Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].
If you’ve been reading these for a while, many of you know I’m a Vienna-based Realtor® and mom, and I’m also married to a public school educator. My perspective of schools around the area is influenced by so many different factors.
I have a lot of homebuyers right now who don’t have kids (yet) and are going strictly off school ratings when deciding where they should live. However, school ratings are not the be-all and end-all of how to pick a school system for a child.
Here’s what I wish I had known before I had kids, before I moved to Vienna, and before I bought a house tied to a school.
You have no idea what raising kids will be like until you have them. Will both parents work? Will one stay home? Will one job be flexible enough to drop off/pick up? For example…
- School hours vary by individual school. Some elementary schools start at 8:30 and others start at 9:15. Will you need before and/or after-school care? Not every school has that on site (it’s called SACC). For instance, Louise Archer buses kids to Flint Hill ES or Vienna ES. Marshall Road has a long waitlist, and some kids get bussed to the rec center.
- Maybe you don’t need full-time after-school care, but an extra day or two a week for the kid(s) to stay late at school to socialize won’t hurt. Did you know some schools bring in awesome organizations to run after-school activities? Some others don’t.
Do you have a set idea of what kind of education you want your child to have?
Here’s an example: Not every school offers a second language. (This one really blows my mind.) Wolftrap offers Mandarin. Colvin Run, Cunningham Park, Flint Hill, Franklin Sherman, Haycock, Churchill Road all do, too. Kent Gardens offers French. Archer and Vienna Elementary? No second language at all.
What about the gifted and talented program? Do you know what the Advanced Academic Program is?
In the second grade, all of the students take a standardized test, along with an application to the AAP program (which is really the gifted and talented program). Many of the kids who get in will go, which will make the home school classes smaller. For others, they may choose to stay at their home school because some have a level IV center on site. (Cunningham Park, Chesterbrook, Franklin Sherman, Marshall Road, Wolftrap, etc.) Otherwise, you’re really relying on the “Gifted Education Teacher” at the school to give advanced opportunities to your child.
What is the school community like?
This one is hard because I don’t think many people talk about the social dynamics in the parent scene at schools. Is it cliquey? Is there a large engagement with the PTA? Are there opportunities to meet other parents?
I have found even at a small elementary school, the best opportunity to meet other parents is at the playground after school. If you’re a working parent and can’t do that, you’re toast. The next best thing is through sports (VYI, VLL, etc.), but they don’t always group the kids by school, so you’re not guaranteed to be on a team with your neighborhood school kids. Ask around on this one. Check the PTA social pages for engagement.
As a Realtor® there’s only so much I can share about schools, demographics, etc. so some of this you do have to research on your own. But if you’re thinking of moving and have specific questions, please know you can always email me at [email protected].
Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479. There are so many fun things…
Shipgarten’s Thanksgiving Barks & Brews Festival is coming this Saturday (via Shipgarten/Instagram) People will be talking about Bruno at Shipgarten in Tysons this Thanksgiving weekend. Characters from the Disney movie…
This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better. November — a month containing both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving…
Curative will operate COVID-19 testing mobile labs at six sites in Fairfax County (courtesy Fairfax County Health Department) Curative is set to shut down all of its public COVID-19 testing…
Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many. He embodies grace, positivity and motivation in ways that no one else can. If we could all learn a thing or two from him, the world would be a much better place. He does so much for others, and does so with a smile on his face 99% of the time.
He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy. CG is no longer able to work and do what he loves for the time being because of this and we’d love your support.
The Rhea Baker State Farm Agency is proud to support Shelter House in providing safe places to be during quarantine. Shelter House’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence. Right now they are providing over 200 hotel rooms to those in need in our community. In the past year, across all programs, Shelter House served nearly 500 households comprised of over 1,500 individuals, 60% of which were children.
Of the households that exited shelter, over 70% moved to permanent housing. The Baker Agency has served Vienna and Tysons residents and business owners since 2007 and proudly offers insurance solutions for you home, condo, auto insurance, life insurance and more. We offer complimentary reviews and coach teen drivers to safer, better drivers, and to help keep your auto insurance rates down! We are always happy to talk or text at 703-847-6880.