The story of the Ruiz family’s involvement with SCVi runs deep: 16 years ago, family matriarch Wendy Ruiz met iLEAD co-founder Amber Raskin when her daughter Sammy was two and in Wendy’s preschool class at College of the Canyons.
Wendy and Amber immediately bonded over their shared philosophies of play- and project-based learning and social-emotional competencies, and they stayed in touch as Sammy grew. And when Amber and co-founder Dawn Evenson launched SCVi, Wendy and her husband Robert enrolled their son Riley, now 17, into the school’s Castaic location. Immediately, Wendy says, she could tell the school was different. “I felt like we were part of a family,” she says. “They were so supportive of Riley’s needs and I loved how they thought outside the box.”
Wendy also immediately noticed how welcome parents are on the SCVi campus. “Families actually wanted to be there,” she says. “I found myself getting to school early every day, just to hang out and help if needed. I ended up wandering into the Junior Lego practice one afternoon, and next thing I knew, I was taking one of the teams to Legoland for their tournament!” She went on to coach the Junior Lego group for more than seven years (and built the program from a handful of learners to nearly 45!) and also coached the school’s Future Lego program for fourth- through ninth-grade learners. During that time, Wendy and Robert jointly took on the role of spirit wear coordinator on campus, thus launching SCVi’s highly popular Spirit Wear Fridays.
Wendy was a driving force in the creation of Little iLeaders, iLEAD’s preschool program, and continues to coach and mentor both the Castaic and Antelope Valley locations. She joined the SCVi Board of Directors in 2011 and has served in various capacities, including as parent representative and secretary. In her new role as part of the LEAD Schools Development Board, Wendy will help guide policies shaping all of iLEAD’s free public charter schools coast to coast.
Together, Wendy and Robert have three children: Ryan, 20; Riley, now 17, who attended SCVi from second through seventh grades; and Ramsey, 13, who has attended SCVi since kindergarten. Wendy currently serves on the faculty of the early childhood education department at College of the Canyons, while Robert chairs the physical education department at Harvard Westlake School, where he has worked for 27 years.
For the past decade, the Ruiz family has been a tremendous champion of SCVi and of iLEAD Schools, and we are thrilled to present them with the Founders Family Vision Award.