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School History

Benchmark School opened its doors to 15 kindergarteners and 12 preschoolers in the fall of 1998. The Foursquare Church located at 3110 E. Cheryl Dr., allowed us to rent the back of the property and their Fellowship Hall for our fledgling school. In two months we installed a two-room portable, built a playground and planted grass and trees.
Bobbie Darroch, Carole Challoner, and Sue Huff signed the Charter for Benchmark School in March 1999 with the AZ State Board of Education as our first sponsor. By the following fall our student population doubled and we were once again at the City Planning Dept. getting plans stamped for two more portable buildings. The learning curve was hard work and vertical!
Things we learned:
  • Banks don't loan money to people with a vision but no track record, your family are the only ones who will really sacrifice their time and money, and the City Planning Dept. responds best to courtesy, patience and occasional gifts of bagels.
Through word of mouth our student population continued to double each year as we opened one grade level at a time. For two years in a row Benchmark received the #1 standing in the Parent Satisfaction survey by the Department of Education. By Dec. 2001 we knew we needed to find another location. Perserverance, chance and opportunity led us to a parcel of land where we were able to build our current campus at 4120 E. Acoma Dr. In order to repay the construction loan that was called in (instead of rolling into a mortgage as promised) we were able to qualify for the Industrial Pima Educational Revenue Bond.
Things we learned:
  • Be very wary of banks
  • We needed to know how to read blueprints (one plug per 30' wall is not enough in a classroom),
  • Summertime heat and landscapers may not turn out the best product.
In the fall of 2002 students, preschool thru fourth grade, enjoyed a brand new campus that consisted of buildings A and B. The following year Singapore Math Curriculum was introduced to the staff, who embraced it as an intregal part of our curriculum. We are proud to be the first school in the United States to fully implement Singapore Math K - 6.
The AZ State Board of Education stopped sponsoring Charter Schools and we applied and became members of the State Board of Charter Schools.
In 2004, Building C was built to house the 5th and 6th grades as well as our Exceptional Student Service (ESS) offices and computer lab. The end of the 2004-2005 school year was bittersweet as we celebrated with our first graduating class and accepted Sue Huff's resignation as Principal and Charter Holder. (She and her husband moved to California.)
Things we learned:
  • It's okay to take risks
  • You must be flexible in the world of Education
  • A letter from a child and a potted plant goes a long way to mend fences with new neighbors
Bobbie came out of Kindergarten and Carole out of first grade to work full time as administrators. By now the student population in the elementary school was around 400 students and the preschool approximately 80 students.
At the end of the 2005 - 06 school year Dragonflye Charter School closed its doors and offered the resources of the current Science Lab to us. What a wonderful opportunity for our school, BUT we had to build a final building to house the animals and resources. By the end of 2007 Building D, for Science and Art, was completed and the "lab" moved in.
Creative Writing and Competitive Math  was added to the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade curriculums.
Things we learned:
  • You can never do anything exactly the same as before (we still hadn't mastered blueprints)
  • A teacher works a lot harder than an administrator
  • An administrator doesn't take holidays
The parental support at Benchmark is awesome. The past 15 years have brought new opportunities and challenges. Competition among both district schools and new charter schools are generating better programs for all students. Benchmark School has been recognized as one of the top 25 Elementary Schools in the nation. We are 4th in the State of Arizona. Your unfailing support of Benchmark and our staff's dedication and love of teaching and children continues to set the standard for maintaining an excelling school. Our goal is to develop the potential of every student.
Things we learned:
  •  Everyday is a new day, make the most of it!