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

ilead exploration

ASB Clubs

HS Dec2

Your ASB is excited to announce the launch of two high school clubs that are open to all iLEAD high school learners: The Gaming Club and a Creative Writing Club. By joining one of these clubs, you will have the opportunity to meet other iLEAD learners, have a great time, and build long-lasting friendships. To join one or both clubs, RSVP here.

If you have any questions, please email our ASB Coordinator at:

Summer Pre-College Programs

HS Dec5

Summer programs offer learners the opportunity to experience campus life while engaged in academic or extracurricular activities. Many applications are available now, so don’t wait to check deadlines and begin the application process. These programs may look different this summer, but whether in-person or online, they offer great opportunities. There are a wide variety of programs and financial aid may be available.

Programs can be divided into several categories including academic, college preparatory, artistic, and athletic. Below is a small sampling of available summer programs. Learners are encouraged to do their own searching, focusing on specific areas of interest or colleges and universities.

Summer Programs and Admissions

Some competitive summer programs that offer in-depth experience in a specific academic or artistic field will help with college admissions. These programs are often free or low cost and they stand out on a college application because they are competitive and the learner gains valuable advanced experience. Non-competitive summer programs show a dedication to an area of interest, something that helps admission officers know more about who you are and what you value. Programs at specific college campuses do not necessarily help a learner gain admission to that college.

If you need help or wish to discuss summer options, feel free to set up an appointment to meet with our College Advisor, Laura Kazan.

Navigating the Challenges of Online Learning

HS Dec4

In these unprecedented times, we have all seen drastic changes in the ways in which we live our daily lives. This especially applies to how learners have been accessing their classes. While we are an independent study school, many of our learners take classes at in-person learning centers or on campus at their local community college. Going online for the first time or in a new system can be very intimidating. We have seen an uptick in learner anxiety and academic struggles during this time, and our school is not unique to experiencing this challenge.

It is important to remain mindful of how you are handling these new situations. You may not be able to handle as rigorous of a load as planned or need to drop classes entirely, and that is okay. Rest assured, one class or even one semester will not ruin the rest of your life! EFs and counselors are here to help if you find yourself stuck, so please be honest with yourself and the adults who are here to support you.

If you are working through an online class with a vendor or at the community college, here are some proactive steps you can take to support your own success:

  • Reach out for assistance to navigate deadlines and assignments

  • Look up and share all important due dates with your EF and/or parent and set reminders on your phone if necessary

  • Find out if tutoring is available

  • If necessary, use instructional funds for tutoring

  • Come up with a study plan at the beginning of the semester (your EF can help)

  • Turn in essays EARLY for teacher/professor feedback and revise if necessary BEFORE the final deadline

  • Communicate with the teacher/professor throughout the semester

If you feel you need added support, contact your EF or high school counselor right away.

Last names A-K – Bethany Maddox

Last names L-Z – Heather Fecarotta

Learner Spotlight: Kiah Lewis

HS Dec3

Hello! My name is Kiah Lewis. I’m a senior in high school, and I’ve been homeschooled my entire life. Some words people use to describe me are outgoing, charismatic, kind, and funny. I love dogs, animated movies, the color yellow, and making fun of the Twilight saga with friends.

Ever since I can remember, I have always had a creative mind and imagined myself in other worlds that I never was able to verbalize to others. My solution to this problem was drawing everything that came to mind. Since I learned that I had the power of art within me, I haven’t stopped drawing. I am now actively pursuing my dream of becoming a professional artist. I’m not exactly sure what role I want to play, but I know I will come to that decision at just the right time. One thing I love about art is it can come in many shapes and sizes and anyone can do it. I think what people love says a lot about what we really strive for in life. For me, I want to create things that bless others and inspire them, and art is just the tool to do that exact thing.

Another passion in my life is my guide dog in training, Draco (and yes he is named after the infamous Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter franchise). Volunteering for Guide Dogs of America had a huge impact in my life and participating was a personal goal since I was a little girl. My mom raised a guide dog named Beasley when she was my age, and I have strived to be just like her. Training Draco was full of many twists and turns and, in the end, I realized that he was actually the one training me. I learned many lessons from simple tasks like teaching him that the bathroom is outside and not on our wood floors or trusting him to lead me while I was blindfolded. My eyes were opened to the many blessings dogs give to people in need and how wonderful of an opportunity this was. While Draco ended up having a heart defect that ended his journey with Guide Dogs of America, it was only the beginning of his journey with me.


Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Kiah! We are proud of you and we know that following graduation, many exciting opportunities await a learner with your unique gifts.

Learner Spotlight: Adalynn Stokes


Nine-year-old Adalynn has been enjoying her homeschool journey through iLEAD Exploration. Although this year looks a little different than anticipated, she is adjusting well and even helping her little brother, Jackson (5), adjust to the homeschool life as well. She is always eager to learn new things and wants to try everything once.

Addie loves to spend her time getting lost in a good book, playing Roblox with her friends, swimming, doing all sorts of arts and crafts, and playing outside. Addie loves adventure and exploring nature when she gets the chance. She is full of questions and will always turn everything into a learning experience. She is unique in her own way and is always happy. Her excitement for life is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. Adalynn is incredibly helpful and kind to all; her great sense of humor is just an added bonus. Her little sister, Charlotte (3), is following in her footsteps, and that makes Addie a proud big sister.

This year has been quite the adjustment for everyone, including Addie. However, she is thriving and enjoying her learning through Fourth Grade Adventures Online. She likes the online platform and having the ability to be logged on live with other learners, all while still being able to go at her own pace. Aside from online learning, Addie spends a lot of time being creative and asking questions. She prefers to read an article and absorb information but is not afraid to get her hands dirty while conducting an experiment of some sort. You can almost always find her with a book next to her or a drawing she’s working on.

When she is not doing schoolwork, she fills her schedule with community service. She plans community service events and participates in fundraisers to help the community, with the goal of making others happy and giving back. In March of this year, Addie was crowned Little Miss Quartz Hill 2020-2021. She and her sister queens spend their time volunteering with organizations and participating in fundraisers. Recently, they organized a 5K walk to benefit one of the moms from the community who was newly diagnosed with breast cancer. They have walked and raised awareness for domestic violence, raised money and donated supplies for students in one of the local school districts, served a warm lunch to people experiencing homelessness, partnered with Grace Resource Center, and made donations to a new food pantry in their area, just to name a few examples. The Quartz Hill Queens partnered with the local chamber of commerce to host a toy drive for families in need in the community during the Christmas season. This is one of Addie’s favorite ways to give back because she loves to see other children smile. Addie also enjoys participating in fun events and is building meaningful friendships while learning crucial social and public speaking skills. Addie says that being Little Miss Quartz Hill is what makes her the proudest. She hopes to be an amazing role model for all her Little Miss and Tiny Miss sisters and will continue to look up to all her older queen sisters as well.

Homeschooling has been a great opportunity for Addie, as it allows her to focus on her commitments to her community as much as she can and to enjoy endless adventures.

February Field Studies

Virtual Park Tour

Discover what life was like living at a California Frontier Army Post in the 1850s! Take a live, virtual, docent-led tour through Army Post Fort Tejon, where original and reconstructed buildings help to tell the story of the native Californian, the Gold Rush, and the influence of the American Civil War on the settlement of the West. Various “living history” topics and stations are presented, such as mid-19th-century Army drills and weapons, blacksmithing, frontier carpentry, tack and saddlery work, open-hearth cooking, adobe brick-making, period laundry practices, and candle-making. Please take a look below for more details on how to register for this fun event.

LINKED_1850s_Life_at_a_California_Frontier_Army_Post (2)

February and March Book Clubs

Book Club

If you are in 4th-6th grade, you won’t want to miss our next book club happening in February. For our learners in grades 6-8, please take a look at the March Book Club flier for registration details. We encourage you to join the fun and register soon to secure your spot! Please see below for more details on the events and how to register.



Robotics Innovation

Barnabus Robotics final

LINKED Final_robot_2_(2)

Virtual Events

Where Am I


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: Clive and Lucia Gompert

Clive and Olivia 1

For the Gompert family, homeschooling has always been the plan. Many things about it appeal to them: the flexibility it gives them, the ability to change methods and curriculum to suit the children’s needs, the option to travel as a family without having to worry about a school schedule, and most importantly, the ability to focus more directly on the children, giving them the space and tools to follow their own interests and pace.

Clive, age 8, and Lucia, age 6, begin with the end in mind by talking about and making a plan before they begin their projects or playtime. They enjoy exploring their interests so that they can become more proficient and learn new skills.

Clive and Lucia work hard and exhibit grit in approaching their lessons and extracurriculars. It takes patience and determination to learn new things, especially when everything in life is so different right now. But they have adapted well to so much virtual learning, and still work hard to connect with classmates and teachers virtually, maintaining a positive attitude through technical difficulties and the lack of in-person connections.

Clive loves playing video games, programming games, comic books (especially Dog Man), action figures, and a good joke. He likes to build Legos, draw comics, and play board games, especially chess. He thinks he might like to be a magician or a Disney Imagineer when he grows up. Clive has been in karate for the past three years and works hard to progress and improve in his training. He enjoys taking Outschool classes about interesting animals, Minecraft, learning new magic tricks, or anything building or STEM-related.

Lucia loves to sing, either Disney songs or her own originals. She also likes to dance, make friends, and enjoys anything related to art or drawing. She wants to be a veterinarian and a pop star when she grows up. She loves animals, both real and mythical (unicorns are her favorite)! Lucia takes dance and drawing classes. Since she wants to become a vet, she likes to take classes related to animals or animal science. She also started karate in the spring and is enjoying practicing martial arts.

During non-COVID times, the family enjoys going to Disneyland and science museums like Discovery Cube. Clive and Lucia both enjoy playing elaborate imaginary games, indoors and out. Their active imaginations and sense of humor will serve them well in life.

Barnabas Robotics Robot Innovations

Barnabus Robotics final

Join Barnabas Robotics and explore the awesome intersection of engineering, art and creativity while building a one-of-a-kind robot! In this workshop, learners will discover how real-world engineers use electricity, mechanical parts and design to invent things that we use in everyday life and build their own robot creation! Registration is now open. Please see the flier for details.

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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)

Virtual Events

Where Am I


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.

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