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


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.

Learner Spotlight: Elisabeth Sur

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Luggage + Library = Elisabeth the Book Lover! 💜

The Sur family started with iLEAD when Elisabeth was beginning her educational journey as a budding kindergartner just last fall. They chose homeschooling because they knew these foundational years were important and wanted her learning lens to see the good, the true and the beautiful! Mom was also excited about the chance to learn alongside her, not wanting to miss any part of this childhood phase of curiosity and wonder.

Elisabeth enjoys being a daughter, sister, cousin and looks up to the older friends who play an important part in her young life. She rotates well between the relational roles of a confident leader to the littles who look up to her and learning from older friends. Elisabeth’s ability to see multiple perspectives helps her synergize in a wide range of relationships.

Elisabeth is a curious first grade scholar. She delights in the exploration of questions, such as “What are Kingdoms like?” “What’s involved with going on a quest?” Even the idea of a time travel and how to create a time machine is on her exploration checklist.

Her endless thirst for more knowledge has led her to a strong love for literature. She has a broad reading range and wonderful stamina for sitting with a stack of books to explore and absorb! Elisabeth loves books so much that her mom has to take rolling luggage to the library to haul all the books home! Elisabeth is also excited by the idea of creating her own library of books and is currently writing and illustrating several little readers for her younger sister to enjoy.

iLEAD’s independent and flexible learning model has empowered Elisabeth to thrive in her quest to become a budding children’s author. We can’t wait to see your illustrated works on shelves someday, Elisabeth!

Learner Spotlight: Sebastian Buckhalter

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Energetic. Curious. Athletic.

iLEAD Exploration 6th grader Sebastian Buckhalter encompasses all that is wonderful about homeschooling. This is his second year with iLEAD Exploration, and he has been enjoying the flexibility to learn, explore, and follow his passions.

Sebastian has been a dedicated ice hockey player since the very early age of two. His family decided to look into alternative education options that would allow him the freedom to find a healthy and sustainable balance between hockey and his education.

Although most children are naturally curious about the world they live in, Sebastian takes it a step further. He loves project-based learning and dives into concepts. Sebastian’s curiosity has driven him to a love of science and, in particular, marine biology. He hopes to one day become a marine biologist. It is not uncommon for him to show up to learning period meetings with huge displays, dioramas, field trip pictures, experiments, and projects. Always eager to learn something new, Sebastian explores his creative side through art and music as well.

A bonus to homeschooling is that Sebastian and his family explore and adventure together!

National School Choice Week

iLEAD Exploration celebrates National School Choice Week January 24-30, 2021

As the world’s largest celebration of opportunity in K-12 education, National School Choice Week is a time to celebrate the fact that we have a choice where our children go to school to access their optimal learning experience. Thank you for choosing iLEAD Exploration to be such an important part of your lives.

There are many ways to celebrate this week. We’d like to share just one that spotlights your child’s facilitator. To celebrate school choice and also share appreciation for your iLEAD Exploration educational facilitator, simply download the thank-you letter template here, create a message on it, and share a selfie with your creation at

If you prefer, you can forego the template and create a thank-you message in your own fun way.

We look forward to seeing your photos!

If you send us a photo or video, we will consider this approval for use on our school websites and social media accounts. Please do not include images of video conference screens showing learners.

Learner Spotlight: Christina Virchis


Three years ago, iLEAD Exploration learner Christina Virchis, 13, was uncertain and a little anxious about her future. The private school she had been attending was closing and she didn’t think going from a small and close-knit school family to a school with thousands of kids was the right fit for her. She and her family decided on homeschooling and, with a lot of effort, her learning has been smooth sailing since then.

Even though this is her last year in middle school, Christina hopes to attend college one day. Since she has a mindset of beginning with the end in mind, she plans to take college prep classes now and will be enrolling in college classes in the fall of 2021 at a local community college as a freshman in high school.

One of her favorite things to do is attend a learning center. From academics to the arts, she chooses classes that fulfill her both academically and artistically. She enjoys interacting with not only her peers but with knowledgeable educational facilitators who encourage her to aim high in everything she does. Christina enjoys playing the piano and painting and the Thai martial art of Muay-Thai.

Learner Spotlight: Camila Aguirre


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!

Learner Spotlight: Harper & Jett Carney

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If you happen to be looking for the Carney family, chances are you will find them outdoors. This sweet family of young iLEAD Exploration learners has fully embraced the adventure of learning. Whether they are at the beach, in the mountains, or in their own backyard, they can be seen toting a basket containing a blanket, some books, and their journals. They are always ready to learn about the world around them.

From read-alouds under a big tree, to sorting and classifying their finds in nature, Harper (Kindergarten) and Jett (TK) have the opportunity to learn in a way that is meaningful and focuses on their individual gifts. Harper is a designer and a dreamer. She started designing doll clothes and accessories for herself as a toddler. Harper always carries a song with her and uses her hands to create many wonderful things. Homeschooling gives her the freedom and safety to groom her creative passions, to honor her budding identity, and to explore new creative spaces. Harper is now styling outfits for anyone who will let her and writing her own dreamy, living stories.


Jett is a fact guy. He holds information like a little computer! He is a lover of anything living. At a young age, Jett showed interest in gardening, and he has been learning and growing as a gardener ever since. Jett is also gifted with understanding difficult things. He understands how things are built and the science behind it. In fact, Jett teaches his mom new things almost every day. Homeschooling has provided a safe environment for Jett, one chock full of living things, opportunities to be curious, green space, and a teacher he can ask lots of questions of. It is hard to imagine Jett being forced to sit down and learn in a classroom when he can be outdoors instead.

The Carney family believes nature is the best classroom and playground, because it provides so many opportunities for learning. The bonding time in the wilderness sows rich seeds for this family.

Learner Spotlight: The Beck Family Trio

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​Avery, Garrett, and Grady Beck have been homeschooled their entire lives. They joined iLEAD Exploration during the 2016-17 school year. Being home schooled has allowed each one of them to seize a multitude of opportunities both in their education as well as in their extracurricular activities. They each have their own unique individual talents, but they also share a few of the same passions and continue to encourage, grow and support each other throughout their journey.

​Avery is a talented and smart 13-year-old girl. She definitely has the creative mindset when it comes to school. She loves to read, write and draw about anything and everything. She has been telling stories from a very young age and began writing her first book when she was 8 years old. She has written five books since then. She also writes her own songs to sing while playing the ukulele, and has recently started performing at a local open mic club. In addition to playing the ukulele, she plays the piano. She has been chosen three years in a row to perform at the Honors Recital with her music studio Music Abode. Avery has other talents as well. She just celebrated her one-year anniversary of being a black belt. Avery has studied the fine martial art of Kyin Kung Fu at American Tiger Martial Arts for the last four years. She is an active member on the leadership and demo teams at American Tiger Martial Arts. Avery likes being homeschooled, because it gives her the freedom to explore her intellectual passions in a more hands-on way than traditional schooling would offer, and it gives her the opportunity to actively do those things she is most passionate about.

​Garrett is a gifted and funny 9-year-old boy. He is a rule-oriented learner and is able to complete the task at hand when the rules are set in front of him. He excels at math and because of his right brain mindset, he is an exceptional drummer. He started playing the drums when he was 7 years old and he has blown his music teacher away with his drumming abilities. He also plays piano and recently started guitar. Garrett is naturally talented when it comes to music, and he has been chosen for the first time to play at the Honors recital, too. He currently has a red/black belt in Kung Fu, and is training for his black belt test this summer. He is a part of the leadership team and demo team at American Tiger Martial Arts. In his free time, Garrett loves to play drums for his sister’s songs.

Grady is an active 5-year old boy. He loves to be outside riding his skateboard, bike, or scooter. He is an avid lizard catcher and spends a lot of time in the backyard doing so. He enjoys using his imagination while listening to books being read aloud and is naturally studious when it comes to completing his school tasks. Like his older brother and sister, he also does Kung Fu. He has a camo colored belt in the dragons class, and performs with the demo team at American Tiger Martial Arts. Grady has the potential to become the youngest black belt in their studio. Next school year he plans to start piano lessons. His true musical desire is to play drums or bass, but that will have to wait a few years. Grady’s favorite thing about being homeschooled is that he likes to be home with his mom and siblings, learning and growing together.

The Beck Family trio is truly amazing!


Learner Spotlight: Ariyah Hope


Ariyah Hope is a lovely third grader. Having always learned at home with her parents and many siblings, Ariyah’s world is full of fun and relaxing adventures. She says her favorite thing to do is to spend time with her family. Ariyah is often found crafting, sewing, and painting little gifts for everyone she loves. She enjoys playing the piano, drawing, dancing, sewing, and staying at home. Ariyah is often found working in her tree house or making teeny tiny clothes for her dolls in front of the fireplace. In addition to creating beautiful works of art, Ariyah often finds creative ways to understand math and science concepts. For example, she uses skittles and water to help her understand the concept of density.

This past year Ariyah participated in her first Shakespeare play! She wore a beautiful dress and memorized lines from Shakespeare’s play. It was a wonderful experience for her!
Ariyah is a beautiful, free spirit who often says how grateful she is to learn with “Mama.” The freedom of independent learning has allowed her to grow and develop her natural talents. She loves the freedom to pursue her interests.
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