Almanac

Schools - July 3, 2013

New private high school to open

by Dave Boyce

A new private school, Compass High School, is opening in August in Redwood City for students with "learning differences and high-functioning autism."

The school will start in August with 10 students, mostly freshmen but with a couple of sophomores, Compass Executive Director Rachel Wylde told the Almanac. The goal is 50 to 80 students in grades 9 through 12, but that may be several years away, she said.

The school is still accepting applications for the 2013-14 school year. Three of the enrolled students are from the Almanac's circulation area and several Compass founders live in Atherton and Menlo Park, Ms. Wylde said.

The school is in the process of becoming accredited and state-certified. When it is, students will be placed by and have their tuition paid by local public school districts, she said. Tuition is $32,000 a year.

A group of Peninsula parents and educators, concerned that the Peninsula lacked a high school "specifically designed for students with learning differences," founded Compass in March 2012, the website says.

"Compass will change the education landscape on the Peninsula," Kim Garlinghouse-Jones, the school's chairperson, said. "There was a huge gap in education choices for high school students with mild-to-moderate learning differences."

Ms. Wylde, 53, is a San Francisco native and East Bay resident and the former director of three schools for students with learning differences, including Bayhill High School in Oakland, which she founded, according to her online bio. She is a former board member for the California Association of Special Education Schools and for the North Oakland Community Charter School.

Ms. Wylde has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in special education, both from San Francisco State University, and a master's degree in educational leadership from Mills College, her bio says. She has teaching credentials in multiple subjects, special education and administration.

For its first year, Compass will reside at 1060 Twin Dolphin Drive in Redwood Shores. Along with college preparatory and vocational teaching, the school will help students acquire social, organizational and academic skills, and learn current technology, the organizers say.

Class size will be under 10 students, with staff to offer speech, language and counseling services and individual academic support, conditions hard to replicate in traditional public schools, Ms. Wylde said.

As for funding, for the first few years the school will depend on donations "rather heavily" until there are more students and more tuition revenue, Ms. Wylde said.

Go to compasshigh.org for more information.

Contact Ms. Wylde at rwylde@compasshigh.org or call 510-517-0289.

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