Compass Chronicle

Online Middle School | Spring 2018

Happy Spring, Compass Charter Schools!

What an exciting time as we are deep into second semester and rolling along through the rigorous and engaging curriculum. Teachers are planning engaging Learning Labs in conjunction with our 2nd Annual Middle School Pie Contest, where grade levels are competing for the title of highest Learning Lab attendance. Scholars are also working hard to stay on pace and engage with coursework.

Looking ahead, we have state testing coming up from mid-April through early May where we get to see how scholars are progressing. Be on the lookout for testing sign-ups so you can arrange travel plans early. Testing is a great time for you to touch base with classmates and Compass staff and is an important time to gauge how your scholar is doing academically to pinpoint areas of strength and improvement. Teachers will be preparing for testing in Learning Labs so that scholars feel comfortable in the environment. Feel free to reach out to your scholar’s teacher with any questions you might have. I look forward to a great testing season as we head into the end of the school year!


Melissa Blitzstein, Middle School Coordinator


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  • What's New
  • Hands-on Labs & Scholar Projects
  • StrongMind
  • Family Spotlights
  • Staff Spotlight
  • Counseling
  • Share Your Story
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What's New in Middle School

DIGITAL LEARNING DAY ~ This year, Digital Learning Day was an exciting event in Middle School. On Thursday, February 22, all grade levels came together for a collaborative lesson with their teachers where they got to explore various digital tools and activities. Take a look at these special lessons!

PIE CONTEST ~ Starting in February, the entire Middle School has been participating in the 2nd Annual Pie Contest, where each grade level competes for a chance to pie their teachers in the face. The grade level with the highest percentage of attendance in learning labs will not only get to enjoy the glory of winning, but they will also get to watch their teachers get pied in the face at a full-school assembly on March 29 at 12 pm. This year, we have added a new exciting piece to the contest that deals with scholar pacing and puts our President & CEO, J.J. Lewis, and Middle School Coordinator, Melissa Blitzstein, in danger of the pie throw as well. This is an exciting event in Middle School and one that shouldn’t be missed!

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Math & Science Learning Labs

In Ms. Angelo’s science class, the scholars learned about the recent break up of the polar vortex which happened in mid-February. They learned about how the colder air from the higher latitudes are pushed down to the lower latitudes, resulting in colder temperatures in the western U.S. and warmer temperatures in many eastern cities.
Then, in Ms. Thomson’s math class, scholars learned about organizing data and writing ratios. Using the information from science class, they looked up historical weather data for three cities and made a table with ratios comparing temperatures in early February with temperatures at the end of the month. This data was entered into a table on GoFormative, as seen in these examples.
In 6th grade science, scholars are also learned about hurricanes. During a Learning Lab discussion, scholars talked about ways that engineers can protect areas from flooding and storm surge. Then, scholars worked in groups specializing in a specific job to protect buildings by creating levees, marshes, or putting buildings on stilts. Here is a project by Alexis G, showcasing what she did to protect the environment.
The 7th-grade math scholars learned about circles and how to draw an arc, radius, diameter, and center. Below is an example.
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In 8th-grade Science, scholars created an initial prototype of a balloon car. Later this semester they will revise it to reduce friction and increase velocity. Here are some examples of designs and data collections that scholars created.
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In the 8th-grade Gaming Unlocked course, scholars assumed the role of a game designer. They worked collaboratively with Mrs. Tatum to create these bubble maps as an initial brainstorm to organize their thoughts for the first part of the multi-step project.
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In 8th-grade math, scholars learned how to apply a dilation to a figure on a graph and how to compose the transformation mapping. Below you can see scholars graphing collaboratively.
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All Compass scholars were invited to attend Messy Kitchen Chemistry with Mrs. Wood, where they created elephant toothpaste, a decomposition reaction in which yeast acts as a catalyst to break down hydrogen peroxide and soap traps the components in its bubbles. Here is a photo of their messy experience!
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English Language Arts & Social Studies

In 6th-grade social studies, scholars learned about the geographic isolation of Japan and how that protected them from invaders. In Learning Lab, they also created this mindmap, organizing their observations based on a video of the “Battle of Sekigahara.” Together, scholars described what they saw in order to draw conclusions about why it happened.
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In 7th-grade social studies, scholars learned about the Reformation in Europe by reading a primary source from Martin Luther and creating a presentation. Check out these examples by Ashlee W. and Camryn E!
Our 7th-grade scholars also worked on writing personal narratives, using all the essential elements of narrative essays, including characterization, conflict, and resolution. Here is an example from Alexander I.
In 8th-grade social studies, our resident storyteller, Mrs. Tatum, explained one of the main causes of the Mexican-American War to scholars in an exciting Learning Lab lecture. See the recording here!
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This month we're featuring the Smith Family

Rebekah Smith, a learning coach, and her scholar Jareth share their experience at CCS.

CCS: What are the names and ages of your scholar(s)?

Rebekah: My scholar's name is Jareth Federico Smith, and he is 12 years old.

CCS: How long have you been part of Compass Charter Schools?

Rebekah: Our family has been part of Compass since September 2017.

CCS: Can you tell us a little bit about your family?

Jareth: I live with my mom and dad, little brother Everett (7) and dog Pumpkin. I also have a big brother named Jacob (19). My family likes to go to the beach a lot!

CCS: What is your favorite school subject(s)?

Jareth: My favorite subject in school is science class.

CCS: What do you enjoy most about being part of Compass Charter Schools?

Jareth: I really like that I don't have to leave my house to go to school!

CCS: What do you like to do outside of school? Do you have any hobbies?

Jareth: I enjoy playing all different types of video games.

CCS: What is one fun fact that you would like everyone at CCS to know about you?

Jareth: I was named after David Bowie's character in the '80s film Labyrinth.

CCS: We know that often, with our scholars, each day is different, but what would a typical day look like for you?

Jareth: I usually wake up around 7 am. I get up and brush my teeth and then go to Morning Starter and Learning Lab. I normally eat breakfast around this time -- a bagel with cream cheese or a granola bar. I work on the classes that have work due for the day until I complete the checkpoint, project or exam. Then I wait for my mom or dad to review those assignments with me. In the afternoon, I take Pumpkin on a walk for my PE class or I ride my bike. Then I eat lunch which is usually a peanut butter sandwich and sparkling water. I play video games and watch YouTube during the day and then I have to turn off my screens (other than school work) around 5 p.m. I usually spend time playing with my brother in the evenings. My day typically looks the same every day because I like my routine.

What has been your greatest joy in schooling your scholar at home?

Rebekah: Jareth is much happier being at home than he was in a traditional classroom setting. He works better independently rather than trying to learn in a classroom with 34 other scholars. Jareth likes to be alone, and this has helped him with overcoming anxiety and other impairments that he has. Seeing Jareth succeed in his work brings us great joy. Knowing what is due every day and having clear direction has helped Jareth get into a groove.

CCS: Share a piece of advice you’d give to a parent thinking about taking their child out of a traditional school to school at home.

Rebekah: My advice to other parents is to be patient and be willing to take the time out of your day to help your scholar. You are also their teacher! Be ready to adjust to a learning curve while getting everything sorted, but it is the best thing ever once it is all settled. Our only regret is not doing it sooner!

We're also featuring the Introssi Family

Diahann Introssi, a learning coach, and her scholar Daniella share their experience at CCS.

CCS: What are the names and ages of your scholar(s)?

Diahann: My scholar's name is Daniella and she is 13 years old.

CCS: How long have you been part of Compass Charter Schools?

Diahann: Our family joined Compass in February 2018.

CCS: Can you tell us a little bit about your family?

Daniella: In my family, I have my grandma, grandpa, mother, and my dog Lola, who is a Maltese Terrier Yorkie mix. Our heritage is Cuban and Argentinian, so we are very loud and boisterous when we are all together!

CCS: What is your favorite school subject(s)?

Daniella: My favorite subject is Spanish with Mrs. Wood.

CCS: What do you enjoy most about being part of Compass Charter Schools?

Danielle: Compass is very organized and structured, which helps me get my work done easily. I also like the live Learning Labs because I'm able to interact with my teachers and classmates.

CCS: What do you like to do outside of school? Do you have any hobbies?

Daniella: I love swimming at the pool, playing Roblox, volleyball, watching movies, going shopping, and drinking Starbucks' hot chocolate!

CCS: What is one fun fact that you would like everyone at CCS to know about you?

Daniella: I can do accents from different countries very well. My British accent is my best!

CCS: We know that often, with our scholars, each day is different, but what would a typical day look like for you and your scholar?

Daniella: I wake up around 8 am, eat breakfast, and then start working around 8:30 am at my grandma's house. My mom usually reviews my work in the afternoon and helps me when I have questions. I attend live Learning Labs because they are so much fun. Then, I usually eat a snack or lunch around 12 pm but continue working while I eat. I finish around 2 pm. After dinner, I get my free time where I either hang out with my friends, go for a walk, or swim in the pool.

CCS: What has been your greatest joy in schooling your scholar at home?

Diahann: Spending time with her, helping her, watching her advance in school and embracing the online schooling system. Compass Charter Schools is amazingly different than other online schools we have attended, because the teachers are more involved with scholars. Her homeroom teacher, Mrs. Ross, has been amazing. We were considering sending her back to a brick-and-mortar school but her experience at Compass has been so great, she is staying next year for 8th grade!

CCS: Share a piece of advice you’d give to a parent thinking about taking their child out of school to school at home.

Diahann: If your child isn’t emotionally ready for middle or high school, I would recommend online schooling. It eliminates bullying and other pressures that kids sometimes experience in brick-and-mortar schools. Plus, scholars get way more one-on-one attention than in a regular classroom setting.

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Jessica Wood, Middle School Science & Electives Teacher at CCS.

CCS: What is your role at Compass and what are your primary responsibilities?

Jessica: I am a middle school teacher. I teach 8th-grade science and 7th and 8th-grade elective courses. I also track academic progress, attendance, and truancy for my scholars in my homeroom class.

CCS: Can you tell us about your family?

Jessica: My husband and I have been married for eight years. We have a 6-year-old son named Liam and a 4-year-old daughter named Chloe.

CCS: What do you and your family like to do during your free time?

Jessica: Our family loves to travel and explore the outdoors. We bike, kayak, camp, and hike. We live on a lake, so we like to water ski and swim when the weather is nice.

CCS: What is your favorite thing about working at CCS?

Jessica: My favorite part about working at CCS is teaching a great group of scholars!

CCS: What is your favorite thing about Learning Labs?

Jessica: My favorite thing about Learning Labs is being able to engage in science experiments with my scholars on camera, on a regular basis.

CCS: As an educator, is there a piece of advice you would like to share with learning coaches or scholars?

Jessica: As an educator, I would encourage all families to disconnect from technology each day and have meaningful interactions with each other, whether it’s a simple conversation or playing a board game together.

CCS: Share one thing about you that very few people know.

Jessica: Very few people know that I studied Nuclear Engineering in the Navy during my first two years of college. After I left the Navy, I joined the domestic peace work, and my work with immigrant children led me to change my major to Education.

Kasey Wingate, Scholar Success Coordinator at CCS.

CCS: What is your role at Compass and your primary job responsibilities?

Kasey: My focus is to ensure that scholars are progressing and succeeding in their classes. I conduct scholar success meetings and collaborate with teachers, coordinators, and our school counselors.

CCS: Tell us about your family.

Kasey: I am originally from upstate New York. I moved to San Diego five and a half years ago where I met my husband Kit, and we adopted a fur baby (dog) named Abby.

CCS: What do you and your family like to do during your free time?

Kasey: We love anything outdoors: hiking, running, going to the beach, competing in Spartan Races. We also love to travel and see the world.

CCS: What is your favorite thing about working at CCS?

Kasey: My favorite part about working at Compass is the individualized approach to education and the flexibility to help scholars with what they need. I also enjoy working with my wonderful CCS colleagues!

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CCS: As an educator, is there a piece of advice you’d like to share with learning coaches or scholars?

Kasey: My advice for learning coaches and scholars is don't be afraid to fail. Get back up and try again! Learn from your mistakes--you will grow.

CCS: Share one thing about you that very few people know.

Kasey: Very few people know that I read my horoscope every day while waiting in line for my Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks.

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Happy New Year!

It’s hard to believe that we are more than half-way through the school year! It’s an exciting time for our scholars, they're getting closer to summer break, graduation and promotion ceremonies, and waiting to receive those college acceptance letters. There are so many accomplishments to be excited about! At the end of semester 1, we celebrated the graduation of 12 high school scholars. Many of our graduating scholars are still awaiting responses from the colleges and universities they applied to attend. However, to date, we have four scholars that shared their acceptance to the following schools: AMDA College and Conservatory of Performing Arts, Concordia University, Vanguard University, University of Denver, Alaska Pacific University, and The University of California, Irvine. WOW! Earlier this year we also kicked-off the Samaritan Award that recognizes scholars for their volunteer service in their communities, and successfully wrapped up the financial aid application season with the statewide initiative “Race to Submit.” Lastly, two members of our staff presented best practices in the counseling profession at the 2018 San Diego County Office of Education Counselor Leadership Conference in San Diego. The counseling team has been preparing for the 2018-19 school year and continuing to work on presentations to support the college and career readiness of our scholars. It has definitely been a busy time but we are happy to provide the support our scholars need throughout their educational journey and we will continue to provide individualized attention.

~ Counseling Services Team

Counseling News

In February, middle school and high school scholars joined our monthly College and Career Success Cafe called, "World Wide Web of Work," which was hosted by guest speaker, Ilana Saul. Ilana is the Cofounder of Polka Dot Media, which provides digital content and social media marketing for large companies and celebrities like Kohl's and Lauren Conrad. The purpose of the workshop was for scholars to learn about working in the online marketing industry. During the session, they separated fact from fiction, learned how Ilana helped build the company from the ground up, and they learned what it takes to start your own business. Overall, everyone had a blast and the scholars’ participation made for a wonderful event!

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Also in February, our counselors hosted a workshop called Body Image: Taking the Filter Off! Scholars learned about eating disorders and the physical and emotional impact that they have on young people. They discussed ways to spot signs and symptoms in others who may be suffering from eating disorders. Additionally, they learned about body image, how unrealistic and altered media depictions of celebrities and other public figures influences body image ideals, and how the rise of social media and photo-editing has impacted body image in young people over the last decade. The workshop ended with a discussion about 10 different ways that scholars can practice "Being You" on a daily basis.
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Family Spotlight

This month we’re featuring the Tatlock Family.

Stephanie, a learning coach, shares her scholar Wyatt’s experience at CCS.

CCS: Why did your family choose virtual learning?

Stephanie: My husband Ken and I decided that we wanted to travel and have experiences with our son, Wyatt. We planned for over a year and finally sold the house, bought an RV and decided to travel as much as possible. We also travel with our English Mastiff, Lola, and our cat Johnny.

CCS: What does a typical day look like for you and Wyatt?

Stephanie: I wouldn't say we have a typical day. We really go with the flow because sometimes we have a "road day" traveling, we're just at home, or we're at a fantastic destination. When we are home, our day consists of school, work, and some outdoor time. When we are on the road, we don't do school work. We stop a to explore things along the way and we travel slow. We have to be disciplined to do school work on the days we're not traveling. If we are at our destination, where ever that is, we try to create an educational experience for Wyatt. At Yellowstone National Park, we spent a great deal of time learning about the bacterial mats in the pools and we made sure to take pictures of the informational signs to review later. We may do a bit of school work while traveling, but most of the time we are in remote places that don't have Internet service for our computer.

CCS: What has been your greatest joy and what has been your greatest challenge in schooling Wyatt at home? How did you overcome the challenge?

Stephanie: My greatest joy in schooling Wyatt at home has been the quality time that we get to spend together. I love watching him learn and grow. The greatest challenge has been balancing our school work with traveling. We have had a few times when he fell behind in school. He doesn't always feel like catching up on his work during school breaks. So we had to learn how to keep him motivated. We have a good routine now, but it was challenging in the beginning.

CCS: Why did you Compass Charter Schools, among the vast competition out there?

Stephanie: We chose CCS after extensive research. I didn't feel that I could school Wyatt at home all on my own. I knew I would need. CCS offers incredible curriculum choices, supportive faculty, and a great support system for Wyatt. It gives him the opportunity to learn, and it gives me the opportunity to be his learning coach without having to be responsible for everything. CCS also grants us the flexibility to travel when we want to. Other schools with strict schedules are too rigid and don't work for us. We are also very impressed with the curriculum and academics at CCS. Our expectations are consistently exceeded. It is a wonderful school!

CCS: What do you enjoy most about being part of our Compass community?

Stephanie: What we enjoy most about CCS is the flexibility to do school work at any time as well as the support that we get from all of Wyatt's teachers. We enjoy having the freedom to travel when we want. The experience has been an incredible gift to our family.

CCS: What advice would you give parents thinking about schooling their child at home?

Stephanie: I would advise parents who are thinking about schooling at home to do a lot of research and to talk to parents who are already doing it. It's important to do a really honest self-assessment to decide if schooling at home is something they truly want to pursue. There are challenges, but the rewards far outweigh them. I was concerned about the social aspects of schooling at home. However, Wyatt has made so many friends from all over the country so socializing hasn't been an issue for us. The interaction online with his classmates, the social opportunities, and the field trips that are available at CCS have also made it easy to socialize with other children. The last two years of schooling at home with my son have been incredible. I am so glad that our family made the decision to attend CCS. We have traveled over 8,000 miles and have seen 13 states so far. It has been the best time of our lives. We have had experiences and made memories that would not have been possible without CCS and the flexibility it gives us. Wyatt has excelled and really enjoys learning things while we travel. It has become a complete learning experience!

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Staff Spotlight

This month we are featuring Edith Cruz, College and Career Counselor at CCS.

CCS: What are your primary job responsibilities?

Edith: I help our scholars and families make informed decisions about their academic and post-secondary plans. I also assist scholars in the following areas; concurrent enrollment, entertainment permits, work permits, financial aid, career planning, college entrance exams, college applications, and to assess eligibility requirements for admissions to four-year universities.

CCS: Can you share a little bit about your background in education and counseling?

Edith: I earned a Bachelor’s Degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential at Azusa Pacific University. I have over seven years of experience in the field of education and while I have had several positions during my career, the most rewarding has been serving as a counselor and supporting scholars.

CCS: What is your favorite thing about working at CCS?

Edith: I love what I do! I have the coolest job that allows me to support scholars' plans for the future. Working at CCS allows me to work with scholars who may not succeed in a brick-and-mortar classroom. I feel blessed to be a part of each scholar's life because each child is so unique with different plans, hopes, and aspirations. It's exciting and rewarding to support them and see them take ownership of their education and their future.

CCS: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Edith: I truly enjoy spending quality time with my family and friends. We like to play board games, watch movies and grab a bite to eat together. Something I truly enjoy doing for myself when I am not working is exercising at least once a day. It has become a guilty pleasure to get away and go for a run or join my fitness boot camp. Staying active and healthy is an important part of my lifestyle. In December I completed my first Spartan Sprint that gave me an opportunity to push myself mentally and physically in a course of 20-23 obstacles over a 3-mile distance. It was a great experience to share with the group that I work out with!

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