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Finding the Way

Mon, Feb 05, 2018

Two Parents Describe Why They’ve Chosen Compass
By Brian Cooke

Photo by Jamie Taylor on Unsplash

 

The need for a better approach

One of the things that I’ve noticed about Compass is that a lot of current and former teachers have committed to send their children to the school. To find out why, I spoke with Rhondda Walker, a special education teacher at Longmont High School. Rhondda has also taught at Poudre School District, Greeley-Evans School District, CSU and the University of Northern Colorado.

Rhonda believes that the Compass approach will keep her son Zeke engaged while preparing him for life beyond school. “My son doesn’t like school,” Rhondda says. “I’m an educator, so that’s really hard for me. I’ll see that he’s just starting to get into a topic and then it changes a week later.” Rhondda says that Zeke, who’s going into sixth grade next year, has never been a top student, nor has he been one of the lowest. “His teachers have told me that he does fine,” Rhondda says, “but in a different setting he would soar.”

Energizing students and teachers

The different setting that Compass will offer is also likely to foster a more personalized learning environment, Rhondda believes. She says, “At Compass, it’s exciting that teachers will have more freedom to meet the interests and needs of the students in their own way.”

Another big selling point for Rhondda was that she knows and respects many of the teachers who have committed to working at Compass. “Most of the Compass teachers are people I’ve worked with at Poudre School District,” she says. “I have the utmost respect for their teaching ability and their ability to work with children, including the ones who don’t fit the mold.”

Rhondda believes there’s a good reason why many of these teachers have signed on to teach at Compass. “When you get teachers excited about teaching, you’re going to have a better environment for students.”

Changing education from a chore into a challenge

The Compass approach of using community-engaged learning and internships to gain practical experience is particularly exciting for Rhondda, who says, “When you can get kids out in the real world starting when they’re in sixth grade, that’s going to give them a real head start in preparing for the workforce.”

For Zeke, the prospect of going to Compass has changed school from a chore into an exciting challenge. According to Rhondda, “Zeke wants to be an engineer. With Compass, we’re looking at ways that his interests can be more closely integrated into his learning experience. He’s already thinking about local internships and college. It’s a great feeling to see that kind of enthusiasm. That’s why I see Compass as place where my son can excel.”

Finding confidence and enthusiasm

Jessica Lillard and her son Atticus are also excited about Compass. After seeing a Compass poster at a local library, Jessica went to a presentation given by school founder Jan Harrison. Jessica says, “I got really excited about Jan and her vision and the team — it’s a very impressive group of people. Now we’re a founding family and I’m working with the parent advisory committee, which is basically like a parent-teacher organization.”

Jessica supports Compass because she feels it will encourage engagement in the educational process. She explains, “Atticus is a good student and he’s bright, but school doesn’t get him excited. I’m hoping he finds confidence and enthusiasm at school. I think he has a great chance of getting that at Compass.”