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New Marion Co. Education Center Designed To Keep Kids From Slipping Through The Cracks

The sign for the Compass Education Center in Perry Township.

The Compass Education Center in Perry Township. (Adam Pinkser, WFIU/WTIU News)

Perry Township Schools opened the Compass Education Center in early 2019 and now has 77 students who had to apply and be accepted.

One of those students is Allison Fidler, who graduated last spring.

“I didn’t have anybody there to tell me: keep going, do your work, I was skipping class, I knew I couldn’t do it by myself,” Fidler says.

Fidler started at Compass' precursor, JWR Alternative School, when she was in seventh grade. She didn’t have disciplinary issues, she just felt like she couldn’t make it work at Southport High school.

She suffered from panic attacks and took medication for ADHD.

“I wasn’t a person really good for a big crowd of people,” she says.

Fidler knew the principal of Compass Education Center, Tim Lovejoy, from when she attended JWR. 

Tim Lovejoy
Compass Principal Tim Lovejoy greets students as they are dismissed from class. (Adam Pinsker, WFIU/WTIU)

“This is a system set up for kids to be here, that are socially not making it in the big high schools,” Lovejoy says.

He says the goal of Compass is to ensure that each student graduates with a realistic plan for life after high school, whether it is college enrollment, military enlistment, or employment with a livable wage.

Lovejoy says the school is modeled after the Harris Academy in Brownsburg, which bills itself as a small learning community.

The students are here because they either fell behind in credits, or they simply learn better in a smaller environment.

Fidler fell right into that category; she says the individual attention helped her get back on track.

“My teachers here would always help me and push me to do my work, they would always check on me and make sure I’m on my stuff,” she says.

Like a lot of kids who struggle in the classroom, Fidler was also facing problems at home. Her father nearly committed suicide.

Life was difficult, but Lovejoy and his staff offered a helping hand.

“There was a time that if I wouldn’t have been at school with Mr. Lovejoy, my dad would have passed,” Fidler says.

Students at compass complete all the necessary requirements to complete high school and advance to college or a vocational or technical school.

“We had five corporations come in, three colleges, Ivy Tech, IUPUI, international business came in and met with our kids,” Lovejoy says.

Fidler decided she wanted to give back to the community. After graduating, she took a job at a local pre-school.

“I love working with them and teaching them and being there for them,” she says.

And Lovejoy says he gets a lot of satisfaction from seeing students like Allison go from struggling students to successful young adults:

“No one has a better job than me, no one in this township," he says.

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