Compass Chronicle

Online Middle School | Fall 2017

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Greetings Compass Middle School Families!

Now that we have the first few months of school under our belts, it is clear that we are starting to get used to the new StrongMind curriculum and platform! This month, we are celebrating the Compass core value of achievement and scholars continue to show achievement in various ways! They are showing up daily to Learning Labs and are communicating regularly with their teachers. Because of this, scholars are working hard to stay on pace and achieve good grades. This month, all Middle School Science teachers led hands-on science labs, which you can see examples of in this newsletter. Teachers are excited to share scholars’ achievements!


Melissa Blitzstein, Middle School Coordinator


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  • What's New in Middle School
  • Family Spotlight
  • Hands-on Labs
  • Staff Spotlight
  • Counseling
  • Share Your Story
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SCIENCE OLYMPIAD TEAM ~ All of our middle school scholars are invited to participate in the Science Olympiad! Watch this video from Mrs. Angelo to learn more and on how to join the team. For more information contact Mrs. Angelo at

PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES ~ Our Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming! Schedule a conference with your homeroom teacher during the weeks of November 6th-9th and November 13th-17th to discuss your scholar’s progress.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION ~ Live physical education (PE) sessions for eighth-grade scholars are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays with Mrs. Wood from 9:30-10:30 am in her Learning Lab Room.

GROWTH MINDSET ~ Growth Mindset is making its way into eighth-grade Study Skills curriculum with Mrs. Wood. Scholars are on a seven-week program to set goals, investigate the brain, and learn how the growth mindset can impact their achievement. Scholars watched this video as a way to start learning about how the brain is a muscle and can be trained to grow.

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Just a few reminders about using StrongMind. Don’t forget to submit your Subject Activity Logs each Friday to count for your scholar’s attendance. This is an extremely important task as it indicates when your scholars are marked present and absent from school. If you need help with this, watch this video tutorial or contact your homeroom teacher.

Also, be sure to submit your physical education (PE) Logs every week to account for your physical activity and get credit in your PE class. Use the google sheet shared by your homeroom teacher to log these hours. If you need help with this, watch this video tutorial or contact your homeroom teacher.

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This month, we are spotlighting the Fretz family, who has been part of CCS for two full years and has two scholars who attend: Cloe, a seventh grader, and Gwen, a fourth grader. Both girls have had many achievements since they started here at Compass. Despite being a super busy family, Cloe and Gwen take their education extremely seriously and work very hard to achieve good grades and stay on pace in their courses. Cloe’s favorite subject is Science and she loves the flexibility that CCS has to offer. She likes that she can move at her own pace and work around her schedule. Gwen’s favorite subject is History and she too likes the flexibility that CCS provides.

The Fretz girls are extremely active in their community and recently participated in a local Make-A-Wish Fundraiser where they live in Fresno. In addition, they both helped to plan an awareness and fundraising walk for Chiari Malformation, a condition that affects the part of the brain that controls balance. The girls also love attending CCS field trips, their favorite was a trip to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo!

Cloe’s hobbies include playing video games, designing legos and doing archery, and she is really good at drawing. Gwen also enjoys playing video games, creating YouTube videos, doing archery and is currently getting into acting. The girls' Learning Coach, Crystal Fretz, was also awarded our Learning Coach of the Year honor last school year, so you can see why these scholars are so successful! She is extremely involved in Cloe and Gwen's education and works hard to make sure they are successful. Keep up the great work Fretz family! We love how much you love CCS!

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Our Eighth Grade DNA Lab-Scholars extracted DNA from a strawberry in order to understand DNA’s structure and function in a cell. Scholars were successful in their DNA extraction and were able to feel the sugars that make up the backbone of DNA.
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The Eighth Grade Starch Test Lab-Scholars found evidence of starch by using an iodine sting test and observing the chemical reaction that took place. This lab gave scholars the ability to investigate photosynthesis by detecting starch in plant leaves.
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Our Eighth Grade Diffusion and Cell Model Lab-Scholars created a model of a cell membrane to show how molecules can move in and out of a cell using the cornstarch and iodine reaction.
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The Seventh and Eighth Grade scholars applied real-life math skills during Learning Lab by using fractions to modify a cookie recipe to make a smaller batch. Not only did they apply math to a cooking task, but they also got to enjoy the fruits of their labor! Yummy!
The Sixth Grade scholars created models of bridges to test their strength and structure. This video shows sixth-grade scholar, Helena, describing her bridge and the reasons why she designed it the way she did. Other scholars’ pictures show different bridge designs.
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Jennifer Tatum, an English & History teacher at CCS.

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

Jennifer: As an English and History teacher I am constantly communicating with scholars and Learning Coaches to ensure that all of the scholars are successful. I also track attendance and truancy of my homeroom scholars.

CCS: Can you tell us about your family?

Jennifer: I love my family! My husband, David, and I have been married for 13 years. We have three kids: Kaleb age 11, Abby age 9, and Nathan age 5 and within those 13 years, we have moved 10 times! Because of this, my kids are very resilient and outgoing and are great at meeting new people. We are a very active family and are always on the go. We compete in triathlons, play football, soccer, and love taking our two dogs, Zoey and Maverick, to the park.

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

Jennifer: I love the flexibility that CCS offers scholars to be successful in school. My favorite thing is definitely my weekly Learning Labs where I get to interact with scholars and engage them in the curriculum. I also really love the flexibility it offers me and my family.

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

Jennifer: My favorite thing to do when not working is taking my family on mini-vacations. Our last one was to Santa Cruz where we played at the beach, went to the boardwalk, and play games as a family.

CCS: What is your favorite thing about Learning Labs?

Jennifer: My favorite thing about Learning Labs are when scholars turn on their cameras and microphones to interact with me and each other. I also love dressing up in wacky costumes, depending on what holiday is coming and the first five minutes before Learning Lab starts where we dance together.

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Our counselors are responsible for helping scholars in grades 6-12 with academic, career, educational, personal and social and emotional needs. The counseling services offered at Compass include, but are not limited to, providing:

  • All scholars with an educational personalized plan leading to graduation and completion of a-g requirements
  • Academic advising
  • Information on scholar grades, credits, schedules, and standardized test scores
  • Information on goal-setting, study skills, and stress relief
  • Grade level presentations and workshops as part of a comprehensive counseling program
  • Encouragement in the development of self-advocacy skills
  • Assistance as needed in facilitating learning coach/teacher conferences
  • Safe and confidential atmosphere for scholars to share personal issues
  • Crisis counseling
  • Appropriate referrals to community resources
  • College and career advisement
  • Information on college entrance and placement exams
  • Assistance in understanding the college application requirements and application process
  • Advisement on concurrent enrollment opportunities with local community colleges
  • Information on work and entertainment permits

We encourage regular communication between your scholar’s and their counselors to monitor progress toward graduation, postsecondary goals, and their emotional well-being. You may reach the counseling staff by phone, text or email. Your counselors are looking forward to hearing from you!

Counseling News

CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL COUNSELORS CONFERENCE ~ In October, our team had the opportunity to spend several days at the 17th Annual California Association of School Counselors Conference at the Riverside Convention Center. This experience gave our counseling team the tools and inspiration to evolve as 21st-century school counselors, to engage in meaningful and productive conversations and to grow as leaders for our school and community. We are eager to begin implementing the strategies and practices that we learned and we look forward to continuing to support our scholars!

CELEBRATING OUR RECENT GRADUATES ~ Congratulations to Mary Regina P., Jillian K. and Elijah G. for graduating from CCS over the summer and congratulations to K. Jones for graduating this fall! We are all so proud of you and wish you all the best of luck in the future!

COMMUNITY SERVICE ~ Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) is currently seeking high school scholars for volunteer positions with our after-school Homework Club program and our scholars are invited to apply to volunteer!

The homework club volunteers will provide support to a diverse group of youth, from elementary through middle school, in order to help them achieve academic success. For more information please contact the Director of Resident & Community Services, Janice Aharon-Ezer at or (805) 659-3791 ext. 141.

WOMEN IN STEM ~ Did you know: Women make up 48 percent of the workforce but hold only 24 percent of the jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Let's change those numbers! Introducing A Balanced Equation, a new four-part documentary series about three young women who take a cross-country road trip to explore their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math. The advice and stories throughout the documentary show these three scholars that the future of STEM is theirs to create. Watch it online now!

Staff Spotlight: Counseling

This month we are featuring Mandi Schwartzberg, a counselor at CCS.

CCS: What are your primary job responsibilities?

Mandy: As a counselor, I guide and support our scholars, learning coaches, and faculty regarding academic, social/emotional, and career-related topics.

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

Mandy: I worked with young scholars for nearly eight years. After earning my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, I worked as a behavioral in-home consultant for children with special needs. While earning my Masters in Education Counseling, I worked as a teacher. Upon completion of my degree and credential, I became a counselor and high school assistant director for my previous work.

CCS: Where did you attend college and what degree(s) did you earn?

Mandy: I earned my Bachelors in Psychology from University of California, Irvine. Then, I earned my Master’s degree in Educational Counseling/PPS credential from the University of La Verne. Here’s a fun fact: I started working toward my MFT license and Master’s degree in family therapy at Pepperdine before deciding to focus on counseling within the educational realm.

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

Mandy: I really enjoy meeting with scholars and their families and learning about all the amazing extracurricular talents our scholars have.

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

Mandy: Spend time with my 4-month-old baby boy, my husband, and my dog, Charlie.

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Are you enjoying the educational experience at Compass? Tell us! We want to hear from you. Why did you decide to join the Compass family? Or, what do you love most about being part of our community? Share you comments and all of your wonderful experiences at Compass with us! Click here to share.
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Compass Charter Schools

Visit our website for more information about our academic programs. Or, contact Melissa Blitzstein, Middle School Coordinator, at

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