Former iLEAD SCVi Learner Returns To Work For iLEAD Schools

Alum Kiera Jew

For an educational organization, there may be nothing more satisfying, as well as validating, than having a former learner return to work as a staff member. If you are Former iLEAD SCVi Learner Kiera Jew, it’s like coming home. In a recent Q&A, Jew shares her story and the journey from iLEAD and back again:

iLEAD: What iLEAD School did you attend and when? 

Jew: ​​I was one of the founding students at iLEAD SCVi so I started in the original building. I was there from 4th to 8th grade and then moved to another high school. 

When did you start with iLEAD as a staff or team member? What is your role? How have you been welcomed by the staff?

I started working at iLEAD Student Support Team this school year and it has been nothing but a welcoming experience. Since our Virtual SLP Lauren Paulette is working from Washington DC, my role is to assist in getting kids from their classes, engaging in activities in person and helping to distinguish articulation errors. Lauren has been an incredibly kind and informative guide for me and has never diminished my abilities or suggestions for treatment. Olga Zea-Morgan, the SLPA on site, has been another amazing source of information and just as friendly and welcoming. 

Where did you go to college or other post-secondary training? What did you study? 

I went to California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. I majored in Global Studies and got a double minor in Public Health and Sociology. I did a lot of international travel during this time including living abroad for a semester. 

What did you enjoy the most about attending iLEAD?

The best aspect of iLEAD is that education is led by the students. There are no “bad” facilitators when you’re leading the development of your own project. I was also able to explore my own interests within the curriculum which kept me engaged in my education. Above all though, the staff and facilitators make the school what it is. I had such great experiences with people who cared about me as a person first and foremost. The emotional and developmental support at iLEAD is one of its major strong points for me. 

What skills or things did you learn from iLEAD? How have you used them? Any examples?

Being at iLEAD helped me develop my leadership skills. I was always a shy, non-confrontational kid and never made my voice heard. Through leading projects and taking initiative in content I cared about, I was able to grow more comfortable with public speaking and leading others toward a common goal. I have one very powerful memory of when we were studying Chinese. My facilitators gave me an opportunity to talk about my life as a Chinese person and how I celebrate and experience being Asian. It showed that my facilitators cared about my identity and gave me a platform where my voice and opinion were helpful and important to others. 

Do any of your iLEAD facilitators or staff stand out in your memories? Who? Why?

Dustin Lengning, or Mr. L as we called him, was one of the most fun and engaging teachers I’ve ever had. He made sure that all the learners found at least one thing interesting in his class and then expanded on that. He has a great energy about him. I’ve been able to see that he’s just as involved with his students now as he was when I attended. 

What’s it like having attended an iLEAD school and now working at one?

I feel very comfortable working at iLEAD. The school really focuses on the connections that get built between staff members and learners. I also feel that the staff are all on the same page in that the learners’ happiness and success are the core of our work. 

What are your future career or personal plans? Anything is fine. 

Unfortunately, I will have to leave iLEAD after this school year as I will be attending graduate school. I will be studying to become a Speech Language Pathologist to especially help BIPOC learners and learners with special needs. I’m also hoping to extend my practice in order to support transgender people who are undergoing voice modification. 

What are your hobbies, passions or personal interests?

I have always loved travel and I find it to be one of the most rewarding experiences that people can have. Being able to connect with others around the world, as well as learn more about cultures, is super interesting to me. Along with that, I love learning different languages. Not only is culture embedded in language, but it also helps structure how people think and experience the world. 

Any other thoughts or feedback about working for iLEAD or having been an iLEAD Learner?

Since iLEAD is a non-traditional educational organization, I’ve noticed that many new staff have an adjustment period where they have to re-think what they’ve been taught as educators. Since many of my formative years were spent at SCVi, I was already used to the learner-centered environment and individualized progress assessment.