Meet The Team Behind Challenge Island
Sharon Duke Estroff
What inspired you to become a Challenge Island Franchise Owner?
Challenge Island was homegrown right here in the Marietta/Sandy Springs area! As the Founder and Creator of Challenge Island and CEO of Challenge Island Global, it is my greatest privilege to see children across the country and even the world experiencing the magic of Challenge Island. Despite the enormous growth of the franchise company, I continue to be very hands-on with my local franchise. Seeing my students’ eyes light up with excitement, curiosity, and pride in their accomplishments is, after all, what makes everything worthwhile.
Tell us about your professional background.
In addition to being founder of Challenge Island and CEO of Challenge Island Global, I am an award-winning teacher with two decades of teaching experience in Atlanta public and private schools. I am the author of the popular parenting book, Can I Have a Cell Phone for Hanukkah? (Random House) and a feature education writer for numerous national publications including Scholastic Parent and Child, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Parents, and Huffington Post. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Emory University with an undergraduate degree in psychology and conducted postgraduate research at Duke University in clinical psychology before returning to Emory to earn my Masters of Teaching. I am the mother of children of my own who provide me with an endless supply of inspiration for Challenge Island.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your Challenge Island business?
I started Challenge Island in my second grade classroom in a popular Atlanta private school nearly a decade and a half ago. The excitement of bringing it to new schools and seeing it flourish in so many settings has been incredible. I love having the opportunity to work with hundreds of children a week. Their energy and creative spirits are truly a blessing.
Please share one of your favorite Challenge Island moments.
One of my favorite moments was during Mythology Island which is based on Greek Mythology. The newly formed tribes had learned about the big 12 Greek Gods and Goddesses and were tasked with selecting one as their mascot. The purple tribe was a group of very girly first graders and I had a hunch they would choose Aphrodite – the ever fashionable Goddess of Beauty – to represent them. But instead the named themselves the Purple Athenas. “Because we are the Goddesses of Wisdom!” they proudly proclaimed.
What is your favorite Challenge Island “destination” and why?
I absolutely love Hollywood Island. I think that the combination of hip pop culture and dense cross-curricular STEAM content embody what we strive to do with Challenge Island.
What is your favorite quote from a student, parent, or school about Challenge Island?
A visitor to our class had asked the students what they loved most about Challenge Island. “It’s magic here,” said a first grader in the red tribe. “You can make anything and do anything and be anything you want to be.”
What schools/venues do you currently participate at?
Timber Ridge Elementary
Garrison Mill Elementary
Shallowford Falls Elementary
East Side Elementary
Mt Bethel Elementary
Mt. Bethel Elementary
What programs & camps do you facilitate?
This summer we will be offering American Girl Camp, Wizardry Camp, Minecraft Camp and Emoji Camp. Details coming soon!
Meet Our Corporate Tribe