Compass School director announces retirement

WESTMINSTER, Vt. – Compass School’s director and founding board member Rick Gordon has announced his retirement at the end of this school year.

Gordon will leave a legacy of giving students a fresh start and opportunity for success in his over 20-year career at the school. He was instrumental in implementing many of the Compass School’s signature programs including Global Connections, a travel program to provide every student, regardless of family income, the opportunity for international travel and cultural exchange. He also started the school’s now foundational portfolio system, where every student is actively engaged in reflecting on their learning and celebrating their growth. He spearheaded many capital improvements including adding an arts lab and science lab, solar-powered electricity, and an outdoor soccer field.

“We have done a great job the past few years detailing and documenting our curriculum, our overall educational program is well established and strong in all its purposeful elements, and we have a stable, high quality staff,” Gordon said. “I think any organization benefits from a change of leadership from time to time to keep things fresh and vibrant, and this seems like a good time for me to be moving on.”

In 1999, Gordon, along with a small group of parents and community members, wanted to create a public school system with options so that every child could find a school where they fit, felt valued, and could find success. After initial efforts to be part of the public system, they were successful in starting Compass as an independent school, and over the following 20-plus years, Compass has been supporting students to achieve a near 100% graduation rate with 90% of graduates accepted for post-graduate education.

“Rick is more than just a director,” stated Compass senior Ben Allaire of Westminster. Ben has been a Compass student his entire middle and high school career, during which he wrote and directed documentary and dramatic films, interned at local historical societies, taught special history classes, and along with his entire class traveled to Spain with Rick. “Rick is a teacher and a mentor, and more than anything else a friend. He has helped me become a better student and a better person, and he has helped me discover the wider world.”

Ben, who will graduate in May and is headed to college in the fall, echoed the sentiments of other students. “Compass is a great school, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without Rick’s leadership.”

Gordon’s successor will be Eric Rhomberg, assistant director and teacher at Compass School who has been with the school almost as long as Gordon and is beloved by students and parents alike. “Working with Rick has been one of the highlights of my career. His vast experience, intelligence, and skills and his heart-centered commitment to the Compass mission have been a bedrock of our success,” Rhomberg said. “I am thrilled to be working with our outstanding faculty and the entire Compass community to advance this mission next year and beyond.”

“Rick’s philosophical approach to education is unparalleled,” remarks co-board director Randi Solin. “Over the last 20 years, he’s continued to evolve educational practices at Compass and keep up with the ever-changing theories of learning. He will be sorely missed, but with Eric on board we can be certain that the Compass School will continue with the same vibrant, creative spirit Rick has cemented in the fabric of our school.”

Compass School is a vibrant learning community for grades 7-12 in Westminster, Vt. dedicated to the success of every student. Founded in 1999 as an innovative educational option accessible to all, our founding principles continue to guide everything we do. Over the past 20 years, we’ve enrolled over 1,000 students from 30 surrounding towns in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Our small school is the perfect place to get inspired, take risks, learn from mistakes, get invested in your education, and be surprised by what you can do.

To learn more about Compass School, please call 802-463-2525 or go to

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