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Chapin School (New Jersey)

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Title: Chapin School (New Jersey)  
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Subject: Princeton, New Jersey, Lawrence Township, Mercer County, New Jersey, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools, Mercer Oak, Maybury Hill
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Chapin School (New Jersey)

Chapin School
4101 Princeton Pike
Princeton, NJ 08540

Type Private school
Established 1931
Faculty 42.1 (on FTE basis)[1]
Grades PreK-8
Enrollment 291 (in K-8, plus 14 in PreK, as of 2009-10)[1]
Student to teacher ratio 6.9:1[1]
See also The Chapin School for the school in Manhattan with the same name.

Chapin School is a private coeducational day school located in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, United States, serving students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade situated on a 13-acre (53,000 m2) campus located 2 miles (3.2 km) outside of Princeton (which is the school's mailing address).

As of the 2009-10 school year, the school had an enrollment of 305 students (in grades K-8, including 14 in Pre-Kindergarten) and 42.1 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 6.9:1[1]

Chapin School in Princeton, New Jersey, is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The school is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools and the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools.[2]

Mission and philosophy

Chapin School is dedicated to the belief that lifelong habits of the mind and heart are formed in the elementary and middle school years. Chapin provides a richly textured education that inspires academic achievement and builds strength of character. Within a diverse, caring and supportive community, we prepare our students to meet the future with skill, confidence, determination and generosity of spirit.

At Chapin School, we believe that students learn best in a supportive, encouraging and diverse community. Chapin shares a commitment to each child's academic, emotional, ethical, creative, physical, and social development. In small classes that promote active learning, dedicated faculty create environments where critical thinking, effective communication, creativity and curiosity flourish. Encountering challenges that lead to success, students develop a positive sense of self. A strong commitment to Chapin's five virtues (Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Kindness and Perseverance) fosters an environment for character development that complements our academic programs.


Chapin School was founded in Princeton in 1931 by Frances Jordan Chapin. The school acquired its first permanent location in April 1951. In 1958, the school moved to its current site, having purchased the 5-acre (20,000 m2) Edgar S. Smith estate, which included the pre-American Revolutionary War Henry D. Phillips House.

Mrs. Chapin believed that self-esteem is essential to a student's learning process, and she created an environment at her school that helped to foster each child's sense of self-worth. Over the next twenty years the school grew to encompass a faculty of six and a student body of forty, all housed in Mrs. Chapin's cramped apartment in "downtown" Princeton.

Remembered as "a white-haired Southern lady with a heart-shaped face, fine nose, nice eyes and a manner of beetling her eyebrows to command attention," Mrs. Chapin would enter a noisy school room and "quiet would descend." Fellow educator Mary Mason, founder of Miss Mason's School and the Mason Early Education Foundation, recalled the classroom atmosphere at her friend's school. Mason states, "They broke practically all the rules of education, but they had a dedication and feel for children which went far beyond anything one can describe in words." When Mrs. Chapin died in March of 1951, the parents of her students committed themselves to continuing her educational vision, and establishing a corporation to operate the school.

The first decade of the "new" Chapin, incorporated in April of 1951, saw a growing student body, administrative stability and the acquisition of a permanent site for the school. Following Mrs. Chapin's death, classes were held for three years in a rented house at 11 Mercer Street. In 1954, the school moved to "Snowden," which it leased from Bernard Kilgore, publisher of The Wall Street Journal and The Princeton Packet. In 1958, Chapin moved to its present location in northern Lawrence Township, having purchased the five-acre Edgar S. Smith estate, the centerpiece of which was the pre-Revolutionary War Henry D. Phillips House.

By the school's 30th anniversary in 1961, with an enrollment of more than 100, Chapin was sufficiently well established to complete a capital campaign that resulted in the addition to the original farmhouse of two classrooms, an office, a kitchen and a multi-purpose auditorium/gymnasium. Subsequent property acquisitions and facilities improvements have expanded the campus to its present 15 acres comprising six buildings and three playing fields. A comprehensive Campus Master Plan to guide future growth was completed in 2002.

As the school "grew up," curriculum and institutional procedures matured. In 1991 Chapin received accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and in 2002, the school achieved dual accreditation from Middle States and the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. In 2012 Chapin was re-accredited for ten years by both accrediting agencies.

Chapin remains in an enviable position of strength. Enrollment is over 300 students in grades Pre-K through 8, a large increase over just a decade ago. Our educational program is comprehensive, age-appropriate and rigorous. Our graduates are well prepared, and they are successful at their secondary schools. Our teachers are highly qualified, committed to Chapin's philosophy, and, like their predecessors of so long ago, have "a dedication and feel for children ... beyond anything one can describe in words."

On the occasion of the school's 50th anniversary, an institutional history was written by E. Parker Hayden, Jr. P'74,'76,'77 and Herbert O. Hagens '60. Much of this article is adapted from the book, Chapin School: An Idea In Search of an Image 1931 - 1981.


  • Over 30 classrooms in three buildings
  • 1 technology center
  • 2 mobile labs
  • 2 science labs
  • 1 music lab
  • Library with 12000 books and online resources
  • Auditorium
  • Art gallery with 8 professional art shows yearly
  • Full size gymnasium
  • 3 athletic fields
  • 1 business office with conference room
  • 1 dining pavilion

Recent history

Chapin School recently launched its most ambitious Capital Campaign in history--Limitless Futures: Investing in the Children of Chapin. This Campaign consists of a number of Lower School and Upper School renovations and new facilities, and will significantly improve the Chapin educational experience for the years to come.

Chapin School built a new pre-school and kindergarten building, the Margaret Wilby Primary Building, replacing the old Pre-K building. The structure was finished during the 2006-2007 school year.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ a b c d Chapin School, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed June 27, 2013.
  2. ^ Member Directory, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. Accessed July 25, 2012.

External links

  • school website
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