iLEAD Exploration Remains Open Virtually for Learners

iLEAD Exploration continues to operate its independent study model in an entirely virtual format.

Feb 1, 2021 @ 18:00

Monday Message

Our News & Events

The Discovery of Gold

Virtual Park Tour

We hope you’ll join us on April 22 at 11 a.m. when we explore the story of how the discovery of gold impacted California. Please take a look at the flier below for more information and registration details:

LINKED The_Gold_Discovery

Spring Webinars and Virtual Events

Fall Webinars

We are springing into the season with more great webinars and field study opportunities just for you! Please take a look at the fliers below for all of the upcoming events in April:

4/20 at 11 a.m.: TK-3 Show and Tell

4/21 at 12 p.m.: How to Create a Dinner Club

4/23 at 10 a.m.: Unique Learner Experiences at Exploration

4/23 at 1 p.m.: Earth Day STEM Activity

Webinars 2021
VirtualEvents_Spring2021

SLO of the Month: Grit

grit

The Schoolwide Learner Outcome (SLO) for April is grit. Grit is defined as “having courage and resolve; strength of character.” A person with grit works hard, has passion and not only sets goals, but follows through. Grit is important because it is a driver of achievement and success, regardless of what talent and intelligence contribute. To truly accomplish goals and thrive, we need the ability to persevere. Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential. To find out your level of grit, click here.

Grit Poster

CAASPP/MAP Testing Updates

ELPAC Summative Test

This past week, iLEAD received confirmation that the federal government approved California’s waiver request to allow districts to use nationally normed testing data like NWEA MAP in lieu of CAASPP testing for the 2020-2021 school year. This means we will move forward in administering end of the year MAP testing in both reading and math in place of CAASPP testing. While this allows flexibility and familiarity for our learners, this also means we must ensure every learner in grades K-11 takes the MAP Growth test this year in both subjects.

This decision will require the following:

  • All learners in grades K-11 will take the MAP Growth test in both reading and math. MAP Growth tests are approximately 50 questions and generally take about 60-90 minutes to complete per test. This can be done in multiple sessions to reduce the testing time and to be developmentally appropriate.

  • In order for learners to demonstrate the maximum amount of growth, MAP testing will take place in May.

  • Please do not assist learners on the test. We want to be able to gather accurate data and know how to best support each learner.

  • CAST science testing has been waived for this year. Both the NWEA MAP science and language tests are still optional if a learner would like to take them.

  • There is not an opt out option for internal benchmark testing because it is a program expectation.

  • Learners who qualify to take the CAA (California Alternate Assessment) will still take the CAA with someone from the iLEAD Student Support Team and will not need to MAP test.

  • If you have a child with an IEP or 504 with testing accommodations outlined on their IEP, these testing accommodations will be made available with MAP testing.

College and Career Advising for All iLEAD Exploration Learners

college students

High school counselors work tirelessly to support their students’ efforts to attend the colleges and universities of their choice. And although these efforts produce tremendous results for some, iLEAD Exploration’s College and Career Advisor Laura Kazan is not satisfied with the status quo.

Redefining the Mission

Kazan is not just focused on getting learners into college. She’s focused on the systemic factors that keep some learners out of college or from seeking opportunities in higher education at all.

In her work as a university researcher, Kazan studied how social capital and networks influence learners’ post-high school choices and success.

“The truth is that my dissertation work came to life,” Kazan said. “I began to see in real time how parent networks push learners up or down when it comes to college.”

Creating the Infrastructure

Kazan’s initial call to action crystallized with the formation of College Seekers, a nonprofit organization aimed at educating parents and communities.

“I had to choose between helping individuals and making a broader contribution,” Kazan said.

She began doing workshops focused on educating parents and gaining a better understanding of their networks.

Three years ago, Kazan’s workshops began to attract larger groups and led to the formation of the Facebook Group CA Homeschool College Seekers.

She knew that homeschool families faced unique pressures. “When you homeschool your child, you feel the responsibility for your child’s education at a greater level,” Kazan said.

Her ongoing mission now is focused on sharing accurate information and relieving unnecessary anxiety. “We try to be the face of choice and success,” Kazan said.

The Current Effort

Two years ago, Kazan was approached by iLEAD Exploration’s Codirector Heather Ferenc about supporting their learners. Kazan saw this as an ideal opportunity to work for an organization that would embrace her philosophies and dramatically impact the entire college mystique for a large homeschool community.

Along with iLEAD Exploration parents, facilitators and leaders, Kazan works closely with lead counselor Bethany Maddox and her team. Together, they embrace the vision that every learner has the potential to go to college.

“We challenge the assumption that college is for certain learners only,” Kazan said. “Some of the work is just about providing the right information.”

Myths, Misinformation

One common area of misinformation, according to Kazan, is revealed in the A-G course list, the high school courses that the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems require of applicants.

Kazan said that although this is the standard system that high schools and their counselors have adopted, it’s also at odds with much of what the homeschooling community is all about.

“Parents and families come to us and others like us for educational freedom,” Kazan said. “A-G is at odds with this.”

This is where information and education are important, according to Kazan.

“The first thing is that this list only matters if you’re going to attend a UC or CSU school,” Kazan said. “And although these are fine options, they represent only a small fraction of available options.”

While California’s UC and CSUs accept only particular chemistry courses that have met the A-G requirement, Kazan points out that 4,000 other institutions across the country don’t have that same requirement.

Additionally, Kazan pointed out that a high schooler can meet A-G requirements by taking college courses concurrently. “One can, in theory, meet all of the A-G requirements by successfully completing nine community college courses,” she said.

Dual enrollment programs have now made this possible for many learners.

Finally, Kazan points out that another obstacle she’s helping families overcome is misperceptions about educational costs. Across the country, she said, the average tuition discount is 52 percent. Additionally, Kazan said there are about 70 colleges that fill the gap between cost and what one can afford.

Proper Advising

Kazan said that good information and personalized college advising are now more important than ever before.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Kazan said. “Once I explain how it works, it makes sense. There are always alternative pathways.”

Ultimately, Kazan said she and the team at iLEAD Exploration are helping all learners and their families to be aware of all their options and ultimately make the right choices for them.

“If you understand your learner’s needs and financial ability, we can help you find the right path. My goal is to guide learners to the most appropriate postsecondary pathway, whether that’s a four-year school, a community college, a technical school, or a military certificate program,” Kazan said. “But I do want them to know their options and plan out before they leave. They need to know what to ask.”

To help guide learners’ college and career journeys, Kazan facilitates an elective course called College Explorations, and her team uses such resources as SCOIR and You Science.

Customer Feedback / Learner Experiences

iLEAD Exploration senior Skye Popov has been accepted to over a dozen colleges and universities, including CalArts, San Diego State University, UC Santa Cruz and University of San Francisco. However, Popov said initially she was terrified and skeptical of not only applying to colleges but attending them as well. Popov said Kazan has supported her every step of the way in the long journey to higher education.

“In addition to always providing timely and valuable information, [Kazan] showed me kindness and patience throughout this entire process,” Popov said. “Even in the dark months of waiting for decisions, she was there, always a helpful hand.”

Popov said that many of her peers are often overwhelmed and intimated by the college admissions process and that she believes it’s vital for all learners to have a professional advocate like Kazan in their corner.

“I cannot express how grateful I am to have had Ms. Kazan helping me through it all,” Popov said. “My family considers her a friend for life.”

Onward and Upward

Kazan is driven by a unique passion to educate families on the plethora of postsecondary options and opportunities, according to Lara Durrell, iLEAD Exploration’s Director of Communications and Operations.

“Through her tireless efforts, she develops creative solutions and unique pathways, making it possible for all learners to attend a college or university,” Durrell said. “She is an inspiring influencer of families and educators alike, always emphasizing the importance of a high school portfolio that showcases rigorous academics with intentional activities and service.”

Kazan feels that she and iLEAD Exploration are at the beginning of this journey. She said that she and her team are working to provide a culture in which learners aim high.

“We want to be the homeschool destination for those who want to go to college,” Kazan said.

Learner Spotlight: Olivia Armstrong

Olivia Armstrong 2

iLEAD Exploration learner Olivia Armstrong has been homeschooled for about six years. She started with early preschool curriculum at two and a half years old and is currently working on completing 3rd grade at age 8. The family was drawn to homeschooling because it enables them to provide one-on-one, focused instruction for Olivia in all her subjects, to customize her curriculum, and to empower her advance at her own pace.

Olivia loves to dance. She dances competitively throughout the year with the dance company Project 21. She spends 16-20 hours or more per week dancing in various styles, including ballet, jazz, ballroom, contemporary, musical theatre, and more. Some of Olivia‘s favorite things about dancing include attending conventions and master classes, learning from her teachers at Project 21, and working hard alongside her friends. Olivia also really enjoys being an ambassador for the dance wear brand Tiger Friday. As a TIGERCUB, she has had the opportunity to meet so many amazingly talented dancers from around the country and to learn from teachers she may not have otherwise had the opportunity to take class with.

With a very demanding schedule, Olivia has learned to “put first things first” by prioritizing her tasks, creating routines, being consistent in her work ethic, and establishing and focusing on what needs to be accomplished day by day in order to get everything done and meet her goals.

Most importantly, Olivia has learned to continually put in the required work each day and do what’s needed, even at times when she doesn’t feel like doing it. Olivia embodies the idea of grit by balancing a full schedule with all of her work for school and dance, especially at times when things don’t go as planned or when additional tasks are added unexpectedly.

Olivia particularly enjoys reading and writing, as well as learning about other countries and cultures. Olivia began reading the Harry Potter series this past fall. She is learning French, and in January she started working on 4th grade language arts and science. In addition to dance, Olivia also likes to draw, paint, and craft. She loves her two chihuahuas and all things Disney. Olivia is responsible for a backyard kitchen garden, where she grows many things throughout the year, from kale and lettuce to broccoli and tomatoes. She is also learning how to cook and bake and was able to help prepare food for the whole family at Christmas.

2021 Virtual Talent Showcase

talent show

Each year, we celebrate our skillful learners at the iLEAD Exploration talent show. This year, we are excited to bring you our presentation virtually through the 2021 Virtual Talent Showcase. We invite all learners to participate and submit original work based on the theme “Together We Can” in one of six areas: dance choreography, literature, photography, film production, music composition, and visual arts. Please see below for more details and to learn how to register.

together we can - talent show 2021

Spring Webinars and Virtual Events

Fall Webinars

We are springing into the season with more great webinars and field study opportunities just for you! Please take a look at the fliers below for all of the upcoming events in April:

4/13 at 10 a.m.: Steven Quartly Art Studio Tour

4/14 at 12 p.m.: Learn How to Create Digital Portfolios

4/20 at 11 a.m.: TK-3 Show and Tell

4/21 at 12 p.m.: How to Create a Family Dinner Club

4/23 at 10 a.m.: Unique Learner Experiences at Exploration

4/23 at 1 p.m.: Earth Day STEM Activity

Webinars 2021
VirtualEvents_Spring2021

Virtual Excursions

museum

Museums still closed? No problem! Join us for a virtual tour of the Getty Museum on April 15 at 1 p.m. Then on April 22 at 11 a.m., you won’t want to miss the story of how the discovery of gold impacted California. Please take a look at the fliers below for more information and registration details:

Linked Getty Virtual Tour
LINKED The_Gold_Discovery

KHTS Radio Interviews iLEAD’s High School Leadership

iLEAD Exploration KHTS

KHTS, Santa Clarita’s hometown radio station, recently interviewed iLEAD Exploration’s high school counselor Bethany Maddox, college advisor Laura Kazan, and high school coordinator Lisa Rittenhouse. The high school team is a great resource for families and learners seeking flexibility in education and guidance towards achieving their higher education goals. With many different college routes to take, iLEAD strongly encourages all high schoolers to pursue their true interests and passions.

During the 2020 pandemic, many schools were shut down. With SAT sessions no longer held in person, many colleges and universities no longer required an SAT score for admission. Removing these barriers greatly increased the possibilities for college entrance into a variety of colleges and universities, as the criteria for how students obtain admission to colleges across the country is changing. iLEAD Exploration has seen its students enter schools including the University of Arizona, University of California Santa Cruz, University of California Riverside, Howard University, and many other private colleges.

Working at iLEAD has empowered these women to motivate high schoolers and has also provided them with an environment where they feel highly valued and are given the freedom to research and develop programs to benefit their students’ educational journeys. Please click here for the story and interview at KHTS!

Learner Spotlight: Emma Weisenberger

Emma Weisenberger 4th 3 of 4

To dance “on pointe” is the ultimate goal of serious ballet students, and it is the same for iLEAD Exploration learner Emma Weisenberger. The Weisenberger family has been homeschooling for five years. Homeschooling has given the family more time to be together to pursue passions like ballet and to complete schoolwork at their own pace.

Since it is her “first thing,” Emma sets a specific amount of time weekly for schoolwork and for ballet practice. She has a full schedule and knows that hard work and discipline are required for her to accomplish her goals. Emma also displays perseverance and doesn’t give up easily. She will practice her little heart out until she has successfully navigated her studies and learned her ballet routines.

Emma dances with American Ballet Theater Gillespie School (ABT) in their children’s division. She asked to take ballet at age four and has been twirling around ever since. Her favorite ballets are Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, and ABT’s Of Love and Rage. One of her favorite memories is getting to dance onstage at Segerstrom with the ABT company and “falling asleep” on her favorite dancer’s lap in The Nutcracker.

This hardworking 4th grader also loves to create crafts, hike, spend time outside, and hang out with her friends. Emma has also been able to participate in the American Ballet Theater summer intensive in New York as well as the Joffrey Ballet summer intensive. Someday Emma hopes to be a professional ballet dancer in New York with the ABT company.

Raising Humans in the Digital Age: Summer and Technology

child dad beach

Come spend an hour discussing the topic of technology use as we prepare for summer break. Using research, we’ll discuss easy-to-implement strategies that promote a healthy balance of being unplugged and productive tech use, building digital citizenship, and leadership skills for all ages.

Thursday, April 15, at 6 PM on Zoom.

Register here, and we will send you the link to join us!

Learner University

LU

Learner University is offering small-group lessons to learners struggling in language arts and math. They will provide everything learners need during the sessions. Each session will have two parts to support the learner:

Part 1: Learners will be taught a specific concept from one of our wonderful educational facilitators. Homework will be emailed after the session.

Part 2: Learners will bring completed homework to review with the educational facilitator and have additional practice.

Please see the flier below for specific topics and details on how to register.

Learner U April 2Sessions

 

 

2021 Virtual Talent Showcase

talent show

Each year, we celebrate our skillful learners at the iLEAD Exploration talent show. This year, we are excited to bring you our presentation virtually through the 2021 Virtual Talent Showcase. We invite all learners to participate and submit original work based on the theme “Together We Can” in one of six areas: dance choreography, literature, photography, film production, music composition, and visual arts. Please see below for more details and to learn how to register.

together we can - talent show 2021

Steven Quartly Virtual Studio Tour

Screen Shot 2021-03-12 at 12.46.11 PM

Please join us for an art studio tour, Q&A and art tutorial with Steve Quartly on April 13 at 10 a.m. The recorded art tutorial will help learners create this beautiful vineyard scene.

Career artist Steven Quartly has invited our iLEAD Exploration learners to a virtual tour of his working studio. This Californian modern-day impressionist’s work is collected internationally and represented nationally in galleries coast to coast. Steven Quartly has been creating masterpieces since the age of 10. Oil on canvas is his most common medium; however, he has been recently painting on wood medallions, using many techniques. Come join this virtual tour to see what life as an artist looks like and become inspired to create your own masterpiece. There will be Q&A period after the tour, as well as a prerecorded art tutorial for any learners interested in participating. To experience this fun event, please register here.

Spring Webinars and Virtual Events

Fall Webinars

We are springing into the season with more great webinars and field study opportunities just for you! Please take a look at the fliers below for all of the events coming up in April:

4/13 at 10 a.m.: Steven Quartly Art Studio Tour

4/14 at 12 p.m.: Learn How to Create Digital Portfolios

4/20 at 11 a.m.: TK-3 Show and Tell

4/21 at 12 p.m.: How to Create a Family Dinner Club

4/23 at 10 a.m.: Unique Learner Experiences at Exploration

4/23 at 1 p.m.: Earth Day STEM Activity

Webinars 2021
VirtualEvents_Spring2021

Virtual Excursions

museum

Museums still closed? No problem! Join us for a virtual tour of the Getty Museum on April 15 at 1 p.m. Then on April 22 at 11 a.m., you won’t want to miss the story of how the discovery of gold impacted California. Please take a look at the fliers below for more information and registration details:

Linked Getty Virtual Tour
LINKED The_Gold_Discovery

Learner Spotlight: Mailee and Keoni Wun

Wun Family

The Wuns are a family who play together and learn together! Meet iLEAD Exploration learners Mailee (8th grade) and Keoni (6th grade)!

The Wuns have been homeschooling for the past three years. They describe choosing to homeschool as the best decision they have made. Mailee and Keoni are so much happier and learning at their level with their preferred learning style. This was not always the case. Even though their mom, a 20 plus-year veteran of private and public school teaching, had always wanted to homeschool, their dad wasn’t so sure. He was hesitant because of the old “homeschool” stereotypes. After talking to an experienced homeschooling friend about all the amazing resources available, he became willing and excited to give it a try.

Even though both Mailee and Keoni excel at learning at home, math lessons had become a bit of a challenge. Both learners were complaining, saying they didn’t like math. Well, this didn’t fly with their math-loving mama! Since both learners were strong in math, she knew she just needed to find out how to make it more enjoyable for them. The family was able to choose teachers, curriculum, and other activities to best fit each learner’s personality and learning style. It turns out, making math the first lesson of the day (putting first things first), made a huge difference in their attitude and success.

Mailee has been working hard at ballet and just moved up a level. She is so proud of herself! She also loves gymnastics, art, and music. She has shown a lot of grit by sticking with ballet classes via Zoom, which is not easy. She was able to participate in an online dance show highlighting what she has learned and worked so hard to achieve.

Keoni loves baseball and is really good at it. He recently tried out for a competitive travel baseball team. He made the team but didn’t have a starting position due to not being in his top shape. He knew he had some hard work ahead of him to earn a starting spot on the team. He strove to put first things first with baseball. He exhibited such grit in achieving this goal: exercising with ladders and cones out back, cardio workouts on YouTube, and daily fielding practice. After a lot of difficult training and determination, Keoni has gotten back in shape for baseball and even earned a starting position in his last game this season. He played hard and did a great job! He saw firsthand how putting first things first and demonstrating perseverance can pay off.

Aside from baseball, Keoni enjoys sailing and robotics, while Mailee is drawn to ballet and acting. Overall, Mailee and Keoni have been more curious in their learning since the family began homeschooling. Since homeschooling is flexible, they are able to travel more and do school on the go at times. This has initiated new curiosities and questions about the places they visit and new things they see. A perfect example is when they recently traveled to Lake Havasu, Arizona, for Keoni’s baseball tournament. They were able to take a hands-on learning approach while visiting lakes, dams, windmills, and the London Bridge in field-trip style.

Mailee and Keoni have attended the OC Learning Studio for the last three years and have made good friends and learned so much. They love their teachers and have grown in their leadership skills, working with other learners on projects and book discussions.

6th-8th Grade Book Club

Book Club

We are excited about our final virtual book club of the year. Please join us Tuesday, March 23, at 11 a.m. for this fun event!

BookClubMarch_2021

Student Poster Design Contest

Art Studio Virtual Tour

Calling all 6th through 12th graders interested in art! Here is your chance to design a poster for a former Exploration graduate’s upcoming film. See details below:

POSTER_DESIGN_CONTEST_LR

 

CAASPP Testing

CAASPP Testing

Attention, iLEAD families of learners in 3rd-8th and 11th grade: We have posted a helpful webinar just for you! In case you missed it the first time around, here is the link to the 2021 CAASPP Testing Parent Webinar that contains pertinent information to help you and your learner be prepared for this statewide assessment.

We also encourage you to use the following printable math packets. These are designed to expose a learner to the different types of questions they may encounter on the math portion of the CAASPP test. These are also great assignments to add to your learner’s ILP.

Click, Print and Practice!

Student Support Resources

Sending Love

Here at iLEAD we value the well-being of all our learners. Our Student Support teams are hard at work creating and providing services that target and support the needs of our learners. Their team is offering virtual lunch bunches to help learners meet new friends, chat with classmates, check in with a school counselor or just play fun activities…and more! Please check out this calendar for the next lunch bunch.

You can check out guidance lessons and presentations for learners of all ages here. These lessons address such topics as virtual safety, cyberbullying, and coping skills. If you are in need of counseling resources, you can find them here. Topics include anxiety, depression, suicide, and other pressing issues that learners may face.

Lastly, if you have any counseling needs, please sign up here for support. All of the info can be found on our counseling page.

Learner University

LU

Learner University is offering small group lessons to learners struggling in language arts and math. They will provide everything learners need during the sessions. Each session will have two parts to support the learner:

Part 1: Learners will be taught a specific concept from one of our wonderful educational facilitators. Homework will be emailed after the session.

Part 2: Learners bring completed homework to review with the educational facilitator and have additional practice.

Please see the flier below for specific topics and details on how to register.

Learner U April 2Sessions

 

 

7 Habits – Synergize

7 habits kids

This month’s habit is Synergize, the habit of creative cooperation. Working as a team is sometimes not an easy thing to do. Try these fun activities with your family to practice cooperation. Be sure to debrief afterward and discuss the hurdles that your family experienced and strategies to reduce those hurdles in the future.

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