Liz is a mom to three beautiful kids – Isabell, 12; Will, 8; and Nate, 6 – and as if that’s not enough to keep someone busy, she’s also an up and coming entrepreneur. For the last four years, Liz has been running and growing Fit Mama and Fit Kids, a health and fitness business focused on empowering women and children to live their healthiest lifestyles. Liz is down to earth, as transparent as they come and with three kids in public school under the age of twelve, she has no shortage of opinions and experience when it comes to sifting through educational options and pathways. 

Today, Liz shares her journey to choosing the suburbs, a public school district and her advice on navigating through the craziness that is preparing your child for the future. 

How did you grow up? What type of school did you attend?

We had the choice of public or private school where I grew up but I attended public school. Public school in the suburbs just like my kids!

Is that why you chose public school for your kids? Or what were the driving factors behind that decision?

Initially, our choice was heavily dependent on two things: location and finances. Luckily, we were already in a pretty good district when our kids started school. Had we not been, who knows. Depending on our dictated school district, we very well might have made a different choice.

That totally makes sense. Before you began or chose where to send your kids to school, did you have a pros + cons list? I have about fifty.  

Yes. I’ll be honest, a lot of it was based on what schools were considered “the best” schools. As new parents, or at least a new mom, hearing other people’s – especially other moms’ – opinions on what schools were the best really got into my brain. I don’t know anyone, or any mom, who wants to make the ‘wrong’ decision when it comes to the school they send their child to, so the hearsay really dictated what I thought.

As a first-time mom, I think the opinion of other moms goes a long way so that’s absolutely valid. When it came time to really make a choice, determine what your kids’ educational path would look like, what did your thought process look like?

Isabel, my oldest child, had a summer birthday which was a real struggle because at the time they hadn’t changed the cut off date for Kindergarten. We could either send her to kindergarten as a newly five-year old or wait an extra year and send her when she was six. I stressed a lot about that.  And school districts. But still I really think so much of that was based on test scores and word of mouth. 

I went to public school and my husband went to private. So, we have always discussed the idea of public school for grade school and switching to private school for high school, to stay with tradition. But at this point I want to see where middle school takes us.  My children’s happiness is more important to me than any test score. And middle school can be a brutal place. I figure I’ll let my children start the educational experience with some friends from grade school in the public school system and we’ll go from there. 

So, so far you like your choice? If you had to choose one thing you’d change or modify, what would it be? Is there anything?

There are things so far I like about it and some things I don’t.  Education wise I’ve really liked how they engage parents with the children’s progress, allowing us to help them as they get used to the different structure of junior high.  Socially, I’m not so thrilled; but teen girls can be assholes and I’m not sure that would be any different in private school.  I guess I’m committed to all of my children starting middle school in public schools. Where they go from there – public, private, homeschool whatever – I guess we will have to see! 

But, you know, I don’t think I would really change anything about sending my kids to school where we did. It has been a great choice.  Sure, not every teacher has been my favorite. That’s how it goes though. The teachers that have been amazing so outshine them!

When you think of the opposite of what you chose, so in this case private school, is there anything that makes you super grateful you made the choice you did?

Not really. I do love the fact that we always have that as an option. Like I mentioned, middle school can be a really brutal place and it’s just nice to know there are other options. 

They say the grass is always greener on the other side, when thinking about private school as an option and since we’re talking about it, is there any assumed benefits in comparison to public school that stands out to you?

Good question. At the time, part of me thought a more built-in community. But I don’t really necessarily think that’s true anymore.  Through our experience, I’ve come more to think that when it comes to school, community is probably what you make of it. And that’s going to be different for everyone.

Yes. I think when you really think about it, that’s probably true for most environments – especially when you get to a certain stage or age in life. Community is what you make of it. Ok. I have one more question! What’s your advice for new or first-time parents out there who are just entering this phase and might be at a standstill on choosing an education pathway or a community for their kids? 

Don’t stress. Try to not obsess about what so and so says about what school is the best. Do what you think is best for your child and your family. Nothing says you have to stay there forever. Make it work for you and feel confident with your choice!

Thank you so much, Liz, for sharing with us! It is no wonder you are in the business of empowerment. 

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