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iLEAD’s New ‘Synergy’ High School To Focus On Arts, Career Technical Education

Synergy High School

In an effort to offer continuing iLEAD education for learners at iLEAD Lancaster,  iLEAD Antelope Valley and beyond, a new arts and technology focused high school – iLEAD Synergy – is being launched.

In addition to the creative aspects of the arts, Synergy will have a significant career technical education approach, according to Synergy leader Dr. Derrick Spiva.

Spiva said that iLEAD really wanted to create a place for high school learners in the region that is foundationally based in project-based and social-emotional learning, but has a professional focus as well.

“This is not just arts for arts sake, but rather about having a career in the arts – how to be entrepreneurial in arts,” said Spiva. “An example is the anticipated Metaverse If students are trained properly, we can connect them with a career.”

For Spiva, who grew up in the Antelope Valley  and has had a very diverse and successful career in the arts and education, this is about addressing a void. He said that Synergy will address both the community’s desire for more secondary educational options, as well as long-term career and professional opportunities.

“There are many learners and families that want the PBL and SEL foundations from iLEAD,” said Spiva. “But if learners are also trained properly, we can connect them with a career.”

Spiva – who has a rich professional arts career that has taken him to Africa, Asia and Europe – wants all learners to have some of the  opportunities on the world stage  that he did.

“I was able to do what I did because I could travel and get out,” he said. “Not all kids have that opportunity, so we need to create those experiences  for them.”

Spiva, who is well connected to the arts and entertainment industries, said that production companies and others are having a really hard time finding qualified people for all media  needs. With all of the new streaming opportunities this also includes performers.

“Think about the streaming services and others that are screaming for people both behind and in front of the camera,” said Spiva.

In addition to the arts courses and other high school requirements, Spiva said that Synergy will have courses in business, entrepreneurship and money management at each grade level.

“The curriculum at Synergy will not just focus on learning the craft, but turning that craft into a career,” said Spiva

Synergy will also focus on work-based learning opportunities, according to Spiva. This will include working with mentors and being in partnership with the Los  Angeles County youth Work Program. Spiva said that 75 learners from last year’s Summer Arts Program were paid through this partnership.

Spiva has seen the power of the arts, as well as career preparation, pay off on a very personal level. He has one son Derrick Jr who is a classical music composer with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He continues to be commissioned as a composer  for orchestras around the world, is a professor at St. Mary’s in Los Angeles and conducts youth orchestras in Santa Clarita and Santa Monica. His eldest daughter Leshia  is an advertising executive for Oracle  in New York, but does presentations everyday using her early summer youth television experiences.  Vanessa, his middle daughter, has received a Masters from Pepperdine University and is a real estate broker. She claims her sales experience was developed as a result of  the summer arts program.  Spiva’s youngest daughter Katrina  is a preschool teacher.

“My own kids’ careers can be credited from their summer arts program experiences and early arts work,” he said.

Spiva has ambitious plans for Synergy including accessing the professional arts communities in Southern California, touring the studios in Los Angeles and even offering Virtual Reality.

Synergy will open in the fall of 2022 with 9th and 10th graders, while adding a new grade level each subsequent year. The new school site is located at 20th Street and Lancaster Blvd. You can find out more at their website, as well as contacting

info.synergy@ileadschools.org or on Facebook at iLEADSynergy. They are also on YouTube. Feel free to check out the Video from their recent school board presentation as well.

Posted on January 20, 2022 in iLEAD Digest

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About the Author

Michael Niehoff is a teacher, leader, blogger, learner advocate, and the Education Content Coordinator at iLEAD Schools.
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