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Private School for 2e Learners? Silicon Valley Schools and Beyond

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

REEL recently hosted a private school panel featuring three parents, Abby Kirigin, Carmen O’Shea, and Callie Turk, who shared their journeys to find a good educational fit for their twice-exceptional (2e) children and families. The event also featured new resources from REEL on private schools in Silicon Valley. We present below the third of three blog posts that summarize the key takeaways from the session. The first blog post offered advice on key considerations when thinking about private schools for your 2e learner while the second blog post covered admissions process tips.


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In preparation for REEL’s recent 2e private school panel, we compiled a list of Silicon Valley private schools with some topline information about what these schools focus on—gifted, 2e, learning differences, grade levels. You can review the list and suggest additions to it: https://tinyurl.com/REELPrivateSchoolsList.


One attendee shared, “We consulted with a leading psychologist focused on 2e kids, and he said our kids are so unique there is not a perfect school, we need to focus on the least bad school option and supplement in areas that the school is not able to support.” Some parents mentioned they try to optimize their school choice based on the factors that are hardest for them to address at home. For example, they may select the school that best supports their child’s social skills, while opting to provide advanced math opportunities at home. Callie observed, “If there were a perfect solution for 2e kids in Silicon Valley, we would have told you in this session. So, as you go through the list of local schools, remember that this process really is about the fit for your family and balancing all the factors that you face.”


Callie also highlighted the dedicated 2e schools across the country, many of which offer virtual options on an ongoing basis, noting, “I would look at those schools that offer remote options because they’re probably better set up to support 2e learners, and, in some cases, also explicitly designed for virtual learning.”


It might surprise families that many Silicon Valley schools are unfamiliar with 2e or don’t specifically serve 2e students. 2e is a relatively new term to a lot of people, including educators. In fact, it is more common to find schools designed for twice-exceptional students in the East Bay. Additionally, some of the schools that you might expect to support 2e students, like those for the “gifted”, may not have the expertise on staff to address children’s learning differences. In preparation for the panel, Callie spoke with admissions directors from several local schools for gifted learners; all of them shared that they are not specifically set up for 2e learners. They do have 2e students because, inevitably, if you are a school that serves gifted students, you will have some 2e students. But it’s all about the fit between that child, that family and that school. All of these schools that serve gifted students encourage anyone who thinks that the school might be a good option for their child to reach out, as they evaluate children on a case by case basis.


The panelists also recommended several resources to help Bay Area parents sort through their school decisions:


Abby, Carmen, and Callie’s children have attended many schools, including Trinity School, Tru School, Encinal Elementary School, Synapse, Woodland School, Touchstone Learning, Helios, Woodside Priory, and Mid-Peninsula High School. They and many other REEL parents have explored and applied to many others. Please email reeladmin@reelpaloalto.org to learn more about parents’ personal perspectives on specific schools, recognizing that each parent and family will have a unique viewpoint based on their needs and experiences.


In the end, whether you decide on public school, private school, virtual school, home school, or something in between, there are many options. The goal is to find a place where your unique child can thrive and grow. As Callie shared, “My daughter went from being someone who was a little bit of a problem, who didn’t want to get up in the morning, to being someone who got up every day and loved going to school.” We hope you find the educational option that helps your child get up and go!

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