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Bennett Confidential: Case Studies—Singapore to Jakarta, Special Education Needs

Updated: Apr 16

“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 # 5: Nichols Family

Arhan and Romy Nichols, both accomplished professionals in a competitive industry, shared an enthusiasm for new and challenging opportunities. This perspective aligned well with their sense of adventure and willingness to move to a new part of the world, often with very little notice. While Charlotte, their now six-year-old daughter, was little, their mobile lifestyle posed some challenges, but none that they were not able to manage successfully, and Arhan and Romy delighted in introducing Charlotte to an array of cultures and languages. But now, with Charlotte in school, things had become exponentially more complicated, particularly as she had recently been diagnosed with a learning difference: dyslexia. Neither parent had any experience with dyslexia, and they were concerned that perhaps there were other needs that Charlotte had.

In the last eighteen months, the family had relocated three times, most recently from Singapore. Charlotte had been enrolled in three different schools with three different languages of instruction and three distinct curricula: Montessori, British, and NSW (New South Wales). Furthermore, because the family had moved back and forth between the northern and southern hemispheres, each with its own academic calendar, Charlotte had “lost” half a year of instruction. Increasingly overwhelmed and anxious, the family had applied to three highly regarded international schools in Jakarta, where they were now residents. Sadly, all three schools had rejected Charlotte, and Arhan and Romy despaired of finding a setting where Charlotte could thrive and be happy.

Fortunately, the family was offered access to Bennett’s education consulting services. Seema, the locally based consultant, and Kate, one of Bennett’s special education needs consultants, reached out to the family and hosted a detailed intake call to understand the family’s educational preferences and Charlotte’s learning needs. Kate reviewed all of the diagnostic results and academic records, summarizing key needs and required supports. It became clear to both Seema and Kate that, despite their very best intentions, Arhan and Romy had likely unintentionally overwhelmed admissions personnel with their impressions of Charlotte’s needs, creating a distorted image of her learning profile. Seema and Kate reframed the conversation as they prepared to engage with prospective schools, highlighting Charlotte’s abilities and interests as well as specifically identifying her learning differences and the needed support. They developed a carefully tailored approach to each school, advising the family on what questions to expect and to ask, offering guidance to help the parents talk about Charlotte, and debriefing after each visit. They explained what assessments would likely be required and prepared Charlotte for her visits, including answering her questions about what she should wear.

The family was delighted to receive offers of admission from all of the schools to which they applied. After a detailed conversation with both Seema and Kate, Arhan and Romy accepted the offer from a well-known international school, where Charlotte is happy and thriving with all of her learning needs met. “Success!” said a jubilant Romy. “We could literally not have done it without you both. Thank 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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