SCVi/iLEAD’s Homeschool, Campus Curriculum Benefit from Incorporating Arts Education


In a recent interview with “Eye on the Valley,” Sara McDaniels and Matt Watson from local tuition free charter school SCVi/iLEAD discussed how arts education principles are used to bolster their homeschooling and in-person education curriculum.

“We all know about how schools have gone virtual,” curriculum specialist Matt Watson of SCVi/iLEAD said. “We’ve talked with our educators (about) the amazing things they’re doing now at SCVi and iLEAD Schools to adapt.”

Alongside strategic arts coordinator Sara McDaniels, Watson and the rest of the SCVi/iLEAD staff are using project-based and arts-integrated curriculum to help children achieve success in later life. In fact, SCVi/iLEAD’s popular homeschooling program has helped not only parents who intend to homeschool continuously, but also those seeking later enrollment at the SCVi/iLEAD.

Years ago, when SCVi officials originally applied to open their homeschool program, McDaniels reported that staff were concerned there might not be enough interest to sustain enrollment. However, the homeschool program was an immediate success, and has since become “probably even more popular” than SCVi/iLEAD’s on-campus program.

McDaniels has first-hand experience with the homeschooling program — she taught her oldest son using SCVi/iLEAD’s homeschool curriculum with an eye to having him admitted to the tuition free charter school when he was a little older.

McDaniels explained that in order to function as a tuition free public charter school, SCVi/iLEAD must admit children based on a lottery system. One of the only ways to help children achieve priority enrollment status is for parents to commit to homeschooling their child for at least one semester.

Now that the coronavirus pandemic has forced many schools to close doors, SCVi/iLEAD’s Homeschooling Answers website, where parents can find resources for at-home project-based learning activities, has become even more popular. Some parents may continue to homeschool using these resources long after the pandemic has ended.

When asked about how her background has allowed her to help build such a successful arts program for SCVi/iLEAD, McDaniels explained that her personal educational background was vital to her success.

“I, myself, had a fantastic public school arts education,” said McDaniels. “And then I went on to study theatre arts in college. I have to say, as a life skill, when it comes to studying the arts, especially production theater like I did, it’s the most amazing project management tool you can give somebody.”

In her capacity developing and finding funding for arts-based projects and education at SCVi/iLEAD, McDaniels said that the skills she gained during those college years were immensely beneficial.

“When you’re developing a (theatrical) production, you start with a vision and you coordinate a lot of people to make it all come together,” explained McDaniels. This cycle of imagining an outcome, then finding the means to achieve it successfully has led McDaniels to find great success as a project manager for the tuition free charter school.

By helping other educators at SCVi/iLEAD integrate arts education into the project based learning curriculum for all subjects, McDaniels aims to help learners gain the same skills she calls upon in her successful career.

Matt Watson further connected the creative thinking and project management skills taught in art-focused classes to the successes everyday Americans have had when facing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We, as a species, but especially as Americans, we have this remarkable ability to innovate and adapt to what we’re going through,” said Watson. “Right now, we’re living through unprecedented times, and things can be really really challenging.”

Even so, Watson reported that the homeschool support programs offered by SCVi/iLEAD has led him to see “higher quality education taking place at our iLEAD schools now than ever before.”

Click here for the story and interview at KHTS!