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Bennett Confidential: Case Studies—Special Education Needs, Geneva to Charlotte via London

“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 # 6: Quinn Family

Clancy Quinn, a c-suite executive at a large multinational company, was rendered momentarily speechless. The move to London from Geneva had been stressful, and the school-finding process was complicated—it always was because Zach and Percy’s special learning needs required a school setting where appropriate support was readily available. But the first week of school had gone well, and the early reports from her twins, both in 11th grade, were good. And now she was to relocate again, this time to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Declining the offer of a significant professional opportunity crossed Clancy's mind, only to be discounted. School had only just started, so hopefully the move would be less disruptive than others had been. That said, the American education landscape was unknown to her, the family’s multiple moves having been in Europe. And the twins were at a critical stage in their education, with university on the horizon. The stress and anxiety, which had started to recede, returned in full force.

Clancy was quick to realize that the complexities and challenges were even more significant than she had expected. The terminology of the US education system, its pedagogy, and even the types of schools were confusing. The curriculum seemed vastly different, both in substance and chronology, from what Zach and Percy had been learning. Would their graduation from high school be delayed? Private school application deadlines had long passed, and several schools articulated a deep reluctance to consider 11th grade placement. And, most importantly, the language around special education needs and the availability of resources that were critical to the twins’ continued success was particularly opaque. Would the twins’ different diagnoses be acknowledged, or would she have to navigate multiple processes to reconfirm Zach’s dyslexia and Percy’s dyspraxia diagnoses before she could embark on the process of identifying and securing the indicated support?

The Quinn family was offered the services of two Bennett education consultants as part of Clancy’s relocation package: a consultant with extensive knowledge of the Charlotte education landscape and a special education needs (SEN) consultant with expertise and experience with dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Always the first step in Bennett’s process, Josie, the local consultant, and Anne, the special education needs consultant, reached out to Clancy to schedule a call to fully understand the family’s central priorities for schooling and the twins’ individual learning profiles. Anne reviewed and summarized the SEN diagnoses and learner support plan and spoke with the therapist in Geneva to assure continuity of care. Josie and Anne collaborated on a school search, encompassing public, private, and Catholic schools, and reached out to admission directors to advocate for the family and assess the availability of both spaces and resources.

Josie and Anne reassured the family on frequent phone calls, offering insight into and soliciting feedback regarding what would truly be best for each twin and strategizing about optimal school settings. They offered guidance on the best support services, explaining American terminology and making suggestions as to how to best manage school visits and interviews. Within three days of the initial conversation, school visits were scheduled. The family was warmly received at their target schools, and they ultimately selected one school for Zach and another for Percy.

Clancy thanked the Bennett team profusely, declaring that she “could not have made the move, especially on such short notice, without Josie and Anne’s help.”

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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