Compass School receives state-wide recognition

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WESTMINSTER — Administrators and faculty from Compass School, an independent school for grades 7-12, attended the Independent School Education Innovator Awards in Montpelier as part of National School Choice Week and came home with a four awards. Open to all schools in the state, these awards are intended to expand the recognition for all who participate in creating innovative, personalized, and effective educational environments.

Compass received awards for educator, student, parent and the overall school award.

School Director Rick Gordon was chosen first in the category of Innovative Educator. The award criteria focused on how the winning educator "uniquely approaches education and has gone above and beyond to deliver an exceptional educational experience."

In announcing the winner, Vermont School Choice co-director Asher Crispe recognized the impressive nominations for several teachers from Compass. In choosing Gordon, Crispe highlighted "the special sauce at Compass that makes every student feel valued and engaged and appreciative of the unique opportunity Compass offers them to find success in school and the world beyond."

Olivia Veale, a senior at Compass, won the student award for her essay about her learning experience and how it has changed her.

As she wrote, "It's no secret that I've struggled to thrive at other schools that I've attended. ... I envision an education system where anxious kids don't fall through the cracks. I envision a system where schools and educators are encouraged to nurture their students, and do more than their best to find what works for them. Primary and secondary education should be all about the student. They should not be prejudiced or biased; they should treat all students equally, with respect for their wants and needs."

Through her experience at Compass, Veale has learned to see herself as daring, not only traveling to Cuba and jumping off cliffs, but finding her place as a learner, a musician, and friend greatly valued by peers and adults.

Compass School itself won second place in the category of innovative school. Compass was recognized for how, "Kids are transformed by their time at Compass, where they not only become good students, but good people who, as the school mission states: have the knowledge, skills, and personal qualities essential to pursuing their dreams and having a positive impact on the world."

Compass parents Sara and Lou Vitale were second place winners for the parent award. Sara and Lou are engaged at Compass in numerous ways, from serving on the school board to teaching exploratory art classes to teaching bass to students as part of music class.

These awards build on other noteworthy recognitions at Compass this year, with Skye Rhomberg chosen as a National Merit Scholar and school chef Cher Anderson selected as Vermont Chef of the Year by the Vermont School Nutrition Association.

These successes reflect on the commitment of all at Compass to, in the words of 12th-grader Lucas Saunders who shared at the statehouse press conference, "Not just teach a class, but to teach each individual student."

Through generous financial aid and scholarship programs, Compass strives to be accessible to all families who wish to attend. Students from over a dozen towns attend Compass from both Vermont and New Hampshire, creating a lively and vibrant learning community of 70 students in grades 7-12.

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