We have had a wonderful experience with two children at Bell for the past four years. There were some changes with the new principal but they have been resolved and we couldn't be happier with the administration, parental involvement, and the education our children are receiving. They are amongst a great peer group and the environment is challenging but still nurturing, We debated among several north side elementary districts and couldn't be happier as part of the Bell Elementary family!
We like the Bell community. However, I was disappointed that the principal was not a good leader. I never see her smile or greet anyone. Even when I visited there to volunteer, I felt I was not welcomed. She is supposed to be a role model for our children, right?! Also, she is always late or does not reply to our e-mail messages, which makes me think she is not responsible and she is trying to stay away from us.
I'm a parent of two students recently graduated from Bell. I think Bell's positive reputation is a remnant of the prior principal. Since he left the school has changed for the worse. I agree with another review on this site regarding the poor job the school does for its 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Most teachers at Bell don't know how to handle this age group, creating a culture that is very uncomfortable for the kids. I appreciate that teaching at this level is a difficult job, but current Bell teachers too often resort to bullying the students, and the administration's chief concern is on perception and self interest. Fair warning to parents with children about to enter these grades - stay involved.
Adding to my last review, although the education students receive is fair, it's not completely great. There does happen to be a deaf and hard of hearing program at bell school, but personally I feel like the teachers for that program are completely unqualified. Bell is always holding in school events such as Spirit Week or Bullying Assembly's, but they never really address the bad topics about Bell School, they basically give their students a warning but when anything happens, it's brushed to the side. There is no diversity at Bell, what so ever. I hope I don't come off as rude, but bell is an over-privileged, white, rich school. They tell their students to be unique, but when we are we are looked down on and made fun of. At our recent dress-code assembly, our Vice-Principle was talking about what girls should and shouldn't be wearing and quickly ended with "because it could be found distracting." As soon as she said that everyone went silent and she quickly changed to a different subject. All I'm trying to say is, all of the misleading great things said about Bell are all phony lies. Bell will always be worse than it is perceived to be.
I am a 7th grader in the options department at Bell School and I am honestly very happy where I am. Although I do think that the new principal is not as included and well rounded as the old one, I still find Bell to be such an including and wonderful school. I've been here since I was in kindergarten and I have made great connections with the student and the teachers. I would like to make a shoutout to the seventh grade options teacher (Mr. Klein) I think that he has prepared many students to be able to reach their full potential and get ready for high school which is an extremely helpful pro to Bell. The academics are really good for what I am aware of and some of the reviews saying that they aren't, are not really looking at all of the different view points and really looking at the work that their kid is given.
I think this school has been a wonderful experience for my children! We moved in district just to go here and have not regretted it one second. It is a great community. The teachers are, on the most part, wonderful and caring and my children are thriving in their academic journey here. We have never experienced any bullying or elitist teaching staff as some have reported. I volunteer often in the school and feel I have a great rapport with the staff. They school encourages parent participation and volunteerism, a part that makes is so great.
If you scratch the surface of the hype surrounding this school, you will discover that all that glitters is not gold. I have had 2 kids at this school for the last 6 years and the truth is that this is the most over-rated school in Chicago. The environment is elitist and entitled. Bullying is rampant and not addressed. The "wonderful" education is mediocre at best. Unless you plan on donating a lot of money or spending hours volunteering, forget about your child being treated as anything more than a statistic. While there may be a few teachers who are wonderful, they are the minority and most teachers are extremely passive-aggressive in their attitudes towards the students especially in the upper grades. I moved to the neighborhood specifically for this school and wish I had stayed where we were. . There are a lot of other parents who feel the same way but are afraid to say anything for fear of repercussions.
I do not recommend this school for anyone who has a deaf child. The principal is very inexperienced and is just worried about the how everything looks to impress outsiders. They confuse children and families.
With three different "schools" within the same building, Bell has an extremely diverse student population. Neighborhood, gifted and deaf/hard of hearing children have separate curricula but the faculty and administration are extremely creative in finding ways for the children to interact. On top of that, top notch staff, creative and dedicated teachers and an extremely strong parent organization have made Bell a consistently top ranked school not only within the Chicago Public school system but also the state. Academics, sports, fine arts, after school programming and more make this a welcoming school and deliver a great education.