Our latest Meet a Mom is Liz DeFilippo, a mother of two teenagers who has lived in Bedford since 2000. A former sailing instructor, Liz “was lucky enough to sail with the all-female America’s Cup team in Newport, RI.” She enjoys hiking and biking with husband, Pete, and their children Ali and Ryan, who are in 8th and 11th grade at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan.
How many kids do you have, and what are their ages?
I have two children—Ali (14) and Ryan (16).
When did you move to Bedford and what led you to settle there?
We settled in Bedford in 2000, right after getting married. My husband Pete and I both grew up locally in Armonk & New Canaan, so we loved the idea of being close to family. We have enjoyed the small-town feel of the Bedford Village community while also being so close to New York City and all it has to offer.
What are your favorite family activities in the area?
We enjoy hiking at the Mianus River Gorge or Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, grabbing breakfast outside at Blind Charlie’s in Pound Ridge, riding our bikes in our neighborhood, and relaxing with friends in our backyard. Before the Covid era, we loved making trips into NYC to see a show on Broadway or visit the Met, spend a day at the Bronx Zoo, or explore a new neighborhood while walking on the High Line.
Where do your children go to school and how did you choose your school?
Both our kids went to Bedford Village Elementary School through 4th grade and had a wonderful experience there. When it came to transitioning to middle school, we wanted to find a place where they would continue to have smaller class sizes and a very personal learning experience. After visiting many private schools in the area, our son had a great day visiting St. Luke’s School in New Canaan. His enthusiasm for the school made St. Luke’s an easy choice for us. When it was my daughter’s turn, she felt the same way about the people and the feel of St. Luke’s, so again it was an easy choice. Our kids both started in 5th grade and are currently in 8th & 11th.
What about your school makes it right for your family?
St. Luke’s has true kindness and warmth within its culture. It is not just the school your child attends, but it is a community your entire family is a part of. The school has many ways of connecting families with each other and connects you with faculty and staff. There is a real feeling of partnership between parents and the people who see and engage our children every day. As a parent, you feel welcome, seen, and most importantly, heard. Watching our kids grow while developing such strong relationships with their groups of friends and with their teachers has been the best part of our experience at St. Luke’s. They have thrived in their different interests; My daughter has enjoyed being a part of the Middle School Student Council, playing field hockey, discovering that she has a love of science, and pursuing her passion for performing through theater and chorus. My son has had the opportunity to try so many things, from baseball and student council to designLab and singing in an Acapella group. He performed on stage in many shows throughout middle school but has really found his niche working behind the scenes in Technical Theater. Now, he is combining this with his love of graphic design and History as he chooses and creates classes for his senior year. A special piece of their journey at St. Luke’s has been about trying new activities and being able to shift or change as new passions or interests develop. They are always encouraged to take the risk and give something new a try.
What has been your family’s experience with school during the pandemic?
St. Luke’s has risen to the challenges that have come out of the pandemic. We have been so lucky that our kids have been in person for almost the entire time this school year! St. Luke’s has offered the flexibility and opportunity each day for families to choose to do school online or in person. Our kids have chosen to be in person whenever possible and love being able to see and interact with their friends. They have adjusted to all the new protocols —masks, social distancing, assigned seats, etc. —and take it all in stride. St. Luke’s has connected with both students and families through so many creative uses of online technologies. We’ve had big school events pivot to new digital formats and theater productions recreated as movies or live streams. The school has reimagined sports programs and after-school activities, and the Parents’ Association’s lunch program —where parents can log on to hear a presentation with a Q & A from a member of the faculty or administration— moved online. It has, in the best possible way, felt so much the same while being so different. St. Luke’s has worked incredibly hard to keep us all connected to the school and each other throughout this rather chaotic year, and that has made a huge difference for our whole family.
Name one thing people would be surprised to know about you.
I grew up sailing with my family and was a sailing instructor throughout high school and college. I was even lucky enough to sail with the all-female America’s Cup team in Newport, RI.
When you need “me time,” what are your favorite ways to escape?
I absolutely love a good book or 2 or 3, plus if I can add a beautiful view and a glass of wine, it becomes the perfect escape for me!
What’s the best advice you’ve received from another mom?
I have two pieces of advice that have always resonated with me—one from my mom and one given to me by a close friend with older kids. First, never miss an opportunity to say I love you to your kids! Second, treat your kids with kindness and respect while following their lead as they find their way in the world.
Any words of wisdom?
I have no great wisdom to share. I have always just loved my kids like crazy and tried to help them find their own paths towards their passions.
We like to support local businesses. What are your favorite places in the area to:
Have dinner: Exit 4 Food Hall in Mount Kisco
Grab a drink with friends: North Star in Pound Ridge—especially when you can sit outside
Have a date night: Little Crepe Street in Mount Kisco
Spend time together as a family outdoors: Mianus River Gorge & Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
Grab coffee: Kitchen Table in Pound Ridge—breakfast here is delicious too!
Workout: A good walk in my neighborhood or with a friend