A family of four smile for a photo in snow gear as they ride on the chair lift of a ski resort.

Home School Family Spotlight: Making Space for Exploration

The Lau family loves traveling and being outdoors. Among many other things, they hike, bike, camp, ski, golf and ride go-karts. The Home School Academy at Visions offers families like the Laus flexibility and choice in their children’s education, granting them the freedom to learn around the world.

“We enjoy exploring the Bay Area and beyond,” says mom, Gina. “We have traveled domestically and internationally over the years. More importantly, we find time to get outdoors as much as our schedule allows.”

Spending this time together is made possible thanks to the ability for students and families to set their own schedules. With good planning and continuous communication, Gina helps manage the family calendar and, along with staff and support services, ensures that students Julian and Justin stay ahead academically.

“Visions was recommended for its structured support. I met several other home school families who gave me insight into what homeschooling entails and how personalized learning can help children study at their own pace,” shares Gina. “Students are the master of their learning. I provide them with the tools that best fit their learning needs.”

Shooting for the Stars

Gina’s approach to homeschooling along with the support received from their credentialed teacher, Kira Lewallen, have expanded Julian and Justin’s academic ventures beyond what they could have achieved in a traditional public school. Both boasting 4.38 GPAs, Julian and Justin have had incredible academic, professional and personal opportunities made possible by the unique structure of Visions.

“By attending Visions In Education, in addition to my academic pursuits both in high school work and community college courses, I can participate in extracurricular activities such as my volunteer activities at Chabot Space & Science Center, being an active member of the Alameda Junior Golf Association and winning third place at ‘The Chinese Language Teachers Association of California’,” shares Julian.

“I have achieved [a lot] academically and personally in my time with Visions. By attending Visions In Education, I can volunteer at the Chabot Space & Science Center, [where I’ve] logged 260 plus hours, earn the Certificate of Merit Level 4 for piano with high scores, participate in ‘The Chinese Language Teachers Association of California’ Mandarin speech contest and [be] an active member of [the] Alameda Junior Golf Association,” adds Justin.

In addition, both Julian and Justin are members of the California Scholarship Federation, participate in dual enrollment at Diablo Valley College and will both finish their senior year with 38 college credits. To top it all off, Julian and Justin both completed summer internships at NASA.

“I was in an internship program at NASA Moffett Field this summer and I really enjoyed the experience working with my mentor,” shares Justin.

Julian adds, “I was amazed at the experience gained by working with my mentor and fellow interns.”

Sharing their Skills

As mentioned, Julian and Justin both volunteer at the Chabot Space & Science Center. Discovering that they had a knack for working with visitors and leading demonstrations, both boys found a niche sharing their world with others.

“The program required me to conduct floor demonstrations for visitors and, at the same time, join teams to learn more about STEM and building science demonstrations,” explains Justin. “The floor demonstrations allowed me to help the visitors at the center. I give science demonstrations and also guide visitors around the observatories.”

“I enjoyed working with the visitors at the demonstration tables. I have a skill I could share with others, and they could gain something from it, even if it was just a quick look at a device or a science experiment,” explains Julian.

For their dedicated service to others, Julian and Justin have been awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award the past two years in a row.

“I enjoy giving back or helping others,” exclaims Julian. “Receiving The President’s Volunteer Service Award wasn’t my intent when I joined [the] Chabot Space & Science Center, as I am happy to go to the center and help out.”

Justin agrees, stating, “It is good helping people of all ages and backgrounds. Winning The President’s Volunteer Service Award was the icing on the cake because I enjoy volunteering and giving back to the community.”

Julian Lau stands holding his two President's Volunteer Service Awards.

Julian with his President’s Volunteer Service Awards

Julian’s Favorite Things

Subject – Biology

Activities – Swimming, automobiles, golfing, hiking, biking, gaming and hanging out with his dogs

Justin Lau stands holding his two President's Volunteer Service Awards.

Justin with his President’s Volunteer Service Awards

Justin’s Favorite Things

Subject – Physics

Activities – Golfing, hiking, biking, 3D modeling, constructing go-karts, playing piano and reading novels by his favorite author, Rick Riordan