If you’re a parent, you understand how important early education is for our children. The City of Phoenix has over 200 public schools in 16 distinct neighborhoods, spanning across 517 miles. There is a lot of ground to cover and many factors to consider when choosing a home and school. With so many options, you may be wondering which neighborhoods have some of the best public elementary schools Phoenix has to offer.

As a parent of four kids under 12, I know there are many factors that go into selecting the right school for your children. I constantly refer my buyers to start at GreatSchools.org to do their initial research. It ranks schools based on the Student Progress Rating or Academic Progress Rating, Equity Rating, and Test Score Rating. The top Phoenix neighborhoods with excellent public schools as rated by GreatSchools.org and my own personal experiences with clients include (from North to South):

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North Phoenix 

Desert Ridge neighborhoods offer many places for dining, shopping and entertainment and lie within the Paradise Valley Unified School District. The district has quite a few high performing schools, but the top-rated schools are Desert Trails and Fireside, both located next to each other in the Desert Ridge area, north of the 101 and Tatum. Desert Trails is an A-rated school focused on social emotional learning and has an open enrollment program, meaning you do not have to reside in the school boundary to attend. Fireside Elementary is also an A-rated school with a gifted preschool program. Both schools offer positive behavior reinforcement and gifted cluster classes.

Parents like living in this area for the proximity to resort-style amenities, great trails and splash pads for the littles. There are also lots of jobs within an easy commute of this area. Homes are newer in these neighborhoods and will likely be more energy efficient, mostly two-story homes on smaller lots. Be sure to check out the Desert Ridge and Wildcat Ridge neighborhoods.

Melisa Camp is a top-producing Phoenix Realtor with HomeSmart Elite Group and a licensed instructor with Elite Education.

Biltmore and Uptown

If you would like to be a little bit more centrally located, consider looking within the Madison Elementary School District. Madison Traditional Academy or MTA is the top-rated school with no actual boundaries, instead they offer open enrollment and a lottery system. Other notable schools are Madison Heights where they offer English instruction in the morning and Spanish in the afternoon with open enrollment and Madison Simis where they offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum, gifted cluster classes and open enrollment.  

The Biltmore and Uptown areas have an upscale historic vibe. My favorite neighborhoods are Tonka Vista, Wrigley Terrace and Wagon Wheel Circle. This area is worth exploring as the most architecturally intriguing homes are scattered along Central Avenue on either side of the Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street and tucked around Piestewa Peak. Most homes are more than 70 years old, many remodeled or updated, and typically single-story ranch homes with varying lot sizes.


Alhambra Traditional School is the only rated 10 public elementary school in all of Phoenix which says a lot for its excellent reputation. It is located off the I-17 Freeway and Bethany Home Road and has no boundaries, instead offering open enrollment. 

The best neighborhoods to live in near Alhambra Traditional are near the Christown Spectrum Mall which is extremely walkable. It’s near the light rail and has a little more of an urban feel with mostly single-story ranch homes or multi-family properties. There is also Palo Verde Golf Course nearby with homes in the area that have green or lake views.


Arcadia neighborhoods are located along either side of Camelback Road from 40th Street to 68th Street and are within the Scottsdale Unified Boundaries. Hopi Elementary School is a top-rated public school with gifted opportunities and after school enrichment opportunities. 

Arcadia offers mostly luxury, mid-century estates on large grassy lots and many properties with breathtaking views of Camelback Mountain.

South Phoenix

Nestled at the base of South Mountain, the Kyrene School District has 5 top-rated elementary schools in Phoenix including Kyrene De Los Lagos, Kyrene Monte Vista, Kyrene de la Estrella, Kyrene de la Sierra, and Kyrene de los Cerritos. 

Ahwatukee Foothills Villages is a family friendly neighborhood with many trails and outdoor recreational opportunities. It has easy freeway access and a mix of average and luxury homes to meet any budget. Homes in this area will be a mix of old and new, different elevations and mostly two-story homes with desert landscaping and more Spanish-inspired design.

Culture of the best Phoenix schools

While it may be an excellent starting point to look at a school’s GreatSchools score card, it is equally important to consider the school culture too. The culture, or the campus attitude, is set by the principal, teachers, staff, and parents. It is intangible and impossible to measure online but important, nonetheless. School culture can be experienced with a tour, observation, and/or parent interviews. 

When it comes to choosing the best school for your children, trust your gut feelings. The same can be said for choosing a great neighborhood. We can’t really measure the value of great neighborhoods, or the satisfaction community bonds can bring, but it has meaningful value and makes neighborhoods a great place to raise kids and grow old. 


Melisa Camp is a top-producing Phoenix Realtor with HomeSmart Elite Group and a licensed instructor with Elite Education. Camp has a master’s degree in Elementary Education and resides in the Royal Palm Neighborhood with her four children ages 12, 9, 6, and 3.  For more information, visit http://greenhomesphoenix.com.