Liz Perelstein Helps Families Make Well-Educated Choices

This month Greenhaven resident Liz Perelstein celebrates her 14th year as President of School Choice International. She developed the business while living in London, where her husband’s job took them for several years.

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Published January 27, 2012 3:38 PM
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slicethumbThis month Greenhaven resident Liz Perelstein celebrates her 14th year as President of School Choice International. She developed the business while living in London, where her husband’s job took them for several years.

 

By Robin Jovanovich

 

This month Greenhaven resident Liz Perelstein celebrates her 14th year as President of School Choice International. She developed the business while living in London, where her husband’s job took them for several years.

“Having just gone through the school search for my children from the Rye Neck public school system to the American School in London, I was very much aware of the challenges,” she said.

 

sliceBy the time she left London, she had a team of five educational consultants working for her. Her company now employs 100 all over the world.
“We’re living in a very child-centered society. We help parents find the right school fit for their child, which isn’t always easy. Numbers aren’t as meaningful as the interpretation of those numbers. Sometimes bright children get shortchanged,” said Ms. Perelstein, who holds a Master’s in Public Education from the University of Chicago and has worked at every level of education.

 

An important part of the fit is the culture of a school, she continued. “It should be in keeping with your values. Parents and schools need to be a partnership.”

 

When the Perelsteins moved back to Rye, the Rye Neck schools seemed “too small” for their daughter after three years in London. She ended up going to Riverdale, where she “developed independence”. Their son went back to Rye Neck. “It all worked out,” said their mother.

 

She works with relocation companies and large corporations like Pepsi, Kraft, and UBS and other investment banks. More recently, she has gotten

into private client services. That part of her business — local and international families — has tripled.

 

“We have pregnant moms living in New York City who are trying to decide where to buy a house, and we have parents who want to move their children to another school where they’ll thrive more. There are many good schools in New York.” She added, “We’ve had families who’ve worked with us on behalf of all five of their children. Sometimes we’re just there to reframe things.”

 

If a student applies and is accepted to more than one school, School Choice helps them make the right decision and is there if they have any transitional problems.

 

What Ms. Perelstein stresses to every client is that one teacher can make all the difference. “Don’t choose courses, choose teachers. And don’t just visit a school for the interview. Show up when you’re not expected, at a sporting event, for instance.”

Having decided to actively grow her business as her children moved forward — her daughter is now in law school and her son a sound designer — she’s now helping close to 1,000 families a year find the right school.

 

She recently moved her White Plains headquarters to Grand Street, within walking distance of the train station, so that busy executives and city folk can more easily fit her into their schedule.

 

“We’ve done well, even in this economy, because we’re needed,” she said. “I’m working a lot on strategy these days. We’re developing a Web tool for parents.”

 

School Choice isn’t an inexpensive option. They charge a minimum of $500 for a consultation and $6,500 for a full-service boarding school search. “We have taken a few clients who don’t have the ability to pay.”

 

They work with gifted children and those with special needs. They have nine special educators on their team. “We call the schools, make appointments. We’ll advocate for children when they need help. Most schools don’t like educational consultants, but they like working with us.”

This entrepreneurial wonder was a big draw at a recent Lives in Transition workshop at Rye Presbyterian Church. Her topic: entrepreneurship.

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