In 1973, after Jean Navarre realized there was a need for educational alternatives for gifted children, she founded Emerson School. A lot has changed as the school has grown from 11 students to more than 300, but our commitment to providing a flexible, creative curriculum that brings out the most in students remains steadfast. In fact, many of Emerson’s first teachers are still with us today.


  • 1973 – Emerson School opens with two faculty and 11 gifted students.
  • 1974 – Emerson moves to the basement of the Westside Methodist Church in Ann Arbor and is designated an educational institution for K-6 students by the State of Michigan.
  • 1983 – Construction is completed on Emerson’s current facility, which had eight classrooms, a central multi-purpose space for all-school functions and performances (now the library) two specials rooms for art/music and science, and a small school office. Emerson moves into its new space with 160 enrolled students.
  • 1988 – A new “specials wing” is completed and provides dedicated rooms for Lower School art, music, science, and computers.
  • 1991 – Emerson becomes accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS).
  • 1991 – Emerson’s Middle School opens with 42 students and four new classrooms. The new addition also includes a gymnasium, science lab, and additional office space.
  • 1997 – The Middle School continues to grow and two additional classrooms are added for science, math, and art.
  • 2004 – Much needed space is added to the Middle School, including the drama room/Black Box Theatre, a science lab with greenhouse, a pottery room, bathrooms, and a faculty workroom.
  • 2006 – Six new classrooms are built as part of the K-2 wing
  • 2009 – The Library Media Center is renovated
  • 2014 – The successful Building STEAM Campaign provides the resources to build four new Middle School classrooms, dedicated Band and Orchestra classrooms, a Middle School lunch area, and a 16,000 square foot Arts and Innovation Center