Posted March 2, 2009
Dear Parents: Thank you for taking a few minutes of your time to learn more about &/or share some of your experiences at Challenge Charter School. CCS was founded in 1996 by Superintendent, Greg Miller & Executive Director, Pam Miller, my parents. The Millers are still active in the leadership of CCS; and I am honored that they have chosen and support me in my new role as Principal. I am proud to have been working with CCS s outstanding team of educators since 1999. The team at CCS is passionate about putting kids first, offering an optimal educational environment, grounded in the fundamental skills of a hands-on, science-oriented, academic core curriculum. As Arizona s First Official Core Knowledge School our curriculum is integrated and sequential providing a challenging and differentiated learning environment also rich in history, character education, and technology. Recently, a few parents have commented on our testing culture. In response, I confirm that our students, of all backgrounds, consistently score 25 to 40% higher than the state average of both: all schools (~1700); and all charter schools (~485). This accomplishment is something our teachers, school community, parents, and especially students are proud of! So, yes, we do talk about it on campus; we empower and encourage our students to celebrate their achievements. Challenge is proud to offer many unique programs and services. Some of the opportunities at Challenge include: Extended-day Kindergarten, before & after school care, extracurricular classes during the school day (such as art, foreign language, PE, technology), Breakfast/lunch program, caring and highly qualified staff, parent/family nights, and a uniform policy. I encourage all interested parents to join us for one of our several Founders Tour & Informational Sessions this spring. At these tours, we discuss school policies & programs in detail and no question goes unanswered. Lots of information including tour dates is available on our webpage at www.challengecharterschool.net. Call our office today at 602-938-5411to sign up! Principal Wendy Miller
Kids will learn how to read, but not how to think. We've been at this school for 2 years now, and overall it's been a disappointment. I would not recommend this school.
The great thing about living in Arizona is school choice. If you are unhappy with a school you are free to leave and choose another. However the next school and principal you select may ACTUALLY have the nerve to believe HE or SHE is the principal and can run the school the best way they see fit. You as a parent may loudly protest the gall of this belief. Then you may complain AGAIN and choose another school AGAIN. Good luck on finding a principal who does things the way you think they should be done.
I have been with the school since its inception and every year there is one or two people that have a need to refer to other possibliities other than Challenge, spread rummors of closing or ending a grade, etc. In 17 years as a school we have not bashed or slandered another school on Great schools. We are proud of our awards and our school. If you are a parent at Challenge you would know that our Blue Ribbon award can only be re-submitted for after 5 years,. The Blue Ribbon award is so hard to receive most schools in country never have the opportunity to win one. You seem to have missed or overlooked all the other wonderfful awards the school has had every year since then. By the way the Blue Ribbon award was witten and submitted by the current princapal. She is a wonderful writer and has worked for 11 years at the school. Has a Masters degree in business, and adores and respects HER families. With the 25% cut in funding over the last few years we are proud of the extra things and classes we still provide our students. " Respect is a two way opportunity".
Just think.. The board of the school is compose of 4 people, 3 from the same family(75%). The principal is the daughter of the founder. Everything is perfect until you are tired to have coffee with the principal and you actually want to talk about the school. In a charter school you are a "customer", because they are a "business". But you are not always right.. They will like to hold your kids there (especially if smart) like a credit card: high test score=more enrollment, more enrollment = more money. The teacher are doing a phenomenal job considering what the administration is asking to them. With privacy excuse parents can not talk or excange email. Try to organise a bithday.. No sport, no Spanish, no gifted program, unless you think that 3/4 times a month is a "program". Every award is from 2007(5 years later...) If you are afraid of a public school, have fun in this little kingdom but remember.. If you don't like the king(actually the Princess) you better run.. Luckily for you new possibility are opening this summer. Do you want help this school? Simple, a real professional Principal and a real board of director. No more "family", thanks.
We have two sons who have been there five years. I have only positive accolades for administration and the teachers. They are compassionate, professional and engaging in the classroom. My sons are retaining and learning, not memorizing material to score high on exams. I have seen how they use core knowlege over the last few years and build upon last year's material. They also have very clearly defined boundaries for behavior. Both students and parents understand the expectations. We are have been pleased with Challenge Charter School all along. If you have questions ask for a tour. You will be amazed at how well the teachers manage their classrooms. Cannot say enough good about this school, the teachers and their philosophy.
I would like to reply to the last post ; just two days ago my first grader wrote an entire journal entry. I have been a parent of this school for 6 years. All of the children are taught very detailed writing skills. It is not just a "fill in the blank kind of school".
If you want your child to learn how to fill in the blanks then this is the school for you. No actual writing is done at school. Any actual writing is done in the huge monthly projects sent home. They are a big part of the grade and so they can take credit for your kid learning so much at school. Your kid will be great at filling in those blanks and crossing out the wrong number! But they won't be able to actually do anything on their own - but AIMS doesn't require that anyway. You are better off finding a school that teaches the Spalding method, and Saxon or Singapor math.
We are so grateful for this school. I am a teacher and came into the school with high expectations. Challenge has exceeded them all. The teachers are attentive and compassionate. I have had them offer to meet before school to help with misunderstood homework and call just to see how our children were doing. These teachers care. I have had the administratioin come and sit in on conferences just to make sure that we were comfortable with decisions that were being made. They took an interest in our struggling child. CCS has no problem removing teachers they feel are not meeting expectations. This is probably why some parents have mentioned teacher turn-over. I want teachers by "gift" and not by "profession." I am grateful that CCS is always working to hire and keep only the best. CCS has high standards for behavior. If you are a home where rules are suggestions, and character is NOT a priority, this school is NOT for you. They are trying to help parents raise well rounded and prepared students. My daughter's junior high principal commented that she likes to get CCS students because they are well prepared and well behaved! Now THAT is a great recommmend for a "Great School."
If you are looking for the best public education you can find in the area, look no further. They are serious about character education and the student's safety. Any kind of bullying is handled very strictly. Our two children have done very well here, one went K-6 and the other K-4 so far. It means a lot to me that I feel they are safe there. The campus is more secure than many I've seen and they have a well thought out emergency plan just in case.
My gradson goes to Challenge. I am concerned about the review by the parent on 11.28.11. I have never seen any of the issues that they used in their personal attack. I belive that the students performance speaks with much authority than their complaints. AIMS scores; County & State science fairs awards; state wide science compitition (top 2%): AIMS Math school wide is @ 94%; AIMS Science is @ 96%; Great Schools own score of 10 based on student academic performance all speak w/authority rather than disapointment about something their child did or didn't do that required administrative interaction. My gradson has always been a great kid (yes I am prejudice) but he didn't always love learning as he does now.
I have been a CCS parent for many years. We dedicated our time and money to a once prosperous school. Over the past years we saw programs being removed and not replaced due to funding. No improvements have been made and frankly we were tired of them begging for money with no new prospects of adding back any of the lost programs. I had heard from other frustrated parents their story of insane treatment by the Principal. I stuck up for her. But then I guess it was my family's turn to experience her irrational behavior. The excellent teachers we had all left. A few remain however the teacher turnover is extremely high. Before considering any school, ask questions, consider why this school can't keep teachers around. This school has an awesome kindergarten program but after that good luck. You would be surprised how far behind they can be in other schools. We chose to pull our child this year because the education at CCS wasn't challenging. CCS is behind the times and slow to teach math at grade level. There is no foreign language and there are no science experiments. How can you teach science without hands on experience? As I said before the math is weak too. Good luck!
My son recently enrolled in this school and after a brief adjustment period, he is adapting nicely to the challenging curriculum. I appreciate that while the kids are very busy during the school day, they don't have a ton of homework each night. My son understands that while in school he needs to pay attention and learn-when he gets home he can relax and play after homework. There seems to be a lot of play during the day at most other schools and not enough learning. Keep up the great work CCS.
I have had my kids at CCS for many years. I was suprised by the past few reviews. I have found the Millers to be consistent and very committed. Everyone occassionally faces a frustration with their child's school and I've had a few but would never use personal attacks to vent them. I chose a charter school and I pay close attention to the rankings. I found on school digger that CCS is the 7th best Elementary School in Arizona this year. My kids have never been head of the class or the "smartest' and CCS has given them extra help and they have grown a lot. I'm happy with the education they are getting.
I agree. This "family" run school is not good anymore. yanked my kid out this year and placed them in a different school where the students and parents are not treated as cash cows. It was good when they had fewer students, but when the state started reducing funding, they "family" decided on larger class sizes so the "family" could maintain their salaries and give themselves raises. Plus on top of that, the principal and her mom both smoke and constantly reek of cigarettes.
This school lacks warmth. This school is family run, the principal is the daughter of the founders. It is politically and money driven. Kids are taught only to take tests and be competitive. There is a large amount of favoritism shown to the "smartest" kids in the school with very little tolerance for individualism. The uniforms are ridiculously expensive due to only being able to buy them at a uniform company that has only one location in the whole metro area. There are very few extracurricular activities and all "specials" are held on one day of the week rather than spread out. Teacher to student ratio is way too high. One teacher can not possibly control 28 or 30 kids. The first few years our child was there were good due to the small environment and emphasis on "core values". It is unfortunate that there is not more warmth from the teachers and office personnel. While the curriculum is good and very advanced, for the average child there will be a huge culture shock when they hit public middle school. It took a year of debate on our part...our child now goes to a much more tolerant school that also teaches core values and welcomes diversity and ALL CHILDREN.
I'm a parent with a five year history at Challenge. I feel fortunate to have both my children attend because their mission is to actualize the potential in these kids. My kids both attended charter schools previous to enrolling in Challenge, and made huge gains with the transition. My son is very bright, but needed discipline and more challenging work to flourish. He performs great in a structured, well- planned learning environment and is motivated by the rewards allowed by the school for good behavior and results. My daughter is extremely artistic and easily distracted, but Challenge kept her focused with the curriculm's hands-on learning and cognitive discussions. My only constructive critique is that administraion secretary's in the office be friendlier and personable(a great school should have great personalities who service the parents and students)...but certainly a meager and selfish price to pay when your kids are learning above and beyond the majority of other students at other schools.
The teachers at this school are top notch. The students are very well disciplined and behaved compared to most public schools. Academics are top of the valley, they are Excelling (state designation) and have received national awards. BUT the administration that runs the school can be unprofessional. One yelled at me in the past and recently yelled at my best friend because her daughter was talking in class. I was with Challenge for TEN years with my two kids. My daughter was there from Kindergarten thru 6th grade, and is honors in H.S. now. My son is going to a new school in the fall. It was time for some change. If you choose this school, beware of the administration and be prepared to pay a ton for their required, specific uniforms that don't hold up at all.
I like this school. Teachers are really helpful.Mrs owens is best teacher we are really happy the way she help to my daughter.
I am a former teacher of Challenge and decided to leave my position there so that I could be a stay at home mom to my beautiful boys. Time has gone by so fast that now my son will be entering Pre-K and I am already thinking of Kindergarten. With all honesty and sincerity I can tell you that I would not want my child to go to any other school, but Challenge. I don't live close to challenge, but am willing to make the trip every morning so that my children receive the BEST educational experience. I know it can be overwhelming reading the reviews and looking at so many schools, but if you are not willing to compromise for anything less than the best, then send your children to Challenge. I with out a doubt will be.
Challenge Charter School's staff is unprofessional and unorganized. Instead of owning up to mistakes, the staff uses excuses as the reason for unacceptable behaviors. For example, this school holds an annual "Meet the Teacher night" where I provided hand written instructions on my children's after school routine. I expected them to be followed, however my childcare provider advised me that the staff refused to allow my children to board the childcare bus and instead my children were placed on the school bus headed to a bus stop where me nor my husband were. Scary!!! When my husband faced the staff about the situation, we were told that the teachers have too many responsibilities after school and that they tried to call me when the childcare company arrived but they could get ahold of me. That response and what occurred is absolutely unacceptable. Please don't believe the hype about this school.
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