The co-founders of Compass Charter School are also the co-founders of The Odyssey Initiative, whose mission is to document and share effective structures and practices being utilized at some of America’s most successful schools. They have met with leaders and teachers at 41 schools in 16 states and will continue to share their research in the coming months.
DIRECTOR, CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION
Michelle became involved in the New York City Public School System ten years ago while completing her undergraduate degree in Childhood and Special Education at New York University. Michelle began her professional career teaching third and fourth grade at the Future Leaders Institute in Harlem. While there, she collaborated with teachers and instructional coaches to design curriculum and participated in an innovative and rigorous professional development program. Michelle joined the team of educators at Community Roots Charter School as a third grade teacher in September 2009, and the following year, she moved up to co-found the fifth grade. In her time at Community Roots, Michelle saw the power that collaboration, strong school culture and a supportive community can have on the education of all students. She has learned how to cultivate students who think critically, respond to the world around them, and take action to solve the problems in the communities that they are a part of. Michelle co-founded The Odyssey Initiative in 2012 along with Todd Sutler and Brooke Peters and spent a year studying and sharing effective practices in schools across the US. In 2013, Michelle graduated from the Mathematics Leadership Program at Bank Street College of Education. Through her participation in this program, Michelle developed the belief that teachers must be utilized as researchers and leaders in order to change America’s education system for the better.
DIRECTOR, CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION
Brooke began her journey as an educator at a campus childcare center while completing a dual degree program in Psychology and Elementary Education at Indiana University. As a preschool teacher, she worked with fellow educators in a progressive environment to create experiences that fostered the natural curiosity of her young students. When Brooke started teaching kindergarten in South Central Los Angeles in 2002 as a Teach for America Corps Member, she immediately noticed the stark contrast in the educational opportunities offered to young children in our nation. As she grew as an educator, she became more grounded in the belief that students learn best when involved in authentic experiences that connect with who they are as people and provide opportunities to make meaning in multiple ways. Over the next 10 years, she continued to study the work of progressive educators and created an integrated curriculum that emphasized literacy experiences in authentic, artful, and engaging contexts. During this time she also moved to the east coast to teach kindergarten and first grade at Bronx Charter School for the Arts and Community Roots Charter School, completed the Literacy Specialist Master’s Degree Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, and became a National Board Certified Teacher. In 2012, Brooke founded The Odyssey Initiative with Michelle Healy and Todd Sutler and they worked to identify, document, and share effective practices in American schools. In 2014, the trio that founded The Odyssey Initiative went on to found Compass Charter School.
DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT
Todd worked as a teacher and youth mentor during his years at Amherst College. Afterwards, he traded bonds for an investment bank in New York, Toronto and Tokyo. He loved the opportunity to travel to many different countries and experience different cultures. Always drawn to children, Todd worked at Amherst College’s nursery school, and after graduation, he mentored and tutored at I Have A Dream’s Chelsea program. In the summer of 2004, Todd left banking to begin investigating opportunities in youth development. He visited schools, interviewed educators, volunteered for Harlem Children’s Zone’s Head Start program and helped raise funds for Washington D.C.’s SEED boarding charter school. In the fall of 2005, he joined The Boys Club of New York as Director of a social and academic enrichment program for teenage boys. In January of 2007, he began graduate study in Elementary Education at Bank Street College of Education; concurrently, he worked as an apprentice teacher in first grade at Manhattan Country School. After benefiting from the experience of observing and learning from a master-teacher, Todd passed on an opportunity to be a Teach for America corps member in order to continue his apprentice work. He worked (and learned) as a third grade assistant at The School for Children, Bank Street’s laboratory school. In 2008, Todd was a co-founding teacher of the third grade at Community Roots Charter School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Two years later, he helped start their fifth grade. In 2012, Todd co-founded The Odyssey Initiative with Michelle Healy and Brooke Peters and collaborated to identify, document, and share effective practices from schools around the country. Todd has most recently worked as the Executive Director of The Odyssey Initiative where he has forged partnerships with advisors and donors to enable the organization to attain its mission. Last year, Todd was recognized as one of GOOD Magazine’s “GOOD 100 of 2013″ for the work of the OI team.