Wabash, IN

Visit by: Kristie Campbell, BS, May 5, 2014

The Compass Rose Academy is a Christ-centered residential treatment center committed to enriching the lives of adolescent girls through emotional healing, personal development, and spiritual growth. The Compass Rose Academy is a place for students who are in desperate need of help that has not yet entered into the juvenile justice system. They emphasize the importance of staff modeling Christ in daily living and coming alongside young people to guide, mentor and support them through the challenges on their road to recovery.

The day I visited, Denae Green, Admissions Director at the time, was out on maternity leave. Admissions, while she is out, were being coordinated by Kristi Rowles, who met me just inside the main door of the administration building. We started my tour of the facility in the community café, a public café located within the middle of the administrative building. It is run by the same lady that cooks and/or plans all the meals for the students at White’s Treatment Center, residential treatment for adjudicated kids, and Compass Rose Academy, residential treatment for non-adjudicated girls. The two programs are run completely separate and although there are no programmed interactions, there may be very minimal mingling, such as a student working in the kitchen serving a meal to another student.

After catching up a little in the café, we left and met Mike Haarer, Clinical Director in Family Room 1. This is one of the rooms where parent conferences occur as well as admissions meetings and orientation. We watched a short video about the philosophy of the program and then went over the model of treatment.

Compass Rose Academy utilizes the Cloud Townsend Model of Growth and focuses on four levels of character-based parenting. The four levels include bonding, boundaries, reality, and competence. The Compass Rose Academy approaches therapy from a biblical perspective that incorporates both individual and group counseling. Individually, students meet with their counselors once a week to identify problems in their lives and learn structural and character changes that last a lifetime.

The first focus is on bonding and attachments. Bonding is the capacity to relate to God and others and to connect to something outside self. When the bonding piece is missing, children become detached and move away from relationships. This often leads to boundary issues. The second level focuses on boundaries, the capacity to see self as separate from others. Students focus on learning to set healthy boundaries. When the boundary piece is missing, children enter into enmeshed relationships and fear losing relationships. Often they become co-dependent and strive excessively to please others. Once these two levels are identified by the students, the program can begin to help the girls work on the reality of their situation. The reality is the capacity to set and pursue high standards and goals while accepting and overcoming the imperfection they find in themselves, others and the world around them. They learn they are worth it and have certain strengths. When the Reality piece is missing, they have an overwhelming sense of failure or drive for perfectionism. The final phase is then competence, or the capacity to be productive in the world and contribute meaningfully to others in a significant way. During this phase, children develop a sense of mastery and identify skills and interests. They learn to submit to authority out of freedom, not control. When the Competence piece is missing, children hate authority figures and feel powerless, typically turning to control of others. Helping the girls understand these cycles using biblical principles is the pinnacle of treatment at Compass Rose Academy.

Chapel at Compass Rose Academy

We left the administration building to tour the campus. The campus, surrounded on all sides by hundreds of miles of cornfields, was alive with the color of groomed grasses and flowers. It looked like an oasis in the middle of farmland. We first drove to the edge of the oasis, where a local public school lies right on the outer edge of the Compass Rose/ Whites campus. Several members of the staff live in houses on campus with their families. Those who live there model Christian principles of married couples often raising families of their own. One of the first buildings we came to was the residential portion of Compass Rose Academy. A staff apartment is located on the front of the building. It has both a separate entrance, so staff can come and go without interrupting the students, and a door to enter the cottage in the hallway.

The Cottage at Compass Rose

Each girl has her own room at Compass Rose Academy, and she can decorate it any way she wants to. Several of the girls were quite the interior decorators with their creativity. As we looked into the rooms, we discussed the food planning and preparations that the girls participate in. They get to learn basic skills like laundry and cooking as well. There was a living room type of room at one end of the house, used as a privilege room, and a large room at the other end of the house that served as a gathering place. The full kitchen was located at the end of the gathering room. Chore rotations were posted there as well.

Gym at Compass Rose

After the cottage, we went over to the full-sized gym and workout room. Then we went to visit the girls in school. There were about six girls in the class when we visited, each working on her own curriculum with the help of a certified teacher. The girls felt more than comfortable interacting with the staff. The Compass Rose Academy offers a comprehensive educational program through its on-site Jr./Sr. High School, which is fully accredited by the Indiana Department of Education and is part of the Metropolitan School District of Wabash County.

The therapist offices are located upstairs in the school building. This provides easy access to them during the school day and minimizes missed classes. After the school building, we went over to visit the non-denominational Christian chapel. The chapel itself had a healing feel, cheery and welcoming.

In addition to school and church, the campus includes ball fields, a playground, and a low ropes course. Girls participate in both high and low ropes course challenges, adventure trips and community service and volunteer projects. They learn how to use exercise as a key to physical and mental well-being.

The Compass Rose Academy can take up to 12 adolescent girls. It is founded on a biblically-based philosophy of care, which suggests that lack of structure or character gives rise to personality and relational problems that in turn lead to symptoms of mental health disorders for which many seek treatment. For more information, or to schedule a visit, contact the admissions department of Compass Rose Academy.