Meet Homeschool Teacher Amanda Bobczynski

Amanda Bobczynski is one of our fantastic Homeschool Educators here at Elite! She has been in Education for 17 years, a teacher for 10 years, and has been with Elite for 3 years. She chose to #BeElite because she is passionate about Education.

"I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. I have experience teaching several diverse fifth grade classes.  I had the opportunity to teach and host various clubs such as robotics and coding. I was a college advisor for seven years and I discovered people are just a couple decisions and choices away from their dreams, and rarely do they accomplish them without an education." 

Ms. B grew up in Shell Beach on the Central Coast of California before moving to San Diego in High School, which is where she has put down her roots. She has a daughter who is a sophomore in college, and a fur baby with four legs, named Coco. She loves sunsets, walking on the beach, and hanging out with family and friends.

"My goal is to instill a passion, teaching students how to critically think, inspire, and motivate every student I come in contact with. I have learned that hard work, a positive attitude, and perseverance always pays off." 

Homeschool Director Evan Jorgensen notices Ms. B's good qualities and is glad that she is a part of the Homeschool Staff:
"Regardless if students are looking to complete FAFSA or learning Phonemic Awareness, Amanda is ready and willing with a vast toolbelt of resources to support her students. Thank you Amanda for working hard and going above and beyond to support your Homeschooling Families."
Kirk Shea, an Elite Parent also recognizes how lucky they are to have Ms. B in their corner:
"Amanda has been so friendly and passionate. She’s been helping us navigate the homeschool world for the last two years with great success. She always makes sure to check in on how our family is doing at all of our meetings."   

While Ms. B has a diverse background in teaching different subjects and grades, her favorite subject to teach has changed a little since she first started her teaching career.

"I used to love math, but now it is writing.  I love giving students the opportunity to explore their creative side, inspire students to go beyond their capabilities, give students the flexibility to find their writing “voice”,  and give individualized feedback during writing conferences." 

We are so grateful to have a dedicated and hardworking teacher like Ms. B to be a part of our awesome Homeschool Academy Staff!

"I love being a homeschool teacher because I get to connect with families,  help facilitate a love for learning, and create individualized education paths for each student. My passion is to inspire students to be a lifelong learner and each child is like working with raw diamonds that I can help shape into precious stones.  Cheers to being a lifelong learner!" 

Shelby Murray - Homeschool Academy Students Ranks First Nationally in Horsemanship

Shelby Murray is one of our Homeschool Academy Students that just finished up her 10th grade school year. Like many of our students, she works hard in all areas of her life. Shelby has taken it one step further and become an absolute rockstar in the sport of Three day Eventing. She was recently ranked Number 1 in eventing at the Junior/training division by the United States Eventing Association, USEA. We had to learn more about Shelby's rise up the ranks and what keeps her motivated to do her best in her sport.

Shelby's mom, Julie, has loved horses her whole life. It seems that the love of horses and discovery of the sport came from her! They got involved with the US Pony Club when Shelby was 9 years old, and have been a part of the organization ever since. Through the Pony Club, learning to ride a horse is just one aspect that you're taught. Kids learn everything there is to know about a horse, from its hooves to its ears. They also learn how to properly care for a horse on their own.

"Children learn all aspects about a horse including it's genetic defaults, nutrition, diseases, anatomy.... The Pony Club fully encompasses the whole gamete of owning a horse" Julie said. "It starts with basic stuff, but now Shelby is one level from being at the top of the Pony Club’s horse management pinnacle A rating.".

Every rating that Shelby has surpassed has been earned. In the upper levels national raters come and test both her riding ability and horsemanship knowledge.

Shelby started out at the Fallbrook Pony Club, where future Tokyo 2021 Olympian Liz Halliday-Sharp got her start as well. Shelby's family has since started their own Pony Club, San River Downs, which they saw was needed for Shelby in order to progress further in the sport. "She has her own motor and I'm just helping to guide her engine" mom said.

On top of being nationally ranked in her sport, Shelby is an awesome student and also works part time as a working student at Swift Ridge Eventing. She has a great head on her shoulders and is thinking about her future. Shelby has a goal of becoming a dental hygienist so she can make a living for herself and continue with Equestrian as her hobby. She's also working on her gold award for girl scouts and is a part of the national charity league with 500 volunteer hours logged over the last four years.

We asked Shelby's mom how she took the news about being ranked Number 1 in her Junior/training division.

"She's super humble and just happy that she gets to ride. Her main horse Sonik was injured a year ago, he had to have surgery and just came back for a show one month ago. So every ride that she gets to ride with her horses is a gift to her. Another horse she rides is Reverie. This horse is not easy, but Shelby rose to the occasion and they're doing fabulous. It's unusual for anyone to get 4 first places in a row in eventing. She could have done much more showing and earning points for the leaderboard, but she didn't want to possibly injure the horse. She said it's not worth it and she wants what's best for the horse".

Check out this video compilation created by Shelby of her past riding competitions with her Horse, Reverie GWF.  

That is where her horsemanship knowledge comes into play. On top of riding her horse, Shelby is there every day feeding, wrapping, exercising, grooming the horse, completely taking care of it as it is her responsibility. She knows what it's like to take care of a sick horse and understands what over-activity can do to them, so she refrained from showing too much. Being a part of the Pony Club and continuing her education in horsemanship has taught her a lot more than just being a passenger on a horse.  It’s a delicate dance between horse and rider, the ultimate partnership in a very challenging sport.

There are some Homeschool Programs that do not recognize Equestrian as a sport, which is why Shelby found a good fit with Elite.

She is able to get an unmatched education through Elite and Mr. Shirley and through the US Pony Club. The flexibility of Elite's program allows her to fit her riding and horse-training responsibilities in when she needs. It also allows her to teach younger kids in the Pony Club about riding and horsemanship.

"She'd love to help anybody who has any questions. She teaches horsemanship as part of the upper horsemanship rating responsibility and she also does it for the love of it" mom says.

Shelby is always looking for the next step, which is why she recently started looking into the different aspects of eventing. Eventing is described as the equestrian triathlon and is extremely rigorous. There are three phases: dressage, cross country, and show jumping. Shelby is looking into shadowing  cross country course designers/builders and learn more about that phase, which is the most dangerous. But her background in this sport has prepared her for taking this next step.

We have no doubt she will succeed in this event, just like she has in everything else. Shelby, thank you for choosing to Be Elite and representing our school so well!

If anyone is interested in joining the Elite Equestrian Team or would like to learn more from Shelby herself, please email our Community Coordinator, Kiley Allen [email protected]

Clubs, Classes and Connections: Jeannelle Reeves Takes Full Advantage of Being an Elite Student

Jeannelle Reeves, a Junior in Flex Academy, is changing the mindset and academic experience of our students through the Kindness Club and Be Elite Podcast. She also helps runs our Lunch Bunch, which is a recurring school wide virtual lunch activity where students have fun connecting with each other while eating lunch. In addition to being a positive influence on our school, Jeannelle is an exceptional student.

“What made you decide to come to Elite?”

I was attending another school and they had a lot of work, but the videos and notes were completely different from the test. I was so confused and I wanted to find a different school. I saw an ad for Elite and I was like “Hey maybe I’ll check it out”. I saw that I could join the  Flex Academy, so that I can have my work on Strongmind (online) but also have a teacher to meet with. My problem has always been with teachers not getting back to me. Also, I saw that it was tuition free and there was a possibility for enrichment funds that could pay for piano lessons!

“Tell me about your overall experience with Elite!” 

It has been awesome!

“If I need help, my teachers get back to me right away and I can tell that they care about me! I feel like the school’s mission is to make the students feel cared about and helping them understand everything.”

They actually do what they say they are going to do, it’s not all talk. My teacher of record, Mrs. Steele is awesome! She’s always there for me and she always cares about me, my mom, and my cat! I have a lot of fun at our weekly meetings. Mr. Smith, my Marketing Teacher is super awesome. He makes Marketing and the Podcast a lot of fun!

“You are such an involved student. Kindness Ambassadors, Lunch Bunch, Podcast, and joining a lot of school events! What brought you to get involved with school activities and what do you enjoy about it?” 

At first I wasn’t really involved in anything. I wanted to join the Podcast, but I wasn’t really sure about it. I thought “maybe next time”. But I got an email saying that I was picked to be a part of the kindness ambassadors and I didn’t really know what it was. I thought it might be cool to be part of it. After that, we did a kindness week episode on the podcast and I was like “hey this was fun” so then I joined the podcast club!

“After I started to see how fun it is, I like getting to be part of things that the school is doing! I like how we are starting to all get to know each other and now I am starting to know students at the school that I wouldn’t have known before.”

“What are your hobbies outside of school clubs?”

I really love music and I take piano lessons, I like creative things and doing crafts! I like to paint, bake, and I like to cross stitch and I like this thing called diamond dotz! I also really love legos (like the lego piano), and playing games like Animal Crossing and Mario!

How has your academic learning experience been like at Elite? 

Really good! I feel like all my teachers really care about me! Anytime I need help I know my teachers will always get back to me and help me with whatever I need. I feel like for the most part Strongmind is pretty easy to navigate and Canvas is nice too! My teacher of record, Mrs. Steele is super awesome and she always helps me if I need anything.

” I also like how I can do classes on google classroom because I have been able to do music, film, and photography. It’s nice to have flexibility in my classes!”

Jeannelle is always putting her best foot forward, and we are with her every step. We are excited for Jeannelle to continue to excel in her academics and in her commitment to bringing our students together through the Podcast and Kindness Club. 

Keep up the amazing job, Jeannelle; we are so proud of you!

Celebrate Pi Day with these Awesome Activities

Albert Einstein, arguably the most famous theoretical physicist to date, was born on March 14, 1879. March 14th also happens to be Pi Day, in honor of π - the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle. Regardless of the circle's size, this ratio will always equal Pi, or 3.14 for short. Pi is an irrational number, meaning the decimal form never ends or becomes repetitive in numbers. Here is Pi to just 18 decimal places: 3.141592653589793238. 


In order to celebrate National Pi Day on March 14th, there are a ton of educational activities you can do in order to explore this ratio further.  

  1. Use the first 20 digits in pi and write a story using the numbers. You will use a 3-letter word then a 1-letter word then a 4-letter word and keep going!
  2. Make a pie, measure it, take the circumference and area, then EAT! 
  3. Make Pi Plates. Glue the Pi symbol into the middle, and color it using ten different colors that coincided with the numbers. Then write the digits of Pi around the outside border as many times as you can! 
  4. Make Pi Bracelets. Take two different colors of beads. One color represents odd numbers and one color represents even numbers. Put together the bracelets based on the 20 numbers of Pi and wear it on your wrist proudly  
  5. Read stories related to Pi Day. “Sir Cumference and the Knights of the Round Table”, a story about the introduction of the circle vocabulary (circumference, diameter, radius, etc.), and “Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi”, a story about the discovery of the value of Pi. 
  6. Find objects around the house that are circular in shape and measure the circumference, the diameter and the radius. Find the value of the circumference divided by the diameter, and the circumference divided by the radius. It will be great to see how similar the answers are with the different objects! 
  7. Come up with a song about Pi with 8 facts to the tune of a nursery rhyme. 


Different in a Similar World - Essay by Selma Bariz

Hello everyone, My name’s Selma & this is my memoir:

To live a perfectly normal life is practically impossible. No one, absolutely nobody, can be normal. From the kid that lives with a scar on his arm, to the boy whose burns haven’t healed since childhood, to the one girl that had her appendix removed when she was twelve, and to the little boy that lives in a bubble, because even a minor cold could end his life. You’re no exception, and I’m no exception either.

For the sake of confidentiality, I will not mention my name. What I will mention is that I am an atypical 16 year old teen that lives in a world of words & thoughts. I love reading; my favorite author is John Green. I love music, specifically EDM-style genres-- Trap, House, Drum-n-Bass, Drumstep, et cetera. I go to school (well I used to, COVID-19 kinda ruined that) and I’ve always been that one student that always raises her hand to answer a question, open to everyone around her, bubbly, simply a chill, happy person that also writes poetry, a behind-the-lyrics meanings nerd, & averages a 3.7 GPA.

"To live a perfectly normal life is practically impossible"

Well, I mean, I’m sure there’s a ton of people in my generation with the same qualities & interests. Still, I am ultimately positive that there’s two facts about me that not many people my age would relate to. Well, maybe this first one is a lot more common.

I am legally blind, or in more “scientific” terms, visually impaired with a scale vision from about 15/200. For those of you who don’t understand how poor vision works, basically, even if I stood right in front of you, I still wouldn’t know what your eye color is (sorry). Also, it wasn’t until recently that I figured out that humans actually have these tiny holes on our skin called pores (7th grade biology really can teach you life-lasting information.) I can’t drive, which I agree is completely logical, since I have destroyed countless cities in every driving video game there is anyway.

My apologies for all my jokes, but seriously, I can’t see. People always say “you can see me though,” or “you can see where you’re walking.” First of all, I actually can’t “see” you. How do I put this? When I’m looking at you, I basically am looking at the CGI video game version of you. A plain face, with two eyes with dark pupils, lips, hair type & color, skin color, & body type--that’s it. If you’re wearing makeup, I will not notice. Even with people I’ve known and lived with my whole life, sometimes I can’t recognize them either. Imagine my embarrassment when during the fifth grade, I went and hugged my friend’s mom thinking it was my mom after school. Sorta awkward, but we all had a good laugh.

Speaking of school, even if you were to put me in the first row, I would not see the board. Ever since 3rd grade, the only way I can ever see ANYTHING on the board is by zooming into the board with a tablet’s camera. Still, even the best cameras can’t detect faint green & red markers. Or that one kid, whose hair just blocks the board entirely. And me, being the “I don’t want to disrupt the class” type, only being able to say “e-excuse me… your head… can you like, yknow, move it…?” In the end though, all of my teachers & fellow students have always been very accommodating & understanding.

Being legally blind does put you in “fun” situations, fun as in “awkward & completely humiliating” situations.

"Let’s talk about eye contact; I have no clue what that is"

Let’s talk about eye contact; I have no clue what that is. Everyone has probably been in that situation where the teacher asks for a volunteer & the whole class avoids making eye contact to not get picked. As for me, I stare at the teacher, not even knowing the crime I’ve unintentionally committed.

Or those times where someone I know waves at me from a distance, I am looking straight at them from a distance, but cannot really notice who they are, let alone see them waving. So it’s a bit awkward for them since they’ve waved,and I’m just staring right at them without ever waving back…
Moving on—

You have probably wondered: how did she become legally blind? Maybe a birth defect? Injury? Disease? Well, to answer that, I will have to tell you the second unique fact about me.

Let me explain this as smoothly and quickly as possible (without sounding painfully boring). Ok, here we go.

I was born with a rare genetic disease called HSAN type 8. Basically, HSAN stands for Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy. In short, that means I have an insensitivity to pain. My arm could be casually laying somewhere near the stove, and I wouldn’t even notice until I’d see the burn. Or, while most kids would cry after falling off their bikes
& scraping their knee, I would not cry nor react until my mom notices some bruise or inflammation, which could either be minor or could lead to a tripto the hospital. I know some people would see this as a superpower, but I hate to break the news, it’s not. Worldwide, there have only been around 300 known cases of the condition itself ranging from type 1-8.

Now, how does my visual impairment have anything to do with me not feeling pain? Well, it is common for children with my disease to have corneal issues during infancy. The cornea is the transparent layer that covers your eye to protect it from bacteria, infections, etc. It is responsible for about 60-70% of the ability to focus your eyes.

Basically, as kids that don’t receive a brain signal of what pressure is enough when rubbing our eyes, we end up scratching our own corneas with our tiny little fingers. And, when your cornea is scratched, your vision gets really damaged and you become legally blind. Furthermore, because we’ve ruined the guards to our eyes, doctors sew our eyelids 70% shut to limit eye infections, dust, bacteria, etc. from entering our eyes. They close off the castle because the guards aren’t there to protect it.

Along with my visual impairment, I am toothless. And, no, it is not a Gaten Matarazzo situation where my teeth haven’t developed. On the contrary, they did, but due to having weak gums, they’ve all fallen out besides a few on my bottom mouth.

So, to the awesome, less painfully-boring part, how does all this affect me personally? Socially? And emotionally?

Well, I can say that it definitely isn’t something I’d ever wish on anyone, like ever. Still, I never felt different from others, I’ve always had a pretty good, stable self-esteem & have always been self-confident as well. Just like most teenagers, I have had self-esteem shifts, but my parents raised me in a way where I never felt different from others. I also really enjoy being unique & different, because aren’t we all?

Sure, at a young age, I did have a difficult time making friends. Even though I’d always make the effort to introduce myself & join in, the other kids would only ignore me. But who am I kidding? They were all just little kids that didn’t know any better. Interestingly, I’ve never been bullied harshly. Kids would either ignore me, be low key friendly, and there have been a few occurrences where I have endured verbal insults. I changed schools a lot, always trying to find a better environment than the previous one. It wasn’t until the 4th grade that when I made my first friend, that is, to this day, still my best friend. The school I attended in the fourth grade genuinely helped me get out of my shell, since in previous years I was usually always quiet & pretty depressed, mainly because no one would just treat me like a regular kid. I remember a girl ran away from me in
the 3rd grade when I told her I had a disease because she thought it was contagious, or that one girl that was telling a few other kids that my future kids will look as “ugly” as me. When I think about that now, it genuinely makes me laugh. 8-year-olds really don’t understand how genetics works, huh? ‘Cause I was born very pretty since both of my parents are actually quite good-looking. Well, besides that, brains & a good heart override beauty any day.

Going back to our main topic, fourth grade was when I experienced my first of many paradigm shifts. We had a small classroom capacity which was really nice;probably a total of 7-9 students in our class. I felt completely accepted by all the students, who very soon became my friends. Even the teachers were kind & caring individuals. I remember when I used to despise poetry, and I will never forget what my 4th & 5th grade teacher told me. She said,”I have a good feeling you’ll change your mind as you get older.” And here I stand now as an avid writer & poet that has written an epic consisting of 137 pages.

Anyways, I remained at that school up until the last year of Elementary school, followed by going to the same middle school as my classmates. I made many more friends that I still am in touch with to this day. I stayed for the 6th and 7th grade then left to attend a private school during 8th grade.

Now, let me get into a few details about middle school. The older I got, the more my vision bothered me socially. For example, I’d hear my friends giggling about something they were looking at but I couldn’t see. Even when I’d ask them what was so funny, they never really knew how to explain it & sometimes it could be something a bit awkward or embarrassing to really repeat. It’s a “you really had to be there” thing, where in my case, it was a “you really had to see that” moment.

Even so, I rarely ever felt left out & all the girls and boys respected me & I honestly could say I was pretty popular in my class of 23 students. My friends & classmates would often ask me for advice, confide in me with secrets, & showed that they really enjoyed my presence the same way I’ve always enjoyed theirs.

I had my own group of friends, we sat together every single day during break, always at the same round table on the right side in the same exact seating.

I’ve always been a solid straight A student. Still, my least favorite subject has always been Math, but I seem to enjoy Geometry (somehow.) In science, I’ve always enjoyed human biology & psychology, which I continue to study during my free time. But the subject that I not only excel at academically but I love so much is: English literature.

I love books-- Memoirs, Teen Fiction, Graphic Novels, Juvenile fiction, etc. are just a few genres I very much enjoy. Swallowing one book after the other became a habit for me.

You may be wondering, How could she read traditional books when the average font size of books is very small?  Well, to answer that, reading was always somewhat a struggle for me. For me to read anything, my face has to be very close to the page. The figurative saying “your nose is always in a book” is very literal for me.

There are lots of differences between how I’ve lived everyday life since I was a kid from others. For example, I couldn’t participate in many sports for two reasons: one, I  could never see the ball, & two, I’d get injured. I’m not the best at swimming & did 2 years of wheelchair basketball which I lowkey enjoyed. As a child, my mom rarely ever let me play with sand on the playground because it’d damage my eyes, since I don't have the knights guarding the castle entrance of my eyes. I burn myself because I can’t feel pain, either by accidentally drinking hot milk, or just trying to heat something on the stove. I can place my arm right at where a boiling pot could be & I’d have no reaction. I barely ever notice burns. I can’t feel any  temperatures of liquids when I touch them. So, before I shower, my mom needs to adjust the right water temperature. I feel if the water is warm or cold once it washes over me, but I don’t when testing it out with my hands. Due to all these aspects & being prone to injuries, I spend a lot of time at the hospital, which also contributed to why having full-time friends & hanging out has always been very limited.

"I come across as totally confident & so tough & doesn’t mind what fate has bestowed me with, but I do. I am human after all"

Moving on, I successfully completed middle school & found myself in high school quite fast. I did change schools after the 7th grade & graduated middle school at a private school where I experienced & learned a lot, in positive & negative ways, but mostly positives. I made 3 awesome friends and made amazing memories with them. But, all good things come to an end; high school eventually came & we all went our separate ways.

Going into high school opened up new advantages. I hope for the next couple years I will finally get my eyes reopened & have teeth surgically built into my mouth or have removable dentures. As long as I have teeth, I don’t mind either method. As for my eyes, sadly, there’s a high chance I’ll always forever be legally blind. I do not want to risk having a corneal transplant, it can either cure my vision or end in permanent blindness.

I know that through this personal essay, I come across as totally confident & so tough & doesn’t mind what fate has bestowed me with, but I do. I am human after all. There are a lot of things I feel people do take for granted; being able to see is a huge blessing. Being able to feel pain is an even grander blessing. Just walking around & not being treated differently in any way is a dream come true for me. I still am a typical teenager. I may not be seen as normal or average, but come on, who wants to be “normal” or “average”? I sure don’t. As quoted from Wonder, ”You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out,” and that’s very true. I can’t change the way I look, but others can change the way they see (that is also a quote derived from Wonder.) I know not everyone can make that change, but is up to me and everyone else that can relate to being treated differently to educate others. People will stare, they will, but I learned to smile right back. Smiling back is an indirect way to make the person second-guess their reason for staring, & realizing that it could’ve come off as rude, or to be honest, kinda creepy.

There’s two types of people in this world. One being the people who are very kind & understanding, but don’t know how to make a disabled person feel comfortable Then there’s the other type that no one wants to come across, the ableists, people that purposely make disabled individuals uncomfortable because they feel that we are inferior to them. I find these people  downright unacceptable. Still, I believe that seeing the best in people is the way to go. Take that stare as a curiosity. “They’re just curious is all, most likely they’re just interested with positive intentions”, I’d think to myself.

We’re all different people with infinite fractal experiences & no one’s life can compare to another. No one has the right to judge someone else for something they can’t control. Even if I ask the world to be kinder, the unkindness of this world will still remain. But I believe that instead of ridding the world from villainy & treachery, we should amplify the goodness of this world & create more opportunities for all the kindred spirits of kindness to take rule & weaken the wicked.

I’m blessed to rarely ever come across any negative people, but I know there are tons of awesome individuals that can’t say the same. Therefore, it is our obligation to spread kindness & purity throughout society.

"No one has the right to judge someone else for something they can’t control."

I have so many dreams that I need to make come true. I want to become a literary expert, study psychology, & help others. I want to fill the world with positivity & hearts with pure compassion, pursue my passion of words, & use every one of them to create a better environment. I may not be able to help the world, but saving someone from emotional discomfort is as brilliant as mending their physical heart, because I’d be tending to their emotional heart.

I may not be able to drive a car or do gymnastics. I may not have the greatest social skills because of my poor vision. I may not have the greatest freedom every teen dreams of when they become an adult. I may not be able to be the greatest teacher. I may not meet “social standards,” but that’s okay. That’s actually more than okay. I am happy with who I am & excited for my future. I may have to find different ways to do ordinary things, but I’m looking forward to the adventure! I have my ride or die family & friends that’ll be there for me every step of the way.

One final thing to remember is, "It doesn’t matter who you are, we’re all going to have differences & it is our duty to ourselves to embrace them” -me. Being different is a blessing.

"It doesn’t matter who you are, we’re all going to have differences & it is our duty to ourselves to embrace them"

I’d like to take the time to acknowledge all the amazing people that helped me revise this personal essay & supporting me the whole way. To my mom that has sat down & let me re-read it to her multiple times, suggesting ideas, & helping me remember events & just being very supportive. My dad, who always encourages to ask him if I ever do need anything & being supportive as well. My English teacher Ms. Zitney & former English mentor, Ms. Aisha,  for reading & giving very insightful feedback on ideas & correcting grammatical errors—they were very helpful! To my friends who re-read it multiple times, gave suggestions, edited simple grammar I missed, & the supported me the entire way through. I can’t thank all of these amazing people enough & it wouldn’t have ended up to be such a remarkable memoir without them.

Elite Partners with Ambassadors of Compassion for Groundbreaking Social Emotional Learning Courses

Did you know that only 5 percent of the population actually achieve the goals they set out to accomplish? There are so many obstacles and delays, which deters most of us from trucking right along towards that goal. Most do not understand that those obstacles are part of the journey, no matter what we do or experience, but what if we started our journey actually knowing that there were going to be setbacks, and were emotionally equipped to handle the setbacks? This would allow one to achieve goals and become stronger and more compassionate people in the process. That's why Elite Academic Academy has partnered with Ambassadors of Compassion (AOC), which is an innovative leadership program that equips youth with the critical skills necessary to navigate and succeed through life’s inevitable challenges. Starting this 2021 spring semester at Elite, AOC has launched its first two A-G accredited Social Emotional Learning (SEL) courses.

So what is AOC all about? Founder and President, Eric Hannah, went through struggles in his own life, which is why he noticed a gap in his education where SEL courses would have benefitted. AOC was born and immediately started making an impact on the youth in Southern California. Their goal is to impact millions of students per year through this curriculum and reset the idea that people can be compassionate with each other. They have put over 60,000 students through their extra-curricular program in the last 6 years! Hannah is very passionate about helping students with social emotional learning, so you could say he is part of the 5% that achieved his goal!

"The choices students make today have a profound and immediate effect on their future. We give students the tools to navigate through these inevitable challenges. They now have a safe place where they can have open and honest discussions about things that are affecting them". 

Hannah chose Elite as the center of AOC's academic avenue, which means this will be the first time AOC is accredited with the added academic component. Through collaboration with Elite's CTE Director, Ashlea Kirkland, M. Ed., and Dr. Laura Spencer, Director of Academic Innovation, these two classes were adopted into Elite Academic Academy's Course Catalog and are now available to Elite students through Canvas Learning Management System. Students are supported through the AOC SEL Learning experience by highly qualified credentialed teachers and attend synchronous sessions with the support of Elite's credentialed School Counselor. So far, students have loved the AOC SEL courses this semester. Mrs. Kirkland is very happy with the outcome as well.

"The AOC course experience is unlike any other course! Students are highly engaged and have the ability to self-reflect on aspects of their lives in order to gain the confidence to move forward in a positive direction. Compassion is something that is hard to teach, but when the students have the opportunity to stop and look within themselves, they become better humans because of it. The academic component with the AOC courses allows for students to meet the rigorous academic standard through writing and storytelling. Student's also complete a community service project, so they learn first hand how important it is to give back to one's community." 

Here is a review of the two courses and what they entail.

LIFE Course: Labor, Influence, Forgiveness, Experiences

Understanding the role that labor plays in our lives, recognizing the needs of others and the needs within our community, and taking action to help. Recognizing that we are influenced both positively and negatively by the culture and people around us, and acknowledging that we ourselves influence others. Discovering that forgiveness is a process, and understanding and experiencing the freedom and power that comes from forgiving others, forgiving ourselves, and also asking for forgiveness when we offend others. Exploring the importance of building on our life experiences and those of others, and facing and letting go of any negative experiences in order to help us reach our goals and dreams and full potential in life.

RISE: Responsibility, Initiative, Service, Expectations

Exploring the characteristics of a responsible person and the need to take ownership of one's thoughts and actions to help accomplish one's goals and dreams in life. Understanding that initiative is an action step based on one's decisions that results in a multitude of lasting benefits, including strong and healthy relationships and reaching one's greatness in life. Discovering the importance of serving others and also serving the needs in the community. Examining the power of expectations in one's relationships and in one's goals and dreams, and distinguishing and evaluating the difference between realistic and unrealistic expectations and knowing how to manage them.

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Our Elite Students taking the LIFE course this semester are already putting what they learned from the curriculum into action.

"Doing small things that make you happy is so important. I like to stand outside in the sun because it makes me happy" - Solomon, Elite Student. 

"A quote that is important to me is 'You either stay weak and on the floor or rise up like never before' "- Eliab, Elite Student. 

In addition to being equipped with the skills to take on life's challenges, students will earn a certificate showing they completed an SEL course, on top of the 5 A-G elective credits they receive towards their high school diploma. It is becoming increasingly important for kids to have this certificate, as companies that hire young employees are looking at SEL along with Academics. Emotional preparation for life is just as important as the academic preparation, and businesses are taking notice of this!

Ambassadors of Compassion envisions millions of youth who are productive, self-sufficient, and compassionate citizens taking responsibility for their own lives while serving the needs of their community and world. Through our two new SEL courses, we know that our Elite students will be prime role models for AOC's vision!

Click here to get the full overview of AOC and read testimonies from students, parents, and celebrities that have been positively impacted by AOC.

hadley theme park legos

How Homeschool Student Hadley Golden Crushed Quarantine with Creativity

The year 2020 will be a memorable one for years to come. The pandemic flipped many student's worlds upside down. With very little warning or understanding, they were no longer able to hangout with their friends, participate in extra curricular activities, go to the movie theatre or even go out to eat. That is enough to make all of us feel down in the dumps. Hadley Golden, an 8th Grade Homeschool student at Elite, showed us how she took this negative circumstance and turned it into a potentially life changing and positive experience!
Hadley was working with one of Elite's awesome Language Arts Vendors (Write on Webb) where she had to write an essay about her dream job. Through this assignment, Hadley realized her dream of becoming a theme park set designer, ideally for Universal, Disney or Legoland! She explains in her essay that this will not be an easy feat.

"This job is for someone courageous, fearless, and adaptive. This is not for an individual who likes to dip one toe in the water. It is for the adventurer who will dive in headfirst and enjoys being cutting edge. If imagination does not come naturally, he or she is on the wrong playground".

Melissa Webb with Write on Webb said it was one of the most well-written inspirational papers.

"Teaching places me in the presence of great, young minds. What a gift! Exceptional students require a little inspiration and a lot of encouragement. They do all the work. Hadley Golden is a perfect example of this. She is a talented, creative, courageous, hard-working person. It is my honor to know her".

When the quarantine hit hard at the beginning of 2020, she became inspired to create.  Hadley had earned the money for her Legos from her mom-daughter Origami Owl business, where she is a part of a Young Entrepreneur’s Program. She had all the tools (and time) she needed to build whatever she wanted: and she did just that!

Hadley created Golden Ticket Dream-Park with lots of unique features that allow theme parks to maximize their profitability with quarantine  protections in place and some innovative perspectives in new layouts and attractions.  She is also a true Harry Potter fanatic and was able to purchase most of the Harry Potter Lego Collection so that she could recreate the famed Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Perhaps as impressive as the Golden Ticket Dream-Park is her Quarantine Compound.  The Quarantine Compound is home to a unique multi-generational 90-member family who is quarantining together with a considerable amount of pets too.  She built a whimsical, thoughtful, and efficient home complete with a kitchen that can seat all, an outdoor Harry Potter amphitheater, water slide, pet pagoda, and more.  Each room is full of detail and bunkbeds of course that reflect the personalities and hobbies of the kids who bunk there.

Her mother, Tiffany Golden, is so proud of her daughter and everything she has accomplished throughout her time in quarantine.
"Discovering her dream job literally gave her a sense of elevated purpose. Who knew that it would be something horrific like a pandemic that gave her the time and space to bring this to life.  This has filled her soul most of all and filled the long lonely days with possibility over pain and distracted her from feeling more fear".
After seeing the above video, one of her current instructors, Brenda Cole, also encouraged her to explore online programs to expand on her talents. During the process of writing her paper, she created a video that went viral at Universal Creative and landed her a 1-hour phone call with Elaine Hinds, the Director and Executive Producer at Universal Creative! It is safe to say that when Hadley sets her sights on something, she does not stop until she gets it.
The encouragement she has received from Universal Studios and her own Elite Teachers is fueling her belief in herself at a time where teens are so hard on themselves and struggling through this time of isolation. Hadley is fighting the negativity of quarantine the only way she knows how, with grit and tenacity. All of us here at Elite are extremely proud of what she has accomplished during this tumultuous time, and hope that her story can inspire others to begin doing what they love!

Cicely Matt

Teacher Highlight: Virtual Academy Content Teacher Cicely Mallett

Science is a subject that is constantly changing. Experts continue to conduct research and learn more about their areas of expertise. This new knowledge gets passed down to Educators who write these new findings in textbooks and teach it to our students. Teachers play a pivotal role in this ecosystem of spreading knowledge, which is why Elite is so happy to have Ms. Mallett on board as our Virtual Academy Science Content Teacher.

Ms. Mallett teaches Biology, Chemistry and Physical Science within the Virtual Academy. Given the construct of this Academy, Ms. Mallett works with our Virtual Students a lot via email and via zoom during her office hours. She continuously communicates with her students and their Teachers of Record to provide feedback on assignments and enrich our student's learning experience with her knowledge on the subject.

Virtual Academy Director Evan Jorgensen states:

"Ms. Mallett shines when she is working with her students, which always shows in her smile. We are thankful to have her expertise and personal touch to her courses and lessons in the Virtual Academy".

Ms. Mallett feels the same way about Elite and knows she has found a school to work for that values both staff and students.

"As a part-time teacher, I feel so engaged with the school. The morale of the staff is great and the interaction with the students and parents are easy and successful. The goodies that are giving to us frequently is not expected but I do love those too!"

She hasn't always wanted to pursue teaching as a career, but quickly realized how much she could positively contribute to her community if she became an educator.

"During my residency as a Public Health major, 99% of 10-17 year olds that I spoke with said  that their teachers made a difference in their lives".
And that was the start of a 17 year teaching career! The subject of science as her expertise was a no-brainer.
"With science, you can think outside the box. If you don’t have a book or a board, you can explain science to students and get a 'Wow'".
When Ms. Mallett is not teaching, she likes to stay active. Her hobbies include running, hiking, swimming, and Fitcamp. She also finds time to watch Investigative Discovery, her favorite channel! Thank you, Ms. Mallet for being a bright light within the Virtual Academy here at Elite and enriching our student's experience.
If you are interested in learning more about the Virtual Academy, Click Here. 

Patrick Navas

Teacher Spotlight: Virtual Academy Content Teacher Patrick Navas

Elite Virtual Academy (EVA) students attend weekly online sessions where they receive live instruction and support from teachers and have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers. While students have the freedom to complete their 100% online coursework when and where they want, instructors like their Teacher of Record and Content Teachers help keep them on track with daily reminders, check-ins, tutoring, live instruction and corrective feedback.

One of those Content Teachers that is Mr. Patrick Navas! He is Elite's High School Social Science teacher covering US History, World History, Government, Economics, and World Geography. Needless to say those are very important courses, so Elite is lucky to have Mr. Navas, a 14 year teaching veteran, at the helm. His own love of learning and desire to impart wisdom and knowledge to others was his inspiration for becoming a teacher. His hobbies outside of teaching are weight lifting, writing, reading, soccer, tennis, badminton, and spending time with his three sons!

EVA is 100% online, therefore Mr. Navas has the ability to work from home. He researches and prepares lectures for his students, holds Zoom office hours and is continuously in communication with the students and their Teachers of Record. He fits in grading work throughout his day also! While Elite is very lucky to have him, he told us he's happy to be a part of the team as well.

"The culture among staff is very healthy and supportive. Our administrators always express appreciation for what we do so it feels good and encourages us to keep on keeping on!"

It is because of Teachers like Mr. Navas that our students receive a truly superior online learning experience at Elite through EVA. To learn more about EVA's curriculum and overall structure, please visit our Virtual Academy Webpage.



Meet Phoenix: Incredible Artist with Passion and Ambition

There’s nothing better than finding a passion to make life a little bit less stressful. Sometimes, it’s those hobbies that get you through, especially in 2020!

For Phoenix, a student here at Elite Virtual Academy, art is their thing. This student is incredibly talented, and although we certainly think Phoenix is talented enough to make it a career, art is meant to be their side passion in life.

Really, Phoenix has so much potential, they could go anywhere they want in life!

And that’s what Phoenix plans to do.

Here’s a little more about this awesome student:


About Phoenix Cassell: Artist, Social Justice Activist.


Phoenix started with Elite Virtual Academy in 2019 while living within Death Valley National Park. Phoenix has been drawing from a young age and one day it caught the eye of Mrs. Reardon, their teacher. Mrs. Reardon wanted to share it with us. 

“I’ve just been drawing a lot sine I was a kid,” said Phoenix. “I don’t know what it is about art, but sometimes it’s nice to cool down. It just calms you. I haven’t taken any art classes but it’s something I love.” 

Here are a few of Phoenix’s drawings, just to get an idea of their talent. Most of the art is digital, although Phoenix does sometimes sketch by hand. And what Phoenix draws ranges to anything they feel like at the moment.

“‘I feel like when I was a baby, I would just take a pen and draw. I don’t feel like it mattered much what others thought. It only mattered that I wanted to do this, and I needed to do it,’ said Phoenix”

Although Phoenix is very talented, drawing is just one of Phoenix’s many passions and talents.

“I don’t know I don’t think I’ll do art as my main thing but I will continue to do art,” said Phoenix. “I want to do something that I do for my past time and not work, then it becomes less of a hobby.” 

Phoenix told us they actually started an art business for a little bit, but found that it was a stress to be told what to draw with deadlines attached. For Phoenix, art is about finding release and enjoyment.

So, what does Phoenix want to do after high school?

“I don’t know yet, but I would like to be an equality protestor, equality HR, police officer maybe. I’ve thought about those. Fighting for the country that I live in. I thought about a pilot or a flight attendant too because I love going places. I could be a president, I could be a vice president,” said Phoenix.

Social justice is something that is very important to Phoenix, as you might have noticed from the list of potential careers above. It often reflects into Phoenix’s artwork, shown below.

“I’m inspired by the things I love and am passionate about. That’s my inspiration to draw,” said Phoenix.”

Phoenix’s last main inspiration is the family dog, a Dutch Shepard.

“My dog is a very big inspiration to me. She is just a very sweet dog. Her name is Ibex,” said Phoenix.

One thing is certain: Phoenix is going to keep learning after high school.

“I have plans to go to college. I don’t know what I’m going to study in college but I am going to college,” said Phoenix. “I want to get the best education possible. I have a few years to decide.”

We love not only the ambition, but the wisdom of this Elite student. We can’t wait to see what Phoenix does next!

To learn more about Elite Virtual Academy, head here.