This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Challenger - Berryessa1
Posted February 25, 2015
- a parent
(This is the second review I draft; Challenger had the first removed; so petty!) Challenger Berryessa deceive their students and parents claiming their education is "superior" (2 years ahead of public/private/charter area schools). Other schools teach a foreign language (Spanish, French, or Mandarin), have lower teacher to student ratios, introduce works of Artists and Composers starting in Pre-K, and have modern curricula in history, language arts, math, and science. Children turn assignments online (e.g. Google Docs), get to use school provided computers (e.g. Chromebooks), and parents access online progress and grade reporting systems. None of that in Challenger. Communication and feedback is basically hand written notes passed through the child. The administration has been steadily deteriorating since the prior team left: Ms. Dee, Mr. Britt, and Mr. Morrison. (See yelp reviews on Vijay, Gengeva, and Sen). You will see a recurring theme in other Challenger campuses as well. Ask why they are so desperate in giving out 15% referral discounts up to the full tuition. They are too arrogant to admit they have fundamental structural flaws and are stuck in the seventies.
Terrible school( zero stars if possible)- third world education and third world administrators and teachers with absolutely no background in education. All they care about is the business, not educating individual thinkers. Education is a lot more than just drilling early reading and math skills. This school actively discourages individual thinkers- shuts them up and harasses them- everybody has to follow the herd or be shunned. I am a parent of a straight A student who spent more time than he should have at this backward place. The advanced academics are their greatest myth: check out Sierra school or Stratford where the academics are the same or higher but where the whole individual is actually nourished. No wonder all the good teachers keep leaving.
I switched my daughters from a public school to Challenger Berryessa in their seventh grade. Thanks to the wonderful support of the Principal and the teachers, their transition was very smooth. My kids made new friends in no time, and settled in very quickly. Challenger prepared them well academically. My older one is now placed in a very good college preparatory high school.
Challenger is the best school I have been to.Challenger helps you be independent and honest. I am in elementary school and none of the teachers treated my friends or me badly. Parents,if you want to enroll your children in Challenger, go for it.
If I could put zero stars as a rating, I would. My son used to go here when he was little but then I pulled him out because they were giving the kids MASSIVE amounts of homework. I have a friend that also has a son that used to go here but pulled him out last year because her son had a horrible experience. The people that run this school are tyrannical monsters who want to ruin children's lives. All Challenger schools should be shut down by the government.
I have my kids at different levels at Challenger - one in middle school and another in elementary school. You will be getting your FULL money's worth of academic education at CBS - no doubt about that. For that focus, while they will get PE, they are not going to get team sports like at other middle schools. Actually CBS makes the GATE program at public school look weak. I have known some school systems mix their GATE and regular students due to budget. I'm not sure which kids get the better end of that combination. The drop off and pick up looks intense at first, but it is quite organized and it moves hundreds of cars each morning and afternoon - it works and it works relatively well. I don't understand the other bad reviews about this method. Put away your PTA hat - I have not seen much say from PTA or since it's private, they don't do any solicitation for donations. I see Apple equipment and modern desks, so much it's like a 1st world class rooms (vs public schools). There are tests in each subject WEEKLY so the kids know where they stand weekly (and not wait 4 weeks or 6 weeks ). If you are a mindful parent who believes in excellence, the CBS is the place.
It has been a worst experience for my Kindergartner ever since we switched from Stratford because this was closer to base. The teachers have been bullying my kid. She loves going to school and after challenger berryessa, she dreads going to school. The teachers actually criticized her using personal remarks and tried bullying her again after we spoke to them and tried brainwashing her to take back what she said. I would never recommend Challenger to any parent or child. You can always pitch in and make sure your kid grows academically but never compromise in the way they are treated especially when you're paying top dollar for that. I would give no stars for the teachers.
I have attended Challenger Berryessa since Kindergarten, and it has been going downhill each year. The academics are great, but the students aren't encouraged to participate in contests outside of school like Math Counts, Quiz Bowl, etc. In fact, the teachers are prohibited from organizing any teams for these contests. Students will still go out and compete in these events. Unfortunately, the school decides to take credit for the glory. Once they hear about a win, they write an article about the win and give themselves credit for helping the children. It's hypocritical. Also, the heads of Challenger have recently decided to take control of the 8th grade math tests. Our math teacher is a great teacher, but the tests the Corporate throws at us are ridiculous. It takes over an hour to finish each test. The last test we had took 2 hours, and with that amount of time, some students didn't even finish. The departure system is also ridiculous. It wastes a lot of the parents', students', and teachers' time. Although CBA has many bad points, it has a few good ones as well. The students and most of the teachers here are very nice people.
If you think the GATE program is the tops at public school, you have not seen anything yet. Your child will get a new level of REAL learning at Challenger. I have kids in both sections - elementary and middle school. They are primarily academic focus - teaching my kids not just facts, but how to think and take personal responsibility for themselves. If you want music, sports etc, then they leave you to find your own afterschool activities. I do not mind this, as we can find Olympic-quality programs in swimming, soccer, TT and other sports in the Bay Area. Campus continues to grow each year with new facilities - parents you can be proud of this. The pickup and dropoff is a synchronized exercise in organization. Overall, you definitely get your money's worth here.
As a Challenger Berryessa graduate who has attended the school since Preschool, I believe that the whole Challenger system has a bad reputation for being an unbearable and strict school. Parents constantly criticize Challenger for pushing their children too hard with absolutely no time for fun. Although Challenger does indeed have a very accelerated curriculum, it (at least the Berryessa campus) is definitely not a "jail" that some describe it as. Although it is much less lenient than other public schools, or even some private schools, we students developed strong friendships with one another and were not socially awkward at all. And all those essays and book reports have, at the end, made us competitive in the eyes of private high schools in the area, which is why nearly all of us are attending top high schools after we finish Challenger. Sure, Challenger could improve on some things, such as reintroducing intramural sports days between campuses and being a little looser in its regulations, but all in all, I believe that the pros still outweigh the cons, and Berryessa is still a pretty awesome campus.