A parent of a current student recently asked us: “If you had to describe Compass Junior High in ten words or less, what would you say?” This question got us thinking about all the things that make Compass unique – and there are a lot of them. We are the only school in downtown Traverse City; we are an independent Montessori school; we don’t operate on a bell schedule; we don’t grade our students (A+, B- and so forth); we travel extensively; we blend seventh and eighth grade into one classroom community; etc. These were all important details, but they were small pieces of a much bigger picture. We soon realized the better way to answer the question was to focus on the outcomes for our students:
Compass Junior High fosters capable, compassionate, resilient teenagers who are curious about themselves, and the world around them.
Not quite ten words or less, but if you have a teenager of your own, or have any experience with high school freshmen, then you understand just how big a statement this is.
Let’s talk about the word capable for a minute. When we say our students are capable, we mean that our graduates can take on whatever challenge is presented to them and seek out the supports they need to do the best they can in any given situation. In high school and college, this translates to independent students that care about their learning (not simply their grades).
Compass Junior High also cultivates a high level of compassion for others. This compassion is rooted in two years of intensive travel, cultural studies, and community building. Our students are compassionate because our curriculum and methods necessitate and nurture empathy: for themselves, their peers, their community, and those outside their community (aka “others”).
Resilience is another quality that Compass cultivates in spades. When we talk about resilience, we are speaking broadly about a culture that celebrates failure as the primary pathway to growth. Our students are routinely pushed beyond their comfort zones and are supported in overcoming their fears. As such, when they hit high school and college, they are less daunted by fear and more interested in the possibilities that lie beyond the horizon of productive failure.
Finally, we come to a quality that Montessori graduates are so well known for, and that is curiosity. So often when children hit adolescence they are overcome by social pressures to fit in, don’t ask questions, and “stick to the script.” In our safe, supportive, non-judgemental Compass community, students are encouraged to explore, unapologetically, who they are, what they are interested in, and how they wish to contribute to the world beyond the walls of the classroom. They learn what it means to be human, throughout time and in a variety of places, cultures, and contexts. Consequently, Compass graduates are prepared not only for high school but for the world!
At Compass Montessori Junior High, we believe that our future is global, filled with complex challenges that require capable, compassionate, resilient adults – people that are curious about those who are different from them. Rather than judge or fear differences, Compass graduates seek to build understanding, work in community, and traverse the inevitable failures that come when people undertake any worthwhile endeavor.
In ten words or less:
Compass is in the business of building better adults.
If you want to see how we do this, we invite you to visit us (that is, if we’re home) at our downtown campus at 101 Park Street. We’d love to see you!