learner spotlight

Learner Spotlight: Duran Family

Duran featured image

Gratitude is a crucial aspect of every learner’s educational environment. When the Duran family made the switch from their neighborhood school to homeschooling, they found out just how much an attitude of gratitude affected not only everyone’s learning experience, but also their days together.

This dynamic family is always on the move with their creative third grader, Jalseen, who is always dreaming up stories or making crafts, acting as the leading lady in musical theater, and reading. First grader Julian, the engineer and builder, always has a new idea for an invention or LEGO creation. Jade, the littlest Duran, is not quite old enough to join iLEAD Exploration, but she is always participating in the adventures and learning.

Some of the ways that the Durans have kept gratitude as a focus have been through the creation of a kindness chart. This chart allows them to reward each other by showing gratitude to one another for choosing kindness.

This lovely family also enhances their handwriting and writing practice by sending thank-you notes to family and friends. They love to encourage and show gratitude for the people in their lives by creating art and giving away toys to friends and neighbors who will enjoy them.


The Durans have learned that giving presents isn’t the only way to say thank you to friends and family. They know it is also important to be cheerful and to give others a feeling of happiness. Making others feel special has expanded their thinking to even more creative ways to show gratitude! The Durans have shared that this focus on gratitude has really impacted every aspect of their homeschool day.

Learner Spotlight: Camila Aguirre


Camila Aguirre is a 5th grade learner who is in her second year of homeschooling with iLEAD Exploration. Camila is multilingual and speaks three languages. She is fluent in Spanish and English and is currently learning Chinese.

Name: Camila Aguirre

What languages do you speak?
I speak Chinese, Spanish, and English.

What is your favorite saying in your native language?
My favorite saying is “Ahi nos vidrios!” It is slang for “See you later!”

What is a family tradition that you enjoy?
During Christmas, my family and I buy gifts for each other and guess who gave what gift.

What career would you like to have?
I would like to be an interior designer. I think being able to speak Chinese, Spanish, and English is going to allow me to have more clients.

What is your favorite subject?
Math. I love math. It makes life so much easier.

Has being multilingual allowed you any special opportunities?
Yes! I am able to communicate with a lot of different people. I learn so much from speaking their language.

What is your favorite hobby?
I love to ice skate. I just started last year when I began homeschooling. I had my first ice skating competition, and I won first place! I feel like I’m flying when I’m gliding.

What advice would you give to someone trying to learn a new language?
Start with the basics. Try to listen to the language as much as possible. I watch movies in Chinese to hear the language. Also, practice, practice, practice, and practice, and don’t be afraid to say things incorrectly!

Learner Spotlight: The Hemsley Twins

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Heather and Hope are eighth grade twins. They are uniquely gifted and share the same passion for music, theater, and serving others. Being homeschooled, they have been given more time to develop their gifts. They have enjoyed being involved in musical theater, and their most recent musical was “Singing in the Rain.” Both girls play the piano, and have enjoyed accompanying vocalists, leading worship, and playing for the elderly. Both girls love any serving opportunities! They have put in several hours with Operation Christmas Child packing shoe boxes this holiday season.

Hope is passionate about art. She has entered her art work yearly in the L.A. County Fair. She has been developing this gift with a variety of art courses, the most recent being a landscape course. Hope sets up her easel in different locations every day. She thrives on the challenge to create a piece that reflects what she is seeing. She desires to one day teach art in order to inspire others to see the beauty around them.

Heather loves to read and write! She always has a story in her head and multiple stories in progress. An idea book called “Writers Block” is where she continuously is writing her thoughts down for future stories. She has a love for language and words. She recently completed NaNoWriMo, a young writer’s program that challenges writers to finish a novel in a month, and then they will print it for you. Heather desires to teach one day, and also be an inspirational writer on the side.

One goal they share is to write and illustrate a book together! Heather and Hope are sisters, best friends, and are enthusiastic about life and all the opportunities that await them!

Learner Spotlight: Samantha Bangis

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Not only is Samantha Bangis whip smart, she is also thoughtful, creative, and has a heart of gold!

Samantha enjoys spending hours creating incredible LEGO feats. One of her favorite building accomplishments was constructing the Cinderella Castle from Disneyland! Her hard work and determination pays off in many ways. Samantha finds math challenges exciting and is an avid fan of all things STEM.

While her math and science skills are strong, Samantha’s real love is found in the arts. She is in her third Shakespeare play, “Romeo and Juliet,” and has a supporting role as Princess Escalus. Art has always been Samantha’s favorite subject and for years she has enjoyed taking art classes.

One day Samantha would like to be an art teacher and own her own studio where she teaches art and runs Shakespeare classes, but she will do all that after she fulfills her dream to travel to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower.

Oui! Oui! Samantha! You will get there someday soon! Keep dreaming, creating, and building your dreams!

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