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Engaging Minds. Building Futures. 

Compass Course


Compass Course Description: SA Upper School

Compass supports the development of students’ wayfinding skills for navigating their personal paths through upper school and life. Wayfinding requires making positives choices, acquiring “just in time” knowledge and skills, then recognizing and acting on the opportunities ahead. These are skills best mastered through real-life experience when supported by mentorship, reflection, and goal setting. The compass curriculum and instructor will provide this support, while connecting all the SA upper school learning experiences together through each year’s focus.   

The compass teacher will serve as students’ advisor and journey with them through the full year of school including the summer. Each semester students will receive a half credit for successful completion of Compass. An additional half credit can be obtained through participation in the Compass summer activities and meetings. Six total credits can be earned for Compass throughout the SA upper school experience.

Freshman Year


Freshman Orientation Camp provides an opportunity to begin building our upper school community. Students engage in team building as they connect with new peers and instructors, begin building healthy mindsets around authentic learning, and familiarize themselves with the Catawba and Salisbury communities that will nurture their school experience.

Academic Year Theme: Self Discovery

Throughout your core and elective course work you will explore questions like:

  • What does it mean to thrive in one’s environment?
  • What makes a hero?
  • How can we experience self-discovery and better understand the human experience through art?

Compass texts like Burnett & Evans Designing Your Life and Max DePree’s Leadership is an Art will challenge you to think deeply about your passions, gifts, and talents.  Socratic seminars, reflection journals, and guided discussions will allow you to reflect on your experiences and learning to discover your own epic quest story. 

Sophomore Year 


Before departing for the summer, your Compass teacher will help connect you with an opportunity to volunteer in your local community during the summer. In addition to an opportunity to give back, your placement will also provide you a perspective around opportunities for impact and equip you with real-world experience to share with your peers throughout the upcoming year. Virtual Compass meetings during the summer will encourage deeper reflection and introduce articles to expand your awareness. 

Academic Year Theme: Community

Throughout your core and elective course work you will explore questions such as:

  • What does it mean to be a citizen in our local, state, and national community?
  • What makes a good decision “good”?
  • What are the local structures (nonprofits, governmental, religious) that support the wellbeing of our community?

How can we work through those structures and engage others to support the overall wellbeing of our community?

Compass texts like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Dale Carnegie’s The Art of Public Speaking will challenge you to think deeply about your contribution and connections to the community. Go and see experiences around the community, guest speakers, and current event discussions will allow you to analyze the intricate ways our community is connected. A personal impact project will provide a culminating experience for the year.

Junior Year


Your wayfinding skills will be developing, and you will begin visioning your personal pathway after graduation. Before departing for your junior year summer, your Compass teacher will help connect you with an opportunity to intern in an area of your personal interest during the summer. Your internship will allow you to apply your skills and interests and observe how those skills play out “in the real world”. Virtual Compass meetings during the summer will encourage deeper reflection and provide support to help you maximize your summer experience as your internship develops.

Academic Year Theme: Innovation and Enterprise

Throughout your core and elective course work you will consider questions such as:

  • What does it mean to design for a user?
  • How does the entrepreneurial mindset allow one to “see” opportunity?   
  • How do individuals turn failure into learning and success?
  • What role does culture play in an organization?
  • How do leaders positively influence culture?

Compass texts like David Kelley’s Creative Confidence and Jim Collins’ Good to Great will challenge you to consider how creativity, an entrepreneurial mindset, and team culture can work together for success. We will hear extensively from business leaders, entrepreneurs, and creatives in our community who make, design, and lead enterprise and innovation. Throughout the year with a team, you will create a small business to market your team’s uniquely designed product. Your business and product will debut at our annual SA Upper School business fair. 

Senior Year


The SA Upper School will help organize travel for Compass students prior to their senior year. Travel can range from hiking experiences along the Appalachian Mountains to trips abroad. This travel will allow you explore new perspectives and stretch your independence with the safety net of support and guidance provided through Compass. 

Academic Year Theme: Global and Personal Perspectives

Throughout your core and elective course work you will explore questions that are general in nature like:

  • How does culture and language influence perspective?
  • What opportunities and challenges exist in living in an increasingly globalized world? 

But we will also spend the year reflecting more individually on questions that address your next steps after graduation such as:

  • What do you envision your personal role being in a global community?
  • How can you navigate a path to achieve your personal goals?
  • What gaps do we still need to address or fill before you set out on the next stage of your journey? 

Compass texts like Cheryl Heller’s The Intergalactic Design Guide: Harnessing the Creative Potential of Social Design will provide structures for you to consider in designing your life’s pathway and provide insight on how to maintain your wellness and balance in that process. 

Much of your time in Compass throughout your senior year will be used in compiling applications, participating in mock interviews, writing essays, and curating portfolios to help you access the next steps in your journey. With support from your Compass teacher, along with additional college and life coaches, you will be able to assess your options, access the best choices for you, and feel confident about your plan after upper school.




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