Compass Classes were created to meet the growing demand for excellent homeschool classes.
Compass was founded in Oakton in 2012 by a homeschool parent for her own homeschooled children and other area homeschoolers. The concept for Compass grew from the desire for creative, innovative, and interactive classes for homeschooled students with the consistency and quality provided by paid, professional instructors and a dedicated administrative staff. Despite its size today, the bulk of planning, hiring, contracting, marketing, designing curriculum, scheduling, accounting, and event planning for Compass is still done by one homeschool parent!
Compass did not begin small and opened its doors in September 2012 with 165 students from 95 families and 21 classes. It now offers more than 200 classes for 500+ students every quarter. The organization’s growth has been planned to maintain the same consistency and quality opportunities.
From the onset, the Compass founder wanted others to have the same flexibility that she wanted as a homeschool parent: the ability to mix and match classes as kids’ needs and interests changed and short class durations (quarters) so no one felt “locked into” a year long commitment. From the beginning, families have been welcome to take one class, take a full day of classes, come one quarter, take the next quarter off, or dig in and join us for a full year! Furthermore, the two-to-three year suggested grade ranges on classes and flexible placement policy (up or down a year from the suggested range) enable families with advanced students to get the academic acceleration they desire, while students who have weaker areas can receive the support they need.
Classes Became a Community
While Compass began as a collection of classes, it has evolved into a central hub and important social network for the local homeschooling community. Each year, new opportunities and events have been added at Compass to enhance the lives of our homeschooled kids and to provide similar opportunities to those found in traditional school settings. In a typical year, Compass hosts academic clubs and contests for students of all ages. For K-8th grade, these include math club, a geography bee, a spelling bee, astronomy club, and more. High school academic opportunities include a mock trial team, literary magazine, and a chapter of the national homeschool honor society. Students of all ages participate in the student newspaper and win the President’s Volunteer Service Award and American Citizenship award. Compass builds a community through hosting annual fun activities like school pictures, resource sales, a Valentine’s exchange, a craft marketplace, a year-end field day, and high school prom.
Compass families come from near and far to take advantage of the classes and programs offered. Many families come from Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Arlington counties and the city of Alexandria, with others coming from as far as Fauquier and Stafford counties. Each year groups of families make the drive from Montgomery, Prince Georges, and Howard counties in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia. Compass has had many military families from Andrews AFB, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (Fort Myer), and Quantico Marine Base. Many families have recognized the benefit of accepting a longer commute to and from Compass in exchange for the convenience of having many classes all in one place, on one day, for kids from K- 12th grade.
Compass families represent a wide range of homeschooling philosophies, ethnic backgrounds, races, religious beliefs, and political affiliations. The accepting, supportive community creates a diverse environment where students welcome one another and parents network and share resources.
Meeting the Community’s Needs
Compass is constantly growing and changing. In 2015, Compass began offering high school classes to accommodate its middle school students who were aging up and wanted to remain enrolled. In order to expand and accommodate high school students and many of their classes, Compass began to meet on Fridays. The Wednesday-Friday program grew quickly and continued to offer innovative, out-of-the-box classes and programs.
Compass moved from Oakton to a new Herndon location in 2020. This necessitated a move to a Monday-Friday class model and allowed Compass to accept renters, offer private tutoring, and hold special events in its own space. The Herndon location includes three suites with a total of more than 14,000 sq ft. Today, Compass’s class selection is steadily expanding and the program is continuing to serve as a homeschool hub in the metro DC area.