Compass Academy

Compass Academy, located at 1215 Sturgis Road in Conway, is dedicated to serving the needs of children in our community with disabilities.
What began as a dream of local moms who envisioned a school that would meet the needs of their disabled children is now a reality. Originally located at Conway Christian School in 2015, Compass Academy quickly outgrew its original space and moved to its current location on Sturgis Road in 2016. The 4000-square foot building includes five classrooms designed to create a relaxed learning environment, a full kitchen where students make their own lunches, and other amenities.
Courtney Williams, director of Compass Academy, loves the space.
“As you make your way through our building, you see our largest classroom designed for grades 9-12. In the middle of our building, we have a fun and purposeful sensory gym. A favorite area is our Quiet Zone/Book Nook. This room houses our library, as well as provides a low-lighted comfy place to retreat to calm. Lastly, we have Compass Café and a fenced playground space to accommodate our students’ outdoor needs, including a garden maintained by our students,” she said.
Enrollment is currently 25 students but can accommodate up to 50 students. Compass currently employs four certified Special Education teachers, one Special Olympic coordinator, and six Occupational/Physical/Speech therapists. Compass contracts with KickStart Pediatric Therapy of Conway for all their therapy services. Compass enrolls student all year long, not just in August.
“The reason I determined for our school to be year-round is that many of the students function on schedules and need the continuation of therapy services. Through my experience, the disruption of summer break makes the transition back to school in August pretty challenging,” Courtney said.
Courtney moved to Conway in 1995 to attend the University of Central Arkansas, where she obtained both a Bachelors degree and a Masters of Special Education degree. She also achieved her National Board Certification in the area of Exceptional Children in 2010.
“I am proud to serve as the President of Arkansas Council for Exceptional Children organization (AR-CEC). This organization plays a vital role in ensuring Arkansas is doing all they can to help those with disabilities on the state and national level,” she said. “I also currently serve as a Conway Chamber of Commerce Ambassador. In addition, I have the honor to serve on the 2017 Conway Area Leadership Institute team, and have enjoyed learning about the ins and outs of Conway.”
Compass Academy is a 501c3-NonProfit, and tuition is $9200 yearly.
“The school is funded by student tuition, a lot of fundraising, a handful of private donors and the grace of God,” Courtney said. “The tuition covers any and everything needed for each student except for daily lunches. If you do the math, this amount may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t.”
In a recent amendment of the AR Succeed Scholarship, Governor Hutchinson added Compass to the approved list of schools whose students are eligible to apply for scholarships, which helps offset the overall tuition requirement. In addition, Compass recently launched a 50/50 campaign. This campaign seeks 50 individuals or businesses to make a $1000 donation to reach the desired goal of $50,000. All donations are tax deductible.
Courtney is eager to raise awareness in the community so that Compass can fill the current building to capacity and continue to grow.
“I would also like to see Compass Academy expand to other cities in our state. There are families looking for options everywhere, not just in central Arkansas,” Courtney said.
Allison Owen, parent of a student at the school, summed up perfectly how Compass Academy impacts families and the community.
“Having our daughter attend Compass Academy gives us incredible peace of mind because we know she is learning at a pace that is challenging, yet attainable, in the best possible environment for her needs. Having this school as an option for families like ours is a huge win for Conway and the surrounding area.”