Alina Simons Senior Shout Out

We have many outstanding Seniors this school year! Alina S., a Homeschool Academy Graduate, is no exception. Alina is a concurrent enrollment student who loves all things Visual and Performing Arts. She has really enjoyed her time at Elite, as it has allowed her to discover different hobbies and spend time with her family.

Alina has accomplished so many incredible things during her time here at Elite. We decided to ask her a few questions to help you learn more about her and all that she has achieved.

What are your plans after graduation?

I have been concurrently enrolled at Grossmont College and plan to continue my journey by completing an associate degree and transferring to San Diego State University. There are many subjects and fields that I am drawn to, but I am confident that I will always pursue my passion for creative endeavors through writing, art, and drama.

What are you most proud of from this school year, academic or non-academic?

I am most proud of the opportunity to be concurrently enrolled in community college as a high school student. I have made new friends through my online classes and learned that I can succeed in college.

What has been your favorite part of being a student here at Elite?

The most important part of my high school experience has been acquiring knowledge. I love learning, whether it be a new craft, talent, or something academic. Being homeschooled has allowed me to learn with my wonderful family and has given me great opportunities to learn from amazing experiences.

Students & Parents: Don't Miss Alina's Graduation Speech!

Alina will be the Homeschool Academy Speaker at our in-person graduation ceremony, happening June 14! For our Elite families and friends, or others interested in attending, the ceremony starts at 6 p.m. at Hawk Ranch in Temecula. All of our Elite Families will be able to view the ceremony virtually via Vimeo Livestream! The link is on ParentSquare, so please log into your account and grab the link. Congratulations to all of our Graduating Seniors!

Interested in learning more about our Homeschool Academy? You can learn more here.

Sage Shines - Virtual Academy 11th Grader Becomes San Diego Broadway Award Finalist

Meet Sage: A Virtual Academy 11th Grader who has absolutely soared this school year! Sage has been singing and performing for as long as she can remember, she has always had such passion for it. She met Mrs. Amy Ciceri here at Elite, when she started participating in our Visual and Performing Arts opportunities. Mrs. Ciceri encouraged her to pursue her craft and entered her into the Broadway San Diego Awards.

The Broadway San Diego Awards is a regional competition for high schoolers across San Diego County. The winners, top actor and top actress, go on to represent San Diego at the Jimmy Awards. It is a very thorough audition process, including virtual and in person auditions. This was Sage's first time entering and she did not shy away from the competition!

"I was nominated as top 10 best actress. At the event, each actress sings for a top 3 spot and then the winner goes on to the Jimmy Awards. I made it through to the top three!"

Sage decided to enroll with Elite this school year, as her dad is immunocompromised. She had her reservations at first, because she was really looking forward to the "traditional" high school experience.

"I realized that being homeschooled opens up so many doors for me artistically. It enables me to finish school earlier in the day, giving me the flexibility to hone in on a variety of different aspects and cultivate my craft".

Sage typically is able to finish her school work in the afternoon, so she has the rest of the day to practice the song or monologue she's working on at the time. Her mom is so proud and has enjoyed watching her thrive in this new schooling environment.

"At Elite, Sage is now able to balance school and her passion!" 

Sage would like to major in either musical theatre or acting in college. Due to her hard work as an Elite Eagle, her goals are definitely within reach. We look forward to everything she will be able to accomplish as a student, performer, and beyond!

4 ways to help motivate your child in their schoolwork

*This article is a guest post from Dr. Deana Westedt, an Elite Academic parent

For parents of students learning at home who have difficulty completing their work, it can be a mystery that stumps the cleverest amongst us and leaves us wondering how to get them back on track. We know they are capable, yet work remains undone and refusal may ensue. Such circumstances can directly impact the dynamics in the home.

Here are some top tips for digging deep into such challenges and how to work with your child to get things going, even if they never really were!

1. Talk with your child

Ask your child what is hard about getting their work done. The answer may surprise you. It may have nothing to do with the type of work given at all. Find out from them some ideas of what they think might help to improve their work completion. These conversations can smooth out the rough edges and teach your child important communication skills to resolve conflict and challenges.

2. Consider setting a timer and giving a concrete amount of time to work

Sometimes the task may simply feel overwhelming and a child who does not developmentally have a sense of time or has neurodiversity may react by avoidance or outbursts. Setting a finite time with a definite beginning and end can help to scaffold this skill of work for them. If they can only work for one minute independently to begin with… go with it! Start with their success point and work your way up.

3. Balance

Consider what options you can offer your child for some child-led learning time. For example, you may consider giving a when-then challenge that includes preferred activities. For example, you can say,” When you have X amount of this done, you may…. (Fill in the blank with whatever activity they like to do such as Legos, etc.)

4. "When…then" for technology

If technology is a part of the issue, use the above-mentioned when/then technique. There are a million different ways you can vary it for your family. There isn’t one right way, so you may have to tweak it here and there before you find a program of sorts that works for your family. Whenever possible, include your child in the conversation surrounding tech issues, as this may increase buy-in from them.

About the author

Dr. Deanna Westedt is an Elite Parent as well as a speaker, teacher and motivator. Dr. Deanna Westedt is helping parents maximize their homeschool experience to bring out the full potential of learning in the home setting. She tackles the most common and difficult challenges of homeschool, drawing from both personal homeschool experience and blending that with developmental and learning theory. Her unique understanding of the homeschool lifestyle combined with her research into scaffolding learning for all kinds of learners, including those with learning disabilities and giftedness, makes her guidance second to none!


Phonemic Awareness Activities and Their Importance for Literacy

*This article is a guest post from Dr. Deana Westedt, an Elite Academic parent

Although phonics plays an important part in a child’s reading development, there is so much more to laying the foundation for children’s success in literacy.

Read on for simple and easy ways to pave the path to literacy (no flashcards required!):

1. Include some rhyming songs and games in your day 

Silly wordplay is not only fun, but it also builds important pre-literacy skills to prepare students to substitute and manipulate phonemes (sounds) in oral language which in turn prepares them to use word chunks and blending to read new text. Fun tunes like the Name Song (Billy Billy Bo Milly…) and reading nursery rhymes (bonus points for clapping every time you say a rhyming word!) are very impactful ways to build up students’ readiness for reading.

2. Access to lots and lots of books! 

Although books can be expensive, you don’t have to spend a fortune (or anything at all, really!) to provide an array of texts for reading and enjoyment.  The public library is a great resource for accessing a variety of children’s literature and often, they have a little store where extra copies or donated books are sold at very low prices, sometimes as low as 25 cents a book. Libraries and bookstores often have reading incentive programs, too, where a free book is the prize. Also, consider partnering with other parents for a book exchange.

3. Building your child’s vocabulary 

Aside from reading aloud to your child, which has been shown to greatly increase a child’s vocabulary exponentially, providing experiences that promote new words and dialogue help, too! Baking, gardening, a visit to the park, or a walk in the neighborhood are all great opportunities to build your child’s vocabulary simply by talking about what is around you.

About the author

Dr. Deanna Westedt is an Elite Parent as well as a speaker, teacher and motivator. Dr. Deanna Westedt is helping parents maximize their homeschool experience to bring out the full potential of learning in the home setting. She tackles the most common and difficult challenges of homeschool, drawing from both personal homeschool experience and blending that with developmental and learning theory. Her unique understanding of the homeschool lifestyle combined with her research into scaffolding learning for all kinds of learners, including those with learning disabilities and giftedness, makes her guidance second to none!


Student Shout Out - Flex Academy Student Zeke B.

Zeke is a 2nd Grade Student in Elite's Flex Academy and has soared like an Eagle this school year! His Teacher, Mrs. Davis, wanted to give him a special shoutout for his progress and impact he has made on his schoolmates.

"Zeke has shown massive amounts of improvement in all academic areas this year. He shows up for small group sessions and has raving reviews from his tutors! His hard work shows in his iReady assessment, where he grew over 30 points in both ELA and Math!" 

Zeke's parents chose to enroll him in Elite and they are so proud of his progress. Zeke loves to play basketball and baseball. He really likes his teacher and the friends he has made this school year. He enjoys the interactive small group sessions, and it shows!

"Not only does he come to class prepared, he is eager to share out and show what he has learned. Zeke is a good friend who takes the time to get to know his peers. He will often ask about their day, something he sees in the background that they have in common, and he remembers those connections in other meetings and builds on them. Zeke is an all around example of what it means to #BeElite! He takes advantage of every available session, works hard off screen, and establishes great relationships with his peers."

Zeke wants to be a police officer when he grows up, and we know he can do anything that he works towards. We are so proud that he has chosen to Be Elite and has represented our school so well!

Elite Academic Academy is now enrolling for the 22/23 school year. Please visit our website to get started on your academic journey with Elite!

Teacher Highlight: Shaun Bunn - Virtual Academy Content Teacher

We're excited to share with you all about our amazing math teacher, Mr. Shaun Bunn! He has overcome and accomplished so much in life, that we felt it only right to have him share with us. Check it out below:

Q: What led you to become a teacher?

A: Growing up in a war-torn country, I always wanted to go to school. My family was poor and couldn't afford school, I remember standing outside and looking through the school window trying to learn. At that moment, I realized that I want to be a teacher so that I can give the opportunity for students to learn. A different opportunity that I didn't have when I was a child.

Q: What does a typical workday look like for you?

A: My typical day starts with me checking my emails and logging into StrongMind to respond back to students and staff. I schedule Zoom meetings with our students to help them with any questions that they might have. Be available during office hours for students to drop in, and spend the rest of the time planning and organizing all the math courses. I am making sure that I can reach out to all students from different levels of mathematics. I print out workbooks and checkpoints to examine the mathematical practices programs that we have and try to determine which methods best suited for our students. As we all know our students come from different backgrounds and their needs are different, so I use different strategies to meet the needs of all students.

Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: I have been teaching in for 16 years and still loving every second of it.

Q: How has your experience been with Elite and working with Elite Students?

A: Elite opens many opportunities and ideas for me. I have always been curious about teaching online and how that works, now being a part of the Elite family I know how great this has been. I learn as much from our students as they are learning from me. Our students are a dynamic and wonderful group of young people. When I get on Zoom with them and teaching them math, seeing their faces light up when they actually understand the materials brings me so much joy. The interactions that I have with our students is extraordinary.

Q: What are your hobbies outside of teaching?

A: I love traveling! Seeing different cultures and visiting different places. When I travel, I like to immerse myself in the cultures and learn new things. I believe that the best way to learn and remember anything is to experience the adventure yourself.
You can learn a little more about our awesome teachers here.

Interested in Elite? Get started here!

The Quest Crew's Adventure in Nature

Mr. Olson is our CTE Recreation Teacher and an extreme outdoor enthusiast. He uses his passion and wealth of knowledge about the outdoors to open the natural world up to our students. Recently, Elite partnered with Pali Institute to offer an awesome opportunity to experience nature first hand. From biology and ecology, to team building and problem solving, this is where textbooks come to life!

The Pali Institute is an innovative outdoor program offering educational experiences to schools and youth groups. Their campus is located on the crest of the San Bernardino mountains near California’s gorgeous Lake Arrowhead. During their field trip, students were able to experience learning from a whole new angle through a variety of courses and activities.








Our students were separated into three different groups: the Young Explorers, Outdoor Experience, and Leadership Experience. The Young Explorers option was for our 3rd-5th grade students and included Art in Nature, a Forest Ecology hike, the Living Fossils lab, and "Animal Survivor" class. Students in this group enjoyed a slower pace of activities while their imaginations were able to run wild as they collected acorns and bright yellow willow leaves for their art creations.

The Outdoor Experience option was for our adventurous students. This action packed day had them shooting arrows, building shelters and identifying the plants of the San Bernardino Mountains. Classes during this program included Archery, Forest Ecology hike, Outdoor Skills & Survival Techniques. We had so many students signed up for these activities that two groups were formed; this gave students ample opportunity to practice their shot and build shelters!

The Leadership Experience was for the lionhearts and risk-takers in the group. They challenged their eye with archery; built camaraderie with classmates, and tested their nerves in an adrenaline-inducing high ropes course! This was a popular option for our high schoolers, and students appreciated the opportunity to connect with one another in a natural setting. We also had a group of young risk-takers who completely conquered the ropes course. Age is clearly not a sign of courage for our Elite students! 

Mr. Olson did not stop there - he also coordinated a hike for our Elite families in San Diego County at the Santa Margarita River Trail! Over 30 students, parents and staff joined the hike and had an absolute blast while taking in some knowledge from Mr. O along the way. The group identified several native plants, including a poison oak patch, caught a crawfish in the river and spotted a pumpkinseed fish between the rocks! Kingfishers and songbirds hopped between branches as the group made their way to the numerous beaches along the river.


Thank you Mr. Olson and Pali Institute for being such gracious hosts and instilling an appreciation for Nature and a love of learning with our Elite Students! Mr. Olson will be back in action during January 2022 with skiing and snowboarding at Snow Valley, and Ice Skating in both Riverside and San Diego Counties. If you are interested in learning more about our upcoming recreation events or learning about our CTE Academic Courses, please visit our website's CTE Page.

Celebrating Veterans Day with Operation Gratitude

Mrs. Michelle Hilton is one of our fantastic Homeschool Educators here at Elite. Her father is an Air Force Veteran who served for 50 years, so the military played a very big part in her life. In honor of Veterans Day, she asked her students to write letters to Veterans with the help of Operation Gratitude. This thoughtful gesture soon inspired other teachers and Elite families to join in and express their gratefulness with writing letters or creating their own artwork to express their thanks.


Operation Gratitude Letters to Veterans from a few of our Elite Students! 


When we think of our Military Veterans, we all think of the friends or family members in our lives that have served and protected. Here at Elite, we are especially grateful for our Veteran Staff, Parents, and Family Members. We had the opportunity to ask a couple of our current Elite Staff and Military Veterans how their time in the Military impacted their current career and led them to working in Education.


Adam Woodard, Elite's Director of Finance and Navy SEAL Veteran

My time in the SEAL teams taught me in no uncertain terms the value of teamwork, discipline, and finding a way to succeed regardless of the adversity in front of us. In my new mission as Director of Finance, I might not get to interact very much with the teachers and students that make this school as amazing as it is, but my team and I are honored to be in a position to help them achieve their goals. Leaving the Teams, I wanted to find a driven group of people who understand what it means to work hard and find a way, and I think Elite Academic Academy fulfills that definition and then some. This team truly is Elite!





Laura Spencer, Ed.D, Chief Academic Innovation Officer and Army Psychological Operations Specialist Veteran

I joined the Army on a whim when I turned 18. Little did I know just how much it would change my life. As a Psychological Operations Specialist attached to a Special Warfare Unit, I learned that I was capable of achieving just about anything if I set my mind to it and pushed through my self-doubts. With this new outlook on life, I volunteered to serve in Germany for 3.5 years. With nothing but a calling card and the German translation to order a burger at McDonald’s, I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. I traveled to 13 countries while stationed there; made amazing friends; and gained life and leadership skills that continue to serve me today. I would encourage anyone thinking of serving to do some research about the options available and do it! I’m grateful for my time served, and proud that both my daughters have chosen to serve as well, in the U.S. Navy. (Go Army! Beat Navy!)


Staff Family Members Salute their Veterans


Kira Donaldson, Business Service Clerk and Wife to USMC Master Gunnery Sergeant, James Donaldson Jr. 

Quite a few men have served in my immediate family to include my maternal and paternal grandfathers, uncle, great-uncle and brother-in-law. My husband is an active duty Marine currently serving at Camp Pendleton. Last week he received notification that he has been selected for promotion to the highest enlisted ranking of Master Gunnery Sergeant! I am very grateful for the past, present and future Veterans. 



Maria Mack, Flex Academy Educator and Daughter to Army and Vietnam War Veteran, Charlie Mack 

I am proud of this veteran, who happens to be my dad, Charlie Mack.  He was in the army at the height of the Vietnam War.  He inspired my uncle to enlist in the army.  My uncle later on became a paratrooper.  Happy Veteran's Day!







Nolan Hutton, Special Education Coordinator and son to the first Female EOD Bomb Tech in the Marines






There is still time to write a letter or create artwork for Operation Gratitude. Here is the link to the letter writing tool kit. Once the students have written their letters, you can email them to your Teacher of Record or to Kiley Allen at We want to wish a Happy Veterans Day to all of our Military Veterans and their Families!

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” - Elmer Davis, WWII Journalist

Jayden Cox: Student Highlight of the Month

Congratulations to Jayden Cox, an 11th Grade Flex Student who is our Student Highlight of the Month! This is Jayden's 2nd School Year with Elite, and he has shown a lot of growth since he first enrolled.

Jayden came to Elite and was simply focused on improving his grades and relationship with education. While he has made leaps and bounds in that area with the help of his Teacher, Mrs. Potrero, he has also found his niche within our Elite Clubs.

"I'm in a lot of extra curricular activities right now. I'm a part of the BeElite Podcast, Kindness Ambassadors, ArtSeen and CoreUs. I think these clubs are pretty cool and helpful because it helped me get through my shyness phase".

Jayden's current favorite subjects are Chemistry, Spanish and Construction. He chose to stay with Elite after completing our Summer Program in 2020 because he felt he got a lot more help and personalized instruction than he had previously. He would really like to get involved with the music production industry, which is why he enjoys the ArtSeen and CoreUs Clubs. He also really appreciates his Teacher, Mrs. Potrero, who helps him stay on track with his classes and encourages him to keep working hard.

"I think Mrs. Potrero is a cool teacher, she helps me through a lot of my classes, goes over everything...Elite changed a lot of my Academic Experience, I have teachers that actually grade my work and give me feedback, which helps a lot."

His Teacher in the Flex Academy, Mrs. Potrero, is deeply dedicated to her students and their success at Elite.

"We appreciate Jayden's involvement in the clubs and activities at Elite. He has become a student leader! I appreciate that Jayden includes people and encourages them to be part of the school community".

Congratulations Jayden on being Elite's Student Highlight of the month. We can't wait to see how you continue to impact other students through your creativity and kindness in our Elite Clubs!

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!"