Fairhaven Middle School is now in its third year of its advisory program, which began after staff read the book, “How Children Succeed.” The program now known as “COMPASS,” seeks to create compassionate students who strive for Curiosity, Optimism, Motivation, Persistence, Appreciation, Self-control and Social intelligence. Since 2012, Fairhaven middle school has dedicated its time into growing and developing this program in order to help students demonstrate greater academic and social success.
In 2012, OSPI, The Raikes Foundation released a report commissioned from the University of Washington, which surveyed effective middle school practices that led to higher rates of high school graduation. This report was significant in that it looked at what middle school practices prepared students for success in high school.
In this report, they identified 16 student success measures and organized them into five different categories. At the time, staff were looking for a way to create an extended learning class that all of the students would benefit from. With the help of this report, COMPASS was created.
At Fairhaven middle school, the COMPASS groups have three main goals; to build supportive relationships, to promote individual growth and to build school community. Providing students with a caring adult advisor allows the students to build positive relationships with a mentor and learn with students from all grade levels. Through their discussion and activities, COMPASS helps each child grow and develop not only as a student, but as a person as well.
In an essay titled “This I Believe,” Jonah Lancaster, a Life Skills peer tutor and former Fairhaven student, writes his beliefs on how this program allows kids to learn not only from an advisor but from each other as well. He notes that it is important to learn from a diverse set of students because he learns something new every time he has worked with them.
“Compassion is when you care about someone who is different than you and who has different struggles. I think this is an unusual opportunity and I bet most schools do not have peer helpers,” Jonah said. “I think they should because everyone learns to be more understanding of each other and the whole community is stronger.”
COMPASS meets at the end of the school day, in which each child’s advisor supports and helps them progress during their years at middle school. By providing different grade levels with more opportunity for interaction and relationship building, students involved in COMPASS begin building consistent expectations, values and priorities in order to create a stronger community.