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Public district
Chapel Hill, NC
Students enrolled: 558

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500 Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

School website
(919) 942-4753
(919) 969-2475
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Map of Estes Hills Elementary School address.
February 25, 2015
As far as the test scores are concerned, it is because NC changed the state test as well as the curriculum. They are using "Common Core" along with most of the rest of nation. The test is supposed to align with Common Core. It is a very challenging assessment. You will see that every school's test scores at the elementary and middle school level dropped with the implementation of the new test. The principal is NOT the same principal. That principal who was at Estes is now at Northside Elementary. The principal that is now at Estes is AMAZING. He is a very good leader who loves kids. My child who attends Estes went to a very highly rated school before moving to Chapel Hill. He thinks Estes is even better than that school and he looks forward to going to school every day. Estes is an old school, but with an awesome playground, a warm inviting feeling, and the teachers are A++.

- submitted by a parent
September 25, 2014
I was reading some of the comments on this site and I wanted to clarify a couple of things. I have a son who started Estes in 2012-2013 as a kindergartener. In 2012-2013 Estes Elementary lost their principal who was with Estes for many years and the VP. From Jan. 2013-March of 2013 they had and interim principal who was brought back from retirement. In 2013 they hired Mr. Ware who, if I remember correctly, started in September of 2013. I have not had any direct contact with him so I cannot speak to that; however he knows my child s name and greets him by his name every time he sees him. He also seems to know all the other kids by name. He is visible around the school, either walking the hallways, stopping by in the classroom or by the car circle or busline. I have not heard anything bad about this principal and it seems to me that both the teachers and the kids are content. Teachers are awesome and I have nothing bad to say about any of them. As for the test scores, I wondered the same but if you look at the demographics of the school you will see that it has changed in the past couple of years. In addition, recent test and curriculum changes may have led to lower scores.

- submitted by a parent
March 04, 2014
In response to the question below regarding the negative comments about the principal of this school, it is the same principal. Ours was one of the complaints regarding this principal. We were aware of other parents who provided information on an anonymous basis due to fear of their child being singled-out.

- submitted by a parent
January 11, 2014
Does anyone know why the test scores of 2013 are much lower than previous years? My kids are going to be reassigned to Estes. I am very curious about the school. Many thanks!

- submitted by a community member
April 04, 2013
Question to parents re: Estes principal. Without naming names, can someone confirm that the principal who has received these negative comments since 2010 is the same one who has been selected as the principal for the new Northside Elementary School, scheduled to open in August 2013?

- submitted by a parent
February 03, 2013
I am a student here at EH I like our teachers, but in 4th grade the 5th graders thought they were so above us. Some of the children are very mean when it comes to differences. Either in their skin, or actions, or their looks. The old principal last year did not do much. This year all I noticed was that our principal walks around the school, checking in on classes every so often. Every teacher I've met is awesome. My 5th grade teacher is very funny and has us wanting to learn! I remember the first week of school I had so much fun! But other then the teachers and custodians, that can make any one happy, there's nothing very outstanding about EH. Some of the school lunches are literally sickening. I had a school lunch, and I got sick. My stomach hurt badly. Other days their lunches are pretty good. Another thing that should change is art. There should be more classes or at least more time in the classes. When there is a substitute we do the same thing every single time! Over all this school is not what I was expecting or what I was hoping it would be. The teachers I've had were phenomenal and I myself think the teachers deserve a raise.

- submitted by a community member
September 10, 2012
I currently have a third grader at Estes and a sixth grader who was there for four years of elementary school. Overall, I have been very pleased with their teachers and feel that the teaching staff is very dedicated to meeting the needs of all the children in their classrooms. Of course, as a public school, Estes needs to serve any and all students in their community and therefore cannot pick and choose only the "best and brightest." On the downside, this sometimes means that learning differences and behavioral concerns can take time and energy away from the teachers ability to push their students academically. However, the upside is that my children have been exposed to a wide array of students from different backgrounds, ability levels and experiences. They are truly enriched by this experience and I think it will prepare them to be flexible learners and uniquely suited to meeting the requirements of a more connected global environment. Of course, there a a few things I would change if I could (such as the quality of the art and language program), but all in all, I have been very pleased.

- submitted by a parent
June 06, 2012
Fantastic school and teachers. I haven't had any run ins with the principal but don't appreciate her talking to me like I'm a student rather than a parent. I could see how she would be annoying to other parents with issues. The teachers are amazing and my son is so happy.

- submitted by a parent
April 19, 2012
We had the exact same experience as the prior commenter and also ended up pulling our child out. We also met with the Principal and district officials. We found them openly hostile to the point that we needed witnesses when we met with them to combat the ever changing version of events. There was no follow-up on any issue. Rather, there was just wagon-circling to protect themselves. We were repeatedly told untruths and several of our attempts to seek resolution were blocked. We cannot express, however, what a relief it was after we left to enroll in a good school with a kind and enthusiatic principal and school district where the primary concern was the children. It was like night and day in comparison to Estes Hills. If you're having trouble with this school, the principal and the school district, leave. There are so many better schools out there. This is just one rotten apple.

- submitted by a parent
September 01, 2011
We had a horrible experience at this school and pulled our kids out and put them in private schools. It was very disappointing, due to the great reputation of Chapel Hill public schools. This was NOT due to the competence of the teachers. I couldn't have asked for a better, more dedicated group of people. (we had 2 kids there) Our problems were primarily related to the principal and vice-principal, and they way the school was run, how conflicts were addressed, and the latitude teachers were given for students that were capable of accepting more work. We brought our issues to the Principal and the Superintendent, and in all cases, we felt that none of the parties were interested in listening to our issues, and nothing was ever addressed, nor were we given any follow-up.

- submitted by a parent
December 16, 2010
Estes is a wonderful school for children to learn and grow. I read earlier views and my take is that the school has improved. The afterschool and family fun night programs (which are free and inclusive to more families) are great! The music program is phenomenal! Estes has a real jewel in the music teacher! I have four children at Estes and couldn't be happier!

- submitted by a parent
November 09, 2010
We have now had a child go from kindergarten to fifth and a second child from kindergarten and first. We absolutely love this school. The teachers have been superb, the offerings are incredible and the gifted services are integrated into the classroom. Our experience with the new principal has been absolutely amazing. We find the school to be responsive, interested in our children, dedicated to learning, feel the teachers are very hard working and feel the music teacher is spectacular. The teachers become even more impressive when you volunteer in the class. We did not have great schools where we used to live and had to move for education. We have been incredibly satisfied and would recommend the school to anyone. From our perspective this is the perfect blend of traditional, progressive, flexible and academically challenging programs out there.

- submitted by a parent
September 05, 2010
Children are to be seen NOT heard at this school. Kids are given strict orders to keep completely silent at lunch. The children are also rigidly ordered into silent lines and may only sit with their class. I watched as the children were reprimanded and refused requests to even say hello to fellow students from other classes (who they had been close friends with the year before when they used to be in the same class). The school isolates and damages previous friendships by not allowing the same grade classes to interact and specifically do not allow them to even play on the playground at the same time. Each year children are torn from previous friendships when placed in different classrooms and then not allowed to eat lunch or play with their friends once they are placed in "different" classrooms.

- submitted by a parent
May 01, 2010
I am thankful that my children are safe at school and they are learning what they should be learning. Compared to what I've seen in NY state, art, music, and ESL services are poorer. I would be happier if the principal was less disciplinary and there was no weekly 'don't be late for school' reminder call from her.

- submitted by a parent
March 18, 2010
Overall, our experience at this school has been good. As for more attention being paid to the slowest kids, welcome to liberal Chapel hill. There is nothing wrong with giving a legup to disadvantaged kids. I just spent 15 minutes as a reading vounteer with a 2nd grader. He was so pleased. Because, the time had been invested in this child since begining of this school year he is a better student. I agree the average kids kind of loose out. I have learned that in a government run institute parents have to be more involved.

- submitted by a parent
March 17, 2010
Bullying is a problem at this school that isn't taken seriously. The principal seems more concerned with politics than with children. She doesn't appear to know anyone except staff and speaks down to parents as if they were small children. When one asks for a particular rule to be clarified, good luck getting a response or one that doesn't conflict with what one has previously been told. There is a prevailing sense at this school that children are problems to be quieted and sent home as soon as possible at the end of the day as if they are a bother. They want your child picked up within 15 minutes of being released or you ll get an ear full from staff and/or the principal herself. Hearing from parents seems to be an even bigger nuisance to staff. When I spoke up, it seemed like my child paid the price.

- submitted by a parent
January 26, 2009
We have been a part of the Estes Hills family for seven years and continue to be extremely pleased with the school. Our children have flourished, thanks to the wonderful faculty and staff. Our principal and her administration have always been very attentive to our needs, there is ample opportunity for parental involvement, and there is a wonderful community spirit among the families. We feel very fortunate to be able to send our children to this excellent neighborhood school.

- submitted by a parent
January 24, 2009
Estes Hills is a WONDERFUL school. The faculty and administration put the children first and do a wonderful job in preparing them for Middle School. The campus is old, however it is finally being cared for thanks to our Administration. Our Principal has been instrumental in spearheading a host of capital improvements to the campus including state of the art technology to keep it in line with other newer schools in the district. Estes Hills is like a large 'family', with students, teachers, administrators and parents working together to make it a great place to learn for ALL children. The school provides a caring atmosphere where the students learn, play, create, are challenged and make life long friends. Thank you Estes Hills!

- submitted by a parent
January 07, 2009
I am disappointed with Estes Hills school and the administration's decision to not celebrate American holidays or including more time for art projects associated with these holiday themes. After several attempts to provide ideas and fun activities on how to include these into the children's daily schedule, I've been told by the principal that the holidays must be part of the curriculum or they aren't included. The school's focus is centered around End of Grade tests and following the curriculum. Our previous elementary school in Illinois provided many more opportunities than just 45 minutes a week for art, and during the holidays, projects included seasonal themes such as concerts, festivals, and classroom decorations. In the 3 years since my son has attended Estes, there hasn't been one picture colored of a Christmas tree, one snowflake cutout, pumpkins decorated, etc. The kids don't know what they're missing.

- submitted by a parent
December 18, 2008
Estes Hills has made great strides under its new principal, Cheryl Carnahan. They have implemented policies that are more supportive of individual students and managed to keep classroom aides even though budgets have been tight. Our child has benefitted greatly. The one thing is some older teachers have lost that real sense of extraordinary concern for the kids and perhaps should retire soon.

- submitted by a parent
September 27, 2008
The school would be rated much higher not only in parents opinions but in academic standards if not for the new principal. She is basically running a huge daycare and has shown no interest when concerned parents approach her about the curriculm being 'dumbed down' for many students. Her response when students are ahead of her given curriculm is for the children to stop learning for a few years. She has a habit of wanting to show people she is in control and has power over them rather than trying to actually help. It is very frustrating.

- submitted by a parent
no rating August 26, 2008
I am a parent of 2 children in this school and I have been very unsatisfied. One of my children has special needs and the every person from the classroom teacher to the principal were unresponsive. There doesn't seem to be much teacher accountability in this school

- submitted by a parent
no rating February 06, 2008
We have two boys who have attended Estes Hills. Chapel Hill Schools are truly outstanding, and Estes Hills is no exception. We have been thrilled with all but one of their teachers. The teachers invest time in learning how to motivate each child individually, and they do an excellent job giving children the freedom to pursue their own academic interests. I do agree with one parent's concern that gifted kids are sometimes ignored (this is partially due to a separate program for 'extremely highly gifted children'), and our experience is unfortunately also that the new principal (2008) is somewhat dismissive of parent inquiries, though hopefully that will improve with time. Overall, though, we are very happy with the district.

- submitted by a parent
January 24, 2008
I volunteer at this school through a program I am involved with at the local university. Having taught in Durham for approx. 3 years, I can only say wonderful things aboutt Estes. Unlike many schools in Durham, parents and staff at Estes share a mutual respect for one another and are truly looking out for the benefit of the child. Awesome school!

- submitted by a community member
November 27, 2007
We came from a large school district in another state, and I'm just blown away by the level of individual attention kids get at Estes Hills. Great staff, good resources, excellent PTA.

- submitted by a parent
November 08, 2006
We've been at this school for 2 years -- my daughter is in 3rd grade. We moved to Chapel Hill from an area well-known for the high caliber schools. Estes is a good, solid, traditional, elementary school. The facility is old (probably dating back to the '50's), and the teaching is solid and old-fashioned. We don't have a TV studio , rock climbing wall, or Rennaissance Garden like we did in our previous school, but the teachers we've had have been superb. We've been very satisfied. The principal/vice-principal do a good job hiring good teachers, but aren't quite as strong in making the parents feel heard and valued -- that is an area in which there is much room for improvement. I'd recommend Estes for average and above average kids - the school does seem to struggle with meeting the needs of exceptional students at both ends of the spectrum.

- submitted by a parent

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Last modified: February 25, 2015

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Estes Hills Elementary School
500 Estes Drive, Chapel Hill, NC  27514
(919) 942-4753
Last modified Estes Hills Elementary School is a Public school that serves grades K-5. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 9 out of 10 based on academic quality.
Estes Hills Elementary School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 26 reviews. Top