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 that be obligations at home or at school, before doing extra curricular activities. Ninth grade Ivan 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 in order to 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 involves him 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 as well.
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 that this will be invaluable to him in his career. In middle school Ivan struggled with math, but once he learned that he needs strong math skills in order to fulfill his dream job as an adult, he had a strong change of mind and he 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 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!
The accomplished and active Ruotolo family keep themselves busy in all areas of their lives. Twins Tye and Kade are eleventh graders at iLEAD Exploration, while younger sister, Nya, is in the fourth grade. The family has appreciated the flexibility of iLEAD Exploration’s model for two years because it allows them to school on the go with their busy schedules.
Tye and Kade know hard work and effort are sure to pay off, and they work toward growth in their sports, academics, and pretty much anything they become involved in. These dedicated young men drive from Huntington Beach to San Diego several times a week to train for jiujitsu and travel worldwide to compete. They are among the top jiujitsu competitors in the world, and their necks loaded with medals show that they have won many competitions. They remain committed to training because they know with hard work, they can always improve.
Kade and Tye love to surf, fish, and travel when they’re not doing schoolwork or training in their sport. A desire to teach and support other kids has led them to spend time teaching anti-bullying seminars for kids at their jiujitsu tournaments. They’ve also taken an interest in learning Portuguese this year to help them when they travel around the world for their many tournaments in Portuguese-speaking South American countries.
Like her brothers, Nya is always eager to learn new things. She is a very hard worker and ambitious with her passions. She has followed her brothers into jiujitsu but also loves gymnastics, skateboarding, and horseback riding. She has really enjoyed learning how to ride and care for a horse this semester. She’s interested in being a veterinarian or physical therapist in the future. Nya also models and performs in commercials in her free time.
Camilo Whitfield attended a charter school until fifth grade; however, brick and mortar was not a good fit, so homeschooling was his best option. From an early age, Camilo excelled academically. As a toddler he read prolifically, and his love for reading has continued into his teens. He skipped the first grade and finished sixth and seventh grade in one year. As a fourteen-year-old 11th grader, his goal is to graduate this June and attend college next fall. In the future, Camilo wants to obtain a bachelor of science degree in game development and design. As a learner with high functioning autism, Camilo has faced any challenge life has brought with passion, grit, and drive.
Camilo has always been strong. Born two months early and having lived in the NICU for awhile, he has always had an iron will. He is now six months away from becoming a black belt in martial arts. Not only does he train four days a week and teach younger kids two days a week, he also choreographs with the demo team.
In addition to spending time at the martial arts studio, Camilo also loves to give back to the community. Along with his family, he volunteers with Heal The Bay, cleaning the dunes and beaches. He also volunteers as an art assistant at ARTree, helping kids who need extra assistance. During the winter he spends time at the library helping kids with their homework.
Camilo’s favorite subjects are physics and animation. He has also taken an animation class and a game developing class, merging these two skills to create fun and eventful moments. Camilo created his own original game and is working on his second. We are so excited to share the link to his first original game: Camilo’s Game.
Camilo has grown up with his parents saying to him every day, “You can do it.” He has proved them right. Camilo’s parents are so grateful for the special people and family in his life who have helped him deal with the challenges of having high functioning autism. Support from those who care and understand Camilo, along with therapy, consistency, and routine have helped him achieve his potential. Camilo and his family are also thankful for the opportunities that iLEAD has given him and for their educational facilitator, Erin Wade, for making a difference.
Camilo, iLEAD and the high school team are extremely proud of your incredible determination and hard work. Way to go, Camilo! We are cheering you on!
iLEAD Exploration learner Judah Barr has a favorite quote: “Fight the fine fight” and to him it exemplifies how we should approach struggle in our lives. When faced with difficulties, you may want to give up but if you stick it out, you come out stronger and better equipped for challenges that may be ahead.
Embodying both the spirit of his motto and the growth mindset, Judah is hardworking and dedicated to his school work. He is always looking for ways to prepare himself for his future. He has developed his own car washing business and has done a great job building his clientele. Judah is also gifted musically and has chosen to develop his talents further by taking acoustic and electric guitar lessons as well as voice classes. This really has really helped him become a better all-around musician. For fun, he plays music with a group of friends, and they call their band, “Kicc.” Judah enjoys playing rock, blues, classical music, and he has written a few songs titled, “People’s Dream” and “I’ve Never Known.”
Judah desires to be a business owner and has joined iLEAD’s CTE Entrepreneur Pathway Program. He hopes to gain skills in this class to help him create a business that creates websites for small businesses. He plans to learn coding and take digital design courses to prepare himself. As you can see, Judah carefully makes decisions and always keeps his future in mind. He is always looking for ways to better equip himself for his very bright future.
In his second year at iLEAD Exploration, Judah has impressed his EF by his maturity and by coming well-prepared for their meetings. Judah achieved all A’s in his freshman year. He is driven to perform well academically and also has a heart to serve the community. Judah is very involved in his church and has done volunteer work there.
The de Vera sisters provide each other with genuine encouragement and consistently support one another as each strives to do her best. Milena (12th) and Miya (9th) de Vera are constantly looking for ways to improve their learning and other experiences.
Milena, who owns a donut business called Hoops, continually seeks to grow her knowledge base. She originally developed gluten-free donuts for her sister, who suffers from Celiac disease and was unable to enjoy the yummy hoop-shaped baked goods. Since then, Milena has taken this idea and grown it into a licensed, expanding business. To always keep learning and growing, Milena enrolled in a cooking class to develop her baking chops. Previously, she took a consumer math course to help keep accurate financials for her business. She tests and retests multiple recipes to come up with her line of products, and has persevered even when times were tough. Fortunately, her effort paid off and she learned from her mistakes to end up with a great product. Milena has even been asked by Williams Sonoma to participate in a pop-up bake sale for the “No Kid Hungry” charity this fall. She is graduating from iLEAD this year and plans to attend community college while she expands her business.
Younger sister Miya is as equally dedicated to her passion for art. She has taken many art courses and entered many contests including those through Google, LA County Library Bookmark, and the LA County Fair. She won first prize in the Library Bookmark contest, and two years in a row took home blue medals at the county fair. But it’s not always win-win-win. Even when she doesn’t get recognition, Miya continues to enter art contests and showcase her art without giving up. As a true lifelong learner, Miya is also taking courses to help her advance her art repertoire. As a brand new high schooler this year, Miya has sought to expand her art repertoire and is taking classes in digital arts, animation, and drawing. She aspires to attend CalArts and is working on creating an Etsy business to sell her artwork.
Both of these learners demonstrate a growth mindset because they are willing to look at what didn’t work and improve it for the next time to be successful. They challenge themselves and push themselves. They don’t fear failing because they see it as a learning opportunity and are willing to put the work into their passions and academics to be successful.
When Carol Dweck and her team first wrote about the difference between the GROWTH MINDSET and the fixed mindset, education was forever changed. Since beginning her homeschooling journey, Desiree Rios, iLEAD Exploration learner, has worked to develop a growth mindset by focusing on hard work and effort in her academic pursuits. The result of this has been an increased sense of ownership in her learning. Desiree stays on top of her studies and instead of staying stuck in old patterns, she has striven to develop new study habits and life skills.
Wherever she goes and whatever new things she tries, Desiree comes with a positive attitude and a smile. This hardworking learner demonstrates dedication to her athletic and extracurricular activities as well as her academic work. Desiree enjoys spending time with friends and never has any problems making friends. She loves staying active and participating in all kinds of activities including dance and music. Desiree can often be found practicing the ukulele.
This 11th grade learner has also devoted her time to growing new habits such as reading. Desiree’s growth mindset has resulted in her taking a break from time on the internet to form this new habit. In fact, she is a voracious reader, having read 70 books since last December. That’s more than one book a week!
Desiree is a super sweet and kind person whose motto is, “Always Smile!” But watch out: she is also working toward her black belt in Krav Maga and she can definitely take care of herself!