to the school’s Headmaster, Dr. Kupersmith. “I’ve been thoroughly impressed,” Mr. Johnstone says of the school. “[CCES] has great physical resources, and the resources are complemented by people that are just the best at what they do.”
“Every time I come in here,” Mr. Johnstone says, “there’s someone in here trying to make their classrooms better and their kids’ experiences better. The level of commitment from the teachers is impressive, to say the least. I’m really blown away by their commitment and their love of the children. We’re not built to grind through the day. We’re built to impact children.”
But the teachers aren’t the only ones committed to the school and the students’ success. Mr. Johnstone’s personal goal is “Always grow. Every day.” He implements this goal into his work as often as possible, including passing it on to the teachers he supervises and the students he encounters daily.
Instilling Values and Promoting Growth
He also tries to teach this value to his son, an 8th grader in CCES’s Middle School. Since the Johnstones commute from Clemson each day, the father-son duo have found themselves with more time than usual to discuss their daily activities. When asked how the new school and increased drive impacted their son, Mr. Johnstone replied “We knew it would be a commitment on our part. But we’re trading convenience for excellence.”
Mr. Johnstone has been at the school just under a year, but already admits that he is in love with the families, the school, and the teachers, and he plans to stay for a long time.