Bennett Confidential: Case Studies – Massachusetts to Japan
Updated: Apr 6
“But if we move to a part of the world we don’t know at all, how will we find a school for the kids? How will we know which is the best one for them? We have to get it right!”
When a parent is offered a compelling professional opportunity that will require a move, often their most significant concern is identifying a school for their children. In this new series, which we are calling Bennett Confidential, we will share true stories of real families who embraced a move to a new community, highlighting their unique challenges and offering insight into how the support of an expert, professional education consultant (and we know a few of the best) can help ensure the optimal outcome. All family and consultant names are fictitious to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
Case # 2: The Edwards Family
Amanda and Max Edwards were living in Cambridge, enjoying all that the community had to offer them and their children. Rory, Maddy, and Jake were enrolled in the excellent local elementary school, located only a short distance from their home, and enjoying a host of extra-curricular activities. Amanda and Max were engaged parents, active in the children’s school and involved in supporting their activities. When Amanda was offered a short term assignment in Tokyo, her enthusiasm about the professional opportunity was tempered by her anxiety about the impact of such a significant relocation on the children’s schooling and academic progress. While living in Japan would offer a host of advantages in terms of experiencing another language and culture, it was imperative that they stay on track academically and be positioned for a seamless return to their school without any gaps in learning. Was this possible?
Amanda and Max had never managed an international assignment before. They were completely unfamiliar with the educational landscape in Tokyo. Were there options for English-speaking schools that offered strong academics and a curriculum that aligned well with the children’s current school? What about the activities the children enjoyed? Would there be opportunities for Rory to continue to play chess, for Maddy to continue to dance, and for Jake to play baseball? The family also wanted to retain the sense of community they so valued in Cambridge and live close to the children’s school. Was this a realistic goal, given the vastness of Tokyo? Managing the process from so many miles away of identifying the optimal school setting in a community that would resonate seemed impossible. Everyone was feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Kendall, Bennett’s consultant, who is extremely knowledgeable about the primary school education landscape in Tokyo, reached out to the family immediately upon being assigned the case and scheduled a time for a detailed intake call. Always the first step when a new case is initiated, this conversation centers on the family’s priorities for schooling and includes a detailed discussion of the students’ learning profiles. Consideration is given to language needs as well as the family’s timeline for a return to their home—or the next assignment location—so that all schooling decisions can be intentionally and thoughtfully made.
Offering both encouragement and reassurance, Kendall guided the family through the process. She led discussions about early learner pedagogies. She noted and responded to the family’s concerns about curriculum, school culture, afterschool activities, and opportunities for “hands-on” parenting. Kendall recommended target schools and reached out to them, leveraging her relationship with school personnel to assess availability and schedule school visits. She prepared both the parents and the children for productive school visits and meetings, sharing key questions the school might ask and reviewing responses so that the family could navigate the process with confidence and ease. Ultimately, the family had multiple options and sought Kendall’s guidance on school choice.
The Edwards family was delighted to enroll all three children in a highly regarded international school and said, “Our consultant was a great help, and we felt we could rely on her. She had a good grasp of our situation and was able to act as a great representative talking to the schools.”
There are hundreds of stories in the files of Bennett Confidential. This has been one of them. Stay tuned for more.
By Annemiek Young, from Sara Schmidt's case notes
Annemiek Young, former Bennett Education Consultant, Director of Private Client Relations Emeritus, and good friend , is a regular contributor to our blog.
Sara R. Schmidt is the Director of Business Development & Client Relations, Co-Director of Private Client Services and a Senior Education Consultant for Bennett International, based in Seattle. As a member of an internationally mobile family, Sara has navigated the school search process for her own children on three continents, finding the right fit for them in public, private and international schools. She is very familiar, therefore, with the anxieties and hurdles faced by parents relocating their children around the world, and her work is informed by her own extensive experience. Sara serves as Trustee and was President of the Bellevue Schools Foundation in Bellevue, WA, and is a member of Pacific Northwest Relocation Council and Bay Area Mobility Management. She holds a B.A. Ed., Summa Cum Laude, from Wheaton College and an M.A. in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and is also fluent in Spanish.
Over the years, Bennett International Education Consultancyhas worked with hundreds of corporations across the globe, many of them Fortune 500 companies, providing domestic and international school advisement & placement services - preschool through university - to the dependents of relocating employees. In addition to education placement, our team provides customized consulting for corporations with a range of education issues: education policy writing & benchmarking, tuition studies, group move advisement & planning, and remote education solutions.