They are trained to be overly punitive. Even the nice ones do nice things or say things, then ask you not to tell the principal they were nice. I can't tell you how many times I heard, "just don't tell Mrs. Tobin I did this".
This is what they claim to be doing by continuing to be hard on the students. I do not think "grit" in childhood comes from being beat down. I believe it comes from being in a safe place and being allowed to find success and failure in a safe way.
They develop fear of authority. Before I left, I was on the campus twice in one week. Both times I observed a different child sitting on a specific bench crying. I wondered why no one was assisting these children and why they were there on both occasions. They do not care for children's emotional well being at this school, only producing high test scores.
A school that promotes bullying is not promoting any of these positive attributes. As a matter of fact, after four years at the school, my final straw to leave was having other parents call me to tell me their kids were reporting my child being abused in the classroom.
When the principal and teachers are bullies, the children follow suit. Number one complaint I heard from students there was bullying. They are taught to find the weakest link and bully them by the principal and teachers.
The reason they have such good test scores is because they systematically kick out anyone who doesn't fit their mold. This is not just "behavior", it's academically, if a child cannot provide good test scores, they will start making excuses to drop them. I actually had other parents calling me telling me their kids were watching my son get abused, getting pulled by his ear and arm by both teacher and principal. Great Schools needs to research this school before rating it a 10 based on test scores alone. The actual learning environment is scary, stressful, and does not culture creativity and a love of learning in children. I had two children there over a course of 4 years.
This school was extremely harsh on my child. He attended a few years ago as a Kinder. He was suspended for breaking a branch the size of a pencil off a bush at recess. Then again, I was called to pick him up from the principal's office, when he stood at the top of the slide and held kids up at recess. They said "more than 4 kids were waiting to go down the slide and we had to tell him three times to come down". Truth is, my son had a rare form of epilepsy and was probably checked out at the top of the slide. He had a hard time focusing in class due to his disability, and all i was looking for was the best education for him. They were determined to qualify him to be expelled so he wouldn't mess with their test scores, I'm convinced. Why else would you suspend a KINDERGARDENER for 5 days for tearing a branch off a bush? Folks, this is a true story. I've just never really taken time to write a review. I quickly pulled my son out and he attends a different school. He has thrived since, and not once been sent to the principal's office in 4 years of elem school.
I have mixed feelings about this school. I have a child that has attended there almost 4 years now, and another almost 2. There are a lot of worksheets and not a lot of hands on learning. They give a lot of homework. We spend our entire afternoon doing homework. There is not a lot of time leftover for playing. The principle is very strict . All the kids are scared of her. I have had a couple situations with my kids were she was involved and I feel like she is very harsh with her punishments. One of my children has a hard time focusing, so the principle was called in and she kept clapping in his face and hovering over him in front of the whole class, trying to get him to do his work. He came home devastated. There are 31 kids in my younger child's class, which I think is too much for one teacher, and there are a lot of difficult kids in his class. He is not getting the attention he needs. I would not recommend this school to kids with ADD or ADHD or any other learning disability. There are a few teachers there that I love. That is basically the only reason we have stayed there.
Challenger is a great place for kids. They are loved and taught well in way that are motivating to them. The staff gets along well and seem to enjoy working there. It feels safe and small and the families are committed. I have had no issues with behavior in the classes and the teachers are great.