Don Benito is truly a special place, nestled in the quiet Upper Hastings Ranch neighborhood, where children are nurtured and taught by experienced teachers and staff. We feel very lucky to have our two children there. The PTA is truly astounding and partner with the teachers to round out a rich elementary experience. There is special care to accommodate a diverse student body -- this means making everyone feel included and an active part of the community at DB. It's a community where you see students and families truly caring for each other, making life-long friendships, and learning to work with each other. Don Benito, along with its volunteers and community sponsors, work hard to offer art and science docents in each class, Instrumental Music, Choir, Tech Lab, and after school programs like Lego Robotics, Mad Science and Art Studio. If you are prepared to be involved in your child’s schooling and contribute in ways that are appropriate for you — this school will not disappoint.
Don Benito is going through a rough patch after losing its stellar principal, who left for district administration. The new principal, clearly a nice person, is having typical newbie issues. She's tried to institute too many new "fun" activities and programs too quickly, instead of taking time to observe, ask questions, and learn more about what has been successful in the past. She's also WAY too eager to be liked by everyone, which means that formerly strict rules and policies have been loosened, and some knucklehead kids and pushy parents are taking advantage, with predictable results. Fortunately the teachers we know and love are still holding things together pretty well, but they also seem to be getting pretty frustrated. The new principal seems to have a basic level of competence, so let's hope she figures things out before teachers and families start jumping ship.
My child spent over 2 hours on homework almost every night in the 5th grade. He is an above average student so this was not because he struggles academically. It is because the teachers expect the parents to pick up the slack due to class overcrowding. There were also at least 4 major projects that consumed our weekends throughout the year in 5th grade. The kids do not do any of the projects in class. The work falls on the parents' shoulders to teach the child how to organize a large project.
This school is seriously lacking adult supervision. The playground is filled with kids and the one or two teachers on duty barely pay attention. As an example, my child was punched in the face on purpose by another child and not one adult saw the incident. When another child told the teacher, I did not receive a phone call or a note home. In addition, I am sorry to say that 5th grade is a complete disaster at Don Benito. My child did very, very well through 4th grade at Don Benito and I was pretty happy with the elementary school experience. The teachers were excellent and my child was performing well academically. However, I wish we left the school before 5th grade started because my child received below average teaching. I am considering hiring a tutor over the summer to help him catch up. If you choose this school, I strongly suggest you leave after 4th grade. I should have listened to other parents who warned me about the sub-standard 5th grade education. Now my child is paying the price.
Don Benito is a special place, but not all of what makes the school so special shows up on a performance review or standardized test. The "secret sauce" is really in the family of diverse, energetic, skilled, talented parents that send their kids to the school. We draw K-5 children from all over the city of Pasadena, from all socio-economic groups. Kids learn to tolerate, support and love each other. That promotes a world-view that doesn't really come from paying $23,000 annual tuition. Take a tour. Talk to a Bobcat family. You will hear it in our voices and in our smiles. Don Benito is the place for your child.
Our children have had a great experience at Don Benito. The Principal is a gem and the teachers are knowledgeable and caring. There are over 500 PTA members and tons of parent involvement both in the classroom and at special events like Stargazing Night, Movie Night, and the Fall Carnival. My kids enjoy the after-school activities like Drama, Chess club, Cub Scouts and Brownies.
Don Benito has been great for my daughter. She a Ms. Bendiksen for kindergarten who is everything you would want for your first teacher. The parent involvement is off the chart which I believe is one of the reasons Don Benito is such a gem. We are blessed that we our daughter has the opportunity to attend this school!
We are coming in to the home stretch of our kindergarten year at DB and could not be happier. The quality of instruction, the challenging and nurturing atmosphere, the high level of parent involvement, have all been a terrific match for our son. He is thriving. We love the incredible diversity of our community too. The principal is a wonder and the PTA leadership has their heads screwed on straight. If your child gets in here--go.
My son has special needs in academics. The staff has been very supportive. Mrs. Carlson has guided our family to receive the assistance my son needs. She has also tutored him. Ms. Turbull is awesome. Mrs. Hernandez, Miss Bell, Ms. McPherson and Ms. Bendikson.....all wonderful! I am very happy we are a part of Don Benito.