If you judge a school by how engaged the students are and the commitment of teachers to get them excited about learning, then Fox Chapel is a fabulous school. My daughter is in the Center program, and she has been excited about going to school every day since she joined as a fourth grader. She is even excited about doing homework, which is usually project-based. I was worried about the social dynamics within the school, but so far, there seems to be no problems.
Our experience at Fox Chapel has been very positive. My 4th grader improved significantly in writing, and has done many interesting reading assignments. Very happy with the teachers and administration as well.
I am a student and this is the second Elementary school I've been to. Many, I mean MANY students in the Highly Gifted Program are bullied (Hint*Hint* Me) and there were fights going on in the lunch room more than once. In recess we had to play in the parking lot due to construction. Many students use inappropriate language and the patrols STINK. In my year of 4th Grade, 5th Graders chose who they wanted to be patrols. The staff is very helpful though they aren't the best at resolving problems. Outdoor staff just yell, same with lunch staff. Though if you were in Highly Gifted, you get to create a play (script, choreography, music,etc) or an "Opera" and in 5th Grade you get to do a play. There are many fun and challenging projects that make us think a little more. The teacher are great. Though I would give this school below average.
This school has its pros and cons. The pros are that they have an excellent staff that is helpful, understanding and experienced. They allow a great deal of parent involvement which is also nice. My daughter was in Fox Chapel for a year and she has excelled in reading and math. Her teacher did a phenomenal job with her. The cons were that I wasn't too thrilled about the social environment. I didn't like the location of the school; it was very congested and finding parking during a school event is very difficult. Hopefully with the new construction going on there now, there will be more space inside and out.
I think Fox Chapel is terrible. The students there always bully and discriminate the GT program kids. The students there also use inapropiate language and fight all the time. But with all of this, it seems the principal does not care, and the aids just scream, yell, and do nothing about it. Also it seems anyone can go in and nobody cares who the person is or what he/she is doing there. Also, many teachers seem to hate the GT and gossip. The playground is also undergoing construction and students have to play in the parking lot. The parking lot is also littered with alcohol bottle fragments and cigarette parts. Thee bathrooms smell terrible, and all the time, little kids clog up the toilets with paper towels and try to spy on you while you are doing your bussiness . Even if you tell the office of the toilet clogging, it takes them hours, just to send a janitor. Fox chapel is just terrible.
The principal-intern, Stephanie Brant is excellent. She is caring, involved, sensible. Already we see little touches that make the school better. We wish she could be the permanent principal for this school, then maybe we'll see more improvements. The teachers are mostly good, though their focus is more on the children who are getting left behind, thus the smart kids are the ones who get left behind. Highly gifted center is like a school within the school, which may be good or bad depending on which perspective you take.