Testimonials

“As our daughter approached the end of her time in public elementary school, we had to tackle her move to an independent secondary school. We didn’t go to private schools ourselves, we didn’t grow up in Los Angeles (and thus didn’t know the schools), and we were faced an added challenge: Our daughter’s school application cycle was going to take place while we were living 5000 miles away on another continent for a year. Enter Jamie Bakal. We met with Jamie a year in advance to discuss our priorities for schools, to talk through the typical application process, and to map out a path for how to apply to schools while missing out on admissions “milestones” (such as open house tours, student visits, and in-person interviews). Jamie gave terrific counsel to us and to our daughter, answering questions for us as we worked our way through the steps from so far away. She made the process significantly less stressful for all of us, and for that we are most thankful!”
Mike and John August, parents of Amy

“Kindergarten admissions… an unexpectedly confusing and stressful time.  Not only are you completely unaware of how anxiety provoking and all consuming this time is going to be, but also there is an incredible amount of pressure to get it right  – –  it is your child’s future. There are two words that can help… Jamie Bakal!!
As you enter the uncharted waters of the admissions process, Jamie is there to steer the ship.  She takes the time to understand your child…what makes him or her tick and figure out in which environment he/she will flourish.  Jamie then walks you through the process, masterfully maintaining a balance of honest guidance and just plain handholding.  She is an advocate, mentor, agent, therapist and friend, helping your family step by step with nuance, passion and care.  We can’t thank her enough!!”
Michael Cooper & Victoria Profeta, parents of Jack

“We had an amazing experience working with Jamie during the whole process of private school application.  She was extremely knowledgeable and supportive.  There’s no way we would have navigated the process as well on our own.  From what tutors to use, to what schools to focus on, to when to take the ISEE, to narrowing our search, to tips on how to let the desired school know of our preference — Jamie’s help and guidance was invaluable.  Our daughter landed her top choice and we are forever grateful to Jamie for her friendship and assistance.”
Matt Olmstead & Macki West, parents of Sylvie

“We had a wonderful experience working with Jamie Bakal as our school consultant as we prepared for our upcoming move to Los Angeles.  She was gracious, supportive, and understanding as she guided us through finding a school for our daughter.  She was always available, and she even traveled to meet with us when we couldn’t make it to LA.  We ended up with an amazing result thanks to her invaluable help.”
Nicolas Winding Refn & Liv Corfixen, parents of Lola

“My wife and I both went to public school, so when it came to the daunting Los Angeles private school search, we felt completely outmatched.  The stories of entrance exams, interviews and wait lists had us feeling a level of stress not felt since our days of applying to college.  Not knowing where to turn, we contacted a “school whisperer” named Jamie Bakal, and the bad feelings all went away.  The first thing Jamie did was meet with our son so she could suggest the best fit.  Jamie is smart, calm, experienced, and professional.  She navigated the byzantine system with us, and delivered the ultimate prize.”
Tom MacDougall & Grace Wu, parents of Joseph

“We decided to move to Los Angeles from out of state near the application deadline for middle school. We were late to the game, out of the loop, and swamped with work and the logistics of moving. Our daughter, perfectly happy at her public middle school, was thrown into the process of private school assessment, applications, and interviews. Jamie was the calm, clear guide who saw us through to the other side. She took the time to get to know not only our daughter, but our whole family, and helped narrow down schools that would be the best fits for us. Jamie was able to give us comprehensive descriptions of schools, their campus climate, curriculum and philosophies. Applying for schools is a massive time commitment, and Jamie made sure we weren’t wasting any of our time by applying too broadly. She kept us on schedule. She eased our anxiety with humor and genuine care. She is a quick, kind and clear communicator. Our process involved flying into Los Angeles for tours and interviews, and she made sure our trips were scheduled efficiently saving us time and money. Because we didn’t have teachers and administrators from a school in LA who could lobby on behalf of our daughter, Jamie was invaluable as her advocate. We ended up getting into the school we wanted, and our daughter is excited to go to her new school next year. We are thrilled! In the inappropriate words of our daughter, ‘Jamie is a badass.'”
— Rob & Katie Thomas, parents of Greta

“Initially the private school admissions process can seem like a daunting and an overwhelming task; that was until we began working with Jamie Bakal at LA School Mates. Jamie’s background as an educator allows her to better understand the needs of our daughter and our family as a whole. She was able to make informed suggestions on schools that might be the perfect fit. Once we had our top picks in mind Jamie became our fearless advocate, communicating with school administrators and keeping us on track throughout the entire process. She’s a calming force who is always happy to allay concerns and answers any questions that inevitably pop up. Jamie suggested a school we ended up falling in love with and we’re happy to report our daughter will be starting kindergarten there in the fall.”
— Heather David & Brad Baruh, parents of Jordan

“Jamie Bakal is in a word amazing. Right from the start, we felt like we were in good hands with someone who took the time to get to know our family and most importantly spend time getting to know our son. He has a late June birthday, and as a first born child we were uncertain if schools would think he was ready. Jamie did her own assessment and talked with us about our options. Just like any parent we want him to be successful and we always felt like Jamie was an advocate working with us toward the same goal. Jamie helped guide us through many different types of schools so that we could make our own informed decisions and ultimately come up with a very short list to apply. We always felt she was available, informed and dialed in to what we needed. Whether it was reviewing the details of our application, helping to keep us calm before an evaluation or ultimately advocating for our child, we knew Jamie was there each step of the way.  We would recommend her to everyone. She’s just that good!”
— Lainie & Michael Tarter, parents of Simon

“There are several great schools in the Los Angeles area, but finding the best school for your child is not an easy task.  Working with Jamie Bakal minimized our stress and gave us complete confidence in our decision.  Her knowledge about all of the schools, as well as the admissions process, was unmatched.  She was so professional and always available to us, as we were torn between two schools.  Jamie provided support and information that enabled us to identify the best learning environment for our son, and community for our family.  When starting your search, I strongly advise families to hire Jamie first!  Jamie works with you and for you.  We are eternally grateful for her help!”
— Kathy & Greg Bell, parents of Nolan

“While there are many things in life more stressful than your child applying to school, let’s face it:  It’s a very challenging experience.  But Jamie gets you through it.  You lean on her grace and wisdom.  You rely on her judgment and expertise.  And you thank your lucky stars for all her knowhow and knowledge.  Jamie is the guide you want when navigating through the perilous terrain that is the school admission process.”
— Tara Butters & Marc Guggenheim, parents of Lily

“Our experience with Jamie was excellent.  She is a true expert, and she supported our family every step of the way.  She quickly got to know our kids and us, she understood our priorities, and she guided us through the process with wisdom, patience and kindness (along with some needed good humor to diffuse some of the stressful moments!).  All of her advice was spot-on, and both of our children ended up at exactly the right schools for them.  We could not be happier, and we are extremely grateful to Jamie for her help.”
— Jennifer Dominitz & David Grae, parents of Becca and Casey

“We moved to Los Angeles two years ago and knew nothing about the schools. Jamie Bakal helped us navigate the often daunting process of finding the right school for our daughter and then stuck by us when we decided, after a year of great personal upheaval and tragedy, that our daughter wasn’t emotionally ready to transition out of her preschool. She helped allay our fears and keep us focussed and was instrumental in our daughter being placed in the perfect school for her personality. Jamie’s a godsend.”
— Angie & Dennis Lehane, parents of Gianna

“Because of a move, we had the unenviable task of going through the LA private school application process twice in the course of a few years — one with help, one without.  What a difference Jamie makes.  Part therapist, part no-nonsense teacher, Jamie helped secure 2 spots at our first choice school.  The application process can be daunting and baffling (should we hold our summer birthday child back? Are we progressive or traditional?) – Jamie demystifies it for you and most importantly, gets results.”
— Shana & Scott Silveri, parents of Ellie & Chiara

“The process of finding the right school for our son — and for our family — was terrifying!  That is… until we met Jamie Bakal.  She made the process clear, focused and above all — painless. She really went above and beyond in so many ways; she visited our son’s school to observe him, she talked to his teachers, to the head of our preschool — and was laser focused on finding the place where she (and we) believed he would thrive.  And once we chose the school, she guided us through every step of the application process.   She kept us calm, she kept us sane, and best of all… she helped us get in.  Our family is so grateful to Jamie, and I couldn’t recommend her more highly or more enthusiastically.  Thank you, Jamie!  Thank you so much!”
— Jennie & Jamie Urman, parents of Theo

“Jamie’s guidance, support and knowledge navigating the private school application process was invaluable. She took the time not just to help us through the process, but to REALLY understand our children and our family to find the best fit for the next many years of our lives. Jamie is honest, comforting and a great advocate that can help take the guess work out of the process. Jamie was our Sherpa Muse and is simply the best out there.”
— Kara Nortman & Jake Blumenthal, parents of Alexa and Layla

“Applying to secondary school, while a very different process than applying to Kindergarten, was equally stressful.  This time around, we knew who our son was as a student, and as a person.  His voice was very important in this process, and finding the right fit for him academically, socially, and athletically, was crucial.  In our mind, there was no room for error.  That is where Jamie Bakal comes in.  She took the time to get to know Jake, and reviewed his transcripts.  She helped guide us to schools where Jake would thrive. She made sure our applications were articulate and on point, and was always available to answer our questions and calm our nerves.  Jamie held our hand as we navigated the web of the private school application process, and we couldn’t have done it without her.”
— Nikki & Brandt Joel, parents of Jake

“Even though we were both born and raised in LA and we both had attended private schools here, we suspected things had changed a bit since we’d been in middle/high school. We were right! But thanks to Jamie, we managed to navigate what turned out to be a complicated and, at times, frustrating process. She held our hands when we needed it, and gave us tough love when we needed it. She knows everything and everyone and brings years of knowledge, experience and invaluable relationships to the table. She took so much time and care getting to know our son — he considers her a friend and a confidante at this point! Our outcome was the right one for us — but I can assure you we would never have gone in the direction we did without Jamie’s insight and encouragement. We have worked with Jamie twice so far and we would absolutely not hesitate to do so again. I instruct all my friends to work with her, too!!”
— Erin & Matt Berenson, parents of Leo

“Applying to private schools in Los Angeles is like walking through a very strange, complicated maze. Jamie Bakal is your guide through that maze, and she knows exactly how to get out. She’s an invaluable guide, and her thorough knowledge of the landscape and the process takes a lot of the stress out of the equation. We would recommend her to anyone.”
— Mike Schur & JJ Philbin, parents of William

“Jamie is incredible in so many ways. She was our guide, our therapist and just an amazing person to have in our corner. She was tasked with placing our daughter into Oakwood for 6th grade – no easy job for anyone, as this is not a big entry year at any school, and yet there are a lot of people looking to transition from public school to private school (like us)! 6th grade is very tricky. She was instrumental in every part of the process from helping us with our overall strategy, editing our applications, navigating interviews and most importantly keeping us calm throughout a very stressful time. Jamie clearly knows how to advocate for her families. She is always available with a cool head and really cares about every student she works with. Whether you already have a lot of information about private schools and know your top choice, or are completely new to the private school system, Jamie is invaluable and someone we have formed a lifetime friendship with. I cannot recommend her highly enough and am happy to talk to anyone about the value she brings to the process.”
— Jackie & Michael Levine, parents of Natalie

“We decided to apply to middle school for our daughter late in the admissions season. We could not have gone through the process without Jamie. Her guidance, thoughtful and honest feedback and constant reassurance helped make a very anxious time much more manageable. Jamie not only worked with us as parents, but also listened and discussed the different options with our daughter to find the best fit for our whole family. We were all very excited the day the acceptance letter came for our first choice.”
— Jamie Stevens, mother of Zoe

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! Jamie Bakal made what could have been an overwhelming process manageable. People say it’s only kindergarten. In a way, that is true; but it is also about so much more than just picking a kindergarten. Kindergarten is just the start. We knew that the private school application process wouldn’t be easy. We knew people who had gone through it before us. As working parents, we knew we didn’t have the time, energy or resources necessary to devote to the process. We knew we needed help. That is where Jamie came in. After our initial meeting with Jamie, we were instantly put at ease. Her background as an educator and her understanding of the schools and the process, let us know we were in good hands. She doesn’t have a cookie cutter approach. But instead, she gets to know you and your child. Whild she can’t do the work for you, Jamie was able to guide us, reassure us, and help us to have clarity in the decisions we were making. She was organized and proactive. She understands that the process is personal and emotional and challenging. She handled our anxiety-filled calls with a reassuring calmness and sense of humor. Working with overstressed and overly anxious parents can’t be easy. But Jamie does it with patience, grace, honestly, integrity, and a good sense of humor. I don’t know how we would have gotten through this process without her. We owe her a nice glass of red wine!”
— Perri & Jeff Melnick, parents of Abby

“I can’t say enough good things about Jamie Bakal. She was incredibly and hugely instrumental in helping us navigate the whole process of getting our son into the right school. She spent time with my husband and I and our son, and really got to know us and what we were looking for in a school. She was able to recommend schools that fit us as a family and also fit the needs of our son. She recommended 4 schools and as we visited each one, we realized how each in its own way would be great for us. Jamie was great about getting us to focus on what kind of school we were looking for. And then she was expert in helping to identify what would be the right fit for us out of the many, many schools in this city. She’s a mom, an educator and a very real person. I felt like we were in such great hands with her. One of the greatest challenges I found in choosing a school in this city is the vast array – I didn’t have the time to visit them all, or investigate which would be the right fit for our son. Jamie helped expedite this whole process with her understanding of them all, and her ability to assess what the right fit would be for us. She also helped us through the application process and the interview process, with great practical advice. Our son is going to his and our top choice next year and we feel a huge debt to the incredible Jamie Bakal for helping us to get there!”
— Noreen Halpern and Kevin Murphy, parents of Carter

“We are so grateful to Jamie Bakal for all of her guidance and professional wisdom.  We had the unusual situation of having to find a school for both our daughter and our son for kindergarten and first grade respectively.  Jamie helped us understand how each of our children learn and guided us to schools that would be able to meet both of their needs. She helped keep us organized, focused, and most importantly, calm.  Jamie’s background as an educator and understanding of each of the independent schools really helped us find the best fit for our kids.  Thanks to her, our kids can’t wait to start at their new school in the fall.”
— Tori Spelling & Dean McDermott, parents of Stella and Liam

“Jamie’s knowledge, insight and warmth brought a sense of calm to an otherwise frenzied kindergarten admissions process.  With Jamie’s help, we put a plan in place that was right for our child and our family – this is no cookie cutter approach, but a highly individualized approach for each child.  Jamie takes the guess work out of the process and can decode school brochures and playground rumors.  We are thrilled with the results.  Dare I say we even enjoyed the process?!”
— Natalie & Jonathan Fischer, parents of Leah

“Jamie was our sensei, our sherpa and our shrink through the incredibly challenging process of private school applications.  She really took the time to get to know our son early on, and help us focus on schools that were truly a good fit for him.  Her instincts were spot-on, and she was an island of calm.  With her help, Miles was admitted to our first choice school.  She put us in touch with current parents at our top schools to help us get a real sense of each of the school environments.  Hiring Jamie is absolutely the smartest decision you can make before stepping into the applications morass.  She will help you determine what’s right for your child, demystify the application process, and give you the tools to send your child to the best possible school.”
— Erin Walsh & Jon Lucas, parents of Miles

“As two lawyers (and anxious parents), we worried about the kindergarten application process as soon as our son was born.  We wanted to know everything and do everything “right”.  Jamie ensured we did both.  She was our  advisor, editor, educator, coach and hand-holder throughout the kindergarten application process.  Quite simply, she is superb at what she does.  Hire her and take her advice.  We did and we could not be more grateful.”
— Parents of an incoming Oakwood kindergartner (2013)

“We are both working parents and finding the right school for our child could have been a very daunting process, especially without a lot of available resources to help train or prepare for the challenge.  Jamie was wonderful to work with and provided that resource for us.  She helped guide us through the considerations and specifics of this important decision while always being informative, thoughtful and patient!    She helps figure out the schools that are the best fit for your family and child, and helps formulate the best strategy to manage the admissions process.”
— Bridget & Marcus Wiley, parents of Derek

“Jamie and L.A. Schoolmates made the impossible possible.  Not only was she able to find our family a place in fourth grade, but she found it at our first choice school.  We sincerely appreciated her thoughtful and individualized approach to what was best for our child and our family.  Throughout the process Jamie was always accessible, responsive, and an invaluable resource.  We enthusiastically recommend Jamie and L.A. Schoolmates.”
— Bonnie & Mike Sikowitz, parents of Dov

“We did not to know what to expect of the school admission process. From the start, Jamie was an invaluable guide; first as it pertained to schools that made for the best fit and then in review of applications and prep for interviews. We were incredibly fortunate to have Jamie, as we always felt comforted that the process would produce the right result for our family. It certainly did.”
— Michelle Sobrino & Brian Stearns, parents of Tyler

“Look, let’s face it – Hogwarts wasn’t an option, so what’s a parent to do? Here is what you do: call Jamie Bakal. Jamie took the time to get to know our daughter and listened sensitively to what we wanted for her (and for us), and then provisioned us with a comprehensive list of schools to see as well as all the phone numbers, addresses, contact info, tour dates, and all the data points that would have taken us months and a fair amount of teeth gnashing to collect and coordinate. We started by seeing schools across a broad spectrum of philosophies, from freewheeling woodland treehouse to buttoned-up bastion of good manners and pinafores, and Jamie let us come to her with our ten billion questions and answered each and every one of them thoughtfully and knowledgeably. When we came up with our top choices, we were so glad that Jamie was there to help us crack the code on such minutiae as how to answer all the leading questions on the various applications (hint: briefly) and how to keep your mouth shut while the admissions director asks your child “what’s missing from this picture?” (hint: she’s asking your kid, not you – but she’s pretty interested to know how you react when your kid isn’t sure what’s missing from the picture). We are so thrilled that our daughter will be attending our first choice school, Echo Horizon, in the fall and owe Jamie a huge debt of gratitude for shepherding us through the application and interview process.”
— Emily Fox & Peter Scott, parents of Juliet

“Jamie was instrumental in helping us navigate the private elementary schools in Los Angeles. I am from Los Angeles and thought I was familiar with the schools here.  We met with Jamie and she walked us through the schools in our area, which have changed so much since I was a student here.  She introduced us to a school we didn’t even know about which became our first choice and ultimately my child’s destination for Kindergarten. I am a busy working mother and I am so grateful to Jamie for taking the stress out of the process. She kept me on schedule and made sure both my husband and I felt confident about our choices along the way.  We couldn’t be happier with how it went and now we are so excited to to become a part of our daughter’s new school community.”
— Tracy & Stuart Herriot, parents of Chloe

“Jamie has been an utterly invaluable resource for our family! We are relocating from New York to Los Angeles, and we needed to place two children in grades that were not typical entry years for most schools. I don’t know how we would have navigated this process without Jamie’s insight and guidance.  Jamie spent significant time talking with us, meeting our children, and reading our children’s school records to get to know them as individuals before making recommendations about where they should apply. It is an arduous task to undertake a search for the right school for an individual child, but Jamie’s deep understanding of our children as well as of the private school landscape in Los Angeles made the task manageable. Then throughout this stressful year of application essays, testing, and interviews, Jamie acted as a voice of reason, a willing listener, and a trusted advisor. With Jamie’s help, we were fortunate to have great success in our school search, and each of our children had many choices of amazing schools. Next year, our son will attend Crossroads and our daughter will attend Oakwood. We could not be happier with the results. We feel enormous gratitude to Jamie for helping to make this happen for our family!”
— Rachel Iverson & Ben Mulcahy, parents of Quinlan and Dorothea

“The LA private school application process was at first daunting because of
the amount of information to decipher. Jamie calmly explained the system,
and steered us through it. Best of all, she took the time to get to know our
family, to help guide us to the best schools for us. Her input, discretion
and cheerful personality turned, what could have been a stressful situation,
into an enjoyable process.”
— Nia Vardalos & Ian Gomez, parents of Ilaria

When the time came for us to apply to kindergartens for our daughter, we were clueless. Not completely–we had strong feelings about education, and our daughter–but we had no concrete understanding of the differences between the schools and, critically, which would best balance our child’s needs and our desires.   Jamie saw us through the entire application process, from coming up with a list of schools, to proper dress for and behavior in an interview, to enduring the wait for acceptances, to making a final choice. Jamie was clear, confident, patient, reliable, and insightful–the kind of person whose counsel I’d trust on *anything,* not just schools. Above all, she was a constant voice of reason and worth every dime. While we consider ourselves pretty capable people, I have to say we couldn’t have done it without her.”
— Hilary & Chris, parents of Jozy

“Thank God for Jamie and LA School Mates!   My husband and I had been completely daunted by the overwhelming task of finding the right school for our daughter, and the actual application process terrified us.  Not to mention that as working mom with  a less than perfect memory for details, I was panicked that I’d miss some step along the way and ruin everything!  But Jamie broke the entire process down for us, helping us to not only identify schools that would be a good fit for our family and daughter, but then guiding us through every step of the application process, from reminding us about our tour dates, to giving feedback on our essays, to preparing us for interviews.   With Jamie’s help, the application process was actually fun.   It was the final decision-making part that was difficult,  because thanks to Jamie, we had options!”
— Sherri Cooper-Landsman, mom of Sofie

“As anyone who has gone through this process can tell you,  it is daunting, stressful, humanizing, and agonizing. It can also be extremely rewarding….if done properly.  As a full time working parent, I was overwhelmed to say the least.  Jamie at LA School Mates was able to help coordinate which schools we should tour based on our discussion of goals and priorities for Luke.  Once we had decided where to apply, Jamie guided us through the application process in a direct, professional and insightful way. Our parent interviews and child assessments were far more relaxed and natural as a result of Jamie’s preparation.  Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of Jamie was her ability to hand hold.  She patiently listens to the second guessing and hypothetical, worst case scenarios and then reassures you that everything will be ok.  And then the letters come…….and everything is.  David and I are thrilled at the prospect of Luke starting Kindergarten at Oakwood. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude towards Jamie for her assistance and insight during this process. The wisdom of her experience has been invaluable.”
— Laura Wasser & David Weber, parents of Luke

“Jamie and LA School Mates is such a joy and a relief to have in our lives.   Such a stressful time trying to figure out which school is right for our child and then which schools to apply to.   The process can be very overwhelming, but Jamie really eased our suffering and confusion!   She has such clear and concise knowledge of all the options out there and she was able to detect and get a feel for where our child would thrive the most and where we as a family will feel most comfortable.   Thank you so much Jamie & LA School Mates for your guidance. We know we can always rely on you in the future, too – be it for our younger son and/or for when high school time comes around!   Yikes!!”
— Lindsay & Peter Chelsom, parents of Baxter

“I came to Jamie and LA School Mates a frantic, worried wreck and after our first session together I felt calm and refocused on the only thing that really mattered – my daughter’s best interests.  Working with Jamie helped me sidestep the panic and pinpoint our strengths so we could make the best decisions for our child.  LA School Mates is therapy for the craziness that is school selection in Los Angeles.  Worth every cent!”
— Michelle Simon, mom of Holly

“While most of our friends were second guessing themselves and stressing out about private school applications, we felt completely at ease knowing we had Jamie of LA School Mates consulting us.  Her guidance was invaluable.  She made this process run very smoothly for us and with little stress.  We were thrilled when our son was accepted by our first choice school. It was so reassuring to be able to count on her for everything during the private school process.”
— Kirsten & John Campisi, parents of Sam

“As a working mom, low on time and even lower on organizational skills, Jamie was a godsend. She really took the time to get to know our daughter as well as our family and helped us choose the schools where she would thrive. Jamie guided us through the maze of applications, tours and meetings and really lowered the stress quotient — not an easy feat! We are headed off to kindergarten in the fall and couldn’t be more thrilled with how it all worked out.”
— Deborah Kaplan-Meyer, mom of Keaton

“We really enjoyed working with Jamie. She guided us through every step of this difficult and exciting process. We were so thrilled to have been accepted at our first choice school. We couldn’t have done it without her. Thank  you, Jamie!”
— Alecia & Randy Spendlove, parents of Brandon

“The process of applying to private schools in Los Angeles can be both
overwhelming and terrifying. With Jamie’s help, we not only survived the
process, we  thrived.  Jamie’s experience was helpful throughout the
application and interview periods. Her commitment to our family was always
apparent. We are extremely grateful for her support, insight, enthusiasm,
and guidance.”
— Marlene King, mom of Emerson and Atticus