Rocky Mountain Prep

Published: May 21, 2020

Community Identifies Need

In their efforts to create healthy and equitable learning environments, Rocky Mountain Prep (RMP) has focused on social-emotional learning for some time, but recently wanted to do more for its students and school culture.  RMP Berkeley Principal Sara Striegel said, “When we looked into ‘how do we create authentic social emotional learning, how do we help our children navigate relationships and navigate their own emotions and navigate the emotions of their teacher,’ we realized that the teaching of discrete skills or one social skill a day was not enough.”   

Partner Response

In the fall of 2019, RMP launched a new social-emotional learning program. Compass Circles, originally created by Valor Collegiate Academies in Nashville, provides a framework for schools to host regular group conversations that allow participants to check in on how they are doing mentally/emotionally and support their peers and colleagues in doing the same.  Students now have a structured environment to share the many elements of their lives outside the classroom.

“Each week, Circle reminds us we are all human. We are multi-faceted and every part of our individual story matters. We believe students and adults benefit from being recognized as individuals and deserve to be seen as the complex people we are,” writes Chief People Officer Sarah Lynch.


In a recent survey, 96% of RMP staff agreed or strongly agreed that Student Circle, if done well, is an important experience for our students. Teacher Ellie Roberts reports, “You’re more willing to take risks when you know you’re in a safe space and you know the people around you see you love you and hear you.  So I think it’s done wonders for their academics especially in regards to taking risks and being ok with maybe not being right all of the time.”  Learn more about the RMP Compass Circle program in this video.  CBS4 showcased the Rocky Mountain Prep program in this story:  New Program At Rocky Mountain Prep Helping Kids To ‘Get Out Of Their Shell’ During Virtual Learning