The iLEAD Exploration learners in the Stephenson family transitioned to homeschooling only a couple of years ago but have been customizing learning and pursuing their dreams ever since! Tahani (15) Taaliah (11), and Tahlil (5) exude this month’s SLO of optimism. Each of these learners holds great hope about their futures and an unshakeable confidence that they will achieve their goals.
While in middle school, 9th grader Tahani explored an interest in law and criminal justice using the iLEAD online mock trial class and by seeking mentoring from a relative who is a lawyer. Last fall, she signed up for the first course in the administration of justice track and challenged herself (and succeeded!) in getting an A on every single assignment. She is now working hard on the second course as well as other college courses and is optimistic that she can earn her associates degree in justice administration before she finishes high school. She also loves sewing and fashion design and is shown here with a dress she sewed for her mom while modeling a shirt she made. In the picture below, her sister is modeling a matching pant set. All of these beautiful outfits were designed and made at iLEAD vendor Ms. Sylvia’s sewing studio. Tahani also enjoys acting and loves the way iLEAD has allowed her the flexibility to explore and follow multiple dreams at once.
Taaliah, 6th grade, shown here modeling an outfit her sister made and holding an alligator during a family road trip, transitioned to homeschooling this year at the start of her middle school career. Before she left her brick and mortar school, she had already made a list of activities she wished to explore. She is excited to have more freedom to continue working at track and field, pursue acting like her older sister, and sample gymnastics classes. Taaliah also has a long list of books she wants to read.
Kindergartner Tahlil is excited to learn to read this year. He works very hard on his academics and pushes himself to master numbers and letters as quickly as possible. He loves science and Legos and is hoping to take a Lego robotics class soon.
Always smiling, Lila is a 5th grader who approaches life with joy, sweetness, and perseverance. At a young age, Lila discovered that she has dyslexia. Some areas of learning have been hard for her. However, she perseveres by devoting multiple hours a week to receiving additional tutoring and remains hopeful in the face of her dyslexia. With her positive outlook and hope for her future, she has grown in her academics and extracurricular activities.
One of her favorite activities is dance. Lila has been dancing for two years and spends multiple hours, three days a week perfecting her dance. She has a goal this year of perfecting a quad pirouette. Lila is also a very talented crafter. She loves to sew, crochet and create. She is an out-of-the-box thinker and can easily improvise when she is crafting. She has knitted coffee cozies, sewn bags and created many other beautiful pieces.
iLEAD Exploration learners Corban and Deacon Barnett are so different and yet these brothers both exude optimism, each with his own brand of it. Older brother Corban is a confident kid who never doubts his ability to do anything and he certainly never stops until he gets it right. He tried for a year to master a forward flip on the trampoline. He never got frustrated and didn’t give up until he had it perfect. Younger brother Deacon always sees the good in every person. As his family says, Deacon has “never met a stranger that wasn’t a friend.” Always hopeful to make a new buddy, he joyfully includes anyone in every activity that he does.
Corban (5th grade) and Deacon (3rd grade) love listening to audiobooks and dancing to music every morning. They enjoy doing flips and tricks on the trampoline, playing with neighborhood buddies and riding around the neighborhood on their hoverboards and crazy carts.
Corban adores both cooking and baking and reveals his creativity through producing new and exciting recipes. He also greatly enjoys writing short stories based on books that he has read as well as filming and editing movies for his YouTube channel. Deacon loves to use his imagination to build and is often found designing and constructing miniature golf courses in the backyard. He also adores making music and has created a number of one of a kind songs using GarageBand on his iPad.
In addition to a full workload at home, both boys enjoy taking art, writing, PE and science classes at a local learning center. When they are not participating in academics, both boys can be found learning new tricks in their acrobatic trampoline classes, or acquiring new techniques in their parkour classes.
iLEAD Exploration learner Jaidynn Watson always sees the bright side of a situation even if the initial outcome isn’t always favorable. She is open to new experiences because she believes that there is always something new that can be learned.
Jaidynn, 6th grade, loves to participate in a wide variety of sports and activities. Her current favorite sport is standup paddleboard racing. She loves competing, especially in open water races. She took 1st place in her division during Pacific Paddle Games last year, one of the largest annual SUP contests, which was a very memorable moment for her. She has sampled many different sports and activities including basketball, soccer, gymnastics, ballet, dance, parkour, karate, jiu jitsu, kickboxing, swimming, and skateboarding.
Jaidynn loves science and has spent much of this school year studying marine life. Additionally, she is taking a math class that is above her current grade level and she has risen to the challenge with a strong understanding of the subject material. Being a part of iLEAD allows Jaidynn much flexibility in pursuing her passions. She can hit the skatepark in the morning when it’s empty or surf when the waves are good. She can also study the ocean and marine life in hands-on, in depth life lessons by visiting the beach regularly. She is grateful that being a learner with iLEAD allows her such flexibility that she is able to thrive in both her studies and sports.
Kennedy Gravitt meets every challenge head-on with an optimistic attitude, making her a great example of this month’s SLO: Optimism. This hopeful and confident iLEAD Exploration third grader has been homeschooled since kindergarten and has always been a very driven, agile, and fun-loving kid. She learned to walk at eight months and hasn’t stopped blowing her parents away with her abilities, drive, determination, and grit. She learned how to surf at age six, excelled with parkour and free-running, has grown immensely in her basketball skills, all while becoming an incredible little motocross racer. Kennedy is small in stature, but that seems to trigger something in her that makes her work ethic and drive that much stronger.
Kennedy has dedicated herself to honing her motorcycle skills and has participated in many different race series. As trophies and awards added up, her confidence and excitement for the sport also grew. Her races were based primarily on age and the size of the motorcycle, and for most occasions this meant she was the only girl in her race. Never daunted by a challenge, Kennedy always cheerfully rises to the occasion. As her confidence grew, she expressed an interest in racing in front of the biggest stage for motocross — Supercross — and her eyes were set on that goal.
Her parents did some research on the requirements to request an invitation to the coveted KTM Junior Supercross challenge. Each race selects only 15 kids throughout the world to race. After a few months of nervously waiting, Kennedy’s family received a phone call announcing that she was chosen as a competitor for the Anaheim 2 Supercross race at Anaheim Stadium! This was a dream come true for her (and her dad), and the whole family was beaming.
The month prior to her big race, Kennedy participated in a three-day camp with PanicRev, which is an intense training program. She continued to practice and prepare for the Supercross race. The day of the race came and her family was ready to watch Kennedy do what she loves, competing against 14 other kids (all boys) from New Zealand, Great Britain, British Columbia, Minnesota, Kentucky, Montana, and California. It was a busy day from beginning to end. Multiple track walks, photo opportunities, tours through the KTM factory semi, practice laps, meeting professional racers, autograph sessions (for the kids). After an awesome day of practice and fun, Kennedy put on her gear, complete with a brand-new hot pink 6D helmet, and hit the starting line ready to race. With 40,000 fans cheering wildly, it was a day, experience, and memory that will be forever cherished. Her family is so proud of Kennedy’s work ethic, accomplishments, humility, and overall confidence and grit. Way to go, Kennedy!
iLEAD Exploration learner Ivan Baney is an ideal candidate to demonstrate self-control, this month’s SLO. He keeps a daily calendar to stay on track with goals and responsibilities. He chooses to finish his work, whether at home or at school, before doing extracurricular activities. The ninth grader cheerfully takes recommendations and constructive criticism and uses it to make better choices in future situations. And although he wants to relax and have fun, like all teens, he has set high goals for himself and is willing to work hard and then enjoy time off.
One of those high goals is to become an Eagle Scout. Ivan has been a scout since he was six years old and has moved from being a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout. He attends scout meetings weekly, participates in summer and winter camp, and also is striving to earn merit badges along the way to the prestigious distinction of Eagle Scout. Scouting is a big part of Ivan’s life and also keeps him involved in many service projects in the community as well as fun, team-building activities like a Dungeons and Dragons gaming group that many of his fellow scouts participate in.
Ivan wants to be an engineer when he grows up, so he is always learning new technology skills. This year he is learning how to build a computer from scratch and also dove into learning coding and basic programming. He has taken an intense interest in growing his math skills, as he knows this will be invaluable to his career. In middle school, Ivan struggled with math, but once he learned that he needs strong math skills for his dream job, he had a change of mind and activated his self-control. With daily work, tutoring when needed, and a dramatic shift in his attitude toward mathematics, Ivan is now seeing the fruits of his hard work in a high score in algebra!
Ivan is a work-hard, play-hard kind of guy. He has many hobbies, including playing complex board games with friends and family. His favorites are war games based on historical events. He also plays the piano daily both for school and for pleasure; he greatly enjoys the process of creating music. In the warm months he enjoys tennis, rebounding, and biking in the mountains.
Hayden joined iLEAD Exploration in 2019 and exemplifies the definition of true grit! In order to pursue his acting career, he chose the homeschool path which fits his lifestyle perfectly. Juggling homeschool, courses at the local college, piano lessons and time on set, this learner knows how to get the job(s) done. Hayden works hard in all he does and sets his goals high.
Hayden began acting at the age of 10, in a church production of Newsies. By the age of 13, he was traveling between his home in Dallas, TX and Los Angeles to film for Nickelodeon’s Nicky Ricky Dicky and Dawn (you may know him as Dooley). He and his family moved to LA full time in 2017. He has been in other feature films and shows including Disney’s Magic Camp, Schooled on ABC, Adam Ruins Everything and more.
This learner has an incredible attitude, a smile that brightens any room he enters, and is a perfect gentleman. He sets a perfect example of one who excels because of the dedication he puts into his daily routine.
iLEAD Exploration learner Ivy Roth is a stellar example of self-control. It takes a good bit of self-mastery to manage all her hobbies, interests, and activities, all the while excelling in school. A second-generation homeschooler, Ivy learns at home with her mother, Jyoti, a practicing lawyer and former homeschooler who has chosen to work from home so she can pass on the homeschool legacy to her daughter.
This kindergartener credits her ability to manage her actions, emotions, and impulses to her daily practice of yoga and meditation, which help her to ground herself and breathe. These mindfulness practices help set the stage for good decision-making and help her weather difficult situations and stress.
Ivy has many passions that she is able to pursue along with her independent study. She likes to garden and is currently growing soybeans. An animal lover, Ivy has three bunnies that she calls “bun buns.” She takes excellent care of Chai, Pudding, and Peanut and enjoys spending time with them but also is committed to doing the less glamorous chores, such as cleaning their cages and feeding and watering them. Ivy has caught the travel bug and enjoys taking trips with her family. She’s been to Virginia and Indiana and recently spent four weeks in Alaska.
Camping, art, violin, choir, and ballet round out Ivy’s extensive list of interests. She is also a bit of a fashionista and is currently learning to sew so she can make her own clothes. Ivy enjoys meeting with her co-op friends for weekly activities and monthly field trips.
Ivy tries to live by her motto: “If you choose to change the world, leave it better than when you found it,” and clearly this bright, active learner does just that.
This week’s spolighted learner is Rasha Willes Samaha, an iLEAD Exploration high school freshman and a professional dancer. Calm, poised, and polite, she maintains a positive attitude and always wears a smile. Rasha is a great example of this month’s Schoolwide Learning Outcome (SLO): self control. Since beginning her homeschooling journey, she has worked to develop self-control by focusing on hard work and effort in her academic and professional pursuits.
Rasha spends over 30 hours a week training and student teaching various styles of dances. These styles include ballet, tap, jazz, and musical theater. The flexibility provided by iLEAD’s independent study setting enables her to spend a lot of time at her dance studio in San Fernando Valley. Her professional dance career includes performing at some major and well-known platforms: World of Dance Live, The Oscars Gala, Professional Dancers Society Tribute to Carol Channing and Tremaine Performance Company. All of these achievements require her to be disciplined and focused in all her endeavors. Her family is a big support in keeping her motivated to achieve her dreams.
Juggling high school classes and a dance career can be daunting, but Rasha has been handling both very gracefully since she joined iLEAD Exploration. She is currently taking classes from a local community college and iLEAD Online to stay on the a-g high school graduation path and build an impressive GPA.
Rasha believes that giving back to the community through her passion for art is equally important. She sets aside some time to teach dance for the Ishan Foundation, a non-profit organization. This organization offers special needs dance classes for all kids and young adults with neurological disorders. Rasha thoroughly enjoys spending time with the younger kids every week.
Rasha’s dream is to be a Radio City Rockette and get a medical degree as a doctor. She says, her family has taught her that anything in life can be accomplished through discipline, balance and creativity. She is well on her way!
Boredom is never a word you would associate with iLEAD Exploration learner, Zachary Kennison, as he is constantly busy using his creativity. It takes a lot of this month’s student learning outcome (self control) to finish so many projects and to stick with the many activities that Zack participates in.
Most weeks, you will find this busy fifth grader reading, playing catch with his brother in the backyard, completing projects incorporating recent field trips or experiences, and enjoying multi-subject art classes with friends. Zack appreciates managing his own schedule to comfortably fit in plenty of fun science experiments, math, fiction writing, art, coding, and organized team sports like water polo in the fall and little league baseball in the spring. Between all his activities, Zack enjoys playing with friends, interacting with the family pet chameleon, learning chess strategies, creating his own board games, following SpaceX current events, dreaming up new inventions, and baking big cakes (the bigger the better).
Some of his friends say homeschoolers are lucky because they never have to do homework. Zack says “I actually do much more, because I am able to work all day long if I want to.” And he likes it that way.
It doesn’t take long to realize Zack is a critical thinker, always making interesting connections between the patterns of nature, animals, machines, art, words, and human needs. He is always thinking of new inventions to help solve both minor and major problems in the world. His critical thinking is evident from his original board game creations to his multi-faceted project presentations.
Zack possesses an intellectual curiosity that cannot be contained. He likes to explore new concepts and cultures through activities, travel, and food. For the last five years, he has participated in an annual Japanese culture program to appreciate part of his heritage. For those two weeks each year, he is known only by his Japanese name, Hikaru. The experience opened his eyes to the many cultures of the world as well. He enjoys thinking up cool hands-on projects and messy experiments. Frequently, his ideas begin with, “what if…”.
Zack also enjoys entrepreneurial ventures like selling products at craft fairs and helping to run the book fair at his brother’s school. He is learning first-hand all about product management, business financials, marketing strategies, and supply and demand.
Some of Zack’s personal achievements include writing a chapter book based on his favorite novel series, building up his math endurance, and contributing, both mentally and physically, to his sports teams. He was granted a scholarship to attend a waterman’s program in Hawaii where he continued to hone his skills paddling surf ski kayaks and 2-person and 8-person outrigger canoes.
But Zack’s main accomplishment over the last few years of learning with iLEAD Exploration is his ability to manage his own time, set his own pace for academics, and prioritize his time so he can do what’s important to him. He is an independent, forward-thinking learner who likes to learn from new experiences or by solving problems. He exhibits confidence to try new things, meet new people, and learn new concepts. iLEAD is the perfect match to walk beside Zack on his life-long path of learning.
Christopher Hernandez is an 8th grader who is in his second year of homeschooling with iLEAD Exploration. Christopher is bilingual and speaks Spanish and English. The opportunity to be homeschooled has brought great successes for Christopher as he has demonstrated great progress in math, karate, and drum skills.
Name: Christopher Hernandez
What languages do you speak?
I speak English and Spanish.
What is your favorite saying in your native language?
“¡Yo tengo hambre!” (“I’m hungry!”)
What is a family tradition that you enjoy?
I enjoy going to church with my family.
What career would you like to have?
I would like to be a boxer.
What is your favorite subject?
Writing is my favorite subject.
Has being multilingual allowed you any special opportunities?
I think it’s useful because if I have a job and if there is a person who knows only Spanish, and I know only English, then we can’t communicate, but since I know both languages I am able to communicate with the person who speaks Spanish.
What is your favorite hobby?
What advice would you give to someone trying to learn a new language?
Try speaking the language as much as you can because it’s good practice and it will help you improve!
Savannah was interested in art at a very young age. She loved to sketch or paint whenever she had the opportunity. The choice to homeschool mainly came from the opportunities it would create for her to cultivate her passion and skills.
While mostly a digital artist, Savannah enjoys traditional art as well. She graduated from the Ryman Arts program this past spring and has been taking art classes at College of the Canyons. Being able to be dual enrolled at a community college and work towards her degree while still at iLEAD has been amazing.
Savannah’s hobbies revolve around art! She loves character design, character development, and fashion design.
As for her future goals, she is looking to find an internship when she turns 18. She is looking for a career where she can follow her passion for art while still having the freedom to create.
This month’s focus on “Grit” is a perfect way to highlight iLEAD Exploration learner Leo Krupp, because no matter how challenging, frustrating, or difficult something might be for him, he does his best to rise above it and keep on moving forward.
Leo has even grown to appreciate mistakes, because when they happen, he knows he will learn from them and have the opportunity to reevaluate and improve. He is learning to look at life and all its challenges as a seed that needs water, sunlight, and love. At first you do not see growth because it’s hidden under the soil, but eventually you will have a beautiful flower if you stick with it and never give up.
Although schooling has never come easy to Leo, he refuses to let his diagnoses of autism, ADHD, and other learning differences stop him from achieving anything he chooses to do. What a perfect embodiment of grit Leo is!
Leo is a natural musician and understands any musical instrument he decides to pick up. His favorite instrument is definitely the drums. This came as no surprise to Leo’s parents, who lovingly referred to him as Bam-Bam when he was a toddler. Leo plays music by ear, and he is currently learning to read music as well. When he is not taking a music lesson, you will find him playing along with one of his favorite music idols, such as his brother and sister, Lathan and Hannah. In addition to the drums, Leo has also taught himself to play the piano, and he is starting to take an interest in the guitar as well. It is just a matter of time before Leo becomes a one-man superstar band.
Leo loves to research famous people who inspire him, such as Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. He dreams of traveling to Apple’s headquarters to learn about all that goes into creating Apple products.
Daija Hooker is a passionate, courageous iLEAD Exploration 10th grader who always has a positive outlook on life. She sets her goals and works hard to follow through even when things become challenging. She shows true grit in her academics and extracurricular activities.
Daija started her homeschool journey about seven years ago. Homeschooling has allowed her to customize a learning path that best suits her needs and goals. She continues to flourish and excel in her studies and talents. She attends learning center classes and creative classes to help develop her academic strengths and her talents. Demonstrating great resolve, Daija commits to long hours of practice for dance and acting classes each week and still finds time for her studies.
Years ago, she started taking acting, dancing, vocal, and theatre classes just for fun. Now she works in the entertainment industry and appears in television commercials, music videos, and has worked with Disney and Nickelodeon. In her free time she gives back to others by helping serve meals at food shelters, and by reading books and playing with young children at orphanages, Sunday schools, and kids camps.
Daija feels strongly that the consistency in having the same teacher every year benefits her. She loves being a part of iLEAD and appreciates her resourceful, kind, patient and accessible facilitator, who Daija believes plays a big part in her education. In just a few short years, Daija has plans to attend college and study to be a neonatal nurse.
Her motto is “I was born ready!” and she truly is ready for anything!
Grit is described as “courage, resolve, and strength of character,” and we can’t think of a family that exhibits these qualities better than the Cabrales-Goldstein kids. Meet third grader Golan, first grader Dada, and kindergartner Michaela!
All three children are excellent iLEAD Exploration learners and hardworking chess champions. Dada is currently ranked number one in the U.S. in “blitz” (fast chess) for girls age seven, and because she recently defeated the “Iron Man” of chess in highest number of games for the year, she was mentioned in Chess Life, making her the “Iron Girl” of chess. Talk about grit!
Michaela is ranked number three in long-game chess nationwide in her category: girls age five. Both Golan and Dada have a big following on YouTube via L.A. Chess Club and Golan’s competition videos have surpassed 2.5 million views. He is also ranked in the top-100 chess players for his age group.
In addition to being chess champions, all three kids are currently learning to play the drums and skateboard as well as pursuing their own interests. Dada loves to design and sew and has endless original one-of-a-kind creative ideas. Michaela loves to draw and do math as well as write. Golan is advanced in several of his subjects and is a scientist in the making. All three kids are devouring their curricula at record speed. They simply love to learn and are determined to give their best to every task, whether it be athletic, creative, academic or anything else they put their minds to.
In addition to all the hard work and determination, this family exhibits compassion, support, and gratitude in their interactions with each other and all who meet them. They are especially grateful to the iLEAD team that supports them and allows them the extra freedom and time to follow their dreams. This combination of character, gratitude, and courage definitely makes this family stand out in a crowd. What a great iLEAD family, exhibiting grit in all they do!
William Wisneskey is a 16-year-old senior at iLEAD Exploration. His family relocated from New Orleans, Louisiana, to support William in his training in classical ballet. William is on a full pre-professional ballet scholarship with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Gillespie School at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. He trains at least 30 hours per week in Upper 2, the highest level of training in the ABT curriculum. iLEAD provides the flexibility William needs to both finish his high school diploma and train as a pre-professional dancer in classical ballet.
William started ballet at the age of 12 and quickly fell in love with everything about it. He feels that ballet is the most strenuous and beautiful combination of art and sport. He is happiest while dancing and values every moment in the studio as a precious opportunity to improve, honor, and learn from the dancers before him. William feels there is nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a performance and having an audience applaud for you.
In addition to his training with ABT, William is dancing the role of Cavalier, consort to the Sugar Plum Fairy, in the Richter Ballet Academy Nutcracker. This lead role is usually danced by a hired professional, and William is the first trainee to be granted the role in this production. Information on this production is available here.
When he has time, William enjoys playing the game Magic: The Gathering. Last fall, he won a drop-in tournament in Anaheim. He also plays the piano, and Chopin is a favorite. Until ninth grade, William attended French School in Louisiana and participated in a student exchange program where he studied at the International School, Colège Cèsar, in Roque-Fort les Pins, near Nice. He is fluent in French and holds three French National Language and Education diplomas.
William is clearly an extremely accomplished and amazing young man with a very bright future. We are very proud of you, William!
Not surprisingly, Everett’s favorite subject is PE, a perfect fit for this zesty boy. He loves parkour and is looking forward to his sixth birthday, when he can start taking classes at a local gym. His current favorite place to log active hours is at the local trampoline park, where he can practice the Ninja course and leap into the foam pit. Everett also has a more calm and mindful side; he is learning to meditate and enjoys yoga with Cosmic Kids Yoga on video. When he grows up, Everett wants to become a firefighter and use his boundless energy to fight fires.
Homeschooling was not the plan for iLEAD Exploration 9th grader Josh Bird, but by the end of 7th grade it was clear to his mom, Mary, that he was not thriving in his brick-and-mortar school, and something needed to change. “He was so unhappy, with behavior challenges, and just sad,” Mary remembers. Josh enrolled with iLEAD Exploration in the 2018-2019 school year and celebrated 8th grade promotion with a huge smile on his face! Now in high school, he has the best grades he has had in a long time and is engaged, joyful, and confident again. December’s theme of “zest” fits Josh perfectly, as he faces new challenges with curiosity and energy and is always eager to share his enthusiasm.
Josh has a diagnosis of ADHD, and it can be a challenge for him to stay focused on the task at hand, especially in difficult areas of study like writing and literature. He has greatly benefitted from the focused environment of homeschooling. At times, he still has moments of frustration, but with a difference. “He can have the feelings and then process them and understand, one-on-one with me,” says Mary. “In conventional school, he would just miss the entire lesson.” Along with academics, Josh is learning a lot of social-emotional skills that he needs to thrive in life. This invaluable learning is furthered in sessions with iLEAD’s student support team.
The flexible model of homeschool has also allowed Josh to engage more with his passions. Josh eats, sleeps, and breathes fish and any kind of marine life. His goal is to pursue the field of marine biology. At every opportunity (after finishing schoolwork), he helps his dad work on their boat and enjoys fishing. Before visiting a particular fishing destination, Josh will research the exact bait, lures, and rods they will need, and he independently sets up all the gear and bait for himself and his two younger siblings. Josh also loves riding dirt bikes and going shooting with his family, and he recently got a new quad. He has a contagious zest for outdoor life.
Now Josh and his mother, Mary, who works as a nurse, are almost a year and a half into their homeschooling journey. One goal of Mary’s is to help Josh never see his learning differences as an excuse, and she works hard to support Josh in staying accountable and rising to the challenge of high school. Josh is taking one class at a learning center and several through iLEAD Online, and he is doing well!
Mary sums it up this way: “He has grown by leaps and bounds in everything. It has been a huge effort for the whole family, but we are getting there, and the progress is unbelievable. His confidence level is so different, and he is so happy! Days do not always go as planned, and I get frustrated, but then I look at what he’s learned and how far he’s come, and I am so proud.”
Since becoming a homeschooler with iLEAD Exploration in 2017, 8th grader Aunchalee Olguin has blossomed into a happy learner who lives a life filled with zest and wonder. She takes great interest in learning and approaches her schoolwork with great excitement. Aunchalee is especially interested in science and history, with math coming in at a close third. Her reading has improved greatly since she joined iLEAD Exploration, enabling her to enjoy the world of science even more than she did before.
Aunchalee loves animals (with humans coming in at a close second). She currently has five cats, two pigs, and two dogs, all of whom she raised from infancy. Aunchalee also loves art and paints with oil paints, watercolors, and pastels. She always has an art project in progress.
The outdoors are a big part of Aunchalee’s life. She enjoys skateboarding, rollerblading, and bike riding on rugged desert trails. She is passionate about horseback riding and is currently preparing for an equitation horse show. Aunchalee is also learning to sail with her father and is beaming with excitement about their first sailing voyage.
Aunchalee always finds time for off-roading with her desert buggy, which she finds thrilling. As part of her busy schedule, she always manages to squeeze in drum practice and relaxes while crocheting and playing the piano. Clearly, Aunchalee (and her family) relish all the flexibility and support iLEAD Exploration provides. She is thriving in this program while also exploring her varied interests.
Mary Miller is a senior in high school, and she has been enrolled with iLEAD since 10th grade. She is very involved in her community, and she just might have a future in politics!
Mary is in her final year of Girl Scouts and just completed her Gold Award, for which she organized a teen resource fair for her community. She also started the Model Legislature and Court team for the Antelope Valley Family YMCA. As a part of this team, she has traveled to Sacramento to participate in a mock election, and she has run for office there.
She is a board member of the Antelope Valley YMCA, and she serves on several committees, including the Teen Committee, which she founded. She was awarded the regional Excellence in Teen Leadership Award from the Metro Los Angeles YMCA, where she gave a beautiful acceptance speech. Mary has also represented her community as Junior Miss Lancaster and Teen Miss Lancaster. Those positions led her to become a junior ambassador to the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce.
Mary has also become involved in school activities offered by iLEAD. She has been invited to join ASB, and she is the president of the iLEAD National Honor Society. On a more personal side, Mary is a talented artist, her favorite television show is The Office, and she loves her cat, Olly. iLEAD is proud of all that Mary has accomplished and is excited to see what her future holds!
iLEAD Exploration 8th grade learner Shayna Hewitt has the perfect motto to bring gratitude front and center in her life: “Not every day is a good day, but there’s good in every day!” Bravo, Shayna, for finding a way to be thankful even on the crummiest of days.
Shayna is truly thankful for the flexibility and freedom homeschooling allows her to pursue her interests and passions on a deeper level. Her hobbies include drawing and painting, studying nature, enjoying nature walks, cooking and baking with her chef mom, and acting in Shakespeare plays.
Shayna adores all things Japanese. She loves anime and manga, sushi, Japanese culture, artwork, fashion, and language. She is currently learning to speak and write in Japanese, and her chef mom is teaching her to make Japanese recipes. They recently made sushi together. One day Shayna hopes to visit Japan.
Shayna enjoys hanging out with friends and family and is a voracious reader with a huge library of favorites that include the Harry Potter series, Pride and Prejudice, Shakespearean drama, Greek mythology, and the Warriors series.
Other interests of Shayna’s include gymnastics, piano, guitar, ukulele, learning French and Spanish, helping with younger kids at church, babysitting when she can, and earning money with jobs around the house and for others.
The Montalvo learners count their blessings on both hands. First and foremost, 12th grader Andrea is thankful for her family. She describes her family as “always being there for each other.” She goes on to say, “They are my number-one fans; they encourage and support me in everything I do.” One of sixth grader Danny’s favorite things to do is hang out with his family. He is so thankful for the close bond they have. Danny says the greatest thing about his family is that “We are loving and caring, and we do everything together. I especially like our dinnertime.”
Andrea is grateful for all the opportunities presented to her in life. She enjoys and appreciates being homeschooled because it gives her time for her extracurricular activities. Andrea is a gifted musician and plays bass in her church’s band. In Andrea’s free time, she likes to paint and listen to music. Something Andrea does well is baking, and she especially enjoys people’s reactions when they try her food. This school year she is learning two new skills: photography and guitar. Andrea’s favorite food is a Mexican delight called mole. This sweet and spicy sauce is usually poured over chicken, but Andrea prefers to eat it wrapped inside a tortilla like an enchilada. Andrea is enjoying learning how to play ukulele and memorizing some of her favorite songs. One day Andrea hopes to be a business owner.
Sixth grader Danny is thankful for being homeschooled. He loves that he can make his own schedule and review work that he didn’t understand the first time. This is Danny’s second year with iLEAD Exploration. Since he began homeschooling, he has been able to dramatically improve his math skills. He also enjoys all the science experiments he gets to do with cool subscription boxes. Like his sister, Andrea, Danny is a great musician. He loves playing the drums and hopes to be an amazing drummer when he grows up. He also wants to be a computer engineer and a professional artist. When Danny has free time, he likes to play video games with his friends and build with Legos. Danny is a really good dancer and artist. Danny enjoys his Jr. Robotics with Legos class he is taking and will soon be a master at coding!
Gratitude is a crucial aspect of every learner’s educational environment. When the Duran family made the switch from their neighborhood school to homeschooling, they found out just how much an attitude of gratitude affected not only everyone’s learning experience, but also their days together.
This dynamic family is always on the move with their creative third grader, Jalseen, who is always dreaming up stories or making crafts, acting as the leading lady in musical theater, and reading. First grader Julian, the engineer and builder, always has a new idea for an invention or LEGO creation. Jade, the littlest Duran, is not quite old enough to join iLEAD Exploration, but she is always participating in the adventures and learning.
Some of the ways that the Durans have kept gratitude as a focus have been through the creation of a kindness chart. This chart allows them to reward each other by showing gratitude to one another for choosing kindness.
This lovely family also enhances their handwriting and writing practice by sending thank-you notes to family and friends. They love to encourage and show gratitude for the people in their lives by creating art and giving away toys to friends and neighbors who will enjoy them.
The Durans have learned that giving presents isn’t the only way to say thank you to friends and family. They know it is also important to be cheerful and to give others a feeling of happiness. Making others feel special has expanded their thinking to even more creative ways to show gratitude! The Durans have shared that this focus on gratitude has really impacted every aspect of their homeschool day.
Camila Aguirre is a 5th grade learner who is in her second year of homeschooling with iLEAD Exploration. Camila is multilingual and speaks three languages. She is fluent in Spanish and English and is currently learning Chinese.
Name: Camila Aguirre
What languages do you speak?
I speak Chinese, Spanish, and English.
What is your favorite saying in your native language?
My favorite saying is “Ahi nos vidrios!” It is slang for “See you later!”
What is a family tradition that you enjoy?
During Christmas, my family and I buy gifts for each other and guess who gave what gift.
What career would you like to have?
I would like to be an interior designer. I think being able to speak Chinese, Spanish, and English is going to allow me to have more clients.
What is your favorite subject?
Math. I love math. It makes life so much easier.
Has being multilingual allowed you any special opportunities?
Yes! I am able to communicate with a lot of different people. I learn so much from speaking their language.
What is your favorite hobby?
I love to ice skate. I just started last year when I began homeschooling. I had my first ice skating competition, and I won first place! I feel like I’m flying when I’m gliding.
What advice would you give to someone trying to learn a new language?
Start with the basics. Try to listen to the language as much as possible. I watch movies in Chinese to hear the language. Also, practice, practice, practice, and practice, and don’t be afraid to say things incorrectly!