Understanding Specialty School Admissions

Understanding Specialty School Admissions with Bonnie Jones and Meredith Krimmel

A substantial part of finding the right school for your child is going through the seemingly daunting admissions process! In this episode we chat with the director of admissions from Gateway Academy, Bonnie Jones, MS, CCC-SLP and The Parish School’s director of admissions and Unbabbled co-cost, Meredith Krimmel, MS, CCC-SLP. Throughout the episode Bonnie and Meredith walk us through what the typical admissions process is like for a specialty school including how to start the process, what paperwork parents may need to provide, and how they walk families through insuring that their program is the best fit. They also share common reasons why parents choose a specialty school over other options.  

Gateway Academy is a private school in Houston, Texas that serves 6th-12th grade students with academic and social challenges. Gateway is committed to teaching traditional academics, while also meeting the social and emotional needs of our students with learning and social differences. Bonnie Jones, MS, CCC-SLP is a licensed speech-language pathologist that serves  as the director of admissions and supports students in the classroom. She came to Gateway in 2017 to develop their Social Communication program after working at The Parish School in both the early childhood and elementary programs. Bonnie’s varied background and experience in addressing language, social, and learning challenges equip her in her current role as Director of Admissions at Gateway Academy. 

The Parish School serves children ages 2-12 who have communication delays and learning differences, empowering them with the tools to succeed. Parish provides an education for the entire family within the environment of a nurturing and safe 17-acre campus with on-site pediatric therapy clinic. Our personalized academic approach – with a focus on communication skills, social learning, nature, independence and the arts – allows children not just to grow, but to thrive. Meredith Krimmel, MS, CCC-SLP is a licensed speech-language pathologist with over 10 years of experience at The Parish School. She has worked in a variety of settings including a pediatric private clinic and providing group social learning therapy on top of her experiences in early childhood and elementary classrooms at The Parish School. Meredith has served as the Director of Admissions since 2016 where she is passionate about helping families find the right setting for their child to thrive. 


Gateway Academy Website

Unbabbled Instagram 

FInd out more about The Parish School 

Support the show


The Parish School on Instagram: ParishSchoolTx 

The Parish School Website: The Parish School 


Stephanie Landis (00:06):

Hello, and welcome to UNbabbled, a podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication delays, and learning differences. We are your hosts, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel, and we're certified speech language pathologist who spend our days at The Parish School in Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them.

Stephanie Landis (00:26):

Finding the right school program for your child can feel like an overwhelmingly daunting task. In our last episode, we spoke about finding the right school. This time, our focus is on the admissions process. In this week's episode, we chat with the director of admissions from Gateway Academy in Houston, Bonnie Jones, and the Parish School's, director of admissions our very own co-host Meredith Krimmel. Throughout the episode, Bonnie and Meredith walk us through what the typical admissions process is like for a specialty school, including how to start the process, paperwork parents may need to provide and what a classroom visit looks like at their school. They also discuss how they walk families through ensuring that their program is the best fit and share common reasons why parents choose a specialty school over other options. At the end of the episode, Bonnie leaves us with a fantastic piece of advice to trust your gut. We hope you enjoy this episode, and if you haven't already be sure to listen to our episode with Houston School Options.

Stephanie Landis (01:22):

Welcome! Today our episode is focusing on admissions into a private specialty school. And with us, we have Bonnie Jones from Gateway Academy. Hi Bonnie.

Bonnie Jones (01:33):

Hello. Good to be here.

Stephanie Landis (01:35):

And we're also gonna make it a little bit different. We're gonna put Meredith in the hot seat a little bit as she is our Director of Admissions here at The Parish School. So, you ready to be on the other end Meredith?

Meredith Krimmel (01:44):

Yep. I'm ready.

Stephanie Landis (01:45):

Thank you guys for being here today. To start off, one of the biggest questions parents have is maybe what brings other parents to seeking out a specialty school. So Bonnie, what do you see most families have brought them to looking in your school?

Bonnie Jones (02:01):

Well, I will say it's kind of different too, especially following a pandemic, um, where we see, um, since Gateway is for sixth through 12th grade, uh, we see, I guess we talk about two of our big feeder years being, um, incoming sixth graders who have been at an elementary school environment. And then also now kids that are coming into high school. And so we do have kids that come from other specialty schools. They've just found that that low student teacher ratio really works for them more individualized attention, the ability to not have to advocate as hard for different accommodations. Um, but we also have a lot of, at least at Gateway, a lot of kids coming to us from public school. And so maybe they were kind of barely hanging on either academically or socially in elementary school where they had maybe just one teacher that was willing to work with them. And then all of a sudden there's been a pandemic and they had this long period of virtual learning and really struggled in it and then were trying to mainstream back into a public school environment. And so we've also had kids coming into us from seventh grade because all of a sudden they merged back into sixth grade and that was not awesome. <laugh> either socially or academically and the same where kids were maybe kind of making it. Maybe they had a couple friends in high school that kind of got them, teachers that worked with or in I'm sorry, in middle school that kind of got them and worked with them. And now of a sudden they're trying to make it in high school and it's a completely different arena. They just can't keep up with the fast pace socially and academically.

Meredith Krimmel (03:33):

Yeah, we've seen, COVID affecting our admissions at Parish School as well, kiddos who are three who've really never or been in a, in a group in learning environment. Um, and ours is a little different than, than Gateways because we start younger. A lot of our students come to us and, and they've either never been in school or they've been asked to leave a current preschool. Um, and a lot of families come to us because they had an evaluation where someone mentioned, maybe you should look into a special school with a low student teacher ratio. I'm sure you get that too, Bonnie.

Bonnie Jones (04:01):

Absolutely. Um,

Stephanie Landis (04:04):

Is that coming more from like a, a, well, I guess for Parish it would be more developmental pediatrician, Bonnie who are usually getting evaluations and recommendations from?

Bonnie Jones (04:13):

So obviously if they're at public school, they've had an FIE, um, but there's a variety. Um, many of our students at actually by the time they get to high school have maybe counselors that they see and sometimes those counselors have recommended, you know, maybe it started where, okay, this, uh, student struggles with maybe social anxiety and then, okay, well maybe there's more going on. And sometimes from an academic, uh, piece as well. Um, it's really interesting. We've had a, just recently, especially girls, um, we've had a number of families come to us with girls with very late diagnoses on specifically on the autism spectrum, which I just, I don't know why that is because a lot of times you think those are things that have been caught earlier, but again, I think maybe they were kind of hanging on, they had friends and they could attribute whatever the struggle is to something else. And then all of a sudden you enter that middle school time period and just the dynamics to are changed so much, you know, the level of sophistication and, uh, conversations and expectations for girls in particular. And, and they just weren't making it. And all of a sudden they struggled with depression and all these other things and then realized there was more going on.

Stephanie Landis (05:26):

Yeah, that is interesting. Kind of maps up with some of the research I've seen lately about girls specifically, either with ADHD or on the spectrum presenting differently when they're younger. Right. It looks different from the boys. And then as they get older it's starts to show and present in different ways more, and it's like, oh, there we go. Yeah.

Bonnie Jones (05:47):

For whatever reason, we just have seen that. And so, yeah.

Stephanie Landis (05:52):


Meredith Krimmel (05:53):

Hoping we're gonna get better at identifying girls younger. They're missing so many years of early intervention because they typically are identified later, they present differently, right?

Stephanie Landis (06:03):

Yeah. So when parents are seeking out, especially school, do you have any advice on things for them to look for?

Bonnie Jones (06:12):

So a lot of times when we're going through and having them, you know, we're giving, I'm giving the tour, it's like, do you see, or cause like they get into peek into the classrooms and kind of see things, and we're also dialoging. And just, does this match up with your student? You know, can you visualize your student here? You know, in terms of a lot of times they're sharing interests, cuz we wanna know obviously that they're a good academic match, but they're also hopefully gonna be able to find friends and peers, uh, with similar interests that they can make connections with. And so that's definitely a dialogue that takes place going through the tour. Can they see them, their, their student here or at our, our school. And also does it, it sounds like an environment that would, um, match their student.

Meredith Krimmel (06:58):

And I know for, um, admissions at The Parish School, we'll always refer to another program as we go through the process and determine whether or not we're the right fit. Um, if we don't think we're the right fit, we'll refer out to another program. Do you guys do that too, Bonnie? Do you help guide families if it's not Gateway?

Bonnie Jones (07:12):


Meredith Krimmel (07:13):

Yeah. I always tell families like just get started somewhere because it's such a small network of, of schools, and we all want the best for each student who comes through our doors. So we're gonna help point you in the right direction if it's not here. So just at least getting out there and touring and seeing what the options are and having a dialogue with an admissions director who can point you in the right direction. It's always a good place to start.

Bonnie Jones (07:36):

I don't know if you encounter it too. Um, especially again, which I'm talking about, like these late diagnoses families, they're just so hungry for information in general. Like where do I start? How does this work? What does this mean? And so, um, I, I also just say, you know, even if we're not a good match, I'm happy to be a future resource for you and just help, you know, give you additional resources or information as questions come up. So

Meredith Krimmel (08:05):

Yeah, that's great. We do the same, like to be available, to point people in the right direction and point them to resources.

Stephanie Landis (08:14):

How do most parents find you?

Bonnie Jones (08:16):

It's interesting cuz we've had, I mean, I'm sure you are part of the same discussion. Um, the millennials look for schools completely different. A lot of them have already done their research online. And so they already come to us with kind of a wealth of information from what they've found. Uh, we do get a lot of referrals from doctors or other families as well, but the, I guess that those are our main sources of information, lots and lots of families doing their own research ahead of time. And then just referrals. I guess the other thing I said, doctors, um, educational, uh, placement personnel is, but we do have some kids that come to us from boarding schools or families that are relocating from another, uh, state that have used an educational placement personnel. But again, a lot of the doctors that when they go to, um, have their full evaluation were one of the schools they, um, recommend. And like I said, word of mouth, but it's very interesting. I've probably had more than a handful. I've had several families that yeah. Um, you know, we felt like our, our student needed more, we Googled specialty schools in our area. <laugh> you were so many miles from us. So here we are, you know, <laugh>

Meredith Krimmel (09:28):

Yeah. We always point families back to the special schools coalition. Um, this is another resource. I wondered if anybody ever come, we don't do a lot of, uh, people who come to us from there, but we, we do always provide that as a resource. It's just, you know, a list of all the special schools in, in Houston. So yeah, I don't, I don't know if people are finding that on their own though. It's not as visible,

Bonnie Jones (09:48):


Stephanie Landis (09:49):

Yeah. So with these parents who are Googling, which is the first thing I do all the time, mm-hmm <affirmative> do you have any like tips on keywords to look for other just than just special school, Houston?

Bonnie Jones (10:02):

<laugh> yeah. Um, so I mean obviously throwing in your diagnoses, um, I know it's harder, but as you're navigating the website, looking for levels of support, things like cognition also, uh, come to play. But of course that's, I dunno if you wanna say that that's such like a hot button <laugh> but um, I, I always talk about, you know, level support, how much they need in the classroom. You know, we're not a one on one individualized program, I guess those are the types of things,

Meredith Krimmel (10:33):

Including your child's diagnosis and including, you know, well, yeah, looking on the website, making sure that they serve the population that reminds you of your child, that they provide the level of support that your child needs, the type of support, the type of intervention. And some schools are really, really specific about who they serve. Um, we are a school for children. Who've been diagnosed with high functioning autism, and some schools are a little bit more vague. Mm-hmm <affirmative> we serve children with neurological differences or language and learning differences. So spending time on the website and really looking at the specifics of what the program and curriculum involves is really helpful in narrowing it down and just calling the admissions office before you go and being really upfront and honest about who your child is to make sure that this is a place that could serve them and serve them well.

Meredith Krimmel (11:23):

So what's the easiest way you mentioned calling how do parents typically start the admissions process?

Bonnie Jones (11:31):

Um, with us, it is generally a telephone call. Um, I actually don't field the calls because I'm not up front all the time. Um, seeing that we are a smaller school, we only have 75 students. I wear many hats. And so you will schedule the tour, um, with her, with Michelle Henderson, our, um, admin assistant up front. I know we are working that is definitely on the, um, list of things to do is to allow scheduling directly through our website, but we are not quite there yet. So that, that starts the ball rolling. And then I will be the one then that gives them a tour. And most of the time I spend some time with the family, specifically talking about their student at some point in the tour. At some point the, the family is ready to talk up front and I'm like, okay, let's go into my classroom and we will just talk about your student firts. Other times, they wanna kind of see the school here about, you know, what we do, and then they kind of wanna talk later. And so that's where I guess a lot of more specific questions are answered about their child, at some point in the tour.

Stephanie Landis (12:37):

Is that similar Meredith people usually start with a, a phone call and a tour?

Meredith Krimmel (12:41):

Yeah. I would say typically an email or a phone call and then they'll schedule a tour either over the phone, um, over email or we do have an online portal where people can self schedule a tour. And then, um, with our admissions process, they'll tour with either me or our admissions assistant or, uh, Molly, who's our admission specialist as well. So we've got some options. We all can provide really helpful information. And then, um, if they feel like this is the, this is the right place for the child, they'll go ahead and apply. And then we'll go through our process. And, and our a process is pretty thorough. I think yours is tooG Bonnie at gateway. Um, we review documents and then we meet them one on the child one-on-one and then we have a two day classroom visit to really determine if you know, this is a really big decision for families. In some cases, it's a pretty big sacrifice either of time or finances to make the change to a specialty school. So really wanna make sure it's it's the right fit and, and the sacrifice is worth it. This is really where their child needs to be.

Stephanie Landis (13:40):

Is that similar for you, Bonnie?

Bonnie Jones (13:42):

It is. Um, one of the things I will say that kind of, I guess, puts a, a slows down the process is when the family does not have a full evaluation within three years. And a lot of times we have, you know, families they're coming in with a high school student who is now 14 and their last full eval was maybe when they were eight. And so, um, that is just one piece of the whole student and how they show up, but we really wanna have that. And the other thing is teacher recommendations. We just really wanna know how they look in the classroom, um, before we schedule those shadow visits. And then we do two days as well, just because for the student that first day. So often, sometimes they're really nervous and, you know, we don't really get a good sense of who they are. And then it also allows us to kind of move them around sometimes too, to see if maybe they fit better with a different cohort. And so, yeah, we're firm believers in the two day visit.

Meredith Krimmel (14:36):

I'm so glad you brought up the testing because that is a big roadblock in our admissions process as well. So actually the best advice I have for families who are considering a specialty school is if you don't have an updated evaluation, start there. Um, most of us require it as part of our admissions process. We don't require it for our younger learners, our five and unders uh, our four unders, but we do require it for our elementary. And I know a lot of schools do. So if you're, if you're about to start that process, um, go ahead and get on a list because some of those waiting lists are super long.

Bonnie Jones (15:08):

They are sometimes it's like up to a two month, wait if you want a particular provider. And so, yeah, and then even once you have the meeting, sometimes it's another 30 days before you have the report. And if you're in a public school, I know just because we've had several families, um, dealing with that right now, sometimes it's really, you know, their, their student is, overdue for testing and just in this current climate, so many things have been delayed or pushed back. And so they really have to advocate with their particular school to have that evaluation completed as well.

Stephanie Landis (15:42):

That's great advice to public school. Can you explain a little bit further about why the testing really is so an, an important part of the piece of the puzzle of admissions?

Bonnie Jones (15:56):

Um, again for sixth through 12th grade, um, you know, all report cards aren't created equal, so it is one snapshot of the school, but again, having, cuz we specifically want the cognitive testing, the academic testing, if there's been any other things like, you know, the ADHD, the brief, the executive functioning, I mean there's a, a variety of tests, but it kind of helps us know how a student shows up when those, um, supports are pulled back. Also a lot of times, you know, maybe a student is really struggling in the class and doesn't do his or her best work. Sometimes they may show up even stronger on that individual in individualized evaluation. So that's good information to know too, like I said, it's just one piece of the puzzle, but it's a very important piece. We're gonna also do our own informal assessment when the student comes for a visit, but it helps us have a sense of the student beforehand. And it does include their diagnoses, which is also helpful information just to, to know.

Meredith Krimmel (16:54):

Yeah. And we definitely use some of that testing once a student does start here as kind of a jumping off point for individualizing their, their curriculum. But like Bonnie said, knowing that it's just a snapshot, testing is just one piece of the puzzle, but it does help the teachers kind of get started with a new student once they start with us.

Bonnie Jones (17:13):

I think that's a great phrase, a jumping off point. And, and I would say we, we use it for the same way too. Yeah,

Stephanie Landis (17:20):

That makes sense. I think sometimes parents worry that if they get the testing ahead of time, it'll be an automatic hard no. Or like, they'll see the diagnosis. So it's, it's comforting to hear that, that you take into account, but it's not the, the end of all, be all.

Bonnie Jones (17:36):


Stephanie Landis (17:37):

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Is that similar to some, a lot of the other specialty schools?

Bonnie Jones (17:43):

I, as far as I'm aware, all of them require full evaluations. <laugh> at least I have not heard differently. And that's definitely something that is frequently referenced <laugh> so

Meredith Krimmel (17:55):

Yeah, my understanding is they all require it, I think. And I think anyone who's in the world of special education understands that testing is just a snapshot of a child's abilities at that moment in time in that environment, with that inva with that evaluator, I've had families send me, um, evaluations from their child that were done less than a year apart with vastly different scores. So we know, we know that it's just one piece and I think anyone working in the, in the field knows that and knows that to take it with for what it is.

Bonnie Jones (18:24):

Right. I would even add for students that are at some point looking to main stream from a specialty school to a traditional school and receive accommodations. They're also gonna need that testing. So, um, it, it really is. Um, we want our students to start again, as they get older, uh, being aware of what kind of accommodations are learning difference they have to have, so they can advocate for themselves as well. So it's just something that if they may end up needing for, for a while to have just every three years specialty or otherwise, if they have any kind of learning differences.

Stephanie Landis (18:58):

Yeah. That's something that is really enforced here, starting in sometimes in the early childhood, but especially on the elementary side of, of trying to teach them how to advocate for themselves as best as they can for first graders and kindergarteners, but as they go on and gone, because they do, they, they leave our little mess and they go out into the world, want them to be prepared.

Bonnie Jones (19:20):

We do. Absolutely.

Stephanie Landis (19:22):

Since you brought up the tips of, uh, transitioning out, are there any advice that you have for families transitioning from your school looking to go other places? I know yours will be a little different cause yours might be looking right the older years and above, but I'm sure you have some kids going from middle to high school.

Bonnie Jones (19:40):

Um, absolutely. And so knowing when a family and I believe just from my recollection at being at Parish School too, when we are aware that a family is looking to prepare, um, we start intentionally talking about that more and what it's going to look like. So if they have been receiving supports, we know that they will not be eligible to receive in their new environment. We're starting to pull that back and see how they operate, but also intentional discussions about, you know, for example, needing more time, or it's really important to be able to have like visual instructions and things like that and are recording things on, you know, tape and being allowed to have that as an accommodation for students with dyslexia, just knowing how to have their audio textbooks and things like that. Those are all intentional discussions. And we kind of also know the schools that are better working with our population. And so we have a referral list for that as well.

Meredith Krimmel (20:38):

Yeah. That's pretty similar to Parish. We wanna support families with the transition, help them guide them to a school that would be more accommodating mm-hmm <affirmative>. And also, as you said, Bonnie starting to prepare that child by pulling back on some of those accommodations in the classroom to see, you know, what what's gonna happen when they don't have those available.

Stephanie Landis (20:57):

I know that sometimes with specialty schools, finances can be a roadblock. Are there any other things that you see might be a stepping stone or a roadblock for parents to get, I guess, where I'm trying to go with this, is that like, what do you see as something that might be holding parents back from seeking out a specialty school?

Bonnie Jones (21:22):

So, um, I guess a couple of things, um, one, if they have multiple children, the idea of having kids in multiple locations, if parents work logistics can be a challenge as well. And so that might be overwhelming a lot of times, especially if they've had an active role in their students school, you know, they may have built a community. And so, you know, that can be a grieving process too, or just even the recognition that their student is going to potentially need a more supportive environment. And so being able to emotionally work through that, talk through that figure, that piece out, um, is, is I think just a, being able to walk through the family through that process.

Meredith Krimmel (22:08):

Yeah. Logistics, financials, and grief. Those are the big roadblocks for parents finding, you know, financials, obviously just how do you, how do you afford it? How do you make it work logistics? Um, maybe even if you only have one kid, how do I get across town of the school? My child needs during high traffic hours and to get to work on time and then grief being things from, I always envisioned that my child would go to the school that I went to or the school that their siblings went to or, um, or just acknowledging and accepting that my child needs something different than what I was expecting them to need. And I think a big part of, um, the admissions process is when a family is in the earlier stages of grief is just being, as you said earlier, Bonnie, a resource for them, you know, they might not be ready to take that leap to a special school yet, but, um, we can provide them with information and guide them to some resources to help them until maybe they are ready. Um, and, and, and if financial is a hindrance, I mean, there is financial aid and scholarships available to lots of our schools <affirmative>, um, but sometimes that might never be a reality for a family, so help helping to guide them to get resources in other ways as well, and, and to apply for scholarships and financial aid. So maybe that they can make it work.

Stephanie Landis (23:24):

Yeah. I think one of the things that surprises families the most, at least with our campus is that, we want it to be a place for families to find connection and community. And so while it might not look the same as, you know, your kid being on tee-ball with all of their kids at their neighborhood school and all of that, we still have a really great group of parents who are, who are also looking for that connection and community. Do you find that at Gateway too?

Bonnie Jones (23:53):

Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah. We have, um, a variety of parent education available, which is open to all the schools. Then we also have, uh, parent cohort coffee and things like that, where they might just be the middle school parents that come together. And then when they get to high school, more individualized tracks where they're going through every step of the process with other parents. And I know many of our parents stay connected long after gateway and have been very grateful for that piece to meet with other parents that are experiencing and going through the same things.

Meredith Krimmel (24:27):

One of my favorite stories a family shared with us was their first, um, birthday party of a Parish. When they were at Parish school. It was their first birthday party of a classmate. And the parents said that was the moment I felt most accepted and connected because I didn't have to worry that people wouldn't understand my child. And I didn't have to worry that he might have a meltdown because he was overstimulated by the sensory, you know, that we were all there together and we all understood it. And that was just such a sense of belonging that they hadn't had previously.

Bonnie Jones (24:55):


Stephanie Landis (24:57):

Yeah. That's a good point. I think it can also bring a sense of comfort that the community that you find are going through similar challenges so that you're not the only mom at PTO being like, well, what about this? So that's nice, but my child's having these problems or I think we all are having mm-hmm, <affirmative> something with parenting and our kids, but it's nice to have that connection of, of people going through the same, same thing you are

Bonnie Jones (25:23):


Speaker 2 (25:24):

Is there anything else? I am clearly not as familiar with the admissions process. So for me, this is a learning experience too. <laugh>. Is there anything else that you would give parents advice for going through this whole big, long process, even just like timeline, advice of what to expect

Bonnie Jones (25:42):

Timeline wise? Um, I think the first of the year, as soon, you know, January, February as possible to have your paperwork, um, you know, if you need an evaluation on all those types of things to already have that in the works, so that if you are really interested in a school, you can apply by February at the, you know, and start getting in for those shadow visits. I don't know how it is with you Meredith, but we send our first round of contracts out the Friday before spring break. And so that's just, you know, the timeline's pretty fast. Um, the other thing is I, like I said, do your research and we would, you know, love to have families come to Gateway, but you can visit multiple schools and just kind of see which one fits your student best. And so I, um, Houston is very fortunate that we have a number of specialty schools. And so, yeah, I think go and take a peek at lots of them to know what's out there.

Meredith Krimmel (26:39):

Yeah. You can almost find a school for, for anyone here in Houston. We're so lucky with all of our different opportunities, but yeah, I just echo what Bonnie said, be prepared early in the year. We also schedule our first shadow days the week before spring break. So our first set of contracts for new students go out the Friday before spring break as well. And we have rolling admissions. I'm pretty sure you guys do too. Meaning we have, yeah, we accept children throughout the year if their space is available, but there's nothing worse as a parent or on the admission side than a family coming through late in the year. And it being the perfect place for their child, but there there's no space. Yeah. Um, that's the hard, those are some of the hardest conversations to have. So starting earlier, we'll definitely get a jump on that and, you know, doing your research, visiting multiple schools, but also being really upfront and honest about who your child is and what they need. Um, because we don't want to place a child in a program based on information that wasn't full or, or complete. And, um, and then find that we're not the right place. And then here we are, again, looking for a new placement and, and adjusting and changing again. So

Bonnie Jones (27:49):

Yeah, I would agree too. Um, I've had conversations with families, like I said, when they're really upfront and through the tour, um, it becomes clear their student is not a good match, but I'm able to refer 'em right then and there. So they're not even wasting their time applying. They're able to go, you know, follow the, the more appropriate path for their, their student with visiting other schools. So,

Stephanie Landis (28:10):

Yeah, I was shocked when I found out that how early planning for the next year started. I was like, January, all right, what are you gonna do next year? And I was like, hold on. I can't think about next year. I'm thinking about now, but as a parent and I've started to try and start thinking about next year, way ahead of time. Same with summer camps.

Meredith Krimmel (28:29):

Summer camps. Oh, my goodness. Starts so early.

Stephanie Landis (28:34):

Yeah. Yeah. That's a, that's a good thing. Bringing up summer camps is that sometimes summer camps are a good way to, to find and figure out and, and search out schools too. Do you guys have summer programming Bonnie?

Bonnie Jones (28:48):

So that is a thing that is a year by year basis. And so generally what we have offered has been a, a new student slash middle school camp in the summer for our current families and then summer school classes for our high school students. So if they wanted to get, you know, ahead and not have to have, you know, this difficult science class at the same time as other programming, or maybe they wanted more of an elective option during the school year, we do have that available. Um, at other times they have explored opening our summer programming to outside families. And so that is an option, I think, at different times, but

Stephanie Landis (29:28):

That also makes sense for older kids. I feel like summer camps are even more important with the younger kids when they yeah. You know, they need to be somewhere with an adult staring at them cause they're six or four <laugh> right. Yes. Makes sense. What about you Meredith?

Stephanie Landis (29:44):

Yeah, we, uh, we offer camp acorn in the month of June. It's a four week long program. It's, um, a camp environment, but it is very similar to the school year and that it's structured. And, um, we have speech language pathologists and educators on campus. And then we, uh, the Parish School has nothing in July, but the Carruth Center, our onsite pediatric clinic offers week long camps through the summer. Um, super readers, uh, super writers, um, KABC, the Kaufman Apraxia boot camp, um, things like that. And we have overnight camps as well that we offer.

Stephanie Landis (30:18):

Yeah. Yeah. I, I thought just some Googling around myself that I saw that. And parents talking here that there are different schools offer different types of summer programming

Bonnie Jones (30:30):

And that yeah, mm-hmm <affirmative> and there are some other specialty schools that open their programming to the community as well.

Meredith Krimmel (30:37):

Yeah. Ours is open to the community. I know the joy school offers summer camps that are open to the community. I don't know about Briarwood. I don't, I don't know if they offer any summer programming

Bonnie Jones (30:47):

At one point. Monarch did offer summer programming to the community as well.

Meredith Krimmel (30:51):

Mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. So there are options and that's definitely, like you said, stuff, that's like a great, um, opportunity for families to dip their toe into the special school's world and see does my child benefit, and, and we see that a lot here, you know, families will attend camp acorn and by week three, yeah. They're mess. They're messaging us. Uh, do you have room for the next school year or we just seen so much growth in progress.

Stephanie Landis (31:15):

Well, Bonnie, before we let you off the hook and the bells start ringing in the background for you Uhhuh <affirmative> we have one question that we ask all of our guests.

Bonnie Jones (31:24):


Stephanie Landis (31:25):

We like to throw people off at the end. <laugh> but we have one question we like to ask. If you had a piece of advice for families and people listening, and it can be related to admissions or totally unrelated. If you had one piece of advice, what would you give?

Bonnie Jones (31:42):

I guess, just because we are working with special populations, um, for parents, whether their students are neurotypical or end up having any kind of neurological difference, if there is something you are even slightly worried about, get it checked out. Like I just, you, I know you can speak to it as well. Early intervention just is so key. And I, we have so many families that are like, I felt like something was wrong, but you know, the doctor said they would pass or it would not be a big deal. And it ended up, it was a big deal and they wish they had received intervention earlier. So I think that would be my piece of advice, you know, know, go with your gut and have it checked out and, and follow up if necessary

Meredith Krimmel (32:31):

Well, and, and trusting your gut applies to also searching for the school. I, you know, trust your gut when you're, you know, if you're touring schools, you know, your child best. So trust that parent instinct.

Stephanie Landis (32:45):

Yeah. That's fantastic. All right. Well, thank you so much.


Meredith Krimmel (32:53):

Thank you for listening to the UNbabbled podcast. For more information on today's episode, please see our episode description for more information on the Parish School, visit Parrishschool.org. If you're not already, don't forget to subscribe to the UNbabbled podcast on your app of choice. And if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review. A special thank you to Stig Daniels, Amanda Arnold and Stella Limwell for all their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.