Compass Rose Academy is a new charter school that’s still on the drawing board, but has tremendous promise for underserved students in San Antonio. Founder Paul Morrissey is hosting a parent information meeting on Thursday, October 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Food Court at PicaPica Plaza, 910 S.E. Military Dr., San Antonio, TX 78214. RSVP online for the information meeting; even if you can’t attend, please submit use the RSVP form to submit your email address for updates.
Morrissey is in the process of applying for a Texas charter for Compass Rose Academy. He has experience as a charter school leader in Washington, D.C., and is currently a Fellow with Building Excellent Schools (BES). He spoke to me by phone from New York City, where he was visiting a successful charter school as part of his BES fellowship.
The mission of Compass Rose Academy is to offer a college-preparatory education to underserved students in San Antonio. The school will start with 6th grade and expand by one grade every year, eventually serving grades 6-12. The campus location is still to be determined, but Morrissey is focusing on the south side and the west side of San Antonio, where high-quality, tuition-free education options are still limited.
As their 2015 Annual Report shows, BES is a national nonprofit that has helped school leaders to found 79 charter schools in 22 cities. BES schools reach an underserved population: their students are 50 percent black and 42 percent Hispanic, 85 percent of their students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, 20 percent are English-language learners, and 13 percent qualify for special education services.
BES helps develop leaders like Morrissey through training and visits to successful schools, so that BES Fellows can start new schools that follow the BES model. “Like the Spurs, we believe in fundamentals,” said Morrissey. Students spend extra time on reading, writing, and math. The curriculum includes daily lessons on social studies, science, and critical thinking. Physical education and art are essential. The school day is longer, and so is the school year. It’s a “no-excuses” school model, with high expectations for the students’ academic performance.
In addition to the strong fundamentals of the BES model, Morrissey is developing something unique for Compass Rose Academy: the Design Thinking Thread. Here is the projected course track:
- 6th grade: Problem solving
- 7th grade: Coding for all
- 8th grade: Robotics
- 9th-12th grades: Entrepreneurship
This sounds like a smart way to embracing technology and helping students take ownership of their goals for the future.
Morrissey is working to create a school culture at Compass Rose Academy that will be joyful but also rigorous, with an air of discipline, but also celebration. As the school’s leader and founder, he will have high expectations of professionalism for teachers and students.
The Compass Rose Academy information meeting will be at PicaPica Plaza, a south side destination for shopping, food, and entertainment, including Flip’z Trampoline Park, which is open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.
When Compass Rose Academy opens on the south side or west side of San Antonio, it will create opportunities for more students to get on a path to college and a lifetime of opportunity. RSVP online for the Compass Rose Academy information meeting on Thursday, October 22 at 5:30 p.m. at PicaPica Plaza, and please share this information with your friends and neighbors.