The Middle School at Compass is an outstanding learning opportunity for students in the 7th and 8th grade whether they intend to remain at Compass or attend another educational institution for high school.
The curriculum is specifically designed for “where students are” academically and socially. It is engaging and dynamic and as such takes into account the often-dramatic developmental differences between young people at this time in their lives. The curriculum enables graduating 8th graders to smoothly transition to high school on both an academic and personal level.
The Compass Middle School has its own unique culture and yet is integrated with the Compass High School community. This affords our students many excellent educational opportunities with older students and Compass high school faculty. Some of these include: health days, winterm, higher-level courses, student mentors and role models, exploratories and intensives, use of state of the art technology and sports teams.
Perhaps most important in this relationship is the constant exposure the 7th and 8th graders have to a larger culture of care and quality. They witness first hand that caring for each other and about their education continues through high school. This modeling helps middle schoolers develop the maturity to remain authentic and perhaps avoid the “too cool to care” attitude that is so pervasive in many school cultures.
Foundation of the Curriculum
The foundation of the Compass Middle School curriculum revolves around core courses in:
Each course is designed to develop the knowledge, skills and personal qualities essential for a middle school student to experience success in high school and life. Educators often collaborate on larger projects and units allowing greater integration across disciplines. In general there is more focus on depth rather than breadth and on quality instead of quantity. There is a commitment to students using their minds well as opposed to rote memorization.
Compass Middle School Instruction and School Culture
There are many unique aspects of the program designed to improve the quality of learning, assessment and culture in the Middle School. A few of these are described below:
Presentations of Learning
At the close of every semester, each Middle School student gives a Presentation of Learning (PoL). The heart of their PoL is sharing their most significant learnings for that semester. These may have come in the form of insights, understandings or skill development and often are not related to one particular assignment but instead represent a significant change that has taken place within them. In addition the PoL addresses academic growth, personal development, challenges and the student’s plan for moving forward.
Each semester Middle School students complete an Academic Portfolio. The Portfolio provides an opportunity to collect, select, reflect on, and document learning that has taken place during the past semester. In this way students examine their work and experience for areas of strength, weakness, improvement and interest, and make connections to the Compass Learning Realms.
Students receive a comprehensive Report of Learning for every class each semester. Student learning and development is assessed via a framework of Learning Realms that include:
• Critical Thinking
• Personal Development
• Community Involvement.
This in-depth report provides students and parents with much greater detail and perspective on the student’s personal and academic development and trajectory.
Advisory is a long-term commitment to the personal and academic growth of every Compass student. Advisory meets 2-3 times per week for 30-90 minutes. An advisory typically has between 6-10 students and one faculty advisor who remain together for two years.
Middle School Community Meetings
These occur once or twice a week and include: current events presentations designed to keep students connected to what is happening in the world today, student and community celebrations and issues, activities to promote health and wellness, and time to work together on reflections on learning.
Experiences that take students outside of their cultural framework are vital for their development and give them greater perspective on their own lives, ways and relationships. Each year the entire Middle School student body has a Learning Expedition exploring a city or natural area. In the past, destinations have included Boston, Maine, Washington, D.C., and Cape Cod. We also usually do at least one overnight camping trip, as well as many trips to take learning into the real world. We also have a variety of visiting educators and exchange students that join our community and add to its richness and diversity.
Each year the entire Middle School student body and staff visit one or two college campuses in the region to give the students a glimpse of college life and some of the opportunities available to them.