The number one item on every parent's to-do list when relocating to a new city is finding the best schools for their children. Fortunately for Austinites, there are numerous exceptional school options for students of varying age ranges, needs and interests. With so many options, the challenge for families relocating to Austin isn’t finding a good school; it’s evaluating and determining which of the many great schools is ultimately the best fit for their child and family.  

At Pearl Street Concierge, one of the most significant ways we serve newcomers is equipping them with the knowledge and guidance they need to make decisions regarding the education of their children. In order to do so, we partner with the most qualified school placement specialists in Austin and this month we would like to introduce Kathy Bloch-Swarts, our secondary and post-secondary school placement consultant.   

Kathy is the founder and owner of The Writer's Bloch, an educational consulting firm in Austin. Since 1998, she has worked with hundreds of families to demystify the selection and application process, while easing the transition that often accompanies the move into high school and post-secondary education. Here she shares about her passion for working with families to determine the best high schools for their children and helping them navigate the application process.

High School:  Taking the Step and Finding the Fit

By Kathy Bloch-Swarts

Middle school is a time marked by vast changes in burgeoning adolescents:  finding their place among peers while accepting appropriate challenges academically, socially and athletically. I thrive on helping middle schoolers discover their unique personalities, and I believe that understanding the emotional and stressful aspects, as well as the excitement that accompanies the discovery of next steps, defines a successful high school placement process.

Assisting families as they navigate the rigorous application process includes helping them manage expectations, while also developing supportive, trusting and comfortable relationships with all stakeholders.

Middle school students are learning to find their own voice. Some students eagerly embrace the application process and engage actively to discern their next best steps, deciding between local public or independent options while also considering regions of the country for a boarding experience. Others are more reticent to explore schools that take them far away from the town or city that defines their level of comfort. There are many academic options to explore. The critical factor is the successful quest of finding the best-fit secondary opportunity for each student.

I often tell parents that the student they have when he or she enters middle school begins will be very different from the one who graduates from eighth grade. It is very difficult to plot a course for a student in kindergarten that is guaranteed to be the best-fit course through 12th grade.  Reevaluating educational options along the way is the best way to ensure your student is engaged appropriately and happily.

21st century learners are collaborative, creative problem solvers, active thinkers, globally aware, and use technology to connect them to the diverse world in which they live.  As parents, we have committed to helping our students along their educational journey. Finding the best-fit high school is one step along this path.  


Kathy earned her B.A. in English (summa cum laude) from the University of Houston, Houston, TX. Her career includes:  founding and managing a successful independent educational consulting business focusing on all aspects of applying to local, regional and national day and boarding independent schools; developing and running a high school placement program at an independent K-8 school; teaching essay development and interview skills; speech writing and substitute teaching in public and independent middle and high schools.