All posts by Brooke Duecker

Reimagining School Discipline

You hear it all the time in schools: detention, suspension, “silent” lunch, lost recess, and the list goes on. We are conditioned to think that this is the only way to handle school discipline, but is it the right way? 

According to the National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, “Punitive discipline does not improve student behavior or academic achievement. Students who have been suspended are significantly more likely to drop out of school and become involved in the juvenile justice system than their peers.” 

The Academy currently utilizes the Teaching Family Model for day-to-day classroom management within the school setting, and it has led to a significant increase in positive behaviors displayed by students at school. Students learn how to display skills such as following directions, accepting “no” for an answer, staying on task, and participating. This structure correlates with privileges in the home, which increases the school to home partnership and connection. 

However, sometimes behaviors can escalate which impede the learning of other classmates. When this happens, The Academy strives to issue consequences that are relevant and related to the behavior. The Academy is in the process of designing modules associated with specific behaviors in order to provide a structured teaching opportunity when a concern arises. Each module will include a teaching component, suggestions for replacement behaviors, and a task associated with it. 

The Academy is moving to correlated consequences that make sense to the behavior being exhibited. We value teaching the skills of how to work through undesired behaviors, so that students have the emotional regulation skills they need to succeed once they leave our program,” said Caitlin Cornett, Classroom Supervisor.

This revamp will also include incorporating restorative practices within the school setting. Sometimes, just like in our own families, hurt and harm can be caused within school communities. When this occurs, a restorative meeting would be issued in order for all parties to get together, discuss what harm was caused, and how each party felt during the incident. Restorative practices allow for students to restore psychological safety and feel seen and heard prior to re-entering the classroom. Other restorative practices may include service projects, re-entry circles, apology notes, etc. The goal is to reflect, restore, and reenter. 

“We’re really just trying to keep our kids in school. They’ve missed out on so much with COVID and sometimes prior placements, it just doesn’t make sense to take away something that our students have a right to. We want them here, and we want them to feel that,” says Katherine Kelly, Academic Director. 

By removing punitive approaches to classroom management, we seek to foster a greater sense of belonging and a positive learning environment for students. The Academy is on a journey of rethinking the “traditional” methods of classroom discipline and focusing on teaching the skills students need in order to be successful beyond life at Compass Rose Academy.


By Katherine Kelly, Compass Rose Academy Academic Director

Breaking the Stigma on Borderline Personality Disorder

Many of the students at Compass Rose exhibit Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) traits. The DSM-5 describes borderline personality disorder (BPD) as “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Symptoms can include but are not limited to: difficulty with interpersonal relationships, unstable and reactive mood, impulsivity, chronic feelings of emptiness, and stress-related paranoia. This can be a challenging situation for families to navigate, as society has unfortunately stigmatized mood disorders like BPD as unresolvable dysfunction.

Although there is no cure for BPD, there are effective treatment modalities available to manage symptoms. One such treatment is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), an evidence-based approach that has been shown to reduce symptoms and improve their management. According to research, up to 77% of individuals no longer met the criteria for BPD after one year of treatment with DBT (MHS Online). This is a significant development for those with borderline personality traits, as it demonstrates that addressing trauma symptoms and maladaptive behaviors can lead to healing.

As believers, we can find encouragement in Isaiah 41:10,  which says, “Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” BPD should not be seen as a death sentence, and it is important to break down the stigma surrounding this disorder every day by trusting in God’s guidance.

At Compass Rose, our primary objective is to help adolescents recognize the underlying factors contributing to their maladaptive behaviors. Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder frequently experience hopelessness, fear of abandonment, and an unstable sense of self, leading them to act out in extreme ways in a desperate effort to establish connections. Our growth model at Compass Rose employs a distinctive approach to get to the “roots” of Borderline Personality Disorder, offering exceptional benefits to those living with the condition.

How the Growth Model Addresses BPD


Bonding plays a pivotal role within our program, as it empowers students to confront deep trust-related wounds, cultivate meaningful connections with others, embrace vulnerability, and enrich their capacity to relate authentically. For individuals grappling with BPD, navigating interpersonal relationships can be particularly challenging. However, by acquiring the skills to foster new, healthy connections, we offer a transformative opportunity for those living with this condition to embark on a revitalizing journey of connection and personal growth.


Boundaries serve as a crucial framework that establish expectations for both oneself and others, creating a definitive and empowering stance that effectively counteracts self-destructive tendencies. They play a vital role in defining healthy behaviors within relationships, establishing a solid foundation that fosters emotional well-being and preserves personal integrity. Particularly for individuals who may struggle with setting limits as seen in borderline personality disorder, boundaries provide a much-needed structure that promotes stability, self-care, and improves one’s ability to be in relationship with others.


The concept of reality serves as a profound and indispensable element that guides students towards self-acceptance, fosters an understanding of the intricate tapestry of the world, and encourages compassion towards others they encounter. For students with BPD traits, their perception of reality can become distorted, rendering this component even more difficult. By delving into the depths of reality, we aim to instill a transformative realization: that one’s self-worth is not confined to a simplistic approach of being wholly good or bad. Through this exploration, students gain an understanding of their multifaceted nature and embrace the beautiful complexities that make them uniquely human, connecting them to themselves and bringing them back to “reality”. 


Competence, the final pillar within our program, bestows students with the tools and confidence to wholeheartedly embrace their roles in society and seize control of their own destinies. This transformative character capacity empowers individuals with BPD to not only navigate the challenges they have encountered but also to transcend them, forging ahead on a path of personal growth and resilience. By cultivating competence, we equip students with the necessary skills, knowledge, and mindset to navigate the challenges of life with grace and determination. It enables them to hold steadfastly onto their identities, refusing to be defined solely by their conditions, and instead, embracing their inherent strengths and unique qualities. Through this journey, students discover their own capabilities, unlocking their full potential and paving the way for a future in which they can thrive and make meaningful contributions to the world around them.

In conclusion, breaking the stigma surrounding borderline personality disorder and its traits is of utmost importance. By dispelling misconceptions and promoting understanding, we create a society that fosters compassion, acceptance, and support for individuals living with BPD. This not only allows for improved access to appropriate care and resources, but it also empowers those with BPD to seek help without fear of judgment or discrimination. Furthermore, destigmatizing BPD encourages open dialogue, reducing shame and promoting awareness about the condition’s complexities. By challenging stereotypes and promoting empathy, we pave the way for healing, one teenager at a time. 

Ashton Burton, LCSW
Therapist for Compass Rose Academy

How to Observe Mental Health Awareness Month

As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has worked as a therapist with Josiah White’s and Compass Rose since 2018, I was asked as a professional in the field to write a post about Mental Health Awareness month and its importance. To be honest, though, I’ve never really thought much about Mental Health Awareness month because for me every month is Mental Health Awareness month. Because of this, I did some research about the month and its history. Surprisingly, I found out May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness month since 1949. Wow, have we come a long way since then! 

Since 2008, Mental Health America has chosen a theme each year to help the general public learn more about how to better take care of themselves and their loved ones. This year’s theme is “More than Enough.” This theme resonates with me because of the work we do with our kids at Josiah White’s and Compass Rose. Almost every kid we serve comes to us carrying the weight of the story “I’m not good enough.” I imagine you’ve found yourself carrying that story or something similar before too. I know I have. The true gift of being a therapist is being able to sit with others as they begin to unlearn this story and break the chains that hold them back. 

Mental health challenges come in all different shapes and sizes. Some people are born with chemical imbalances that cause a lifetime of challenges with things like Depression, Anxiety, Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or ADHD. Others have either acute or chronic traumatic experiences that lead to symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is far more common than most people realize and is incredibly varied in its presentation. Others have a combination of genetic and environmental factors that lead to disordered personality features, which can often be confusing both to those afflicted and those in relationship with them. Still others find themselves with mental health challenges that only present for a season due to life changes, medical issues, or even changes in the seasons (Talk to me in January in Indiana and I will tell you without a doubt that I am DEPRESSED.)

One of the common factors in all of these situations is that not a single one is cured or helped by invalidating them, pretending they don’t exist, or telling yourself or someone else that their experience is inaccurate or to “just get over it.” THIS is where I think the true importance of this month comes in. Well-intentioned people, often parents, without knowledge and resources of mental illness can do and say things that are hurtful and delay those suffering from getting the help that they need. 

I truly believe that everyone is doing their best with what they know and when we know better, we do better. So if you’ve found yourself not knowing how to respond to someone with mental illness, here are a few tips to hopefully help you approach mental health concerns with more thoughtfulness and efficacy. 

If you are suffering from a mental health issue yourself: 

– Approach yourself with kindness and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Talk to a trusted friend – You will probably find that people relate to what you are struggling with more than you think and everything feels more manageable when you are not alone. Mr. Rogers said, “What is mentionable is manageable, and everything that is human is mentionable.”
– When you are ready to try therapy, Psychology Today is a great resource for finding a therapist in your area.
– Coping skills like journaling, square breathing, exercise, and progressive muscle relaxation can help in moments of stress.
– Pick up one of hundreds of books about mental health that can help you understand what you are experiencing and what you need (Two of my favorites are Changes that Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud and Try Softer by Aundi Kolber.)

If someone you love is suffering from a mental health issue: 

– Don’t try to fix them. This is tempting, especially for parents, but you will not be able to take this away from them immediately and that’s likely not what they’re looking to you for anyway. Instead, focus on helping them to know they are not alone and that you love them no matter what.
– Check-in – Don’t be afraid to be upfront about what someone is going through. Often, especially with heavy topics like suicidal ideation, we worry that we might make it worse by bringing it up, but it’s likely that the person is thinking about it anyway and will find comfort in being invited to express freely with a safe friend or family member.
– When you do talk about any mental health concerns with someone, practice validation (convey that the person’s experience is significant and not to be dismissed) and empathy (the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another). DO NOT blame or shame someone for their experience, especially if what they are sharing is vulnerable for them.
– Educate yourself about their specific illness. Provide help when you can but remember to set limits to take care of yourself too. It is not your responsibility to make them feel better. Put your own oxygen mask on first.
– In an emergency situation, refer them to the Suicide Hotline (988) or in the case of someone causing significant harm to themselves or others, call 911.

If you find yourself to be having difficulty knowing how to have healthy emotional separation from someone with a mental illness or addiction, groups like Al-Anon and CoDependents Anonymous are wonderful resources for support. 

In keeping with 2023’s Mental Health Awareness Month theme, repeat after me and tell yourself and your loved ones that you are “more than enough” and need not carry the shame that comes with the stigma of mental illness!

– Lauren Sowers, MA, LMHC, Compass Rose Academy Therapist

Revitalized Menu Focuses on Whole Foods for CRA Students

As part of life on the new campus, Compass Rose decided to revamp what the students were eating each day to better support their journey towards healing and growth. Since we know the important impact that nutrition has on our overall health, including our mental health, CRA put together a food committee made up of staff to thoughtfully redesign our menu to greatly limit or exclude refined carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods. Our new menu emphasizes whole foods, including nutrient-rich and filling foods like avocados and sweet potatoes, and is largely grain-free. 

“Overall, the reason was partly helping the girls to develop a healthy relationship with food and also recognizing the impact of the food that we eat on our overall well-being, particularly our mental health,” said Mike Haarer, Vice President and Executive Director. “That involved taking a look at the ways that a diet that’s high in grains and includes sugars impacts mood and then making changes to limit those and replace them with nutrient-rich whole foods.” 

This new approach to food at Compass Rose also encourages students to reestablish a healthy relationship with food. 

“I still struggle with a relationship with food, but I definitely came here with the understanding that food, in any kind of excess or to any kind of extent is harmful to your body,” said a current CRA student. “I just have a very different view of food now where I notice myself getting hungry and thinking, ‘Oh, I definitely need protein today because I’m low on energy’ or ‘It would be really great for me to have some fruit or vegetables right now because I feel a little stuck’ and I just have never noticed that kind of effect on my body before.”

Students enjoy breakfast in their homes, pack their lunch in a bento box, and join together in cooking dinners in the evenings. Meal planning is focused on offering healthy options; recent meals have included shrimp tacos with rice and loaded sweet potatoes with shredded chicken, with sides of a variety of fresh fruit and veggies. 

In the future, our hope is to adjust the menu rotation based on the season and the students’ evaluations. Future goals also include having our own farm on campus that will directly contribute to the meals the students are eating on a daily basis.

“Partly the goal is to really emphasize that our relationship with food starts with more awareness of where food comes from, how we grow, nurture, and develop it and its impact on our bodies. Eventually we want to do everything from raising animals to growing more of our own fruits and vegetables,” said Mike Haarer. “We also have pasture land and own livestock adjacent to our student homes.” 

Overall, we want our students to learn to enjoy food, understand where it comes from, and learn to make healthy choices that have a lasting positive impact on their lives. By teaching them experientially in our therapeutic environment, we not only help them to eat healthy food while they are here, but we equip them with knowledge and create patterns to help them when they leave as well.

Spring Parent Weekend: Rebuilding Fences and Setting Boundaries

When you invite your best friend to your home, are they only allowed past your fence and into your yard, or do you open the door and let them into the living room? What about a complete stranger? How far into your home would you allow them to come? How close do you allow people to get to you? This is a struggle that many of our students experience. Seeing their fences get broken over and over causes them to give up on rebuilding completely or causes them to build a bigger and stronger fence without any entrance or exit. At the beginning of this month, we hosted our current Compass Rose families for our quarterly Parent Weekend. We explored what those fences entail and what a good, healthy fence looks like. 

Being able to see families work together and work through the challenges of rebuilding and setting boundaries made all of the time and energy of planning the weekend together worth it. In one activity, each person made their own ‘boundaries fence’ and took a correlating boundaries assessment. For each category that they scored low on, they removed a piece of the fence. By the end, if you glanced around the room, many of the previously put-together fences were in disarray. With this activity, family members could see a clear, visual representation of their own boundaries, as well as the boundaries of other family members affect how they interact and function as a family. We then heard from Vice President and Executive Director Mike Haarer and Admissions Director Madeline Spring on the importance of having healthy boundaries and what that looks like in everyday life.

Our families also went to an equine therapy program where they worked as a team to guide their horses through a variety of activities. The therapists and staff did an activity about triangulation, a manipulative tactic people use to avoid direct communication, which many of our families found to be helpful. While these equine therapy sessions, art therapy sessions, and breakout sessions were a big hit, many parents reported that their favorite part of Parent Weekend was just spending time with their child. Just being in the same room, you could feel the love and determination of both students and parents to improve their relationships.

– By Kaylee Stants, CRA Clinical Intern

In Pursuit of Our Heart

In our chapel services, we have been diving into the book of Jonah and have taken time in our Bible Studies to go more in depth to explore the implications of Jonah in our lives today. We often lose sight of Jonah in the mix of a big fish. We have lumped the story in with some grand miracle of God that we just admit we will never fully understand, and we glaze past the story and move on. In reality, a study of Jonah displays a much deeper dive into our hearts that challenges us to confront our own rebellion. The more I know about Jonah the more I feel as if I am looking in a mirror and being challenged about the way I interact with and know the God I claim to worship. As we have spent the last several months exploring Jonah, we have been invited to question our own hearts and perception of how we act out our faith.

What is continually striking about the story of Jonah is that we rarely see him doing what we expect a prophet to be doing. As a prophet, we expect him to be obedient to God’s call, but he isn’t. As a prophet, we expect him to be eager to bring people back to the law, but he isn’t. We instead find a “man of God” who appears to be bitter and angry at the loving compassion of his God. Even when Jonah does obey and do as he is told, we get a sense he’s only doing it because he can’t run away from it. He tried to sail in the opposite direction and there was a storm; he tried to die by being thrown overboard and there was a fish, and so he seems to be obeying so that he can move on with life. This can be seen by the simple fact that when he walks the streets of Nineveh and tells them to repent, he delivers a five word sermon in Hebrew that doesn’t even tell them who God is, why he is angry, or how to repent. He shares the bare minimum to fulfill the requirement and then goes off to watch the people of Nineveh be destroyed. He isn’t scared of these people; he is angry at them – angry that they have destroyed his nation, angry at their war tactics, angry at the way they treat his nation, angry that they are the enemy and that God wants to give them grace.  

Despite Jonah’s many shortcomings, we continually see God in persistent pursuit. No matter how angry Jonah got, no matter how far he ran, no matter how much he disobeyed, God pursued him to the end of the earth, to the bottom of a boat, and into the depths of the sea. The reality of our situation is that we often believe God only wants his people to perform certain tasks. He is only interested in how well we follow a to-do list and how morally right we live. If this was the case for Jonah, God could have easily chosen a different prophet for the task at hand. Maybe a prophet that was known for following instructions, always did what was expected of them, and never strayed from the truth. But that’s not what God did. Fully knowing how poorly Jonah would respond, God chose to call Jonah. This persistence throughout the story shows that God wasn’t after Jonah’s actions, he was after Jonah’s heart. It was never about performing the right tasks, it was about God’s desire to transform Jonah’s heart. 

As a result, God did not give up easily when Jonah ran away, said no, asked to die, and refused to follow through on his call. While we see over and over ways in which Jonah sought to leave God behind, we never see God give up on Jonah. I wonder how you and I need to be reminded of this reality in our own lives? Do we serve God out of a sense of obligation because we fear what He will do in our disobedience? Or do we do so because we truly desire His transformative work in our lives? The reality is, even when we live our life on the run, doing as we think God desires and only engaging our minds in performing the right act, he is still pursuing our hearts. While action is certainly a portion of our faith, it should be what flows out of an already captured heart. All the work in the world does not measure up to the heart of surrender God is continually searching for. In this season, may we all take the reminder that God did not give the gift of his Son so that we might be good people. Rather, God gave the gift of His Son so that he might claim ultimate pursuit over our hearts, and not just our actions. 

-By LilyAnn Matchett, CRA Student Chaplain

Mismatching Experiences

In our work with teens and families, we often talk about creating mismatching experiences, or corrective emotional experiences. In the type of therapeutic work that we do, these are powerful, even transformative processes aimed at freeing people from their emotional responses tied to early memories and attachment experiences. But what do we actually mean when we talk about creating these corrective emotional experiences

The idea of mismatching or corrective emotional experiences and our therapeutic practices around them are based on the concept of Memory Reconsolidation as described by Bruce Ecker, Robin Ticic, and Laurel Hulley in the book Unlocking the Emotional Brain: Eliminating Symptoms at Their Roots Using Memory Reconsolidation. In the book, the authors describe a process of therapy in which the neural connections holding core emotional learnings based on early attachment experiences are unlocked and then even erased within the nervous system. This means that at a deep neurological level our brains can be rewired in such a way that our deeply rooted interpersonal patterns can be changed. 

Essentially, the way the process works is that a core emotional learning is activated so that the individual has a here-and-now visceral experience related to the core emotional learning. This can occur as a situation presents itself or by asking the individual to recall an early experience that created the learning. For instance, this could be calling to mind an early experience of being teased on the playground leading to the core emotional learning that “No wants to be my friend.” 

After calling to mind the feelings related to the core emotional learning, the authors use the technical term The Juxtaposition Experience to describe creating what we call a mismatching  or corrective emotional experience. In this stage, the person is presented with an experience that brings about alternate feelings which stand opposed to the core emotional learning. This can be an experience that happens in the here-and-now, like an in-vivo experience in individual, group, or family therapy, or it can be brought about by intentionally bringing to mind a particular memory or experience. For example, a mismatching experience for the learning “No one wants to be my friend” may be the closeness one feels with other participants in group therapy, or it could be calling to mind memories of experiences of felt closeness with a friend or loved one. The individual would be asked to experience, feel, and hold this new experience while also reflecting on how different it feels from their visceral experience of the old core emotional learning. 

The next step involves repetition of this process of recalling both the old and new experiences. In this way, just like working with wet cement, the individual is able to impact that wiring in the nervous system while the neural connections are still activated and malleable. Considerable research has been conducted on this process of Memory Reconsolidation which has demonstrated effectiveness in harnessing neuroplasticity to unlock synapses in order to “eliminate emotional learning from implicit memory” (Unlocking the Emotional Brain, 2012).

Treatment and Education: How Do They Work Together?

The decision to place your child in residential treatment can be a daunting one. There are so many different factors to consider when your end goal is ultimately hope and healing for your family. Sometimes, academics can fall to the wayside as life’s challenges arise. Navigating the waters of education while in treatment is important, yet often tricky. Failed courses, excessive absences, negative peer influences, and low self-confidence prior to treatment can make school feel overwhelming for a student.

Compass Rose Academy provides a fresh start for students, both therapeutically and academically. With access to an onsite private accredited Christian school, students are assigned a course schedule to help put them back on track with the ultimate goal of returning home. Small class sizes, supportive adults, and the project-based learning model help students regain the confidence they need in order to be successful in a classroom environment. 

In addition, the academic team works closely with the clinical team in order to provide wraparound support for all students. This includes participating in weekly staffing meetings and providing insight as to how students are managing the day-to-day expectations within a school environment. Teachers are able to work collaboratively with therapists to identify patterns and provide feedback to all team members. Through observation and collaboration, the team is more accurately able to set clear action steps for individual students. In addition, when doing weekly goal setting at school, students are encouraged to reflect on and set goals that help them practice skills they’re learning in their own treatment journey. 

Navigating treatment and education can be difficult, but when collaboration is a priority, students benefit from proactive team communication and alignment in treatment goals. 

Compass Rose Academy Achieves CARF Accreditation

Compass Rose Academy is honored to have recently been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Meeting the standards to achieve this accreditation is one way CRA is ensuring that the students in our program are receiving the highest quality of care available. This accreditation requires our staff to participate in frequent and intensive training and many mental health professionals look for CARF accreditation when making referrals.

“The accreditation process took about a year. We reviewed all of our processes, services, tools, policies and procedures, forms, technology and infrastructure and weighed them against the CARF Standards. The CRA team made changes, but by and large we were in compliance with most of the standards having already been Council on Accreditation accredited since 2013,” said Chasity Mota, Accreditation & Licensing Manager. 

Compass Rose is grateful to receive CARF accreditation and looks forward to how this will further our work of providing hope and healing to teen girls and their families. 

The Fundamentals of Teaching Family Model

At Compass Rose Academy, our direct care staff use the Teaching Family Model (TFM), a relational, evidenced-based, trauma-informed model of care focused on increasing life skill development in children and teens.

When using TFM, our direct care staff engage in daily teaching interactions to help teens learn social and relationship skills. Residential staff, now called Family Teachers, develop these skills using a motivation system that is positive and strengths-based, while still holding youth accountable for their choices. The skills youth learn through the model will then translate to better parent-child interaction, improved school behavior following placement, and increased work readiness.

While it all sounds good on paper, many might wonder what TFM looks like practically. Here is a little bit of insight into the daily world of TFM.

Every student starts with working on five basic skills: follow instructions, ask permission, accept no for an answer, greeting skills, and accept feedback. There are a total of 50 skills for the students to work on throughout their time at CRA. 

Students are required to get a certain number of signatures per day, which they achieve by getting “positives.” Positives are given out when a staff member notices the student displaying a skill they are working on. If the student receives her total number of signatures, she is granted privileges, such as watching TV, the next day. The amount of signatures required per day decreases as the student moves through the stages of treatment.

In TFM, consequences are called “practices.” When a student “earns a practice,” the staff member will tell the student specifically how she did not follow the skill she is working on and then explain what following that skill would have looked like in that situation and why that skill is important, including why it will serve the student well outside of Compass Rose. Staff members never use the words, “You didn’t…” or “You should have…”

In order for the student to fulfill their practice, the staff member will walk them through a scenario involving the same skill and have the student respond with what utilizing that skill would look like in that scenario. 

“TFM is very intentional about being clear on what creates a positive interaction and what creates a negative interaction. They turn what sounds like it should be pretty gray into a very black and white system of natural repercussions that the students earn versus the staff giving out consequences. It is no longer me being the bad guy; I am not the reason they have this repercussion, they are the reason they have this repercussion,” said Eden Snyder, Residential Supervisor.

In the last stage of the student’s treatment before going home, the staff asks the student’s parents, and the student herself, what she should be working on as she looks toward going home.

“I feel like it’s very realistic for our parents to take some of what we teach the students here and take it home and continue it in a way that they are now not arguing over things, they are just calling out behavior,” said Natasha Whitney, Residential Supervisor. 

What will you do about your relationships this year?

As you reflect on 2022 and look forward to the rest of 2023, are you content with what you see in your personal, professional, and even familial relationships? I observe that many people go from day to day, month to month, and year to year with the awareness that many, most, or even all of their relationships are unsupportive or unfulfilling. Worse, they may have relationships that are harmful and toxic. People avoid addressing the underlying issues because they either don’t know what to do or they promise they’ll address relational issues later when they’re not so busy working or raising children. Do any of these sound familiar:

  • What friends? Who has time for that? 
  • When our kids move out, my spouse and I will have time to reconnect and do things we enjoy.
  • By the time I work a full day, chauffeur the kids back and forth to practice and games, and do all my other tasks, I’m lucky to eat and sleep, let alone have a meaningful conversation with another adult. 
  • Having friends when you’re a kid or in college is one thing, but when you’re an adult, it’s just different. It’s harder to meet people. 
  • After a few years of marriage and especially with raising kids, my spouse and I became more like roommates than soulmates. 
  • I long for a deeper connection with people and to have meaningful conversations with people who can relate to me, but I don’t even know where to start. 

I want to encourage you at the beginning of this year not to kick that can any further down the road. If you feel today like you are not engaged in enough meaningful and mutually supportive relationships that give life and energy to each party, then there are some things you can do about it. First, it starts with intentionality and believing that things can be different. Second, it involves fostering and stewarding the relationships that you do have. Here are some ways that you can experience deeper and more meaningful relationships in 2023 and beyond: 

  • Listen to others with your eyes, mind, and heart. Have you ever noticed that while most people pass quickly with surface-level greetings, it really stands out when someone actually pauses to listen and connect like they actually care about your response? In your current relationships, be the one to move past surface-level exchanges. Pause when you talk with someone and meaningfully listen with your eyes, mind, and heart. Ask thoughtful questions that allow the person to share something beyond the surface with you. I promise you this intentionality around more meaningful connection will be noticeable and will help you develop a pattern of interpersonal interactions that foster a deeper level of engagement. 
  • Share what’s on your mind, with grace. So often, whether it’s a kind word or a confrontation, we avoid sharing our thoughts or feelings with others. You feel a nudge in your heart to share a piece of encouragement with someone, give them positive feedback, or tell them how much they mean to you, but you rationalize it away, telling yourself they will think you’re strange or won’t return the sentiment. On the other hand, you may find yourself wanting to challenge someone or let them know what they said was hurtful, but you decide it wouldn’t be worth it or you’re just being too sensitive. In either case, following these prompts to share genuinely from your heart (with grace if it’s a confrontation) can help you to connect more deeply and meaningfully with others in a way that is empowering and energizing for both. 
  • Invest in relationships. If you resonate with the idea of your spouse being more like a roommate, it doesn’t have to stay that way. You may feel powerless because even if you want things to change, the other is content to leave things as they are. Remember that you are half of the relationship. It’s impossible for you to change and things stay exactly as they are. Decide how you would like things to be different and then do what you can to implement those changes. Maybe it’s couples counseling. If you can’t get the other to go, then schedule individual counseling and work on yourself. Making yourself healthier and empowered will have an impact on the relationship! Just like a 401K or other fund, you can make steady investments in your relationship over this year that make a big difference in the long-run. 
  • Schedule time for connection. Just like some of your tasks won’t get done unless they make it to your personal calendar, meaningful connection is more likely to take place if you are intentional about creating opportunities. As you look forward to 2023, who are the people with whom you would like to spend more time or connect with more meaningfully? Maybe it’s you and your spouse creating a daily check-in or weekly date night. My wife and I were married on the 11th, so we try to do something on the 11th of each month at minimum. Maybe 1 or 2 friends come to mind – reach out and see if they may be interested in a weekly or monthly call, coffee, or meal. This can be as structured or unstructured as you like. For some people, it’s helpful to plan to meet on a monthly basis to check in and review personal goals. For others, it’s perfect just to schedule the time together for open and unstructured sharing. A special note for men – people sometimes think men aren’t interested in sitting around talking and you’ve got to be fixing something or playing sports. Sports and activities are great too and I love them, but I’ve reached out various times over the years to set up groups of men for this type of connection and have always had enthusiastic responses. In fact, in some cases we started out meeting monthly and moved it to as often as weekly. I’ve never had men respond with, “No thanks, I’m not really looking for connection right now.” It’s always quite the opposite.  

I love the New Year season. It’s always exciting for me to think of the next year as a blank slate or a fresh canvas. I get to decide what to do with it! There’s so much opportunity ahead. Imagine an area of your life and how you want it to improve. How might things look differently at the end of the year if you approach it with intentionality and purpose throughout the year? I hope that you experience rich and meaningful connection this year as you plan to intentionally steward your relationships all year long and beyond. 


~Mike Haarer, PhD, LMHC, Compass Rose Academy Vice President & Executive Director

The Gift of Immanuel God With Us

Ahhhhh, Christmas. The time of year when we rejoice at snow, get special feelings when we hear jingle bells, and give ourselves allowances to eat far too many cookies. It truly is a unique time of year, filled with events, gifts, to-do lists, baked goods, and travel plans. In the middle of all the hustle and bustle, can we all take a moment to be brutally honest with ourselves? It might not be the highlight of our season of celebration, but I believe there is a need for us to take a moment and be honest about Christmas and the reality of who we are and the purpose in our lives. 

In CRA chapels, we’ve taken time aside to address different things about the Christmas story that often go ignored, assumed, or brushed aside. One of the main topics being a reminder of who Jesus is. You see, the problem with Christmas is that in our traditions, carols, and family gatherings we continually remind ourselves to keep “Christ in Christmas” and in doing so “remember the reason for the season” but this leaves a lot of room to forget who Jesus is, and who I am, and just what I am supposed to be remembering. 

To do that we have to start at the beginning, and recall the story of creation in Genesis 1-3. In the biblical narrative, we see God created a world meant for unhindered communion with Him, and we in turn see humankind doubt God and in disobedience, declare that humanity knows better than its creator. This set the stage for the rest of history, which can be seen as humans living in a fallen world. It is clearly displayed in the Biblical story how time and time again humans fail in restoring relationships with God. They don’t keep the law, they lie, they doubt, they covet, they steal, they murder, they fail. Beyond the Bible, it doesn’t take much of a history lesson to see that something is still wrong with the world. Something is not right. Peace is a far off dream, hope is fleeting, and love is hard to find. The world is not okay. Something is not how it should be. 

The part where we are going to need to be brutally honest is to say, “Something is wrong with the world, and I’m part of the problem.” It’s really easy to blame other people for all that has gone wrong in our life. It’s easy to point the finger and justify ourselves, but take this in, you are part of the problem. Try as you might, something is wrong with us and no matter what we do, we cannot fix it. 

The world will acknowledge that some things are not right and then, with growing popularity, tell us to dig deep and access some greater good that is within us. If you can find that inner peace, then maybe you can contribute good to society, enjoy life, and have a successful career with a loving family. If none of that is working out for you, then just dig a little deeper and discover something about yourself. You are your own solution. 

In what I’m sure seems like a harsh reality, let me say, there’s a problem and you can’t fix it. No amount of self discovery will change the fact that you and this world are not how it should be. You are lost and in need of saving. 

Now let’s dwell in some more truth, you are in desperate need of saving, and the creator of the universe has sent a Savior. You see, until I am able to acknowledge that I am in need of saving, Jesus will just be a baby who grew up to be a great teacher who had some good moral standards to live by. But if I am indeed lost and without a way to find my way back, then I can fully take in that by no other provision but Jesus Christ can I be saved from my current reality. I am lost at sea, and God has shown up!

The last thing I want to say is to marvel for a moment on how Jesus saved us. I can find myself in the depths of life feeling utterly consumed by the darkness all around me and in my need, cry out for God to save me. He’s this grand, marvelous God who could pluck me from my circumstances, wave his hand, and fix the whole world. He doesn’t do that. Instead he shows up in the middle of the chaos, and says “Let’s walk this together, will you let me lead?” That’s the gift of “Immanuel God with us” (Isaiah 7:14) — that in the middle of our chaos He comes and walks with us. In the middle of our desperate need for saving, he comes along and says, “Let’s walk this journey together, will you let me lead?” 

This is what we would often not talk about, but is what makes the Christmas season worth celebrating. That as the world has gone drastically wrong, God has been at work restoring His kingdom, and His master plan includes a human form of Himself here to save His creation through radical love and redemption, but in order to be made anew, I have to acknowledge that the current me isn’t working. 

~By LilyAnn Matchett, Compass Rose Academy Student Chaplain

Learning in a Trauma-Informed Setting

The Academy at Compass Rose is dedicated to providing a safe space for students to learn and grow academically. With this in mind, The Academy provides an environment that is trauma-informed and meets the needs of a diverse student population.

Recently, The Academy gained a new staff member, Onyx. Onyx is a therapy dog that attends school with the students. Sometimes, he sits in on therapy sessions or spends time with a student that is having a hard day. He is at lunch and hangs out with students during passing periods as well. 

“Onyx helps me when I’m having a rough time with peers or at school. He is comforting to have around,” said a current 8th grade student.

The Academy also provides students an emotional regulation space as well as opportunities for movement throughout the school day. In our emotional regulation space we have dim lighting, calming music, and a quiet place to work on schoolwork. 

“The space is very calming, and it gives you a place to talk to someone and do your schoolwork. I like being able to take a break and go outside too,” said a current 11th grade student. 

Sensory toys or fidgets are provided to students throughout the day as needed. Each classroom also has access to a variety of flexible seating choices such as floor seating, wobble cushions, and mobile seating. These supports aid students’ ability to stay focused within the school environment. 

Operating from a trauma-informed lens helps us to meet students where they are and provide a safe environment for them to learn and grow. 

It’s NO-vember!

Every year, I go into the holiday season with great excitement and anticipation of all of the memorable activities that lie ahead. In my head, I imagine time at home with family playing games, watching movies, and enjoying great food and fun. In reality, every year there is also some level of disappointment that the holiday season did not live up to my expectations. Invariably, a part of this disillusionment comes from the awareness that the holidays as an adult are much more pragmatic and, yes, stressful than the nostalgic memories of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s as a child. I’m always saddened to see adults just white knuckling their way through all of the holiday “must-do’s” instead of allowing themselves to experience the wonder of the season, including taking in the warmth of relationships with those in their circle of family and friends. 

This year, I am committing to do the holidays differently, and I invite you to join me in beginning the holiday season by taking part in NO-vember! That’s right, to fully embrace the reason for the season, we need to start by strengthening our “no” muscle. One of the reasons I believe so many of us are stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays is because we begrudgingly take part in every obligatory holiday activity and set no boundaries around our time and what is in our family’s best interest. 

You may identify with one of the following reasons that it can be hard to say to “No”: 

People Pleasing: This is a pattern of over-accommodating to meet the needs of others that has its roots in the desire to maintain the friendship or admiration of others. For a host of reasons, we unconsciously, yet repeatedly, tell ourselves that it is more important to keep others happy than it is to make wise decisions with our time and energy. 

Self-Sacrificing: Often with the best of intentions and even a deeply-rooted faith at its foundation, this is a pattern of behavior that habitually denies one’s own needs, even to personal detriment. People exhibiting this pattern may believe that this type of self-sacrifice is what their faith requires of them or that this is their duty to make the world a better place. What they don’t consciously realize is that continually depleting their own resources and reserves without attending to their own needs is not a sustainable long-term path for loving, giving to, or impacting others. 

Caretaking/Enabling: People exhibiting this pattern may see those around them through a lens of neediness or even weakness. They naturally step into the parent role and allow those around them to be in a child role, helpless dependent role, or even a victim role. By caretaking others, we can get a nice internal reward for feeling like we are doing something good. In reality, our enabling patterns may actually foster helplessness or inappropriate dependent patterns in others that keep them stuck where they are at. 

Conflict Avoiding: I venture to say that most people, aside from maybe 8’s on the Enneagram, do not relish challenge or conflict with others. We would rather avoid difficult conversations and go great lengths to avoid hurting others’ feelings. What we may not realize is that boundaries and healthy conflict actually enhance relationships. When we care enough to tell each other the truth with grace, this actually fosters trust and connection. 

So, this NO-vember, I invite you to take steps that will allow you to meaningfully engage in the holiday season with those you love. Here are some activities for strengthening your NO muscle which, although counterintuitive at first, will help you to be fully present with everything you say YES to:

  1. Say NO to at least one request per week. It is often helpful to remember that when you say “yes” to the person in front of you at the moment, you are also saying “no” to others in your life. For example, saying yes to an extra project at work, a game with friends, or a volunteer opportunity may mean saying “no” to meaningful time engaging with your spouse, tucking your kids in at night, or enjoying connection with a friend. So, each week in NO-vember, be mindful of what is being asked of you and challenge yourself to decline an offer or opportunity in order to free yourself for more time with those you love or more time to refuel your tank.
  2. Choose something to quit. Many of us tend to be overcommitted in regard to our roles and responsibilities. I have a couple people in my life, currently my wife and my boss, who when I tell them I want to start an exciting new activity or opportunity, will invariably ask me what I’m going to give up to make time for it. The time will come from somewhere. Take an inventory of your commitment and decide what it’s time to let go of. For some this may be a volunteer position or a league of some kind. For others, it may be a decision to quit spending significant time on TV or social media in order to create time for meaningful connection or activities that fuel, instead of drain, life and energy.
  3. Have a difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding. You can probably think of at least one “conflict” you’ve been avoiding. Take a small risk to step into healthy conflict that will allow you to experience that having a truthful conversation (with lots of grace and compassion) will foster a closer connection than years of playing nice.

I wish you all the best as you explore ways that you can take part in NO-vember this year so that you can create space and energy for a meaningful and rejuvenating holiday season!


Compass Rose Academy Achieves Teaching Family Association Accreditation

Compass Rose Academy is thrilled to announce that we recently became an accredited Teaching Family Association agency. 

Teaching Family Association is the accrediting agency of Teaching Family Model (TFM), a relational, evidenced-based, trauma-informed model of care focused on increasing life skill development in children and teens. Adopting this model ensures that we are able to provide the most effective training for our ministry staff and the best possible outcomes for the teens and families we serve. 

“One of our core definitions of how we will succeed as an organization is to provide a superior model of care,” said Ron Evans, President and CEO. “This accreditation emphasizes our commitment to have the best people using the best practices for the best result.”  

The accreditation process has taken almost two and a half years. CRA is grateful to Methodist Home for Children (MHC) in North Carolina, who mentored us through the process of training and implementing the model, including monthly visits to our campus.

When using the TFM, caregivers engage in daily teaching interactions to help teens learn social and relationship skills. Residential staff, now called Family Teachers, develop these skills using a motivation system that is positive and strengths-based, while still holding youth accountable for their choices. The skills youth learn through the model will then translate to better parent-child interaction, improved school behavior following placement, and increased work readiness.

“Being accredited by TFA assures students, parents, referral sources, and other constituents that they can trust that our services for students and families are at the highest standard,” said Mike Haarer, Vice President and Executive Director of Compass Rose Academy. “Those who refer teens to Compass Rose can be assured that teens in our care will be in a trauma-informed environment that consistently provides emotional and physical safety, nurture, and structure.” 

Official recognition of our accreditation will be taking place at the TFA Conference at the end of the month. 

Compass Rose is honored to be an accredited TFA agency and is excited for what this accreditation will mean for our future as an organization. 

How to Support Your Teen’s Mental Health Challenges

The mental health crisis facing today’s youth is staggering, and has only been exaggerated by events such as the global pandemic. Loneliness and isolation exacerbate despair and depression. A lack of safety and security invite anxiety. It doesn’t take much imagination to highlight how practices, such as social distancing and stringent hygiene that were highly valued during the COVID pandemic, actually contribute to the second wave of a mental health pandemic.

Statistics tell us that something like one and six teenagers experiences a mental health challenge and this spiked to one in three during the pandemic. And somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of all mental illnesses express themselves while a person is still in adolescence. So whether you are parenting a teen experiencing a mental health challenge, or connected to one in some other influential position,  you’ve probably wondered, “Now what?”

You’re not alone and don’t go it alone. The willingness to seek help for mental health has increased as stigmas have been reduced. This is a healthy culture shift but has also caused strain on many systems that provide professional care. By all means, get on waiting lists to see psychiatrists and find creative ways to enlist the help of other professionals. But as a parent, you will likely need many people encouraging and helping you along the way. Other parents on similar journeys can be great at offering validation and empathy, normalizing your experiences. A spiritual leader might be helpful in offering empathy or hope. A teen’s teacher or coach might be great at offering perspective and feedback about how they experience your teen.  You and your teen need these people and the relational nutrients they provide.

Person over problem. Work to stay focused on your teen as a person first. It’s easy to let mental health challenges become a definition of the person experiencing the challenge. But even small language changes such as “My teen is experiencing some mental health challenges” vs “I have a depressed teen” can shape the way we view and give care to the teen. Person centered caregiving helps us honor and meet the teen where they are: as a human to be loved, not a problem to be fixed. Practice creating times for connecting with the teen that sets the challenges aside. Are they isolating in their room playing video games?…ask to join them and have them teach you the game. Are they refusing to participate in family activities they previously enjoyed?….get curious about new traditions or activities that might interest them more. Are they constantly putting themselves down or seeking acceptance from unhealthy peers?…speak affirmation over your teen to communicate your belief in them, about WHO they are, not what they are.

Your best chance at helping your teen is changing YOU.  A dysregulated parent (or any adult) can not regulate a teen, such as in the case of an anger outburst or incident of self harm. A caregiver who can’t hear a healthy “no” from a teen can’t expect the teen to magically be able to say “no” to peers in unhealthy situations. A family culture that is too consumed with goals and achievements will communicate to a teen that they have pressure to perform in certain ways to be a part of the family. Writer Anne Lamott says, “…the three things I cannot change are the past, the truth, and you.” You can work to earn influence in a teen’s life, but you won’t have the power to control or change them. You only have the power to change yourself.  Find your own therapist or life coach. Join a growth or support group. Practice your own mental health hygiene through techniques such self care, radical acceptance, or progressive muscle relaxation. Work on YOU first.

As parents and caregivers, it is vital that we acknowledge the epidemic of mental health challenges exhibited in our current generation of teenagers. It is important that the problems are validated and professional help is sought for the teen. But don’t underestimate the power of doing your own growth work and connecting with support systems. Even if your teen continues to struggle, you will have gained a village of encouragement and invested in your own mental-emotional wellbeing.  That might be just the peace you’re looking for!

Day in the Life of a Family Teacher

Kara Russell and Bailey Lauer are both Family Teachers at Compass Rose Academy (CRA). Keep reading this Q&A to learn more about what their job is like!

What does a typical day look like as a Family Teacher at CRA? What is your schedule? 

K: A typical day at CRA begins with waking up the students (I actually wake them up to the same song “Good morning Beauty Queen” just for fun). They are pretty self-sufficient in the morning as they make their own breakfast, clean up their room, and do the chore that they are assigned to do around the house. They will then start getting ready for the day brushing their teeth, putting on makeup, doing their hair, and generally managing their time to ensure that they stay on schedule. During the week, the students go to school around 8:30 a.m. Family Teachers leave the students there and return at 11:00 a.m. to take the students to group therapy and lunch. Family Teachers take turns serving lunch, but after serving, we leave the students with school staff from 12:20 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. While the kids are in school, Family Teachers typically get to return to the home or another place to hang out. Sometimes, Family Teachers might have to do something in the home rather than resting but that is not typically the case. Once the students are picked up from school, they get an afternoon snack and begin their required 1 hour of daily recreation. One of the students is responsible for cooking dinner every night for the rest of the home, and so they begin the cooking process. Staff steps in when necessary to help the students. The students have a bit of free time in which they can do crafts, read a book, play a game, or talk to friends before dinner. We eat a “family style” dinner together and then the girls clean up and touch up their assigned chore. The rest of the evening the students can watch TV and just hang out until they have a required room time from 7:15 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. during which they are to work on their treatment work or take time to themselves. At 8:00 p.m., the girls get their evening snack and continue to hang out. Betimes start at 8:45 p.m. and go all the way until 10:00 p.m. when Family Teachers get off. 

B: A typical day at CRA is a busy day, but in a good way. School days, Monday through Thursday, are the most structured days because we have to make sure the students are where they need to be and on time. We do have free time to ourselves during the time that the students are in school, just as long as we have no required meetings to attend. Fridays are typically busy the first half of the day. There are phase meetings where students meet with their treatment team so they can progress in their program. The students and staff also go to Reins and Rainbows, which is an equine therapy program. The second half of Fridays typically have free time where you get to spend time with the students, and can really spend time building relationships. Saturdays are the days where we take the students off-campus for outings. Examples of outings that I have been a part of are: going to the movies, going to various parks, going to a trampoline park, and bowling. Outings are always a lot of fun, and the students look forward to them because they get to be “normal” teenagers. On Sundays, we attend church at New Journey in Wabash. After church, we come back to Compass Rose and have lunch in the home, and then do a super clean of chores and their rooms to make sure that when we start the new week on Monday, everything is in good shape in the home. Sunday afternoons and evenings are once again used as downtime where we get to spend time building relationships.

What do you like best about your job?

K: I personally love that each day is different. I am never bored at work. There is time to really pour into girls and help them through a rough time in their life. I get to be someone’s shoulder to cry on, someone who is there through the thick and thin for these students. No day is the same, there are different issues to deal with everyday as you help teenage girls live together. 

B: I like many things about my job so it makes it hard to choose just one thing. I really like the people that I work with. I love working with the students, some days can be a struggle, but there are definitely more better days than there are worse days and that ultimately makes it worth it.

How would you describe your job to someone who has never heard of CRA?

K: I work with teenage girls who have severe mental health and/or behavioral issues in a residential facility. I work 16 hour days which actually is not as terrible as it sounds. It is actually doable because there is time to rest when needed for the most part. Everyday is totally different, and there are different challenges that present themselves every day.  

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

K: It is definitely hardest when the students push back and take their bottled-up emotions out on you. It is hard to be told that you are disliked, but the reason they really dislike you is because you are pushing them to be the best version of themselves that they possibly can. They always come around, and you are able to find a good resolution with them. Sometimes, you just have to be their emotional punching bag and take it. My greatest advice for this job is that you cannot take anything they say personally. 

B: The most challenging part of being a Family Teacher is when a student is struggling, and you can’t fix the issue or make things better for them.

What motivates you to come to work everyday?

K: My relationship with the students is my main motivation. I get to teach them lessons that I wish someone taught me when I was their age. I get to help in a long-term way and have the joy of being able to watch these girls learn, mature, and grow. 

How would you describe the culture of CRA?

K: I love my work environment as a whole and that is primarily due to my coworkers. My coworkers are all so compassionate and genuinely care about one another. I know that if I need anything that I can go to any number of them, even if we are not super close. It is just a group of good people who work stressful jobs together. In the job, there is a lot that staff is put through and those moments are what bring us together most. There is no fear of supervisors, and I feel I can be honest with them and they respect and help me in any way that they can. CRA promotes the importance of community because we really do need one another. There are many opportunities to build community and feel supported. One of my favorite things is what is called “round table” in which staff from all departments are invited to come and talk about real issues, struggles, and joys with others and receive genuine support and advice that you may not have otherwise gotten. 

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

K: Being able to share my faith and have it received has been incredible. Also, being able to watch each student struggle and make mistakes and learn from them. There is nothing like being able to watch the progression of a student’s behavior, relationships, mental health get better and more manageable. 

B: The most rewarding part of being a Family Teacher is when the students have breakthroughs in their program. It’s great to see the progress they make and the excitement and pride they have in their successes.

Do you have a favorite moment with a student you would like to share?

K: I recently had a favorite moment with a student in which they asked me about my testimony and I was able to tell it and just tell of the wonders Jesus has worked in my life. It stemmed into a conversation about casting your burden on the Lord, what eternity will look like, why the earth is so hard if God is really there, and surrendering yourself to Him. This student asked great questions and was so attentive. I actually got to serve makeshift communion to her upon her request. She told me the next day that she fully surrendered to God, and she just had an overwhelming feeling of peace and internal happiness that had never been felt before. 

I also got to take some girls to an event in which they had over 1,000 prom dresses that they were giving away for free. I got to take my group of girls, and we all tried on dresses together and took one home with us to have for our upcoming prom! It was a very fun and girly day, and it was so rewarding to be able to see my girls glow with happiness, and you could tell they truly felt beautiful.

Seen, Known, and Loved

Recently in chapel services here at Compass Rose, we have been looking at the outcast people of the Bible and God’s interactions with them. Again and again, we come to see that God is intentional with the people society has counted less than, and He continually invites them into relationship. He is saying “I see you, I know you, and I love you.” So far we have specifically looked at how He speaks to Hagar in Genesis 21, the crippled woman in Luke 8, and famously, the woman at the well in John 4. 

The problem with John 4 and the story of the woman at the well is that so many of us have heard this story since childhood. We read the first couple of lines and then we skip over it or mentally check out when we hear it preached. We’ve figured that we have heard it a million times before, and the sermons, stories, and blog posts all seem to be the same, reflecting the same couple of messages, so this one won’t be any different. This is the very reason as a teacher you want to choose a different Scripture, one that might be more engaging or might hold your audience’s attention a little longer. Nonetheless, I think that this very reality is something that Jesus addresses with this woman at the heat of noon at a well in the Ancient Near East.

As the story continues, we see that the woman continually meets Jesus from a logical standpoint. First, she does not understand why Jesus is talking to her at all (4:9), as logically and historically, it does not make sense. Next, she thinks this man needs to learn the basic fundamentals on how to get water from a well (4:11-12). Logically, He is still not making sense. Then, after things start to get a little too personal, she tries to confront Him on the fundamentals of worship laws (4:19-20). Religiously, she’s trying to get the attention off herself and prove what she knows. Again and again, Jesus challenges her perspective, and yet she only ever engages Him on a logical or religious front. It doesn’t make any sense. Living water? How? Worship in spirit and truth? How? 

The problem seems to be that the woman was stuck in her tradition. She was hung up on what she believed should be true and could not begin to understand a reality that was different than that. Jesus was content to engage her knowledge, as He sat with her and had a conversation, but it becomes very clear that they are talking on two different levels. She is caught up in how it ought to look and wrapped up in what she thought the Scriptures said and the people believed, but all the while, He was trying to get to her heart. 

We often do this with Jesus. We go to church and we recite all the answers, and we gain all the knowledge, but Christ is never able to make the journey to our hearts. Sometimes that is very intentional because we think we have all the right answers, and despite all that, Jesus is not doing anything for me. Other times, we are not conscious of the great divide, and we are left confused on why Jesus seems so distant in the middle of our deepest struggles. It has often been expressed that the biggest gap in all humanity is between the head and the heart, and Jesus stands at the door and desires to make that journey with each one of us. This often means we have to lay down what we think we already know about Jesus. This often means we have to admit to the utter chaos that reigns within us. For Christ to deal with our hearts, we have to be honest with the condition our hearts are in. 

The women at the well had to admit to Jesus that she was indeed living in sin and had been for a while now. She had to pause long enough and lay aside what she thought should be and allow Christ to work on her heart and not just her brain. She was not only a Samaritan, who were outcasts, but her inner and life struggles had also outcasted her. She was the lowest of low, not even societies unwanted wanted to associate with her. Yet, Jesus showed up and sought to engage her in real conversation about the condition of her brokenness. She was left with the task of listening to this man and had to come to accept that what He was saying might have to do with something that was far deeper than what she had ever understood before.

We are confronted with the same task. Will we deal with Jesus honestly? He is desiring to commune with us — are we letting Him into more than just our heads? Knowing all the right answers and consuming all the right information about Jesus will only get us so far on the journey of faith. Eventually, we will be lost within and more consumed by chaos than we are by His peace, because we’ve kept Christ out of the center of our lives and far from the redemptive work He is desiring to do in our hearts. Before Jesus even began to engage her in conversation, He knew all the ugliness that dwelt within her heart and still desired to be close to her. We often disqualify ourselves from intimate relationship with Christ because of our track record. And to that Jesus says, “I see you, I know you, and I desire you all the same.” The problem often isn’t that Christ does not want us, but that we deal far too much in our shame and do not want ourselves. We become convinced that we need to present a certain reality of ourselves to be loved because that is the only reality of ourselves that we think is lovable, so how could anyone else love what we don’t love? To this, Jesus invites us all to know He sees us, He knows us, and He loves us. 

~By CRA Student Chaplain LilyAnn Matchett

Compass Rose Academy Cuts Ribbon on MKS Pavilion

Compass Rose Academy (CRA) held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, August 26th at 10:00am to celebrate the completion of their new MKS Pavilion. The pavilion was generously donated by Michael Kinder & Sons (MKS), who has partnered with CRA to build their new campus, which opened in 2021. Speakers included Ron Evans, President and CEO of Compass Rose Academy, Mike Haarer, Vice President and Executive Director of Compass Rose Academy, and Doug Kinder, President of Michael Kinder & Sons.

“The MKS Pavilion provides a beautiful outdoor space for students, staff, and families to gather and enjoy a variety of meals and activities throughout the spring, summer, and fall,” said Haarer. “Our campus is so blessed to have this and other outdoor spaces that provide the opportunity for connection, healing, and fun, all while taking in the beauty of nature.” 

“In our business, I look at things as more than just buildings. What’s going to happen inside this pavilion we are passing on to you, from the young ladies to the families to the staff, is going to make a difference in peoples’ lives,” said Kinder.

CRA is looking forward to using this space at their upcoming alumni reunion, where they will also celebrate their 10th anniversary. 

Bringing the Stage to CRA

Compass Rose Academy is going to be immersed in a little drama this year. 

By that, of course, we mean that CRA students now have the option to participate in our new Theater Arts elective offering, which was created after students expressed interest in the topic.

“We noticed last year in our English Language Arts and Creative Writing courses that our girls really enjoyed reading and acting out plays,” said Charles Eichman, the course instructor. “It just seemed natural to respond to the inherent interest, especially as it works well with our Creative Writing course, which is all about writing for stage and screen.”

The new elective will cover a broad range of the theater experience, including acting, improvisation, scriptwriting, theater history, and basic stagecraft. There are no current plans for a school show just yet, but, as Eichman noted, “You never know. All you need for theater is people, space, and time.”

We are excited for this new venture in our efforts to encourage students’ choice, intellectual curiosity, and, ultimately, ownership of their education as integral parts of their academic progress.