Category Archives: Uncategorized

Compass Rose Academy to close doors after 12 years

Compass Rose Academy (CRA) was started in 2012 as an effort to supplement revenue of DCS funded programming. In 11+ years, CRA has served 233 girls and families with much success. However, in those 11 years CRA has sustained major financial loss, therefore since revenue can no longer sustain the effort, CRA will be halting programming and services on March 31, 2024.

Compass Rose Academy is grateful for the remarkable successes achieved and the meaningful impact that has been had in the lives of hundreds of teen girls and their families. CRA is immensely proud of the positive changes that have collectively been brought about, and owe this success to God along with the dedicated CRA team, volunteers, donors, and supporters who have been instrumental in the 11+ year journey.

Highlights of the program over the years have included: 

  • Developing a respected attachment-based clinical growth model in consultation with Christian author/psychologist Dr. John Townsend
  • Gaining national recognition as a leading organization in Christian clinical treatment for adolescent females and their families
  • Joining hundreds of programs across the nation doing quality treatment work with teens or young adults as a member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) since 2014
  • Creating an innovative Project-Based Learning model curriculum for CRA’s accredited private Christian high school
  • Building an intentionally-designed and award-winning campus which the program began operating from in August of 2021. 

This decision was not made lightly, every possible avenue to sustain the organization was explored. Unfortunately, the challenges faced have proven insurmountable and the CRA board of directors along with the board of directors of CRA’s parent organization, Josiah White’s, have jointly determined that shifting the organizations resources toward its programs serving the child welfare system in Indiana will allow the organization as a whole to maximize its effectiveness, mission, and sustainability into the future.

As this chapter of Compass Rose Academy closes, CRA would like to express their deepest gratitude to each and every person who has been a part of their community and has supported the CRA team during the past 12 years of impacting lives. 

Josiah White’s, which has been serving youth since its establishment in 1850, will continue to operate its court-ordered residential treatment program and intensive substance abuse recovery program, both located on the Wabash campus, along with Foster Care and Family Preservation services, both operated regionally throughout the state of Indiana.  

Reflections from the Annual NATSAP Conference

My team of directors and I had the opportunity to travel to the annual NATSAP conference recently for programs and educational consultants who serve teens and young adults needing therapeutic treatment. Aside from having a great time connecting with colleagues and friends while skipping out on the arctic blast happening at home, our team was also able to take in some great content and participate in meaningful conversations. I wanted to take a moment to recap some of my takeaways here. 

The keynote speaker, Dr. Janet Taylor, emphasized some important concepts, including a couple of ideas that I’ve recently been reflecting on leading up to the conference. One of the phrases that she said is something we’d just started saying in our home and family. “Instead of saying this happened to me,” she said, “we start saying this happened for me.” Something changes for us mentally when we believe that everything happening “to” us can actually be for our growth, can promote change, and can contribute to healing. She also highlighted that 75% of our conscious thoughts are typically negative. When we start becoming mindfully aware of the thoughts we’re having, we can begin to shape our reality in a positive way.

I also went to a session by Shawn Breeden about ADHD. As I don’t personally struggle with ADHD myself, his session gave me a better perspective toward those that do. He shared that often people can get frustrated with ADHD sufferers and offer admonitions like,

  • Imagine if you’d worked hard all the way instead of waiting until the last minute. 
  • You have so much potential…(if you only you’d use it…)
  • You just don’t care
  • You’re lazy

He offered keys to support those with ADHD that can be summarized as “Be okay. Be brief. Be clear. Be there.” If we’re asking questions about their process, be brief. If we’re reminding them about deadlines (which they most likely are aware of anyway), be brief. When working with a teen, offer clear deadlines and time-based consequences, but without the aforementioned shame-inducing admonitions. 

At the conference, I heard a lot of mentions of Canadian physician and author Dr. Gabor Maté. One of the highlights included a video where he described “The tragedy of having to choose between secure attachment and authenticity.” Especially in early development, we all need attachment to survive. We also need to be in touch with our sense of who we are, what we feel, and what we need. When those two needs are in conflict, all forms of unhealthy coping ensue. This is the tip of the iceberg on Maté’s work which warrants much further exploration. 

There is so much more to unpack as I continue reflecting on all that I took in during the conference. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to join with others in a process that is so much about healing and growing ourselves while working to impact and bring healing to others.


-By VP & Executive Director Dr. Mike Haarer

Lift Up Your Eyes

This past year I have spent a great deal of time dwelling on Isaiah’s words found in Chapter 9, often repeated around this season:

“The time of darkness and despair will not go on forever…The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness a light will shine.” 9:1a, 2

We tend to find ourselves in two different camps when dealing with our darkness. We ignore it, hoping that if we deny it long enough it will indeed go away, or we set up camp in it by starting to convince ourselves that the world’s present realities are all that there is. Maybe we hover somewhere between the two – we deny the darkness around people, but are consumed by it when we are alone. 

Wherever we find ourselves, one thing we can’t deny is that there is indeed darkness. I try to deny it, but I fail, as I find that the world around us is utterly broken. We face this brokenness on large scales through war-torn countries and political corruption, and on small scales through everyday family conflict, depression, and financial distress. Whatever it might be and however we might feel, we can’t deny that it is ever present.

As we celebrate Christmas, we need to be reminded of the hope Isaiah spoke of thousands of years ago. Our problem of pain and destruction isn’t unique to our current world condition. There has always been darkness, and despite that reality, Isaiah says, “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light.” The dark won’t always win. What seems so consuming, crippling, and all-powerful will one day find its death. It will one day be forced to give way to the light.

In the introduction of his gospel, the disciple John illustrates that this light Isaiah spoke of has come into existence through the birth of Christ. The Light had indeed come and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5). Try as it might, this Light will and does shine through the darkness. We need to remember to lift our eyes to this redeeming hope in the middle of our circumstances.

Like the familiar hymn says, we are reminded that with “a thrill of hope – the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” The darkness that seems all-consuming flees at the promise of Emmanuel, God with us. Let this be the hope we step into this Christmas season – the hope of Light breaking through our present darkness with the sounds of a baby’s cry. 

So dear believer, wherever you find yourself this season, and whatever darkness you battle that has made you weary, let your weariness rejoice, for a Light has dawned that the darkness cannot overcome. 

-By LilyAnn Matchett, CRA Student Chaplain

Empowering Students with Executive Functioning Challenges

At Compass Rose Academy, we are also regularly seeking new ways to meet the needs of our students. This is why we built our new, intentionally designed campus, and why we implemented Project Based Learning in The Academy, one of the factors which lead to our recent accreditation through the Association of Christian Schools International.  

Many of the students we serve at CRA struggle with deficits in executive functioning. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, executive functioning can be defined as, “the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions and juggle multiple tasks simultaneously.” Students that struggle with executive functioning may have difficulty completing tasks, transitioning from one activity to another, managing time and following directions. 

The Academy has a variety of built-in supports designed to help students that struggle with these specific issues. These supports include:

  • A clear structured routine – The Academy follows the same schedule every day and has the daily schedule posted throughout the school. 
  • Tools to aid with organization – All students follow the same organization system to keep up with schoolwork which is set up for them during school orientation. In addition, all students are provided a weekly planner to write down important due dates or assignments. 
  • Frequent check-ins throughout project work – As a project-based learning school, students are often working on multi-step projects. Teachers intentionally check-in with students throughout the duration of the unit to make sure the students are understanding the expectations, as well as to provide guidance and direction. 
  • Breaks provided as needed – Students at The Academy are allowed to request breaks as needed. Brain breaks are a frequent occurrence in classrooms and provide opportunities for movement around the room. Students also utilize emotional regulation spaces within or outside of the classroom as needed. 
  • Repetition of information – Teachers reiterate important information to students through repeating directions or writing important information on the board. Teachers keep directions clear and concise. 
  • Rubrics and checklists – Teachers provide rubrics and checklists throughout project work to ensure students know what the expectations are. This helps students keep track of their progress.
  • Weekly goal setting – Students set weekly academic, behavioral, spiritual and clinical goals. This helps to direct their attention to specific areas of focus. 

By teaching these skills to our students, it is our goal that they will return home with the skills they need to be successful in future academic settings.


By Katherine Kelly, Academic Director at The Academy at Compass Rose

Compass Rose Academy Breaks Ground on Therapeutic Farm/Facility

Compass Rose Academy held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, October 5, 2023 to commemorate the start of construction on a new building which will serve as a multi-use center for agricultural learning and wellness. 

Scott and Shantel Beck of Atlanta, IN, along with FBi Buildings and The Beck Foundation are providing the financial support for the building project, in honor of their daughter, Jadyn, who was a student at Compass Rose from March of 2020 to April of 2021. Jadyn is now in her senior year of high school, is working part-time at Starbucks, and is engaged in her lifelong passion of barrel racing. 

Jadyn’s Hope Barn, named in honor of Jadyn’s journey of growth and healing, is a way that Scott, Shantel, and Jadyn feel they can partner with CRA to provide hope and healing for many other girls like Jadyn in the future. Animals have been a significant part of Jadyn’s life and help to keep her grounded and positive. 

Jadyn’s Hope Barn will include animal stalls, classrooms, group therapy rooms, a greenhouse, and a large space for recreational activities, trainings, and family conferences. The planning and construction of this project will be led by FBi Buildings of Remington, IN.

The programming connected to Jadyn’s Hope Barn will bring academic, clinical, spiritual, vocational, and nutritional components together to create opportunities for holistic treatment centered around the use of plants, animals, and other natural elements. 

“Some of the ideas and the vision around the therapeutic farm have been ruminating in the back of our minds since the time Compass Rose launched in 2012,” said Mike Haarer, Executive Director. “For this vision to come to life in the form of Jadyn’s Hope Barn with the help and support of this special family is not only incredibly exciting, but it is also a reflection of God’s love, grace, and healing.” 

CRA is looking forward to how this project will equip them to better serve teen girls and their families.

Finding Purpose and Growing in Competence

As we head into our Competence themed Parent Weekend, there are a few questions I have been reflecting on. 1- What is my purpose? This is a question that we all have or will wrestle with in our lifetime. 2 – How do I know if I have achieved competence (or adulthood) and is that even possible? Becoming an adult can be a scary part of life, but if it is done well, it will set you up to live empowered and make life good.

Growing in competence means discovering and feeling confident in your PTIs (passions, talents and interests.) It also involves pursuing ways to intentionally use your PTI’s to impact others and the world. This looks like doing what you love and what brings you joy and purpose. 

A rival to competence is the ‘victim’ stance. I know I have been guilty of blaming other people or my circumstance on things not being how I want them. Certainly other people and our circumstances impact us as we cannot control others, but we can control ourselves and how we respond. We can step into power by saying, “I am responsible for myself and getting my needs met.”

Another aspect of competence is seeing healthy authority as good, understanding that respecting authority is a choice, and recognizing that authority’s role in our lives is not about power and control. Instead of rebelling against authority, we seek ways to make healthy changes. Take note: parents’ authority over their kids is about influence, not control. I think of Jesus and how he could easily make us do what he wants, but instead He invites us to make a free choice. Over and over, He invited people to come near (and still does), and He lived a life of influence and not control. Jesus knew what He stood for and lived His life according to His purpose.

Competence can feel like we have to have everything figured out, but even adults don’t always know what they are doing. It is both daunting and empowering to say, “I have the ability to make my life good.” To answer my question; can competence be achieved? I think no, but isn’t that what makes this life good? The saying goes “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well I say, you can. What’s something you have always wanted to learn? What’s a healthy risk you’ve been too afraid to take? In what ways have you been playing victim instead of taking your power? What authority are you rebelling against instead of  seeing your freedom of choice? My final question to you is this: how are you going to make your life good today? 


By Jenny Pease, MA, CRA Therapist

Josiah White’s and Compass Rose Academy Announce Matthew Purkey as New President and CEO

Josiah White’s and Compass Rose Academy are excited to welcome Matthew Purkey as their new President and Chief Executive Officer. He replaces President & CEO Ron Evans, who will retire upon the transition after almost 6 years of service to the organization. Matthew will begin in his new role on October 2, 2023.

Josiah White’s Board of Trustees and Succession Planning committee have been preparing for the change in leadership upon the announcement of Evans’ retirement. After a comprehensive and national search, they appointed Matthew Purkey in the fall of 2023 to fill the role.  

“We are so excited to have Matthew Purkey and his wife, Amanda, officially join Josiah White’s team. It has been a pleasure for the trustees to work alongside Ron and Matthew throughout the transition period,” said Brandt Downing, chairman of Josiah White’s Board of Trustees. “Matthew has an incredible heart for our mission and is dedicated to helping children and families in crisis.” 

Purkey has years of service experience from his time in the United States Marine Corps, leadership at multiple United Way organizations, and most recently from a veterans service organization where he led 59 operations across 48 locations nationwide.

Purkey earned a bachelor’s degree in human services from Campbell University and a master’s degree in human services from Liberty University. He has earned professional certificates from Harvard Business School, Deloitte University, and the Center for Creative Leadership. Purkey is a PhD candidate in Strategic Leadership, a featured TedX speaker, and has received multiple 40 Under 40 awards. In addition, Purkey has served on numerous volunteer boards including The Fisher House, The Victory Project, and is a Team Rubicon Grey Shirt.

When asked what excites him most about taking on the President and CEO role at Josiah White’s, Purkey said, “I am nothing more than a product of the redeeming love and power of God. Now, I have the honor of serving on an established and accomplished team that extends that same opportunity to others.”

Matthew and his wife, Amanda, have three children, Micah, Ezekiel, and Gabriel.

Compass Rose Academy Welcomes New Vice President of Human Resources

Compass Rose Academy and Josiah White’s are excited to welcome Brandee Estes as the new Vice President of Human Resources.

Brandee formerly served Josiah White’s from 2002 through 2012, beginning as a Human Resource Assistant and leaving as the Director of Human Resources. For the past eleven years, she has served in progressive HR roles at Marion General Hospital and Manchester University.  

I feel called back to Josiah White’s because I believe in their mission, and I love that there is a supportive community of people working toward the same goal,” said Brandee.

Brandee holds both a bachelor’s and master’s in management from Indiana Wesleyan University. Additionally, she has earned HR certifications from both The Human Resources Certification Institute and the Society of Human Resource Management.

Brandee and her husband Jeff have been married for 30 years and have raised two children and have three grandchildren.

Summer Parent Weekend Recap

Every quarter, Compass Rose hosts a weekend for parents to come spend time with their daughter, meet the staff, and learn and grow. Each Parent Weekend focuses on a different core capacity of our Growth Model, and this summer’s event focused on Reality. Reality is the ability to hold onto and pursue your ideals while accepting, forgiving, and redeeming the imperfections you encounter in yourself, others, and the world around you. 

Throughout the weekend, Mike Haarer, VP and Executive Director, and Madeline Spring, Outreach Director, led educational sessions covering various topics including an introduction to the Growth Model, the core capacity of Reality, grieving losses, and neutralizing the harsh judge (also known as our inner critic). 

This is one current student’s experience of what she and her family learned during this summer’s Parent Weekend:

“My family’s personal favorite was the session on “grieving losses”. My mom is a “fixer” and tends to feel an urgency to meet my needs and fix my problems. This session really helped her to acknowledge and grieve my losses rather than immediately trying to solve them. It also helped me for my mom to say “I acknowledge that ___ is really hard for you and I am sorry ___ happened”, rather than “lets just do _____ so ____ is no longer happening.” I feel as if our normal human response is to immediately try to solve problems when they come up rather than sitting in them and really acknowledging our feelings related to and caused by the problem. 

Another key takeaway from the weekend for me personally was the kintsugi art project. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.  This activity helped me to acknowledge that showing others our brokenness is beautiful, and in order to gain support to overcome our weaknesses, we have to bring them to light and share them with others. That concept is always something that I personally struggle with because I feel as if our natural human tendency is to hide our struggles into the darkness, rather than bring them into the light.”

These weekends are often one of the highlights of the Compass Rose experience for our families, and we look forward to our next Parent Weekend on September 21-24 which will focus on the core capacity of Competence. 

All God’s Creatures

Just before writing this, my husband, my dog, and I were all sitting outside. After laying in the sunshine for a while, our dog got too hot and went into the shade of our open garage. My husband then got her fresh water, which she drank immediately. He then reflected on the joy of being able to meet the need of an animal and that doing so is part of what we are called to as God’s children. Taking care of an animal brings life and a sense of purpose. Students at Compass Rose get to participate in this same God-given task through interacting with the therapy dogs on campus and with the horses at equine therapy. 

At CRA, one of our core beliefs is that people are created for connection. Dogs are similar in that way. Ancestrally, they existed in packs, and therefore met the needs of their pack. Dogs were dependent on their pack to care for them, and, in turn, they protected the members of their pack. Petting a dog releases dopamine, a hormone responsible for feeling pleasure, and oxytocin, a hormone essential in building trust. Simultaneously, petting dogs also neutralizes cortisol, a hormone responsible for stress. As staff and students healthily relate to the dogs, and they to staff and students, a stronger connection of pleasure and trust is built.  

CRA’s therapy dogs, Onyx, Opal, and Ruby, engage with students in group therapy, individual and family therapy, and in the home’s day-to-day activities. Students will often request a dog in the home or to be in a therapy session. In the home, students walk the dogs and play with them. Students experience great joy when the dogs wag their tails in excitement to see them. When in a therapy session, most often the dogs will lay down in the therapist’s office. Just knowing the dog is in the room can offer peace and comfort to a student. Other times, the dog will sense stress and will snuggle close to the student, and she will pet the dog as she needs comfort or out of happiness. As they use the dog to regulate their body and emotions, students can then ask for what they need relationally from staff and/or peers. Furthermore, if a student is not caring for the dogs well, staff can offer feedback and teach students how to do this in a mutually beneficial way. 

Just about every morning, I get to hear the pitter-patter of a dogs’ feet coming down the hall to my office. Dopamine is activated, and I immediately feel excited to see them. I pet them, talk to them, perhaps even give them a treat. I also know that if ever I need to regulate, I can find them in the workroom where they are waiting to play fetch. 

In addition to their interactions with the therapy dogs, students attend equine therapy once a week, though during the summer they attend more frequently. They are paired with a horse and are empowered to build a trusting relationship with their horse. Most students are disappointed to learn they will not actually ride the horse, mainly because students use ponies or mini-horses. While riding a horse is fun, it is not necessary for building trust in the therapeutic process. Instead, students are trained to feed, groom, and lead their horse in activities and obstacles. They are acting in their purpose to care for the animals. This allows students to overcome fear, develop confidence, and increase their self-esteem. 

The human brain operates on “guilty until proven innocent.” This means the brain deems the world “unsafe” until it is able to create and maintain safety. The amygdala in the human brain is responsible for the Fight-Flight-Freeze response. Horses’ brains are similar. This makes the relationship between a horse and a student crucial. As a horse learns that the student is safe, they will have a solid foundation of trust, and both the horse’s and the student’s brain simultaneously learn they are mutually “not guilty.” As a student learns this with horses, she internalizes she can develop safety with human-human relationships. One exercise done with the horses specifically has the intent of building trust: picking up the horse’s hoof. Horses cannot see their feet, so to allow a student to do this is to trust that the student has the horse’s best interest in mind. 

Horses also have an ability to mirror body language and even emotions. People do the same thing! A dysregulated adult cannot regulate a dysregulated child. However, by an adult regulating their body, a child will also “mirror” this via mirror neurons and regulate themselves. A horse can sense if a student is dysregulated. The horse and student will engage in activities in order to regulate together. Students describe horses as “a pal to talk to” in that the horse cannot talk back. The horse will not tell anyone the secrets that have been shared, but instead is a safe bouncing board for students. 

The obstacles and activities instill confidence in the students and assist them in knowing how to set and maintain boundaries. Students often reflect on what they have learned in a boundaries-building exercise at equine therapy and apply it to their current peer-to-peer or familial relationships. Through equine therapy, they develop a sense of belonging, identity, and an ability to connect with others. 

I even have a goldfish named Kevin in my office. Students talk to Kevin and, when feeling dysregulated, will watch him swim. One student has even cleaned his tank. 

While I cannot speak to the extent of the therapeutic benefits of fish, I can further encourage the innate instinct to care for animals. Part of our purpose as humans is to care for creation. When students engage in animal-assisted therapy, it awakens that vocation within them. It calls them back to Eden. Whether it be a horse, a dog, the cows on campus, a goldfish, or another animal, students are giving care to something outside of themselves. They are tending to God’s creatures, and therefore, nurturing and healing their innermost being.  


-By Compass Rose Academy Therapist Marissa Pollard, MA, LMFT, RPT

Registration Now Open for 2023 Alumni Family Reunion

Save the date for our upcoming 2023 Alumni Reunion on September 22 and 23! 

We would love to have you join us for a weekend of reconnecting with other CRA Alumni. The weekend will coincide with our Fall Parent Weekend and will kick off with an outdoor dinner with food trucks, live music, and outdoor games. On Saturday, we’ll again have specific alumni parent and alumni student tracks to allow time for parents to reconnect and gain helpful information and encouragement. On Saturday evening, there will be an optional Alumni Social off-campus. 

“We know that the parents’ journey of supporting their daughter doesn’t end the day they graduate from Compass Rose. It’s important to us to offer a way for parents to stay connected so they feel an ongoing sense of community and support,” said Mike Haarer, Vice President and Executive Director. 

Click here to register. We hope you will join us on our campus for this special time together!

A Seat at the Table

In 2 Samuel 9, we encounter an unlikely story in the kingdom of Israel. We find King David in the beginning of his reign extending an unlikely invitation to an unlikely candidate. Shortly after David takes the throne from the family of Saul, we expect to find him seeking to firmly establish his reign by wiping out all of Saul’s family. So when we read in 2 Samuel 9 that he was calling for Saul’s descendants, we should be holding our breath for the murder that is about to take place. Instead, we experience the opposite: David is seeking Saul’s family not to condemn and kill for the furthering of his kingdom, but rather to extend grace and mercy for the sake of his former friendship with Saul’s son Johnathan. 

Let’s take just a moment to consider what it must have been like to be Johnathan’s son, Mephibosheth. The story tells us that he was crippled in both feet, because he was dropped as a child while fleeing from David himself. So he has grown up his whole life not only in exile, but crippled, making him totally dependent on the people around him. The dreams of the royal family are long gone, and the riches that once would have been his are a distant memory. He has become identified by his crippled feet and ashamed by his heritage being that of the former king. He probably grew up with a very real fear that King David might discover he is still alive and then choose to kill him in order for his own kingdom gain. 

It may feel like we can’t relate with the story. Not many of us can relate to living in a kingdom and fearing for our lives by the hand of the king, but in a very real sense Mephiboseth represents a very deep reality we all find ourselves in at some point in life. We’ve all been crippled by the realities of sin in our lives, we all have experienced the ways in which the world is not right, and there is something within us that is not right. We are crippled and helpless to get out of the situation alone. Often, as a result of our crippled reality, we find ourselves in hiding. We attempt to hide how bad life really is, and we attempt to make light of our situation. We hide the parts that don’t look so good, or we cover up the areas of life that we have convinced ourselves no one will like. We hide our true identities and just hope no one figures out about the depression, the anger, the divorce, the diagnosis, or the past mistakes. If we can just get through life without the other people knowing, then maybe it will be alright. We spend so much energy hiding that we sometimes convince ourselves we aren’t really that crippled or that life isn’t really that bad. We just don’t talk about that one story or that one feeling. 

Mephiboseth’s story doesn’t end with him as an outcast in a kingdom that he was once meant to rule. Rather, when David discovers Mephiboseth is still alive, he invites him into his family. He fully knows who he is, the condition of his feet, and the reality of his heritage, yet none of that seems to matter. King David doesn’t bat an eye at all the things Mephiboseth has been working so hard to hide. He knows, and he still wants him to be part of the family. He does not just give him riches and send him on his way, but asks him to sit at the table every day and participate in the riches of the kingdom as if he still was of a royal heritage. Why? Simple because he is the son of David’s best friend, Johnathan. It was nothing that Mephiboseth did or ever would do but simply because of who he was. 

In all of our hiding, God invites us to his table. He seeks us out of the far edges and invites us to live a story that is not in hiding. A story that is not defined by our crippled condition or shameful past, but a story that is instead defined by who we are as children of the King. He not only restores us to riches, but invites us to sit at the table. Knowing fully the condition we are in, He comes and finds us, and when we expect death, He gives us abundant life. This is a picture of grace and mercy that is often beyond our comprehension. This is a reminder that we have a debt we cannot hope to repay but that Christ has cleared because of His work. The question is not, “Am I good enough to I have a seat at the table?” The question is, “Have I chosen to take my place at the table?” God is inviting us into His Kingdom, but we have to choose to leave our hiding and find our home in a place where the King fully knows and fully loves every aspect of who we are. Mephiboseth took a chance to accept a life he thought he would never have again. Will you too take a chance and leave your hiding place, and take your seat at the table?


By CRA Student Chaplain LilyAnn Matchett

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.