Lynne Bryan Phipps, The Compass School


Lynne Bryan Phipps, The Compass School

Lynne Bryan Phipps has traveled many paths in her life.  An award-winning architect, yachtswoman, equestrienne, and ordained minister, Phipps is the founder of Design One Consortium, a full-time faculty member at Mt. Ida College and recently launched Inspirited Living, an online destination that shares the people, stories, and products that have inspired her along the way. One of life’s turning points for Lynne happened when she realized her children were not seeing the value in their education. She decided to found The Compass School, a K-8 school dedicated to graduating problem solvers, critical thinkers and lifelong learners.

“My children were not thriving in the public school systems and I knew this had to change.  I saw a huge need, not only for additional schools, but for an education to be engaging and founded on the necessity of values-based education and lifelong learning,” said Phipps.

Lynne first found people to work together to develop the charter and searched for enthusiastic directors, faculty and parents that shared her vision and could carry it out. Thirteen years later, The Compass School is the top-ranked middle school in Rhode Island, the second-ranked elementary school in the state and has a waiting list of over 250 students.  The U.S. Department of Education also named The Compass School a National Green Ribbon School, an honor bestowed on only 64 schools nationwide in 2013.

Teachers at The Compass School foster an environment where children learn their materials in a project-based framework and grow into themselves.  Students learn material from traditional disciplines through project-based learning in multi-age classrooms under the foundational principles of environmental sustainability and social responsibility.  Every aspect of the Compass experience is designed, from the governance structure, to having “steps” (multi-age classroom groupings) in place of grades. Students at The Compass School have consistently held the highest NEASC average of any public school in the state for the last three years, proving the school’s unique structure effective.

Phipps says Rhode Island has been very supportive in all of her professional endeavors. “I have learned that in Rhode Island, if one has the idea and the drive, the state will work with the individual to make it a reality. The Compass School will continue to graduate students with a strong sense of dedication and commitment to the state of Rhode Island,” said Phipps.

As a way to give back to the community that has always supported them, The Compass School has beach clean-ups, clothing swaps and other community programs that allow students and families to positively impact the local community and bring the principles of social responsibility and environmental sustainability out into the world beyond the campus. The Compass School also holds an annual EcoFair for surrounding communities, featuring student presentations on environmental projects, and an annual “Celebration of Local Foods” involving local farmers, restaurants, and wineries which takes place this year on November 2.

Because The Compass School has been so successful, Phipps wants to expand her vision and offer opportunities for teachers and administrators to learn and implement the Compass philosophy. Her vision also includes opening more Compass Schools, both nationally and internationally.




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