Compass Rose Public Schools Sets a Goal of Universal Reading Growth

students at Compass Rose Public Schools

At Compass Rose Public Schools, they are welcoming students back to school for the 2021–22 school year. They are working hard to support the students’ learning with ambitious goals like universal reading growth, and building their mental health through relationships and restorative practices. The Compass Rose San Antonio team answered our questions about back to school in 2021.

Academic Support at Compass Rose

What are you learning from the data about where students are now academically, after months or a year of distance learning?

We are eager to obtain comprehensive data on all of our students at the beginning of the year so we can immediately begin small group interventions. From the data we have on our current students, we know that a year plus of distance learning has prevented scholars from growing and performing at the same rate as we’ve seen in the past. This means we have to intentionally begin intensive interventions for all of our students who have unfinished learning right at the start of the year. We have proactively designed an intervention program that will address students’ unfinished learning in all grade levels through lower teacher-to-student ratios and by addressing instruction at the “student’s independent level” without removing them from the fun and experience of electives and other essential learning opportunities.

Did students who participated in distance learning tend to fall behind relative to students who were on campus?

Our teachers worked tirelessly to support students both in-person and through distance learning. The fact of the matter is, distance learning is just different and it’s really hard to get the same experience and same outcome when the interaction is so challenging in distance learning, and this is especially true when students’ home schedules didn’t allow them to log in to live instruction. In those cases, students who learned through distance learning did experience less growth than those who were able to engage, attend, and regularly be present through either in-person or virtual learning.

students at Compass Rose Public Schools

Are there changes to the class schedule or school day to help students reach learning goals?

Yes! We will be spending a ton more time in intervention groups, and our number one priority as an organization is Universal Reading Growth. That means every student, regardless of starting point, will meet their individual reading growth goal this year. We will make that happen through excellent on-grade level core content instruction and through significant time spent intervening at student’s individual levels. We have already launched amazing professional development, invested in top-notch curriculum both for core content and intervention, and have a full team of amped-up teachers ready to bring our students their very best.

Our approach to instruction, across content areas, is to create student-centered classrooms where kids are in their “flow.” This means that students are equipped with the necessary skills and met with the necessary challenge to be “in their zone” in the classroom. Students engage in conceptual learning and problem-solving. They also have the opportunity to build fluency and foundational skills. Additionally, we ensure that all of our students have access to specialized classes like public health, entrepreneurship, computer science, aeronautics, cybersecurity, art, and PE, so that they can make connections across content areas.

Does being back on campus pose special challenges for the youngest students, or for teens? 

This past year we saw our younger students quickly adapt to COVID safety protocols such as mask-wearing and frequent hand washing. We anticipate that at the beginning of this upcoming year, with many students learning in-person for the very first time, we will spend ample time on building routines and community in classrooms so that every student can feel safe and successful.

For our older students, routines and safety protocols will be equally important. We know that the anxiety about safety is very real, and our teachers and leaders are prepared to create school and classroom environments that feel routine and comfortable for all, while mitigated risk around potential COVID spread.

students at Compass Rose Public Schools

Supporting Social Emotional Learning and Equity

What are you doing to support social emotional learning for students who may have experienced trauma or loss during the pandemic?

We are including social emotional supports at all of our campuses through personnel—whether through partnerships with Communities in Schools or direct hires of our own—and through the implementation of school-wide practices such as morning meetings, community circles, responsive classroom strategies and restorative practices. We prioritize social emotional learning supports as an integrated part of what we do, and that is often primarily through the foundation of relationship building between staff and students that is so pivotal to our daily work.

Daily practices to support student voice sharing and community/relationship building are intended to provide a launching-off space for students to feel safe and at ease as much as possible when returning to school. We also know that intentional time to build and rebuild connections with peers after so much time apart is essential, so things like outdoor time, social events, clubs and extracurriculars will be times and spaces for students to be with each other, socialize and have fun even beyond the regular school day.

Depending on the age group, there are slight variations as our students progress in grade levels and also some similarities in terms of values, practices and approach. Across all grade levels and schools we build on three foundational pieces as it relates to student culture and creating safe spaces for learning. They are Relationships, Routines and Restorative practices. These are our pillars for the day-to-day culture practices that we engage in. As students grow, the spaces of advisory, circles, and various meetings, may shift in terms of conversation topics, but ultimately are rooted in the same premise of those three Rs.

Covid had different impacts on racial and ethnic groups in San Antonio. Is that a factor in how you are supporting students as they come back on campus?

Over 90 percent of our students identify as Black or Hispanic, and we know that COVID has disproportionately affected the students and families we serve. We also know that this is because of the systemic lack of access to quality health care over generations. It is our job and our goal to bring these inequities to light and also ensure that we are providing access to not only quality learning environments but supportive resources within and beyond our schools. It also means that we will encourage mask-wearing and adherence to protocols potentially more so than other schools or districts may.

We know it is our responsibility to break down barriers, to provide safe and equitable access, and to protect the health and safety of the kids and families we serve. This is also one huge reason we are very excited about launching our Compass Rose Journey campus with an intensive focus on Public Health. This is perhaps the direst need of our time. Public Health is individual, community and global health. It is environmental sustainability, it is disease study and prevention, it is access and equity of healthcare. We believe that by focusing on Public Health we will continue to ignite interest in local and global awareness of health concerns and lead our children to be the problem-solvers of today and the future.

students sitting outside with masks on

Health and Safety at Compass Rose Public Schools in San Antonio

How are you preparing for all students to be safely back on campus?

We have been prepping for this for some time in anticipation of all students returning to campus this year. Our health and safety protocols as well as school-wide routines and procedures have been in the works, shared with staff and families for feedback and revamped to ensure they are in the best possible place for a larger in-person group of students on-site.

As we did last year, we are highly encouraging the use of masks, especially as local positivity rates are high. We are also continuing to do temperature and wellness checks for all individuals. We will communicate notification of any positive COVID cases with all families.

How are you helping students and community members get vaccinated against Covid-19?

In July, we partnered with Brooks City Base and the United States Army to host a vaccine clinic near one of our campuses. Throughout the Spring and Summer, we shared information about vaccine safety and vaccine availability/locations. We have encouraged everyone who is over the age of 12 to obtain a vaccine if they can so that we can all continue to protect each other and our community.

Compass Rose Journey welcome sign

Compass Rose Journey

What do you want to highlight about Compass Rose Journey?

Journey is going to be this extremely cool combination of indoor and outdoor learning experiences, where students will engage in traditional content and a new cutting-edge public health curriculum both within and beyond school walls. Our students will have the chance to build gardens and grow food but also read, play and do math outside. We are so excited for students to experience learning about self-care and care for the community’s and the world’s health through place-based experiences and through being in the outdoors. Our focus on Public Health will lead to student exploration of real-world issues, such as disease, lack of access to quality air, food and water, and really take charge in being the problems solvers and advocates for self, family and community.

 cafeteria rendering

Charter Moms Chats & Compass Rose San Antonio

Watch Ryane Burke, Executive Director of Compass Rose Public Schools, and Dr. Chawanna Chambers, Senior Director of Curriculum and Assessment, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on August 30, 2021 at 4:30 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

Ryane Burke is the Executive Director of Compass Rose Public Schools. Ryane works in close partnership with school leaders across five Compass Rose schools to build joyful, engaging and growth-focused classroom learning experiences. She is also the proud mother of two beautiful and energetic children.

Dr. Chawanna B. Chambers is a national award-winning and board-certified PK–20 career educator with teaching experience spanning primary, secondary, and higher education. She has taught K–12 English online, coordinated Title I after-school tutoring programs, served as a reading intervention teacher, planned and facilitated advisory programs, developed curriculum, supported teachers as an instructional coach, published educational research, and served in several other leadership capacities. In addition to being named New Teacher of the Year in 2009, the National Council for Teachers of English awarded her with one of its Early Career Educator awards, and she received the Principal’s Award on her campus in 2010. Chawanna is a class of 2018 New Leaders Council San Antonio fellow, member of the 2019 Leadership SAISD class, and contributor to Alamo City Moms.

Chawanna, known as Dr. Chae to many, thrives at the intersection of educational theory and practice. Understanding students’ experiences in school is integral to delivering what will help create a lifetime of meaningful success and joy for each of them. Using research and relationships as the cornerstone of her work, she works to design learning environments that encourage belonging and mastery for K–12 students. Currently, Chawanna serves as Senior Director of Curriculum & Assessment for Compass Rose Public Schools.

Read More About Compass Rose Public Schools in San Antonio

Read More About Back to School in 2021

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