Both of my sons have thrived at Challenge. They are academically challenged and the rigorous curriculum has met their advanced needs. Most importantly, the staff cares about the WHOLE child. My boys are loved, valued, and respected for who they are beyond their academic abilities. We are proud to be part of the Challenge community and grateful for the opportunity!
Although I believe these attributes must first come from family, they are reinforced through community work, volunteerism, and projects at the school. The school has a strong sense of community that is reinforced through opportunities to interact with students in all classes and ages.
The leadership of the school is tearing the community apart. The new principal doesn't understand the community or its diversity. Significant decisions are being made with out notifying or consulting the school community of the changes. The unique attributes which made this school special are being striped away. It now feels like any other public school. The community is so divided that this school who once had an abundance of parent volunteers is struggling to find anyone to do basic things like shelve books in the library. It is heart breaking.
Challenge used to be a superior learning environment for the academically motivated and gifted learner. However, it has fallen to the bureaucracy and sub-standards of current school administrators all the way up the district level. Sadly, the curriculum changes, admittance of non qualified students, and district administrators are running the school into the ground to be nothing more than a regular neighborhood school.
The teachers are amazing! They share a gift and a passion to educate these kids in the best ways possible. While they are being more and more restricted in their talents, they absolutely do their best!!!
My two kids attended a local elementary school for K (and one for 1st grade). When my wife and I went to help out in the 1st grade class, we saw a teacher overwhelmed by the kids who could not read, and who had no time for our kids who were reading Harry Potter under the desk and ignoring the rest of the activities going on around them. There were no enrichment activities that I could see, and the teacher had no time for the advanced or the prepared kids.
Challenge gave our kids a chance to thrive and grow with their peers in an environment that encourages and, indeed, expects their best, and for that I will be forever grateful. It is not for everyone, and once they were accepted (without donations), I watched carefully for signs that they were overwhelmed and perhaps at the wrong school. Thank goodness they found their "peeps" at Challenge, but I would have moved them again if they weren't happy. As it turned out, they went from reporting 2 "good" days in a full year at the previous school, to 2 "bad" days in a full year. We have now been at Challenge for 4 years, and I could not be happier.
Finally, I wish our first school had pursued streaming much more aggressively, since lumping the 6th grade level readers with the 1st grade readers, writers, and math students (regardless of their age) just makes every kid feel like they have something to hide. The hit to the kids' self esteem only happens once in streaming. In contrast, the unworkable and ineffective teaching environment created by mixing all achievement levels into one class keeps on hurting kids day after day.
This is the second year for my kid. We can't believe how much she changed in less than two years. She was bored silly in previous school. Now she is confident, highly motivated and couldn't be happier. Most other public schools mainly care about if a student can pass the lowest requirement of the standard. However in Challenge school teachers encourage students to do more, to win award in competition.