Finding The Right-Fit Private School For Your Child in Atlanta One family’s story…and tips for success
By Trinity School
Rachel and Michael Giampaolo’s family found out they were moving from Chicago to Atlanta and weren’t sure where they would send their three children to school. Trinity School, an elementary-only independent school located in Atlanta that serves children age three through sixth grade, helped make the transition as easy as possible for the family and ultimately was where the Giampaolos enrolled two of their children.
When Rachel and Michael began the search process, they knew very little about not only the Atlanta metro area, but also its schools. As a result, they cast a wide net, looking at both public and private schools. “Since we were out-of-state, we tried to be as methodical as possible about the search, Rachel said. “Even if we lived in the Atlanta area, the process could be overwhelming. So, our first step was to speak to as many people as we could find through an array of contacts, and the response was unbelievable. We found people so willing to discuss the different school options along with the pros and cons, cultures and neighborhoods of each. Second, we planned a visit to Atlanta in order to acquaint ourselves with not only the city, but also each school.”
The Giampaolos faced a few challenges along the way, especially as many Atlanta schools have a rigid application process due to the sheer volume of people applying. Some schools were not as willing to accommodate out-of-town applicants that needed tours outside of the pre-scheduled times. In addition, coordinating the children’s onsite interviews was quite the hurdle as the family’s visits did not coincide with the scheduled admissions dates.
“We mapped out everything,” Rachel explained. “We had to ensure that our move dates and timing coincided with the application process. Next, we prioritized schools that culturally fit our family and had a strong, child-centered elementary program. And it’s one thing to talk to friends and research a school online, but it is a totally different experience to see them in person. We made sure that both of us visited each school prior to starting the application process.”
The family planned a week when Rachel would visit Atlanta and tour a wide range of schools. After Michael started work in town, he made sure to schedule campus visits as well as meet with admissions directors. The family first heard about Trinity School through a college friend of Rachel’s who has two children at the school. As they spoke to other families in the area, including their Realtor, Trinity was always recommended as a school to keep on their radar. Ultimately, Trinity School stood out to the Giampaolo family because of its elementary-only mission and personalized admissions process.
“For a family applying from out-of-state, Trinity made it as easy as possible,” said Rachel. “The application process focused on the child, which was fantastic. Trinity was the only school that allowed my kids to visit the classrooms and participate as a student for the day. That act alone was very impactful to the kids and parents.”
“Moreover, Trinity did a number of helpful things to ease the transition,” she continued. “They set us up with a family that could help answer any questions about Atlanta, the school, extracurriculars and more. On orientation day, they had the school only open to new students for an hour. Not only did that allow for all the new students to immediately bond with one another, but also Trinity took that opportunity to introduce the new students to all of the specials teachers, tour the school again, and explore their classrooms. That hour made a world of difference on my kids’ comfort levels when we dropped them off for the first day. And throughout the summer, there were ample opportunities to play on the school playground with other new families.”
After the first year, how do the Giampaolos feel about their choice of Trinity? “Our kids transitioned so seamlessly into the school,” they said. “They have been happy, made friends and feel like a part of the community. They love their new school! The same applies to us parents.”
Tips for Private School Search Success and Resulting Transition in Atlanta
Moving to a new state, or to a new city, can be a stressful endeavor, especially if you have children. You may not know the local schools or the various options. If you are looking at a private school for your child, where do you begin your search? What if the traditional application process has already passed? The following simple tips can help alleviate stress, focus your exploration and ultimately help you find the right fit for your child in Atlanta, even if you are beginning your search now for the Fall.
- If possible, start early and understand the application process timing for private schools. Don’t panic if you are beginning your search late.
- Atlanta has an abundance of independent schools, and because of the city’s expansive infrastructure and resulting traffic, your new location will be important. Map out where you will work and where you hope to live. Limit your search to a reasonable distance from home and work. There are so many options in Atlanta, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Visit KnowAtlanta Magazine’s handy independent school map and focus on the schools within your new neighborhood.
- Once you have narrowed down your search area, begin speaking with as many local people as possible through your various contacts.
- Visit the various schools’ websites. Dive deep into the available material, including videos and social media accounts. Explore material that explains the school’s mission, culture, curriculum, community and admissions policies.
- Contact the schools you are interested in and schedule a visit if possible. If you can’t visit, make personal contact with the school’s admissions office.
- If you are enrolling late, ask if there is space available and what the late admission process looks like.
- Make sure you gather the necessary material for the admissions process; schools will typically list these items on their website or on their application websites/portals.
- In addition to helping you find the right-fit school for your child, independent school admissions offices can also provide a wealth of knowledge about your new area: the community, events and neighborhoods. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Staff in these offices are a great way to plug into activities, extracurricular programs and summer camp programs, helping ease the transition from the summer to the school year.
About Trinity School
Established in 1951, Trinity School is Atlanta’s only private elementary-only school and has been helping children flourish for generations. Trinity serves children from age three through the sixth grade. For more information, please visit www.trinityatl.org.