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Third Grade

Pine class:

carter and paul

Carter Swope’s interest in special education began in high school when she volunteered at a summer camp for students with disabilities.  After graduating from Kenyon College with a degree in English and Anthropology, she began her career as a paraprofessional in a classroom for students with multiple disabilities in Portland, OR.  After two years as a para, she moved to New York to pursue her masters at Bank Street College of Education, completing a dual degree in Childhood General/ Special Education as well as a year-long annotation to her masters in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Carter has taught in many environments, including private, public, and specialized schools for students with special needs.  In all of these spaces, however, she has discovered some underlying truths that she believes apply to all children in the school environment.  Children want to be seen and heard by adults who are genuine, honest, nurturing, and most importantly, who value what each child brings to the classroom every day.  In her experience, the most salient learning occurs in emotionally meaningful contexts, with a focus on process over product. This belief is what drew her to the Compass community and she is so excited to continue her work with Paul and the Pines! When not teaching, Carter enjoys reading, birding, staying active with hiking, yoga and boxing, and taking advantage of all that New York City has to offer.

Paul Shirk’s early experiences in education involved developing mutually empowering friendships alongside people with developmental disabilities through Best Buddies. At UCLA, he studied anthropology, played in the marching band and taiko drumming groups, played intramural soccer, and organized UCLA’s Best Buddies program.  During a year at the University of Granada, Paul was a teaching assistant at a school for children with developmental disabilities. Back in Los Angeles, he taught English to day-laborers.

After college he taught 1st and 2nd grade in the South Bronx as a Teach for America corps member.  Paul became frustrated with Teach for America’s focus on measures of academic success that actually perpetuated a two-tier system of schools.  While in graduate school at Bank Street, Paul developed an understanding of child development as the cornerstone of an excellent education. He began searching for a school where he could use Bank Street methods in an integrated, progressive school. During this time he taught in a charter school in Crown Heights and at The School at Columbia University. He was so happy to join Compass and be a founding teacher here in 2014.

Paul believes in learning through interacting with materials, interacting within relationships and by asking questions. He thinks young children have important ideas, questions and projects. He believes that the work a 6 year-old does in the block corner is as complex as the work of a 36 year-old in a science lab. His classrooms have always been built on fairness and curiosity. Paul enjoys playing guitar and bass, reading and writing and making his wife laugh. Currently, Paul is pursuing a certification in leadership and executive coaching at Columbia University through a joint program from Teachers College and Columbia Business School.

elm class:

shawn and vicky

Shawn McGibeny is truly excited to be a founding member of the Compass Charter team. She loves working with children as they make new connections and discoveries about the world we live in. She decided she wanted to be an elementary school teacher while serving as an Americorps member in Boston. During this time she taught workshops on diversity and social justice to students of all ages. She experienced the value in building a diverse group of learners who support one another as they grow. Since this time she has worked to build her skills as a classroom teacher. After two years of service she returned to her home in the San Francisco Bay Area and studied Child and Adolescent Development at San Francisco State University. She also studied the Spanish language and spent time deepening her skills through immersion programs in Mexico.

Shawn moved to New York City from California and enrolled at Bank Street College of Education. While studying at Bank Street she had the opportunity to work in progressive public school settings and worked as an associate teacher at Elizabeth Irwin Little Red with second graders. After completing her master’s program, Shawn taught second grade for three years in Brooklyn, New York. During this time she worked for her additional certification in Special Education at Brooklyn College in order to better meet the diverse needs of the students she works with. She works to bring her many interests into the classroom, such as; knitting, biking, yoga, and meditation.

Vicky Chau was drawn to teaching at a young age, and liked to force her younger brothers to play school with her as a child. Since then, Vicky has pursued her passion in more pedagogically sound ways, earning her stripes during college as a teacher with Breakthrough Collaborative, as a New York City Teaching Fellow in the South Bronx after graduation, and as a 4th grade teacher with Uncommon Schools and Growing Up Green for the last few years. She is delighted to join the talented and caring staff at Compass, and to embark on a new adventure with her equally talented and caring students.

Vicky has earned a BA in American Studies from Amherst College, an MS.Ed in Childhood Education from Lehman College, and a JD from NYU School of Law. She grew up in her hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where she was enrolled in progressive educational models including multi-age looping classroom primary school and French language immersion junior high. Her teachers cultivated an immense love of learning in her from a young age, and she is committed to paying it forward with her own students.

Vicky is newly married, lives in Queens, loves attending barre class, and reads like a fiend. She tries her best to live by the motto of her educational hero, Ms. Frizzle—“Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”