iLEAD Exploration Remains Open Virtually for Learners

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

May 13, 2020 @ 07:00

learner spotlight

Learner Spotlight: Layla Solano

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iLEAD Exploration 8th grader Layla Solano is new to homeschooling this year, but you would not know it with how creative and connected she has been with so much of what she has studied this year. Her enthusiasm for what she has learned is palpable when you hear her speak about the historical figures, literature, and cultures she has studied. Layla has been taking classes with a co-op and has been homeschooling with her mom, and she often has beautiful poems, stories, or artwork to accompany her assignments. She has the ability to build a connection and feel a relationship not only with her studies but with people too.

Layla is part of a close church community, a small group of people who are like family and have helped to shape so much of who she is. She has been fortunate to have many people of all ages, races, and cultures invest in her and love her, and these relationships have helped her understand how to interact with so many people. It has become natural for her to be able to socialize and have conversations many people, young and old. Her family has tried to instill in her an outward focus on life. Who can she encourage? Whose day can she brighten by being kind and giving? She has a way of thinking of others while being aware and grateful for all she is lucky to have. Through the years, Layla’s parents have been open with her and willing to engage in whatever discussions she’s interested in. It is this that has made her confident in who she is and secure in knowing that she will always be supported and loved.

Layla has many interests: music, singing, acting, animals, and some pretty cool hobbies, like skateboarding! She comes from a huge music-loving family, so she has been exposed to music since she was little. Her singing talent and passion have blossomed and helped her learn how to persevere through those challenging times when things don’t come easy. In recent years, she has begun acting in movies and commercials, which has helped her develop the confidence to try new and scary things. Her involvement in auditions has taught her that she can focus only on doing her best and not on the outcome or opinions of others. She has learned that if something is meant for her, then it will happen. When things don’t work out as planned, she acknowledges the validity of her feelings and works to surrender the disappointment, so she can move forward with a peaceful, grateful heart. These are the experiences that also define Layla on her homeschooling path. She is grateful that being a learner with iLEAD has allowed her to do all the things she loves, while still being able to dig deep and get creative with all her subjects. She is excited to see where her journey with iLEAD takes her next year when she begins high school.

Learner Spotlight: Ayah and Nyla Dadsi

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Look out, world! The Dadsi sisters are on the move! In their second year with iLEAD Exploration, Nyla and Ayah Dadsi are enjoying the opportunity that independent study provides to delve deep into subjects they are passionate about and to incorporate their love for art, music, politics, and languages into their daily studies. Because of their diverse interests, the girls have had ample opportunities to develop their social intelligence skills. Both are empathetic and good listeners. They respect others’ views and are open to having conversations with everyone regardless of whether they agree with them or not.

Ayah is a 3rd grader who loves playing soccer, roller skating, skateboarding, and riding her scooter. The quarantine hasn’t stopped her, as she can still be found pushing her little sisters (and big sister) up and down hallways on anything that has wheels! She loves math and science and has strong interests in politics and world events. She can be found helping her classmates, making sure everyone feels included and accepted, often going out of her way to speak up against any injustice she sees. Don’t be surprised if you see her on the front page of a newspaper one day, fighting for human rights or breaking some world record in athletics!

Nyla is a 6th grader and talented musician and artist. She can always be found singing or editing videos about her newest favorite musician and memorizing every song she sings. She played violin for three years, recently switched to ukulele and voice lessons, and is looking forward to performing in a virtual recital this month. Nyla loves science and social studies and has an affinity for languages, creative writing, and digital art. She enjoys rollerblading and helping take care of her two baby sisters, as well as cooking and baking new recipes while listening to her favorite music. She, too, is passionate about helping others and fighting for human rights and wants to change this world for the better!

Both Ayah and Nyla speak Arabic, Darija (the Moroccan dialect), and study French at home. They love to play with their baby sisters, play online games, go to the beach with their family, and travel. During the quarantine, they have been busy inventing a new board game, playing online with friends, and writing inspiring chalk messages on the sidewalk for others. They are anxious to see their grandparents, travel again with family, and see their friends at the OC Learning Studio. In the meantime, they are busy spreading positivity and empathy from home as much as possible.

Learner Spotlight: Lindsay Yang

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Eighth grade iLEAD Exploration learner Lindsey Yang showed a great interest and love for music from an early age when watching her older sister play piano. By the time she was 5, Lindsey demonstrated an internal discipline that allowed her to sit and play on her own for hours at a time. Her mom decided to have Lindsey begin piano lessons at age 8. Lindsey has always enjoyed both school and music. However, after entering middle school, she found it more difficult to find the time to practice and prepare for competitions due to the heavy workload of homework outside of her regular school day.

Enrolling in 2018 with iLEAD Exploration has allowed Lindsey to have the freedom and flexibility to make her own schedule in balancing her music and also her academics. She has been able to greatly improve her technical skills and to also grow and mature musically through a variety of activities to widen her perspective. Through iLEAD Exploration, Lindsey has been able to take music theory classes and swimming lessons. Lindsey displays social intelligence in her diligence in pursuing music. She participates in music festivals, competitions, master classes and recitals. Lindsey has had many opportunities to travel to various places, experience different cultures and meet new people.

Lindsey’s musical bio is long and extensive and includes many competitions and accomplishments in both the states and abroad. Last summer, Lindsey participated in a two-week long music festival in Italy where she had the privilege to learn from pianists and professors from various countries around the world. Students came together with different backgrounds and languages to communicate in their common passion, music. They were able to learn from one another and share new ideas and musical interpretations. Lindsey is also a member of a local Chamber Music group that practices and prepares together for performances.

Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of Lindsey’s competitions and concerts have been canceled. She continues to take her lessons via Zoom and is using this time to learn and practice new songs that she has always wanted to play. Her chamber music members are planning to record their music individually and put together a “quarantine chamber music video” online.

When Lindsey is not playing piano, she also enjoys reading, baking with her sister, spending time with her friends and dog Lucky, traveling, and playing guitar with her dad. She is also looking forward to her newest pursuit of harvesting her home-grown vegetables to share with her neighbors.

Learner Spotlight: Mason Harris

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Mason Harris is an extraordinary 1st grade iLEAD Exploration learner who shows social intelligence by being very empathetic. In fact, Mason often says “I like to help people because it’s kind. Everyone should help!” It isn’t surprising to learn that Mason loves to volunteer and help others. He assists his elderly neighbors by bringing in their trash cans, reads to younger kids and helps with crafts and snacks at the Moms of Preschool (MOPS) group, helps with his baby brother, passes out bulletins at church, brings food and blankets to the animals at the Humane Society, and donates his Halloween candy to the troops.

Mason’s hobbies include building with Legos, performing magic tricks, learning about science and building things with his dad. He loves being outdoors, hiking, camping and exploring. He loves to travel and see new things. His family recently took a trip to the Central Coast where they visited Hearst Castle, Pismo Beach and Big Sur. Mason made a really cool travel brochure highlighting what he learned. Mason also enjoys helping his mom cook.

 

Learner Spotlight: Ami Kharitonov

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Ami Kharitonov is graduating from middle school this year and will be a freshman with iLEAD Exploration. He has been with iLEAD since 2016 and speaks English and some Russian. Ami’s interests are stop motion animation and mixed martial arts. He is at a senior premier level with the National Children’s Chorus.
Name: Ami Kharitonov

What languages do you speak?
English and some Russian

What is your favorite saying in your native language?
None

What is a family tradition that you enjoy?
Passover – Hide the Matzah tradition. Adults hide the matzo around in a room and children try to find it. Whoever finds it gets a prize.

What career would you like to have? How would being bilingual help you in your career?
Animation and film production. Russian would help in making friends.

What is your favorite subject? Why?
History is my favorite subject as you learn about facts and reasons in the form of stories.

Has being multilingual allowed you any special opportunities?
Yes, you can have private conversations with someone in public.

What is your favorite hobby?
Stop motion animation.

What advice would you give to someone trying to learn a new language?
Practice consistently. You can take breaks when learning a new language, but longer breaks will make you forget the material.

Learner Spotlight: Ace Maestas

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Ace Maestas has been homeschooling for two years. The flexibility that is offered through iLEAD Exploration to focus on strengths, work on weaknesses, and cultivate social intelligence has been the ideal classroom for him. A past injury resulted in some uphill battles for Ace, especially in the areas of social and speech development. With the support of our amazing speech team, Ace has been given the opportunity to develop his skills at a pace that is feasible for him. Ace attends the OC Learning Studio where he practices his newly developed speech skills with his peers. Through the interactions, he has learned many key components to developing his social intelligence including recognizing his feelings, understanding body language, self-regulation, and coping skills. During this time of quarantine, Ace has been expanding his social intelligence with activities at home. Ace has been busy keeping a kindness chart, writing cards to neighbors, volunteering to clean within the community, and dropping off supplies to those in need — all examples of how to interact with others in our new normal.

If given the choice, Ace would solve math problems and logic puzzles all day! Not surprisingly, his love of math has also driven him to be curious about things in science, such as the human body, volcanoes and rocks. Ace has an extensive collection of LEGOs at home, which allows him to dive into his creative side. His latest creation was a re-creation of the Eiffel Tower that stood as tall as he was! In his free time, Ace enjoys taking advantage of iLEAD Exploration’s field trips. The opportunities are a great complement to his educational experience at home as well as at the learning studio.


Ace’s family balances school and social development using words from Aristotle as their inspiration, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” iLEAD has provided Ace an opportunity to discover a love of learning as well as support him in his social needs. If you ever have the chance to interact with Ace, you will find that he is eager to share what he has learned!

Learner Spotlight: Everett Family

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The Everett family didn’t set out to homeschool but have totally embraced the lifestyle. Since both Ben, first grade, and Caroline (Caddie), kindergarten, have an immunodeficiency diagnosis, it is much safer for them to do school at home. These two iLEAD Exploration learners are thriving in their family’s learner-led homeschool. Ben and Caddie definitely embody this month’s school-wide learner outcome: curiosity.

The questions and interests of the children drive instruction in the Everett household. One time Ben wondered how many cars on his street were white. He made an estimate and charted tally marks as he walked through the neighborhood, testing his hypothesis. Caddie collected shells at the beach and made a bar graph showing the different kinds of shells she found. These are a few examples of the way the Everett family facilitates self-initiated math in everyday life!

The quest for knowledge abounds with Caddie and Ben. Before going on a cruise to Alaska with his family, Ben wondered what color the ocean would be at night. He knew that the water appears blue during the day because it reflected on the color of the sky. He predicted the color of the ocean would be clear at night since the sky would not be visible. He was so interested in this experiment that his parents let him stay up until 11:00 p.m. (since it was summer in Alaska) to test his prediction! Ben also loves math and was accepted to the Summer Institute for the Gifted. His project was “How to Make the Fastest Hot Wheels Car.” Ben measured and charted variables that affected the speed of the cars in order to determine the winner.

Caddie loves to learn about famous people in history. She has studied Marie Curie, women’s rights activist Emily Pankhurst, Marie Antoinette, painter Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, King Tut, and Queen Elizabeth I. Caddie loves art and enjoys taking online classes at Outschool. She even created original art about penicillin for the cover of the August issue of Pediatric Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Any visit to Caddie and Ben’s house reveals how much they are learning. One memorable time his EF came by, Ben shared his Found Art Museum. He had written descriptions about each piece of artwork displayed around the house. Another time Caddie asked how she could save astronauts from sunburn. She experimented with many creative ways to answer this question.

Caddie and Ben attended some unique day trips with their parents this year. They were excited about a numismatist they met at a coin show. They also wrote about their trips to an airplane museum, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Ben and Caddie asked questions to learn more about the things they were curious about. These kids are excited to learn wherever they go.

Learner Spotlight: Ariella Clarino

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Ariella has been homeschooled for the past nine years, and this is her second year with iLEAD Exploration. She is currently in 10th grade and already has an impressive high school career! Ariella not only takes classes at a local community college, but she also participates in a homeschool co-op and takes classes through iLEAD Online. Even though her academic classes keep her busy, she finds time to volunteer in her local community and church for such events as Relay for Life.

For the past two years, Ariella has been very involved in the Navy Sea Cadets, a non-profit, youth organization supported by the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, and the Navy League of the United States. Cadets receive instruction in marching, drills, CPR, and classroom content on United States military and seamanship. Ariella endures rigorous physical training and drills and also has the opportunity to move up in rank. She was honored with the Daughters of the American Revolution award for outstanding leadership, honor, service, courage, and patriotism. This award is given to only one person per year in the unit and is a great honor among the cadets. Way to go, Ariella!

In addition to being an active Navy Cadet, Ariella enjoys crocheting, bullet journaling, singing, and drawing. She also entered a youth cyber-security competition with some of her peers. This was an amazing learning experience for her. For Ariella, one of the main benefits of homeschooling has been all of the wonderful travel experiences she has had. Her travels have included going to both Canada and Mexico once, China five times, Korea six times, and the Philippines nine times. All of this travel has not impacted Ariella’s academic career as she maintains well above a 4.0 GPA taking A-G courses, and she also faithfully serves on iLEAD’s ASB.

Ariella loves homeschooling because it does not limit her but rather allows her to pursue her interests. One of Ariella’s favorite US Navy cadet mottos is “Chart Your Course.” Ariella certainly has charted her course in her homeschooling career and we at iLEAD celebrate her success!

Learner Spotlight: Lily Ochoa

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iLEAD Exploration eighth grader Lily Ochoa has been homeschooling since fall of 2018. She finds that home study fosters her creativity and inspires her to dig deeply into what interests her. Her academic environment allows her to enjoy learning but also remain motivated and persistent as she moves toward mastery. Lily keeps her mind and body stimulated with creative academic choices to engage in the learning process. She stretches her creative aspirations both inside and outside of the “classroom.”

You can find Lily exploring the world on frequent field studies. You might find her absorbed in the anatomy section of the CA Science Center or taking notes at local history and art museums or drawing animals at the zoo or cataloging state facts on cross country road trips.

Lily’s creativity doesn’t stop there, as she thrives on flexing her artistic muscles. She loves to draw, paint, illustrate digitally, and play her ukulele in her spare time. She is enthusiastically becoming the “Jill of all trades!” Just this year, Lily began her equestrian journey learning how to ride horses Western style. She quickly learned how to steer, walk from a stop, and how to halt. Her next goal is to learn how to jump!

Lily’s compassion and gentleness have led her to a great passion for animals. Since she was in kindergarten, her lifelong dream has been to have a career that is dedicated to animal health, safety, and preservation. This may mean becoming a veterinarian, a zookeeper, or even opening up her own dog shelter! Certainly, giftedness is a developmental journey, and Lily is well on her way.

Learner Spotlight: Garrett Family

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The Garrett family joined iLEAD in 2019 and thus began their first ever homeschool journey, primarily animated by a thirst for knowledge. At first they were nervous about the change but remained optimistic that homeschooling would be the right fit for them because it would allow them to discover what interested them. These ever curious iLEAD Exploration learners Zion (15) , Zaida (11), and Zoë (9) anticipated that homeschooling would both allow them to catch up in academic areas of need while allowing them to focus on areas of interest and follow where their educational desires took them.

And they were right! Their inaugural year has proven to be a successful adventure for the Garrett family. Ninth grader Zion loves to draw, dance, and sing. She also enjoys video games and animating. Most days you will find Zion creating stories, painting, and drawing. She also enjoys exploring nature and the outdoors. A warm and caring girl, Zion has a soft spot for animals and for her baby sister, Zurielle, whom she enjoys helping her mother with. She also loves science, crafting, and making slime and is currently working on her comic series and has recently completed her first animated short entitled Hodgepodge.

Fifth grader Zaida loves to play with toys and video games. You will likely find her on adventures to the park, the beach, and amusement parks. Zaida loves drawing and helping cook at home. Zaida won first place on her track team and enjoys roller skating and dancing.

Zoë, a third grader, likes roller skating and swimming. A budding sportswoman, she received an award for her accomplishments in volleyball and earned second place on her track team. Epitomizing her family’s can-do philosophy, Zoë likes to say, “When someone says you can’t do it, do it twice and take pictures!”

Learner Spotlight: Stephenson Family

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The iLEAD Exploration learners in the Stephenson family transitioned to homeschooling only a couple of years ago but have been customizing learning and pursuing their dreams ever since! Tahani (15) Taaliah (11), and Tahlil (5) exude this month’s SLO of optimism. Each of these learners holds great hope about their futures and an unshakeable confidence that they will achieve their goals.

While in middle school, 9th grader Tahani explored an interest in law and criminal justice using the iLEAD online mock trial class and by seeking mentoring from a relative who is a lawyer. Last fall, she signed up for the first course in the administration of justice track and challenged herself (and succeeded!) in getting an A on every single assignment. She is now working hard on the second course as well as other college courses and is optimistic that she can earn her associates degree in justice administration before she finishes high school. She also loves sewing and fashion design and is shown here with a dress she sewed for her mom while modeling a shirt she made. In the picture below, her sister is modeling a matching pant set. All of these beautiful outfits were designed and made at iLEAD vendor Ms. Sylvia’s sewing studio. Tahani also enjoys acting and loves the way iLEAD has allowed her the flexibility to explore and follow multiple dreams at once.

Taaliah, 6th grade, shown here modeling an outfit her sister made and holding an alligator during a family road trip, transitioned to homeschooling this year at the start of her middle school career. Before she left her brick and mortar school, she had already made a list of activities she wished to explore. She is excited to have more freedom to continue working at track and field, pursue acting like her older sister, and sample gymnastics classes. Taaliah also has a long list of books she wants to read.

Kindergartner Tahlil is excited to learn to read this year. He works very hard on his academics and pushes himself to master numbers and letters as quickly as possible. He loves science and Legos and is hoping to take a Lego robotics class soon.

Learner Spotlight: Lila Inman

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Optimism is the way you see and think about what is happening around and to you, looking for good in each situation. Optimism describes iLEAD Exploration learner, Lila Inman!

Always smiling, Lila is a 5th grader who approaches life with joy, sweetness, and perseverance. At a young age, Lila discovered that she has dyslexia. Some areas of learning have been hard for her. However, she perseveres by devoting multiple hours a week to receiving additional tutoring and remains hopeful in the face of her dyslexia. With her positive outlook and hope for her future, she has grown in her academics and extracurricular activities.

One of her favorite activities is dance. Lila has been dancing for two years and spends multiple hours, three days a week perfecting her dance. She has a goal this year of perfecting a quad pirouette. Lila is also a very talented crafter. She loves to sew, crochet and create. She is an out-of-the-box thinker and can easily improvise when she is crafting. She has knitted coffee cozies, sewn bags and created many other beautiful pieces.

Lila’s joyful, persistent, and upbeat outlook on life inspires those around her. Lila’s joy and positivity can be seen and felt as soon as you meet her.

Learner Spotlight: Grace Gilroy

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When you think of a learner who exemplifies the notion of what a homeschooled 10th grader might look like, you think of Grace. She thrives in this environment and strives for excellence in all that she does! Not only is she a talented dancer, spending countless hours in the ballet studio, but she also loves to perform on stage and beams in front of an audience. Grace has performed in the Nutcracker, Hansel and Gretel, and will be in Cinderella this Spring. Dancing fills Grace’s heart with so much joy! Not only does Grace thrive in the dance studio, but she is also an amazing scholar! She puts forth so much effort in both areas, proving that hard work pays off.

Grace would love to attend the University of Nebraska when she graduates in 2022. We have no doubt that Grace will continue to find success in all that she does. It is part of her character and embodies who she is to the core.

“I know the price of success: Dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright

Learner Spotlight: Corban and Deacon Barnett

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iLEAD Exploration learners Corban and Deacon Barnett are so different and yet these brothers both exude optimism, each with his own brand of it. Older brother Corban is a confident kid who never doubts his ability to do anything and he certainly never stops until he gets it right. He tried for a year to master a forward flip on the trampoline. He never got frustrated and didn’t give up until he had it perfect. Younger brother Deacon always sees the good in every person. As his family says, Deacon has “never met a stranger that wasn’t a friend.” Always hopeful to make a new buddy, he joyfully includes anyone in every activity that he does.

Corban (5th grade) and Deacon (3rd grade) love listening to audiobooks and dancing to music every morning. They enjoy doing flips and tricks on the trampoline, playing with neighborhood buddies and riding around the neighborhood on their hoverboards and crazy carts.

Corban adores both cooking and baking and reveals his creativity through producing new and exciting recipes. He also greatly enjoys writing short stories based on books that he has read as well as filming and editing movies for his YouTube channel. Deacon loves to use his imagination to build and is often found designing and constructing miniature golf courses in the backyard. He also adores making music and has created a number of one of a kind songs using GarageBand on his iPad.

In addition to a full workload at home, both boys enjoy taking art, writing, PE and science classes at a local learning center. When they are not participating in academics, both boys can be found learning new tricks in their acrobatic trampoline classes, or acquiring new techniques in their parkour classes.

Learner Spotlight: Jaidynn Watson

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iLEAD Exploration learner Jaidynn Watson always sees the bright side of a situation even if the initial outcome isn’t always favorable. She is open to new experiences because she believes that there is always something new that can be learned.

Jaidynn, 6th grade, loves to participate in a wide variety of sports and activities. Her current favorite sport is standup paddleboard racing. She loves competing, especially in open water races. She took 1st place in her division during Pacific Paddle Games last year, one of the largest annual SUP contests, which was a very memorable moment for her. She has sampled many different sports and activities including basketball, soccer, gymnastics, ballet, dance, parkour, karate, jiu jitsu, kickboxing, swimming, and skateboarding.

Jaidynn loves science and has spent much of this school year studying marine life. Additionally, she is taking a math class that is above her current grade level and she has risen to the challenge with a strong understanding of the subject material. Being a part of iLEAD allows Jaidynn much flexibility in pursuing her passions. She can hit the skatepark in the morning when it’s empty or surf when the waves are good. She can also study the ocean and marine life in hands-on, in depth life lessons by visiting the beach regularly. She is grateful that being a learner with iLEAD allows her such flexibility that she is able to thrive in both her studies and sports.

Learner Spotlight: Kennedy Gravitt

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Kennedy Gravitt meets every challenge head-on with an optimistic attitude, making her a great example of this month’s SLO: Optimism. This hopeful and confident iLEAD Exploration third grader has been homeschooled since kindergarten and has always been a very driven, agile, and fun-loving kid. She learned to walk at eight months and hasn’t stopped blowing her parents away with her abilities, drive, determination, and grit. She learned how to surf at age six, excelled with parkour and free-running, has grown immensely in her basketball skills, all while becoming an incredible little motocross racer. Kennedy is small in stature, but that seems to trigger something in her that makes her work ethic and drive that much stronger.

Kennedy has dedicated herself to honing her motorcycle skills and has participated in many different race series. As trophies and awards added up, her confidence and excitement for the sport also grew. Her races were based primarily on age and the size of the motorcycle, and for most occasions this meant she was the only girl in her race. Never daunted by a challenge, Kennedy always cheerfully rises to the occasion. As her confidence grew, she expressed an interest in racing in front of the biggest stage for motocross — Supercross — and her eyes were set on that goal.

Her parents did some research on the requirements to request an invitation to the coveted KTM Junior Supercross challenge. Each race selects only 15 kids throughout the world to race. After a few months of nervously waiting, Kennedy’s family received a phone call announcing that she was chosen as a competitor for the Anaheim 2 Supercross race at Anaheim Stadium! This was a dream come true for her (and her dad), and the whole family was beaming.

The month prior to her big race, Kennedy participated in a three-day camp with PanicRev, which is an intense training program. She continued to practice and prepare for the Supercross race. The day of the race came and her family was ready to watch Kennedy do what she loves, competing against 14 other kids (all boys) from New Zealand, Great Britain, British Columbia, Minnesota, Kentucky, Montana, and California. It was a busy day from beginning to end. Multiple track walks, photo opportunities, tours through the KTM factory semi, practice laps, meeting professional racers, autograph sessions (for the kids). After an awesome day of practice and fun, Kennedy put on her gear, complete with a brand-new hot pink 6D helmet, and hit the starting line ready to race. With 40,000 fans cheering wildly, it was a day, experience, and memory that will be forever cherished. Her family is so proud of Kennedy’s work ethic, accomplishments, humility, and overall confidence and grit. Way to go, Kennedy!

Learner Spotlight: Ivan Baney

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iLEAD Exploration learner Ivan Baney is an ideal candidate to demonstrate self-control, this month’s SLO. He keeps a daily calendar to stay on track with goals and responsibilities. He chooses to finish his work, whether at home or at school, before doing extracurricular activities. The ninth grader cheerfully takes recommendations and constructive criticism and uses it to make better choices in future situations. And although he wants to relax and have fun, like all teens, he has set high goals for himself and is willing to work hard and then enjoy time off.

One of those high goals is to become an Eagle Scout. Ivan has been a scout since he was six years old and has moved from being a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout. He attends scout meetings weekly, participates in summer and winter camp, and also is striving to earn merit badges along the way to the prestigious distinction of Eagle Scout. Scouting is a big part of Ivan’s life and also keeps him involved in many service projects in the community as well as fun, team-building activities like a Dungeons and Dragons gaming group that many of his fellow scouts participate in.

Ivan wants to be an engineer when he grows up, so he is always learning new technology skills. This year he is learning how to build a computer from scratch and also dove into learning coding and basic programming. He has taken an intense interest in growing his math skills, as he knows this will be invaluable to his career. In middle school, Ivan struggled with math, but once he learned that he needs strong math skills for his dream job, he had a change of mind and activated his self-control. With daily work, tutoring when needed, and a dramatic shift in his attitude toward mathematics, Ivan is now seeing the fruits of his hard work in a high score in algebra!

Ivan is a work-hard, play-hard kind of guy. He has many hobbies, including playing complex board games with friends and family. His favorites are war games based on historical events. He also plays the piano daily both for school and for pleasure; he greatly enjoys the process of creating music. In the warm months he enjoys tennis, rebounding, and biking in the mountains.

Learner Spotlight: Ivy Roth

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iLEAD Exploration learner Ivy Roth is a stellar example of self-control. It takes a good bit of self-mastery to manage all her hobbies, interests, and activities, all the while excelling in school. A second-generation homeschooler, Ivy learns at home with her mother, Jyoti, a practicing lawyer and former homeschooler who has chosen to work from home so she can pass on the homeschool legacy to her daughter.

This kindergartener credits her ability to manage her actions, emotions, and impulses to her daily practice of yoga and meditation, which help her to ground herself and breathe. These mindfulness practices help set the stage for good decision-making and help her weather difficult situations and stress.

Ivy has many passions that she is able to pursue along with her independent study. She likes to garden and is currently growing soybeans. An animal lover, Ivy has three bunnies that she calls “bun buns.” She takes excellent care of Chai, Pudding, and Peanut and enjoys spending time with them but also is committed to doing the less glamorous chores, such as cleaning their cages and feeding and watering them. Ivy has caught the travel bug and enjoys taking trips with her family. She’s been to Virginia and Indiana and recently spent four weeks in Alaska.

Camping, art, violin, choir, and ballet round out Ivy’s extensive list of interests. She is also a bit of a fashionista and is currently learning to sew so she can make her own clothes. Ivy enjoys meeting with her co-op friends for weekly activities and monthly field trips.

Ivy tries to live by her motto: “If you choose to change the world, leave it better than when you found it,” and clearly this bright, active learner does just that.

Learner Spotlight: Rasha Willes Samaha

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This week’s spolighted learner is Rasha Willes Samaha, an iLEAD Exploration high school freshman and a professional dancer. Calm, poised, and polite, she maintains a positive attitude and always wears a smile. Rasha is a great example of this month’s Schoolwide Learning Outcome (SLO): self control. Since beginning her homeschooling journey, she has worked to develop self-control by focusing on hard work and effort in her academic and professional pursuits.

Rasha spends over 30 hours a week training and student teaching various styles of dances. These styles include ballet, tap, jazz, and musical theater. The flexibility provided by iLEAD’s independent study setting enables her to spend a lot of time at her dance studio in San Fernando Valley. Her professional dance career includes performing at some major and well-known platforms: World of Dance Live, The Oscars Gala, Professional Dancers Society Tribute to Carol Channing and Tremaine Performance Company. All of these achievements require her to be disciplined and focused in all her endeavors. Her family is a big support in keeping her motivated to achieve her dreams.

Juggling high school classes and a dance career can be daunting, but Rasha has been handling both very gracefully since she joined iLEAD Exploration. She is currently taking classes from a local community college and iLEAD Online to stay on the a-g high school graduation path and build an impressive GPA.

Rasha believes that giving back to the community through her passion for art is equally important. She sets aside some time to teach dance for the Ishan Foundation, a non-profit organization. This organization offers special needs dance classes for all kids and young adults with neurological disorders. Rasha thoroughly enjoys spending time with the younger kids every week.

Rasha’s dream is to be a Radio City Rockette and get a medical degree as a doctor. She says, her family has taught her that anything in life can be accomplished through discipline, balance and creativity. She is well on her way!

Learner Spotlight: Zachary Kennison

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Boredom is never a word you would associate with iLEAD Exploration learner, Zachary Kennison, as he is constantly busy using his creativity. It takes a lot of this month’s student learning outcome (self control) to finish so many projects and to stick with the many activities that Zack participates in.

Most weeks, you will find this busy fifth grader reading, playing catch with his brother in the backyard, completing projects incorporating recent field trips or experiences, and enjoying multi-subject art classes with friends. Zack appreciates managing his own schedule to comfortably fit in plenty of fun science experiments, math, fiction writing, art, coding, and organized team sports like water polo in the fall and little league baseball in the spring. Between all his activities, Zack enjoys playing with friends, interacting with the family pet chameleon, learning chess strategies, creating his own board games, following SpaceX current events, dreaming up new inventions, and baking big cakes (the bigger the better).

Some of his friends say homeschoolers are lucky because they never have to do homework. Zack says “I actually do much more, because I am able to work all day long if I want to.” And he likes it that way.

It doesn’t take long to realize Zack is a critical thinker, always making interesting connections between the patterns of nature, animals, machines, art, words, and human needs. He is always thinking of new inventions to help solve both minor and major problems in the world. His critical thinking is evident from his original board game creations to his multi-faceted project presentations.

Zack possesses an intellectual curiosity that cannot be contained. He likes to explore new concepts and cultures through activities, travel, and food. For the last five years, he has participated in an annual Japanese culture program to appreciate part of his heritage. For those two weeks each year, he is known only by his Japanese name, Hikaru. The experience opened his eyes to the many cultures of the world as well. He enjoys thinking up cool hands-on projects and messy experiments. Frequently, his ideas begin with, “what if…”.

Zack also enjoys entrepreneurial ventures like selling products at craft fairs and helping to run the book fair at his brother’s school. He is learning first-hand all about product management, business financials, marketing strategies, and supply and demand.

Some of Zack’s personal achievements include writing a chapter book based on his favorite novel series, building up his math endurance, and contributing, both mentally and physically, to his sports teams. He was granted a scholarship to attend a waterman’s program in Hawaii where he continued to hone his skills paddling surf ski kayaks and 2-person and 8-person outrigger canoes.

But Zack’s main accomplishment over the last few years of learning with iLEAD Exploration is his ability to manage his own time, set his own pace for academics, and prioritize his time so he can do what’s important to him. He is an independent, forward-thinking learner who likes to learn from new experiences or by solving problems. He exhibits confidence to try new things, meet new people, and learn new concepts. iLEAD is the perfect match to walk beside Zack on his life-long path of learning.

Learner Spotlight: Christopher Hernandez

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Christopher Hernandez is an 8th grader who is in his second year of homeschooling with iLEAD Exploration. Christopher is bilingual and speaks Spanish and English. The opportunity to be homeschooled has brought great successes for Christopher as he has demonstrated great progress in math, karate, and drum skills.

Name: Christopher Hernandez

What languages do you speak?

I speak English and Spanish.

What is your favorite saying in your native language?

¡Yo tengo hambre!” (“I’m hungry!”)

What is a family tradition that you enjoy?

I enjoy going to church with my family.

What career would you like to have?

I would like to be a boxer.

What is your favorite subject?

Writing is my favorite subject.

Has being multilingual allowed you any special opportunities?

I think it’s useful because if I have a job and if there is a person who knows only Spanish, and I know only English, then we can’t communicate, but since I know both languages I am able to communicate with the person who speaks Spanish.

What is your favorite hobby?

Playing Fortnite

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

Try speaking the language as much as you can because it’s good practice and it will help you improve!

Learner Spotlight- Savannah Fox

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Savannah was interested in art at a very young age. She loved to sketch or paint whenever she had the opportunity. The choice to homeschool mainly came from the opportunities it would create for her to cultivate her passion and skills.

While mostly a digital artist, Savannah enjoys traditional art as well. She graduated from the Ryman Arts program this past spring and has been taking art classes at College of the Canyons. Being able to be dual enrolled at a community college and work towards her degree while still at iLEAD has been amazing.

Savannah’s hobbies revolve around art! She loves character design, character development, and fashion design.

As for her future goals, she is looking to find an internship when she turns 18. She is looking for a career where she can follow her passion for art while still having the freedom to create.

Learner Spotlight: Leo Krupp

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This month’s focus on “Grit” is a perfect way to highlight iLEAD Exploration learner Leo Krupp, because no matter how challenging, frustrating, or difficult something might be for him, he does his best to rise above it and keep on moving forward.

Leo has even grown to appreciate mistakes, because when they happen, he knows he will learn from them and have the opportunity to reevaluate and improve. He is learning to look at life and all its challenges as a seed that needs water, sunlight, and love. At first you do not see growth because it’s hidden under the soil, but eventually you will have a beautiful flower if you stick with it and never give up.

Although schooling has never come easy to Leo, he refuses to let his diagnoses of autism, ADHD, and other learning differences stop him from achieving anything he chooses to do. What a perfect embodiment of grit Leo is!

Leo is a natural musician and understands any musical instrument he decides to pick up. His favorite instrument is definitely the drums. This came as no surprise to Leo’s parents, who lovingly referred to him as Bam-Bam when he was a toddler. Leo plays music by ear, and he is currently learning to read music as well. When he is not taking a music lesson, you will find him playing along with one of his favorite music idols, such as his brother and sister, Lathan and Hannah. In addition to the drums, Leo has also taught himself to play the piano, and he is starting to take an interest in the guitar as well. It is just a matter of time before Leo becomes a one-man superstar band.

Leo loves to research famous people who inspire him, such as Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. He dreams of traveling to Apple’s headquarters to learn about all that goes into creating Apple products.

Learner Spotlight: Daija Hooker

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Daija Hooker is a passionate, courageous iLEAD Exploration 10th grader who always has a positive outlook on life. She sets her goals and works hard to follow through even when things become challenging. She shows true grit in her academics and extracurricular activities.

Daija started her homeschool journey about seven years ago. Homeschooling has allowed her to customize a learning path that best suits her needs and goals. She continues to flourish and excel in her studies and talents. She attends learning center classes and creative classes to help develop her academic strengths and her talents. Demonstrating great resolve, Daija commits to long hours of practice for dance and acting classes each week and still finds time for her studies.

Years ago, she started taking acting, dancing, vocal, and theatre classes just for fun. Now she works in the entertainment industry and appears in television commercials, music videos, and has worked with Disney and Nickelodeon. In her free time she gives back to others by helping serve meals at food shelters, and by reading books and playing with young children at orphanages, Sunday schools, and kids camps.

Daija feels strongly that the consistency in having the same teacher every year benefits her. She loves being a part of iLEAD and appreciates her resourceful, kind, patient and accessible facilitator, who Daija believes plays a big part in her education. In just a few short years, Daija has plans to attend college and study to be a neonatal nurse.

Her motto is “I was born ready!” and she truly is ready for anything!

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