It's important to understand that Catholic schools do not require the same rigorous credentials that Public School teachers need to have a job teaching... in fact they do not even need a teaching degree.
We were at this school for one year, since we could not get into any of our choice schools for SF Public. We are not religious, and I felt way too much time was wasted in a Religion Class (and assignments/activities), which students are graded on and reflected in the report card... when they could be focusing on some more important subjects. We transferred out back into a SF Public school - (Miraloma) which has been leaps and bounds a better education for my kids.
This is my 19th year at St. Philips and my 3rd child going through. My daughter is in 7th grade and wants to attend SH. My other 2 went to Riordan and SH. This IS a Catholic school so of course Religion is taught. This is why we sent our kids here! We have been here through 4 principals and many teachers, and the hiring is excellent. Yes, it can be expensive but you are told up front all the costs and how much participation is required. We have a huge active community that is supported and loved by our church. All children and their parents are accepted at this school. My oldest son is a Catholic grade school teacher at another school. This is what we want for our family. If religion upsets or scares you, then it's not the right place for you. It has been the absolute best thing we could have done for our kids. And the parents are a great, fun, hardworking team
As a gay parent I can't justify sending my kids there anymore. We initially went since we didnt get in any of the public schools we applied for. But the kids being graded on religion (and wasting school time with that rather than a useful subject like reading, math or science) and the feeling that I'm giving money to the Catholic church as an organization makes me feel sick. Religion should have no place in education. Yes, this school's teachers and staff are great, and have been with my family... and I don't think any of them really support the Catholic church's larger discrimination... but the best thing we can do is show the church our disapproval by our checkbooks. We were fortunate enough to get a second chance at SF Public, and have been really happy there. Good riddance Catholic Church.
We have not been at the school very long, but we are easily very happy with it. We initially went the public route, but failed to get any of our top picks, so we decided to go here as it was local. Funny, now I'm happy how things turned out - it really has been great/solid experience. Pro's: Smaller school so you do feel a bit more care. Easy to talk to teachers, other parents, etc. Very nice (and involved!) parents (get ready to be as well if you attend..but it's worth it). Also, this may sound odd but I don't find the school 'too Catholic'-ly bent - it's not crammed down or anything. Only one of us (parents) was raised Catholic (and didn't do Catholic schools growing up) so that was big. The cost is not nearly as high as other privates but I feel you get way more for your $. Also, I like how this provides us grade 6-8th solution and (if we want) potentially sets us up with a few good Catholic high schools options. The public route had me a bit worried about Jr. High and High School. Only a few cons I can think of: no real big playground, which is a bit of a bummer. And of course, there is a cost.
I feel the bad reviews about the middle school are a bit unfair. My child is now at Lowell, and doing great. She had the organizational skills and knowledge to transition easily into high school. She was extremely well prepared in English and literature. Math was a bit different. I had been warned that students who arrived at Lowell from small school did not do as well as students from big middle schools. At smaller schools, teachers tend to make sure that all students have mastered a subject before moving on, and parents of kids who do well need to make sure that their kids get challenged (and cover all the material in 8th grade before the high school math placement test... please learn from my shortcomings.) If a small school would be a good fit for your child, St-Philip is as good a place as any, led by a wonderful principal, with a caring, knowledgeable staff. They do their best to help students, but like anywhere else, you need to know what's happening, and be an advocate for your child.
We just moved here from another School and LOVE IT! The Kids are happy and learning in a positive environment. We have been very impressed with the Third grade teacher, she is truly passionate about teaching! The parents are dedicated and upbeat and always working on how they can do more to support the kids and school staff.
I have one child at a top-notch elementary public school and one at St Philips middle school and I can tell you that the expectations and teaching standards are quite different. At St. Philips, the teachers are excellent and the curriculum is challenging. The kids are engaged, caring and thoughtful individuals. Kids are given lots of homework and although you are not required to take notes of your textbook, my child does so because he wants to get honors. The academics are tough so if your child is too stressed, the school may not be a good fit.
The middle school has been a great experience for my daughter. In one year she learned organizational skills, dedication, respondibilty for her own homework, and of course contents. And most positive surprise after 6 grade, for the first time she said she enjoyed school and would miss her 6 grade teacher over the summer.
Two of our children attend St. Philip School in Noe Valley. I find it sad that one or two of the families are feeling frustrated. I honestly do not believe that any teacher or member of the faculty hold grudges or do not want to hear about complaints that parents or students may have. Even though my children are still in the lower grades, I have easily gotten to know the teachers of the upper grades. The Principal is very open to new suggestions, ideas and is willing to deal with the smallest of concerns. My sons learning difficulties were quickly identified and he is receiving extra curricular attention for this. The community spirit at the school is very, very impressive and families from many diverse backgrounds and culture attend. St. Philips truly is a hidden gem in the Valley!