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Bennett Confidential: Case Studies – Miami, Florida to Austin, Texas

Updated: May 25, 2023

“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 # 3: The Richards Family

Rosa and Rod Lanzo moved often. As professionals in a highly mobile industry, opportunities for advancement and growth presented themselves regularly, and the couple had worked in Mexico City, Bogota, and Miami, navigating the moves with their young twins, Gigi and Jeffrey. The family was living in Miami, Florida, when an appealing role became available in Austin, Texas; however, the job required a physical presence almost immediately, and Rosa and Rod had to make their decision within 48 hours.

Although delighted by the opportunity, they were overwhelmed by the thought of navigating a search for the optimal school for the twins in a part of the country that was completely unknown to them. As well, they had only recently moved to Miami and were largely unfamiliar with the American education landscape, pedagogy, and terminology. Complicating matters, Jeffrey had been diagnosed with learning differences and would require specific classroom accommodations. And there was a language barrier to be addressed: Spanish was the family’s first language, and English Language Learners (ELL) support would certainly be required for Jeffrey and Gigi. It was already August; the first day of school was weeks away, and Rosa and Rod wanted the children to experience the excitement of those first days with their peers. It all seemed impossible on such a short timeline.

Lydia, Bennett’s Texas-based consultant, and her colleague, Kate, one of Bennett’s Special Education Needs consultants, reached out to the family immediately upon being assigned the case, hosting a detailed intake call to understand the family’s educational preferences and the twins’ educational needs. Noting that a highly regarded public school setting would offer the resources that were needed, Lydia, relying on her expertise, quickly identified four excellent school districts. Based on her advice, the family narrowed their focus to two specific elementary schools.

There were challenges that required strategic decision-making and knowledgeable engagement with school personnel, challenges the family had been unaware of. Lydia highlighted the need to align temporary and permanent housing within the target school attendance boundary. She explained the complexities of the "proof of residency" requirements and supported the family by outreaching to school personnel as they navigated the registration requirements, confirming that the twins would be permitted to enroll in kindergarten as was recommended instead of in grade one, which was the chronologically indicated placement. Simultaneously, Kate reviewed all diagnoses, cognitive evaluations, and reports from the educational psychologist and the therapist so that she fully understood Jeffrey’s receptive language deficits and the special accommodations he would require to thrive in the classroom. After conferring with school personnel, Kate was able to assure the family that the target schools would offer the indicated supports for Jeffrey. She gave insight into working through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) development process for him and confirmed that both Jeffrey and Gigi would have access to ELL programming, positioning them to develop English language proficiency.

The twins enrolled in Red River Shore Elementary, the family’s school of choice, in time for the first day of school. Rosa and Rod report that Gigi and Jeffrey are very happy there and said to their consultants that "None of this could have happened without your help, advice, and good energy, so—THANKS, THANKS! ‘Really a pleasure working with you."

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.


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