3 Ways to Explore
Education Options and Considerations for Relocating Families
By: Gabriella Rowe

Relocating to a new city, state or country can be exciting, but also overwhelming, especially when children are involved. Finding a new school that’s the best fit for your child is undoubtedly a high priority, but if you’re unfamiliar with the market, it can be difficult to even know where to begin. It’s important to thoroughly research and consider all your education options, utilize trusted information resources, and determine what school services will best address your child’s needs, ultimately preparing for success now and for years to come.

For many years, medical professionals, executives, and oil and gas engineers and their families have been relocating to Houston, to the Energy Corridor of West Houston, and in recent years to Katy, where I myself live. This continues today, especially as the city increasingly diversifies its economic interests, leaving Houston poised to remain a central hub of business and innovation. More and more families will undoubtedly be transferred or choose to relocate here in the coming years. I actually relocated to Houston in July, after spending more than 15 years as a Head of School in New York City.

Once the decision has been made to relocate, and after you’ve found a place to live, you’re likely to turn your attention to your children’s home away from home: school. Before making that decision thorough due diligence is required to identify an educational setting where your child will flourish.

The Houston landscape offers a wide range of schooling options: private, public, parochial, college prep and boarding. Families should consider education programs that have flexibility in terms of outcomes, such as differentiated curriculums whose content could be applied to other school systems around the world. Such programs offer families the freedom to move without the feeling of leaving their child’s studies behind. Or, if frequent moves are taking a toll on your child, consider a school that has a boarding option. I also encourage parents to ask the school if they have experience working with relocation agencies as this is an indication that they will likely understand how to acclimate students from different cultures and educational systems.

After you’ve applied to schools, arrange a private tour of the school. This personal approach will enable you to view the school with you family’s specific needs in mind. There really is no substitute to seeing the facilities, walking the hallways and speaking with administrators and teachers. Also, take note if the students are happy and engaged. Does there seem to be a real sense of community within the school? I have found that those qualifiers can be just as important as the academic courses and enrichment activities offered by a school.

If touring is not a possibility, talk to your relocation advisor and see if they can put you in touch with parents who have previously relocated so you can learn about their experience. Read everything there is to read about the school, both the information on its website and articles that have been written about the school in the local papers. Peruse the school’s social media channels to gauge areas of focus and to get a sense of the school community.

When it comes down to it, parents want to find a school that will best prepare their child to succeed at the finest colleges and universities, and beyond. Because of that, specific school offerings to consider include:

  • Early Education Program: A strong early childhood education program is essential to enabling students to build lifelong success and fulfillment.
  • STEM Curriculum: Emphasis on innovative math and science programs results in exceptional school placement and workplace preparedness.
  • Fine and Performing Arts: A full array of fine and performing arts stimulates academic and social growth, helping students uncover hidden talents and discover new passions.
  • Specialized Curriculum such as IB: With a rigorous program such as the International Baccalaureate, your child will be prepared for the selective college admissions process both in the United States and abroad.
  • Extracurriculars: Robust offerings in extracurricular activities are key in instilling confidence and providing your child with the opportunity to pursue a wide variety of interests.
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: A smaller class size means more personalized attention for your student.
  • Global Experiences: Opportunities to interact with different cultures and points of view create responsible world citizens who can succeed in any environment. 

Relocating is challenging no matter the circumstances, but with the right research and insights from school representatives and families, you can help ease the transition and ensure you find a place where your child will thrive.


Gabriella Rowe is Head of School at The Village School in Houston, which is a member of the Meritas International Family of Schools. She is a widely recognized leader in the education landscape who frequently consults with top private schools around the country on issues such as curriculum implementation and standards-based grading. Prior to relocating to Houston, Gabriella was a third generation Head of School at the Mandell School in New York City, which was founded by her grandfather. She was responsible for leading Mandell through its evolution from a well-known early learning center to a highly lauded school with four locations across Manhattan. Gabriella can be reached at growe@thevillageschool.com.

 
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