By Abby Karos, Compass Co-Director

This year we continue to quietly increase our profile in the community while our assurance in self-directed learning grows. We witness as teens we have known since the inception of our program find their own rhythm of learning – proposing physics challenges in community meetings, increasing in confidence social- ly, opening up in advisee meetings, pursuing learn- ing on their own, rather than as a result of parental wishes. Feeling their way into what they love – and doing it.

For some of our teens, being in our welcoming and safe social space is the best possible use of being at Compass. They are learning about themselves and taking the risk to be who they are in an environment that supports taking positive risks.

We have a younger cohort this fall. While this can make for rambunctious energy on some days, it is a delight to be in the company of such raw passion for life. This is the gift that adolescents bring to the world. At Compass, we do not try to harness this energy for adult-dictated purposes; rather, we offer the supports of structure and guidance and let it fly.

Being different is valued here. Many of our teens know the costs of placing a premium on fitting in – or at least trying to. This year we have a disproportionate number of teens who are transgender. When we introduce them to our community and an incorrect gender assumption is made, we say something like: “Actually, so-and-so prefers the pronoun ‘she’ – or ‘he’ or ‘they’ as the case may be. The response is typically a neutral: “Oh, ok” followed by adherence to the preferred pronoun.