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Compass Navigates COVID-19 & Remote Learning

April 21, 2020

CONTACT: Kerk Ferguson, 520.296.4070,

Thinking Inside The Box: Compass High School Navigates COVID-19 & Remote Learning

TUCSON, ARIZ. Compass High School, an alternative charter school on Tucson’s eastside, takes its hands- on approach to education seriously. With the state’s recent school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Compass needed to quickly and creatively modify its curriculum and delivery methods to reach each of their 430+ students at their homes.

“Like other schools around the country, Compass has had to quickly make the transition to online education. Our teachers have been video conferencing, texting, calling, and using other tools to engage with our students online since day one of the closures,” said Kerk Ferguson, Director of Compass High School. “Although we have been offering some online instruction for years, we were missing the hands- on instruction for which Compass is known best.”

To respond to this challenge, Compass staff came up with the simple idea of curating and delivering educational care packages, which they call Gator Boxes, to each of their students. Each Gator Box includes snacks, personal care items as well as a variety of items for educational activities ranging from duct tape and loose-leaf paper to air clay and seed starter kits. Some of these items are accompanied by written activity instructions while others require videos and additional instruction by Compass teachers.

As one example, all of the students who were enrolled in welding classes at Compass received crackers and canned cheese in their Gator Box. The school’s welding instructor then developed a video lesson to demonstrate how the students could practice their welding techniques at home using these simple materials. To see a video of the welding activity, click here.

Each Gator Box also included a seed kit with tomato, cilantro and pepper seeds. The science teachers will be working with students to plant their seeds and care for their plants. Cilantro is fast-growing, so next month, the culinary teacher will teach several soup recipes that highlight cilantro as one of the ingredients. To see a video of the science lesson, click here.

The Gator Boxes have been well received by both students and teachers. “Honestly, being quarantined and having all of these changes going on, I lost things to look forward to. Getting the Gator Box was a nice little distraction for a little bit. I guess it really is the little things,” said Max Sacks, a CHS student.

Compass is planning to send out themed Gator Boxes once a month while schools remained closed. Next month’s Gator Box will be themed the “Comfort Pack” and will include items that allow students and their families to learn in the comfort of their indoor surroundings.

“I can tell you that our teachers and staff have taken this time to think outside the box to create some unique and impactful learning opportunities for our students and their families” said Ferguson. “It has been a lot of fun to see how these simple tools have promoted positive interactions between and among students and teachers during this challenging time. Most importantly, it serves as a way to show our students we care, even while they’re away.”

About Compass High School

Compass High School is an alternative charter school in Tucson that emphasizes hands-on, project-based learning through unique vocational programs and quality fine arts education.
Compass students are encouraged to explore new interests and take ownership of their education through customized, self-paced programs provided in a safe and nurturing environment. Ultimately, Compass aims to provide their students with marketable and technical skills needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world and inspires them to become passionate life-long learners.

Compass High School received an “A” letter grade by the Arizona Department of Education during the 2018-2019 school-year.

To learn more about Compass High School, visit their website at or contact them at 520.296.4070 or

Press Release