As the sun sets on Jubilee, a new beginning for students is ahead. The Jubilee Catholic Schools, which opened in 1999, have served 17,000 students over the past 19 years. The Catholic Diocese of Memphis announced in January 2018 that the Jubilee Catholic Schools Network, along with St. Michael Catholic School, would be closing at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. After the announcement of the closings, a group of like-minded educators in Memphis formed New Day Schools in order to open a network of charter schools to fill the void the Jubilee Schools would leave behind. In August of 2018, Compass Community Schools’ six charters were granted in an unprecedented move by the Shelby County School Board.
The Catholic Diocese of Memphis has come forward to support these schools, whose main focus will be educating children residing in the neighborhoods in which these schools are located. The Diocese of Memphis has leased school buildings to Compass Community Schools which will open its doors to serve Jubilee students as well as other students from the surrounding neighborhoods as they operate schools at the following campuses: Berclair (St. Michael), Binghampton (De La Salle), Frayser (Our Lady of Sorrows), Hickory Hill (Resurrection), Midtown (Memphis Catholic) and Orange Mound (St. John). “This is a true community partnership, and we are so thankful to have the Diocese of Memphis on our side,” says Kristi Baird, Executive Director of Compass Community Schools. New Day Schools was formed under the leadership of Dr. John Smarelli and the new network, Compass Community Schools, will be led by current Jubilee superintendent Kristi Baird.
The groundwork of this community partnership was already in place before Archbishop Joseph Kurtz was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Memphis last October. An Apostolic Administrator is tasked with continuing the operations of a diocese until a new bishop is appointed. Recognizing the need for educational opportunities in Memphis, and wanting to ensure that the students in the present Jubilee schools would continue to be served, Archbishop Kurtz signed short-term leases that will allow the Compass Community Schools to operate over the next two school years. It will be the responsibility of the next Bishop of Memphis to negotiate a more permanent arrangement.
With six locations throughout the Memphis area, Compass offers families a variety of school options that will provide quality educational opportunities for children. The schools will be intentionally small, seeking to serve approximately 230 students at each neighborhood campus. Already over 1200 students have registered to attend Compass Schools, with the majority of those students coming from Jubilee Schools. Baird, who has served in Jubilee since 2003 as a teacher, principal and superintendent says, “Our goal is to build on the strong foundation left by the Jubilee schools and serve every child that walks through our doors.”