Article by Margot de Boer for Scarsdale Moms
When you meet Rachel Krisbergh, her unwavering dedication to education and the belief that all children can thrive is unmistakably evident. A lifelong special education teacher, Rachel moved to Scarsdale several years ago and quickly immersed herself in the school system – holding practically every PTA role under the sun – where she became a trusted voice and confidant to many parents navigating educational challenges. Recognizing a growing need for enhanced support within this community, she formally launched Rachel Krisbergh Consulting to help families and students with a wide range of educational decisions from preschool to high school. Whether you have a desire to explore alternative school options, need referrals to local specialists, or are looking for guidance and support to navigate special education services within your home district, don’t hesitate to reach out to Rachel ([email protected]) to learn more about how she can help!
Tell us about your family and life in Westchester, please!
I live in Scarsdale with my husband Jon, my daughter Jordan who is in 7th grade, and my son Dylan who is in 5th grade. We also have a wild and crazy four year old Bernedoodle named Ollie!
Since moving to Scarsdale I have held numerous volunteer roles in the community including serving on the Board of the Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service, Co-chair of the C.H.I.L.D program (special education PTA), numerous PTA Executive Committee positions and most recently, PTA President at Greenacres Elementary School.
How did your career path lead you to start your own consulting business here in Westchester?
I started my career as a special education teacher in NYC at a preschool that served students with multiple disabilities. Next, I opened a special education classroom at P.S. 116, where I wrote and modified the curriculum and created a tailored program that allowed my K-2 students to be included in general education classes and programming whenever possible. I then transitioned to working in an integrated co-teaching (ICT) classroom for many years, while also serving as a mentor teacher and curriculum coach for new special education teachers.
Since moving to Scarsdale and becoming involved with school and social services organizations, many families have approached me for advice and guidance about their children’s education. In helping those families, I realized that there was a real need for a resource for families who are navigating the complex world of education and special needs. So, I became a member of the Independent Education Consultant Association (IECA) and Rachel Krisbergh Consulting was born!
What kinds of challenges can you help parents and kids navigate?
One of the things that I love most about my job is that no situation is the same. It really keeps me on my toes! Academic and social-emotional success for children is the ultimate goal and my partnership with parents during challenging times is the focus of my practice.
I work with many families who are interested in exploring independent school options and need help identifying the right fit and navigating the admissions process. Other families are beginning their special education journey and might feel overwhelmed and anxious; I serve as a “first call” for parents to answer their questions, help identify solutions, and provide resources so they can best support their child. I advise families on all stages of the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and 504 Accommodation Plan process, helping them understand what these words mean and their potential options, and liaising with the school. I will also provide referrals to vetted professionals – therapists, psychiatrists, neuropsychological evaluators, speech therapists, occupational therapists, play therapy groups, etc – in and around Westchester who I trust and know well enough through my years in the community to understand that they are going to be the right person for your child.
How do you know if it’s time to consider hiring an education consultant? I always like to say that if parents feel lost or overwhelmed, they should reach out, even if they aren’t sure they need an educational consultant. A lot of times, the first conversation and just knowing that you have an expert in your corner goes a long way to settling nerves. Below are some key times to reach out but again, anytime is a good time.
At the Very Beginning: Parents often reach out when they first notice behaviors are changing at home or in school. A lot of times they know something isn’t working, but they don’t know where to start.
Something Isn’t Working: Parents also reach out when they realize that additional resources are necessary, or that the current approach is not working. I help evaluate where things are and find additional support for the child to help them be successful. This could mean working with a family to make changes to an IEP or a 504 Accommodation Plan, or helping them communicate effectively with their child’s teacher and school.
Considering a New School: Parents often contact me when they are at a transition point in their child’s educational journey. After a deep dive into the child’s learning profile and family priorities, I create a customized list of schools that are a “right fit” for the child. I have extensive knowledge about the schools, and the different programs and supports that are available. While I can’t promise admission, finding the school that is the right fit significantly increases a child’s chances of admission. I help families stay organized throughout the admissions process, help with essay ideas and revisions that will make the child’s application stand out for admissions directors, and provide interview prep if desired. Finally, I help ensure that the applications are complete and present the child in the strongest way.
Do you spend more time working with the parents, or with the child?
I spend most of my time working with parents but the child is obviously at the heart of the partnership. I have a very thorough process for getting to know each child so that I can help the parents find the right solution for their child. For younger students, this might include speaking to the child’s teacher or doing an observation in school. For older students, I like to meet with them in person and really make them a part of the process. The more ownership they have in their learning, the more successful the outcomes will be.
How do you work with a child’s current school, teachers, and therapists when you are brought in to evaluate and make recommendations?
I truly believe it takes a village. If families are comfortable, I like to speak with teachers, therapists, tutors or any other important people in a child’s life to get a holistic picture of a child’s academic and social learning profile. Each person is looking at the child from a different lens and provides valuable insight that will help me guide the family to make decisions for their child that will be most successful.
What are some of the common struggles or confusion parents face when navigating the school system and special education services?
The jargon is very confusing. It can also be difficult to figure out when it is the right time to advocate for your child and what options are available. There are no quick fixes which can be very frustrating and scary for families. Understanding the process and how you can keep things moving in the right direction is very tricky. One piece of advice I give to everyone is that your relationship with your child’s teacher is a partnership. Trust them, don’t be afraid to ask questions and be involved in your child’s education.
Can you spill the tea on your favorite…
Book you’ve read recently or Bingeworthy TV show: I have been on a Colleen Hoover kick recently.
Quiet place to think: Honestly, my car! I often park in my driveway and wait a bit before going inside.
Splurge shopping destination (local or not!): I Am More in Scarsdale Village! I love everything in the store and appreciate their mission to support up-and-coming and women- owned businesses and women’s philanthropic organizations.
Date night spot: Meritage or Sapori in Scarsdale
Bagel or brunch spot: The Beehive in Armonk
Ladies night out destination: NYC (although I wish it happened a lot more than it does!)
Meal out with the fam: Burrata in Eastchester
Place to treat yourself to something nice: Noblesse Nail & Spa
Outing with the kids: We love taking our dog to Rye Beach in Rye.
Hidden Westchester gem (any place you think we should know about!): A long hike in the Hardscrabble Wilderness Area in Briarcliff Manor.