Our Compass story isn’t dramatic, but it’s important to us.

We’ve been lucky enough to learn at home since our eldest daughter Ana (now almost sixteen) turned ten. We watched her becoming a ghost in school as she was bullied and struggled to make positive, nurturing alliances. As a home learner she has set the pace for her own discoveries and enjoyed daily community and family support along the way. She has blossomed. Ana is hard working, diligent and intelligent, but she is also a deeply compassionate human being – a “feeler” who feels too much in large, chaotic social situations where there is little to no regard for individual people. We have yearned for years for a small-scale alternative where talk of values like mutual respect, non-coercion and warmth would be walked every hour of every day.

Compass has become that place and an important part of our home schooling schedule. It provides an open, diverse, and welcoming place of emotional rest for tweens and teens who, like Ana, have experienced anything from frustration and discomfort to extreme anxiety in mainstream schools. Many of these children have smarts that can’t be nurtured in conformist environments. Compass offers intellectual stretchiness but it also offers rich content, some of it delivered by passionate university lecturers and doctoral candidates. This year Ana is enrolled for Genetics and Evolution, Literature of Rebels, and Health and Psychology and enjoys a volunteer-run conversational French group. She has access to leading tech and media platforms and is learning how to use them in a joyful, buzzing, collaborative setting. Here’s what she has to say about Compass:

“Even though I go to Compass only once a week for a day, without it my life would be quite boring. Compass is a place where brilliant casual creativity and openness happen. There are people playing music, making art, talking and laughing, or just sitting quietly. Classes are mostly discussion based, whichhelps with confidence building and active learning, rather than being told what to think like in regular school. Independent and critical thought is encouraged.

Because Compass is a non-compulsory environment, everyone is there because they want to be, and learning because they love learning. If someone wants to pursue a subject further, they can ask for references or direction.

I love Compass because it gives me the opportunity to expand my academic and social horizons.” – Ana Anderson

Remember that public schools are fully funded and even they are constantly asking for extra from parents to cover supplies, field trips, and upgrades. Compass has survived for five years without turning anyone away who couldn’t afford to pay full fees. Unfortunately, that has recently been at the expense of its core staff, some starting to volunteer their time sacrificing pay for something they strongly believe in. Please support Compass by donating today.

Brenda Atkinson