iLEAD Exploration Remains Open Virtually for Learners

iLEAD Exploration continues to operate its independent study model in an entirely virtual format. Click here for resources.

Aug 23, 2020 @ 01:00

ilead exploration

Spring Webinars

Fall Webinars

We are excited to share our upcoming webinars for 2021. On February 10 at 12 pm, we are exploring different hands-on science kits. Please register here to learn more about our Spotlighting Science Kits webinar. Then on February 12 at 10 am, we are introducing you to our high school team. If you are entering high school or just want to know more, we hope you will join us for this informational webinar. Please register here for the High School Overview for New Families and Incoming 9th graders webinar.

Webinars 2021

Schoolwide Learner Outcome: Optimism


This month’s schoolwide learner outcome (SLO) is optimism. Optimism, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary is, “an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome.” Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Optimism is an attitude that positively affects your outlook on life and education. We will continue to explore the concept of optimism in upcoming Monday Messages!

Optimism Poster

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.

Kindness Rocks!

Kindness Rocks

Join Exploration families and spread a little kindness, good will, and gratitude around our communities. Please take a look at the flier below for more details on how to register.

Kindness Rocks! (no date)

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.

SLO: Self-Control

5352641 Self control concept. Hand with yellow marker writing se

This month, iLEAD is focusing on the monthly Schoolwide Learner Outcome (SLO) of self-control. Are you able to control your emotions and impulses in order to achieve a greater goal? Don’t be too hard on yourself if the answer is no, because studies have shown that self-control is not a stagnant trait and it can be improved with practice over time.

As you watch this video, you may want to reflect on the following questions:

1. Do you come prepared to events and activities that you are attending?

2. Do you avoid distractions and get to work?

3. Do you remain calm in stressful situations?

4. Do you have the willpower to resist the “marshmallow”?

The Virtual Science Fair – Final Steps!

Group of classmates observing chemical reaction with awe

You are now ready for the final steps of the scientific method which is to collect data and analyze. Let’s take a minute to review the steps that you have completed so far: observe, question, research, hypothesize, and experiment. Now you can collect the data, the information you learned from your experiment. You will then analyze, or use the results to help you understand what you think is happening. This will either confirm your hypothesis or cause you to draw a new conclusion!

Data collection is often completed using tally marks, bar graphs, and other charting methods. Here is a resource that might be helpful as you gather your information: Collection Data Elementary.

Register here by January 15, 2021 to participate in the iLEAD Science Fair (to be held virtually).

Virtual Show-and-Tell

Show and Tell

Please join us for a fun show-and-tell opportunity for TK through 3rd grade learners on January 19 at 11 a.m.! Register here to join us.

Field Studies: Kelp Forest Virtual Tour


LINKED Kelp_Forests_Exploration_at_Point_Lobos_State_Reserve (1)

What’s New At the OC Learning Studio

OC Studio December


High School Ratatouille Watch Party

Watch party

On December 11, iLEAD’s Associated Student Body (ASB) hosted a movie watch party event for the high school student body. Learners were able to watch the Disney movie Ratatouille through Disney + Watch Party! Interested participants joined through Zoom and were separated into breakout rooms where they could watch the movie and talk to each other in the chat in smaller groups! My group had a lot of fun laughing at various quirks of the movie, and another group had a discussion afterwards about how differently they remembered the movie from when they were younger. All in all, the event went well and everyone who joined had a lot of fun connecting over this amusing movie! Our high school ASB will be hosting more fun events similar to this in the future. We hope to see you there!
-Julianna Longhenry, iLEAD ASB Regional President

College Options: It’s Not Too Late!

College Options

iLEAD Seniors: College is just around the corner. If you have not started on your application(s), there is still time. Most applications are due in January and winter break is a perfect time to finish up your essays and activity lists.

Don’t miss your deadlines! Here are some helpful things to know:

Early Action 2: Many colleges have non-binding early deadlines which means you don’t need to make a decision until May 1. If you submit your application by the deadline, you will receive your admission decision early. While the first round of early action deadlines has passed, many colleges have a second deadline in January.

Early Decision 2: The first round of early decision applications has passed, but some colleges have a second round of deadlines in early or mid-January. If there is a college that is your first choice and you know it is affordable, then applying early decision often gives you an advantage over students applying in the regular round. Remember early decision is binding, meaning you sign a contract with that school and state you will attend.

Regular Decision: Regular decision deadlines begin around January 1 and continue through the spring. It is important that you check the college in which you are interested to ensure you meet their deadline.

Rolling Admission: Many colleges continue to accept applications through the spring and summer. Check each college website for more information.

Financial Aid: Most colleges have specific FAFSA deadlines. Check each college website for the specific deadline dates. California public colleges have a March 2 deadline.

Don’t wait! If you need help sorting out your options, please reach out to Laura Kazan, our college advisor. Many deadlines are during iLEAD’s winter break. Mrs. Kazan will be checking emails, but she may not return them immediately so write her as soon as possible with any questions!



College is expensive, so it is worth taking the time to look for scholarship opportunities. While the best aid comes from the college you attend, a second option is looking for outside scholarships.

Local Scholarships: Local scholarships are easier to win because the applicant pool is smaller. Often city organizations will offer scholarships to residents. Search local community organizations and city websites. For example, Kiwanis, Soroptimist, Elks Lodge, or your local newspaper.

National Scholarships: Use websites such as JLV College Counseling, which tracks awards by deadline and places opportunities in multiple categories. Other scholarship websites might be a way to filter scholarships, but it is wise to create an email address just for scholarship searches.

Searching for Scholarships: Try some interesting search terms like weird scholarships or unusual scholarships. You can use specific terms such as disability scholarship, ADHD, autism, or bipolar disorder and schizophrenia to find a variety of scholarships online. If you are from a low-income family, check out the scholarships listed here. First-generation and underrepresented students should check out College Greenlight.

Full-Ride Scholarships: If you are looking for large scholarships, start early as most are very competitive and often have several rounds of applications. For most, you must start the process in your junior year. These scholarships are extremely competitive and include:

If you would like to discuss searching for colleges with financial aid in mind, please reach out to Laura Kazan who can help you sort through the process. Happy scholarship hunting!

Youth Ambassador for the iLEAD Schools Board of Directors

Volunteers iLEAD Exploration

Our team is looking for a confident, charismatic senior to fill the second semester position of Youth Ambassador for the iLEAD Board of Directors. The Youth Ambassador position is open to seniors who can deliver a 2-3 minute speech about Exploration news for the bimonthly iLEAD Board meetings. Our team will help provide Exploration news content prior to each meeting. This opportunity will look great on transcripts! If interested, please submit a one minute video clip introducing yourself and your interests or post high school goals along with a brief statement about why you would like to be considered for Youth Ambassador. Videos should be submitted by January 15.

High School Clubs

High School Clubs iLEAD Exploration

As the semester is coming to an end, iLEAD’s Associated Student Body (ASB) would like to make a very important announcement about next semester. For the first time in school history, we are launching two ASB-sponsored clubs: The Gaming Club and The Creative Writing Club. By joining an iLEAD club, you will have the opportunity to meet other iLEAD learners and build long-lasting friendships. You will also be able to work with other learners and plan out club meetings and events. Since this will be the first time that they will launch, you will have a chance to work with your fellow students to really shape these clubs the way that you picture them to be. Besides being able to learn about gaming or creative writing, you will also learn to work with a team, be responsible for your duties as a member, learn to compromise with others, and much more. We hope to see you in our first club meeting which is tentatively scheduled for January. We can’t wait to meet you and get to know you better! To join, RSVP here.
-Ariella Clarino, iLEAD ASB Regional President

Learner Spotlight: Priscilla Pope


My name is Priscilla Pope, and I am 17 years old. I have been dancing since I was just two! I grew up performing with the Santa Clarita Ballet Company and studied under the Royal Academy of Dance curriculum. I hold each of my examinations with distinction and have trained at numerous ballet intensives. After performing many lead roles with the Santa Clarita Ballet, I was accepted into the Colburn Dance Academy’s pre-professional program. I have received multiple scholarships for dance and have also placed and participated in numerous dance competitions. I am extremely grateful to be a brand ambassador for PerfectFitPointe and Zarely Dancewear. I am currently in the process of applying to ballet companies and colleges across the US, some of which include the University of Utah, Butler University, Marymount Manhattan University, Indiana University, and Texas Christian University. I plan to double major in both business and dance.

I joined the iLEAD family in my junior year of high school, after finding out about my acceptance to The Colburn School. Attending iLEAD has been a true blessing and has helped me balance both dance and school. Furthering my education is so important to me, so having the flexibility of online learning has helped me achieve my scholastic goals, all while keeping up with my rigorous dance schedule. It has also given me the availability to give back to my community as a volunteer and maintain a part-time job. I currently work as a waitress at Chi Chi’s Pizza in Santa Clarita and actively volunteer with The Red Cross, The Gentle Barn, and as a Real Life Church youth leader. I opened my own small business (Priscilla’s Shoe Sewing Service), where I sew pointe shoes and teach young dancers how to properly sew their own. All of these achievements would not be possible without the support and flexibility of iLEAD Exploration.

Since I was a young girl, I have always been independent and ambitious, wanting to explore the world on my own, in hopes to figure out who I want to be. Now, as a young adult, I see myself as a leader who inspires others to be the best version of themselves. I am an acute perfectionist and am always setting higher goals for myself. While I have major dreams, I always hope to be a source of kindness and compassion. My ultimate goal in life is to open my own studio one day so I can teach and inspire future generations of dancers. I want to help others find the same love of dance I have found over the years, and I want to create a space where dancers feel welcome, encouraged, and challenged. I am so incredibly grateful to my teachers/mentors at iLEAD and every dance teacher I’ve had thus far. Without them, I would not be where I am today!

Learner Spotlight: Everly Benning

Everly Benning 2

iLEAD Exploration learner Everly Benning started homeschooling last year in the extended-TK program. What drew her family to homeschooling was the time her mom got to spend with her. Everly’s dad is a military member, and homeschooling allows for them to work around his often-changing schedule. They love being able to spend more time with him when he has time off.

Since Everly was a little baby, she has always been a bit reserved, so seeking first to understand comes naturally to her. At first, she takes her time to observe what is around her. She often sits backs and watches before jumping in and playing. But once she understands the lay of the land, she jumps right into the action. When Everly encounters a new environment, she is quick to observe what is going on around her and is able to easily adapt appropriately. She is also very into details and fully understanding how something works.

An empathetic people-person, Everly is very communicative with her feelings and often encourages her friends to share their thoughts or feelings if conflicts or issues pop up while playing. Everly is very considerate of others and how they will feel in certain situations; she strives to take other people’s feelings into account.

Everly has started a new hobby this school year and is learning Spanish. She has done well and really enjoys talking with her Spanish teacher, who lives in Spain. Everly is very interested in traveling to different countries around the world.







The Virtual Science Fair – Next Steps!

science labs

Hello, scientific thinkers! You are now ready for the next steps in the process: Guess & Test. Think of it like a recipe, mixing together all the observations, questions, and wonder to form a “hypothesis” (your best guess about what you think is going to happen based on all that you know so far). Then, you will need to test your hypothesis to see if what you think will happen actually does! This is the exciting part of being a scientist: testing and exploring your ideas to see what more you can discover about your topic of interest.

Here are some helpful resources for recording your hypothesis and testing your theories.

Don’t forget to register here for the upcoming iLEAD Science Fair (to be held virtually). If you would like to be a part of this fun experience, all submissions will need to be turned in by January 15, 2021!

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood


Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series on the pillars of iLEAD’s educational philosophy and approach.

Communication is key, but if we lack understanding in our relationships, how can we ever hope to clearly communicate?

This month we are examining Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood.

Many of us seek first to be understood. We want to get our point across, and in doing so, it’s easy to ignore the other person completely. We might pretend that we’re listening, selectively listen to certain parts of the conversation, or attentively focus on only the words being said. Doing so may mean we miss the meaning entirely. In doing this, we filter everything through our own life experiences and decide what someone means before they’ve even finished speaking.

Our listening tends to fall into four categories:

  1. Ignoring: We’re not listening at all.
  2. Pretending: We may say “uh-huh, right,” but we’re not really tuned in.
  3. Selective listening: We hear part of what the person says, but the rest of the time we’re distracted.
  4. Attentive listening: We’re actively listening and paying attention, but not taking our listening to the ultimate level — empathetic listening.

Dr. Stephen Covey defined empathetic listening as listening with the intent to truly understand. In order to really understand, we need to get inside another person’s frame of reference, and see the world from their point of view. Our listening also needs to be driven by an authentic desire to understand the other person and to build trust with them.

As part of the iLEAD educational model, we encourage learners to incorporate the following practices into their communication:

  • I listen to other people’s ideas and feelings.
  • I try to see things from their viewpoints.
  • I listen to others without interrupting.
  • I am confident in voicing my ideas.
  • I look people in the eyes when talking.

When we listen with the intent to understand, instead of with only the intent to reply, we begin true communication and relationship-building. Seeking to understand takes kindness; seeking to be understood takes courage. Effective communication is a balance of the two.

For more information on the 7 Habits and other leadership resources, click here to visit the FranklinCovey website.

Field Studies: Kelp Forest Virtual Tour

Kelp Forests Exploration

Please join us for a virtual tour of the Kelp Forests!
RSVP HERE by January 11, 2021

Learner Spotlight – Mya Felix

Learner Spotlight

Mya is a first grade learner who started homeschooling in March of last year. She likes homeschooling because she is able to do her school work in her pajamas. She also gets to go to the library whenever she wants. Her favorite part about learning from home is that she gets to spend time with her mommy and baby brother.

What languages do you speak?

I speak English and Spanish. I am also learning sign language.

What is your favorite saying in your native language?

“Panza llena corazón contento!” In English, this means, “Having a full stomach makes your heart happy!”

What is a family tradition that you enjoy?

Family game time and the altar for Day of the Dead.

What career would you like to have?

I want to be a firefighter and a painter.

What is your favorite subject?

Math is my favorite, and working on Explode the Code.

Has being multilingual allowed you any special opportunities?

Yes, it helps me talk to “Tita” (Grandma) and my cousins from Mexico.

What is your favorite hobby?

Painting and playing with my toys.

What advice would you give to someone trying to learn a new language?

Listen to music in the new language.

ELPAC Summative Test

ELPAC Summative Test

Beginning in February, English language learners will take the summative ELPAC. The English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) is California’s assessment system that is used to determine the English language proficiency of learners whose primary language is not English. The ELPAC assesses four domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The summative ELPAC measures how well a learner is progressing with English development in each of the four domains. To support these domains, the EL team has added some family activities to this newsletter. Additionally, the iLEAD Exploration website has a database of activities to support each of these domains. Simply click on this link, log into the Hub, and search the EL resource database.

The summative assessment is given to learners in grades TK–12 who have been identified as English learners. These learners continue to take the assessment annually until they are reclassified as fluent English proficient. In order to be considered proficient in English and reclassify, a learner must score a 4 on each of the four domains AND score a “meets or exceeds” standard on the ELA portion of the SBAC or “meets or exceeds” the grade level norm on MWEA MAP.

Parents/guardians cannot opt their child out of the ELPAC. State law (California Education Code section 313 and California Education Code section 60810 ) and Federal Law Titles I and Ill of the Every Student Succeeds Act require that all students whose primary language is other than English be assessed for English language proficiency.

This year, our EL team will be providing a webinar for learners to join and learn test-taking strategies and tips to be successful on the summative ELPAC. This will be coming in early February. We hope you will join us!

Family Activities to Support Listening


  1. Telephone: This is a classic game for working on listening. Start with one sentence, and whisper it to the person next to you. That person will whisper what they heard to the next person. The final person says the sentence they heard out loud. This kind of game works especially well with larger groups. You can also use this game to demonstrate how stories change as rumors spread.
  2. Freeze Dance: This game requires children to listen for the music stopping AND to stop their bodies. This is a good way to work on impulse control as well. Pick a fun song, stopping it occasionally and seeing who freezes their bodies. Try to hide the music source so no one can see when you are about to stop the music.
  3. Mother, May I? The person who is the “mother” stands on one end of a space/room, while the other players line up at the other end. Each player takes a turn asking if they can move (for example, “Mother, may I take three giant steps forward?”). There is a lot of fun listening here! This game is also great for following directions and taking turns being the leader.
  4. Simon Says: This game requires listening for a certain phrase and then moving only when the leader includes “Simon says” (for example, “Simon says place your hands on your head.”) This is another game that works on controlling impulses, and players can take turns being the leader.
  5. Tell a Group Story: The first person starts a story with one sentence. Then the next person adds onto the story, and it continues until everyone has contributed at least one sentence to the story. (For smaller groups, you can go around two or three times.) This requires listening to what has already been said and making connections, as well as working together as a group.
  6. Online Listening Activities: In the Hub section of iLEAD Exploration’s website, there are many recommended listening activities to support EL learners. Simply click on this link, log into the Hub, and search the EL resources by category (domain).

Family Activities to Support Reading

TK-1 Read Aloud

  1. Tall Tales: The Game of Infinite Storytelling: There are several ways to play this storytelling game. One is the tell-a-group-story method, where players randomly select a few of the playing pieces and then one scene card is turned over. Each player takes a turn adding to the story, integrating one of their playing pieces into the story each time. The stories get very creative and silly.
  2. Boggle: If your kids like word searches, then Boggle is their game. Shake the letters and see how many words can be found in a short amount of time. The real challenge is finding words that other players do not spot. Shake and repeat.
  3. Apples to Apples Junior: In this game, there are two stacks of cards. The green set contains descriptive words, such as kind, cool, and bold. The red set contains people, places, things, and events. In each round, players choose the best red card from their hand to complement the green card word. The judge selects the favorite played card as the winner of the round.
  4. Bananagrams: In this addictive word game, speed wins, not points. Participants race to build joined-up words using all of their tiles. When any player uses all of their letters, they shout “Peel!” and every player takes on a new tile, meaning everyone has to quickly rebuild their word grid!
  5. Scrabble Game: Scrabble, the classic crossword game, is loads of fun for friends and family. You can feel the excitement begin as soon as you rack up your letters, choose a great word, and hope to land on a triple-word score. Play the popular Scrabble game the classic way as you take on opponents for a challenging and fun time, whether you’re a beginner or an expert.
  6. Online Reading Activities: In the Hub section of iLEAD Exploration’s website, there are many recommended reading activities to support EL learners. Simply click on this link, log into the Hub, and search the EL resources by category (domain).
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