By Heather Bennett
Parents have tough choices to make when it comes to what is best for their child. Choosing the right school is one of them. Luckily, along The Emerald Coast we have a variety of educational institutions to choose from, both public and private. I recently interviewed Christine Buscarello and Sherry Hartley, co-founders of Compass Rose Academy, to find out what makes their school a great choice for families in our area.
Compass Rose Academy was founded in 2008 as a result of parents wanting to provide a high level of education for their children in an environment where they could developmentally thrive. “We had some parents that wanted their kids to be in a smaller environment, wanted more one on one for their kids, and wanted to have more hands on activities” said Hartley. The homeschool program consisted of 12 students and was run out of Hartley’s home off Mack Bayou for the first year as they figured out the plan for making it work. “It was a way to test out which curriculum worked, how to best blend Montessori, technology, and a traditional workbook curriculum,” said Buscarello. They figured out what worked, and a year later moved to a space at The Market Shops in Sandestin. Outgrowing that space in 2012, Compass Rose Academy relocated to their current location in Blue Mountain Beach. Here they have three classrooms that aid students from Pre K to sixth grade with a small 8 to 1 student / teacher ratio. There is a school garden, a classroom pet, and the kids get to work on projects and take field trips. What makes Compass Rose Academy successful is their dedication to the children and their development. Buscarello stated, “The way we look at curriculum, the way we look at every decision, we ask ‘is this the highest good of the child?’” Children learn through a traditional workbook curriculum, with technology and hands on learning. “We blend these things together so that they’re exposed to the best of all worlds,” she said.
Because each child learns in different ways, multi-sensory learning allows the sttudent to discover what learning method is the most efficient for them. “We look at each child each day and create a plan and a program for them to follow that day, so we know where our kids are developmentally and academically on a daily basis,” said Hartley. “We don’t spend time looking at a list of curriculum, we spend our time looking at children.” The Compass Rose model allows for independence. “We encourage independent learning and that’s what we support. We want students to be confident in it,” said Hartley. Students are given lessons, they practice it, they are encouraged to ask questions, and teachers help them find what is missing until the concepts are mastered. Hartley added, “The question and answer piece of what we do is so critical in allowing children to be independent learners because they know if they don’t understand something they can feel free to ask. It’s part of our culture to ask questions.” Overall, Compass Rose Academy wants children to love learning. “We know we’re going to make an impression no matter what we do, so we might as well make a really good one,” said Buscarello. Hartley added, “If we can get kids to be independent learners and love to learn, and want to continue learning throughout their lifetime, then we have achieved what we’re here for.” If you are interested in finding out more about Compass Rose Academy, you can visit www.craforedu.com.
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