The Compass School is a small learning community in which all children can excel. Our practices are developmentally appropriate, and we offer children a continuous, multiyear educational experience. An integrated, project based curriculum provides the foundation to develop each individual as a cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and reflective being.
Our strength is gathered through reciprocal relationships among all members of the learning community. Students graduate knowing they are members of a global community, having developed an awareness of and practiced their personal, social and ecological responsibility.
Areas of emphasis:
- A constructivist/project based teaching approach: Curriculum relies heavily on primary sources of data and manipulative materials. Themes provide a reference for students so they can see relevance in their learning. Students do a great deal of primary and secondary research and learn to apply skills. Teachers interact closely with their students. Assessment of learning is interwoven with teaching and occurs through teacher observation and through student self evaluation. Students learn to accept responsibility for their work and learn to present quality work. Authentic assessment allows students the opportunity to share their work with teachers/students/parents. Observation of the academic progress by students shows evidence in their work that they learn to apply their learning to new ideas. Students are learning skills and the process for applying those skills.
- Parental involvement: Involving parents in every facet of the school is important to the success of The Compass School. Goal setting conferences are held early in the school year for each student, parent, and teacher. In March student led conferences allow a review of these goals as well as the opportunity for students to discuss their progress. Each year the learning committee presents events that allow parents to become familiar with school philosophy. This involves presentations on multi age learning, the overall philosophy of the school, Peaceful Parenting, and environmental sustainability. Parents have many opportunities to volunteer and to be a part of the educational process. There is heavy involvement because parents feel welcome in the school. Many opportunities exist at The Compass School for parents to be involved. An Eco Fair is held on a Saturday every spring and is a major event. However, throughout the year there are many other functions such as classroom sharing events, potluck dinners, environmental hikes on weekends, trips to the Paw Sox game, ice cream socials, etc.
- Site Based Management: The Compass School relies on shared decision making. Parents/students/teachers/administrators all have input into school decisions and all groups feel like shareholders at the school. An active computer list serve allows for good communication, and a monthly newsletter provides information about school activities.
- Environmental sustainability: There is a focus in the school on meeting people’s needs today and in the future while conserving the Earth’s life support systems. This translates into practical applications when all students daily participate in composting and recycling. An organic school garden is maintained by students and parents and the curriculum incorporates the ideals of environmental sustainability through various themes.
- Social Responsibility: The approach by teachers when working with students emphasizes problem solving and teaching students to accept responsibility for their behavior. Students learn to solve issues through good communication. People at Compass realize that fostering good relationships creates a positive atmosphere that allows students to enjoy school. Practices such as daily class meetings allow students and teachers to develop relationships. Training in the Responsive Classroom and the approach used by William Glasser in choice theory provides teachers with the philosophy and techniques valuable in developing close relationships and good communication.
- Multiage approach: Students work in multiage classes. Multiage education allows for flexible groupings of students within a classroom and provides more opportunities to meet the needs of students by focusing on their individual abilities and skill levels. When teachers spend more than one year with a child, they are better able to understand a child’s needs and build a close relationship over the years. To successfully teach in a multiage setting the school must maintain small teacher/student ratios. In addition to small ratios, five highly qualified teaching assistants provide excellent support.
The Council at The Compass School is composed of nine members possessing a wide range of experiences valuable to the operation of the school.