Compass Charter School
Brooklyn NY 11205
Two teachers in every classroom, focus on the arts and sustainability
Too soon to tell
After an adventure-filled cross-country journey dubbed the Odyssey Initiative, visiting 41 successful schools in 16 states, three educators from the progressive Community Roots Charter School in Brooklyn decided to open their own school in 2014 in Fort Greene.
Compass Charter School opens with two kindergarten and two 1st-grade classes. The school, which shares the MS 113 building, will grow to serve K-5. Both schools are arts-focused and the plan is to seek ways to collaborate.
Leadership at the school is shared. Brooke Peters, a former kindergarten and 1st-grade teacher with literacy expertise, will cover grades K-2; while Michelle Healy, an upper-grade teacher and math specialist who is also trained in special education, will be in charge of grades 3-5. They will be spending most of their time in the classroom supporting teachers, while the third partner Todd Sutler manages the strategic development and the day-to-day running the school. [Shown in the photo are Michelle Healy (left) Todd Sutler and Brooke Peters.]
The school day goes from 8 am to 4 pm four days a week, and until 1:30 pm one day a week, allowing for teacher meetings and training. Compass follows the DOE public school calendar but the longer day means that students get the equivalent of an extra three weeks of instruction, founders say.
The arts are woven into the daily academic lessons, with lots of projects and trips around the neighborhood and beyond. School leaders describe the instruction as "inquiry based" meaning that students will ask questions, wonder and do research, and take part in outings and study to find answers.
"Kids need time to explore and inquire. We're going be doing a lot of stuff that's going to mess up their clothes paper mach, painting, working in a garden, and doing a lot of walking," said Peters.School "uniforms" are T-shirts with a school logo, comfortable pants and shoes.
A big piece of the curriculum is social justice and sustainability, which the founders define as "meeting your needs while not compromising the needs of others in the community and meeting needs of future generations." They are determined to create an environment where there is healthy food, movement and physical fitness.
There are two teachers in every classroom, one trained in special needs. Teachers "loop", meaning they keep the same group of students for two years. "The more teachers in the room, the more small groups you can have. We can deliver really targeted instruction and a higher level of personalization," said Healy.
There is a music teacher the first year. Movement and visual arts will be added later, with Compass utilizing the many museums, community gardens and parks in the area.
Special education: A special education trained teacher is in every classroom and the school offers speech and occupational therapy. School leaders say they are committed to seeking out and serving students with special needs.
Admission: Lottery. Priority to District 13. (Pamela Wheaton, interviews, January 2014)