Irene Ng is one of those multi-talented people who can and has done it all. She is an ivy-league educated mother of two, who used to be an actress (she even starred in her own show), then worked in finance at Merrill Lynch and now is an entrepreneur/educator who opened the only Chinese immersion preschool in Connecticut. Irene and her husband moved from Chelsea (NYC) to Greenwich, CT. She shares her move to the suburbs story along with some advice on what to look for in preschools and her thoughts on public and private schools. Here is Irene Ng’s move from Manhattan to Greenwich, CT.
Tell me about your move from New York City to Greenwich, CT
My husband and I lived in Manhattan for over 10 years. We started looking for a house in the suburbs when I was pregnant with our first child. I value space and quiet. So I thought, the suburbs would be a better place to raise children.
Why did you choose to move to Greenwich, CT? What other towns were you looking at?
We chose Greenwich, CT because of the low taxes and good public schools. Also, since I was planning to open a Chinese mandarin preschool that my children (yet unborn at the time) will be attending, I needed a town that was cosmopolitan and worldly enough to appreciate the importance of learning Mandarin. We also considered Darien, CT but strongly preferred the much higher diversity in Greenwich, CT.
Tell me why you chose the Cos Cob section of Greenwich, CT?
We liked having privacy and being surrounded by trees and we also wanted to be in the North Street School district. So we looked at mid-country homes some of which were in Greenwich and some in Cos Cob but all were districted to North Street School. We ultimately chose our home in Cos Cob because it is private (we live on a cul-de-sac) yet still close enough to neighbors.
When you moved to Greenwich, did you know anyone?
My husband’s grandparents used to live in Greenwich and owned a local business in town. We have relatives in town but not many friends. I made friends in our area mostly through my school!
How old are your kids? What do you like to do with your kids in Greenwich or in the area?
I have an eight-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy. We go to Greenwich Point Park beach all the time in the summer. We also love the playground at Bruce Park.
What are some things you don’t like about Greenwich?
Services are expensive here because of our Greenwich address.
After living here for many years, how would you describe Greenwich residents?
Polite, well-educated, sophisticated
What are your favorite restaurants in Greenwich or in the area?
We love Coast Restaurant and Bar (Cos Cob) and Gabriele’s of Greenwich (Greenwich). We also like taking the kids to Meli-Melo on Greenwich Avenue (Greenwich).
What are your go-to places in Greenwich or in the area?
Whole Foods and Cos Cob Library
Tell me more about Mencius Mandarin preschool
We first opened in Sept 2009 and we are the only licensed Mandarin Chinese immersion preschool in the state of Connecticut! We teach mostly in Mandarin Chinese in a regular preschool curriculum.
As a preschool director, any advice for families looking for preschools? What should they be looking for?
Parents should not automatically assume that a stated “Philosophy” or “Method” from a preschool is what is the best for their child. The most important element should not be the facilities or shiny exterior or expensive tuition or “cache” but the TEACHERS. Are they warm? Conscientious? Effective? Do they try hard to care for and educate your child? And finally, do they have a structure and curriculum that train your child for academic success later on?
Any advice to give to families who are thinking of private schools vs. public schools
My personal opinion is that the public schools here are so good that unless a private school offers something really special (for example, an immersion program in a foreign language), save the money for your child’s downpayment on a house!
It’s a challenge to raise bilingual children. Any tips/ advice on raising bilingual children in the Greenwich area?
The most important thing is to attend a school where the target language is taught most of the time. Otherwise, English is so dominant in America that the child will not grow up to become adults who are fully fluent in the minority language. This is true even if the parents or a caregiver speaks a minority language to the child. Children learn very early on what the social language in their school among their peers and will strongly prefer their school’s social language.
Do you or your spouse take the train to New York City? What has your experience been with the Metro-North train commute?
My husband commutes daily to Manhattan out of Cos Cob Train station. He parks his car at the Cos Cob train station. It was so easy to get a train station parking permit, we received it in less than a month. So far, he has no complaints about the commute except if the trains are late but overall it is better to take the train than to drive into the city.
Any tips/advice you wished someone had told you when you were looking to move to the suburbs?
If you are looking at moving to Greenwich. I suggest getting a smaller house closer to town so that you can run errands in a much shorter time.
About Irene Ng
Irene Ng is the founder and director of Mencius Mandarin Preschool in Greenwich since 2009. Prior to that, she worked at Merrill Lynch in New York City. She was also the star of Nickelodeon TV series The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo and has appeared in The Joy Luck Club and more recently Showtime’s The Affair. She has two children and currently resides in Greenwich and New York City. She graduated from Harvard University Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in economics.