2021 iLEAD Staff Retreat

Annual iLEAD Retreat Brings Play, Food, Connections And Reflections

We have been hearing a lot about play-based learning and its important and dramatic effect on brain development, skill acquisition, creativity and social-emotional learning. But play is not just for young learners…..adults need play as well. And adults may need to experience and enjoy play now more than ever. 

Experts who study this agree that play can add joy to life, help relieve stress, supercharge our learning and connect all of us to others and the world around us. And since play is so vital to emotional and physical well being, researchers are now studying how it influences our career success and literacy.

According to the CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies, collaboration and teamwork are the most important workplace skills of the 21st century. Our ability to connect and relate to one another – across all backgrounds, education levels and personalities – is the means for future success.

It’s with this spirit in mind that iLEAD team members gathered on Monday, October 11th for the 13th Annual iLEAD Retreat. After last year’s virtual retreat, iLEADers were excited to gather in person for a day of play at the Calamigos Ranch in Malibu. 500 team members came together for a day of fun and interpersonal connectivity. In addition to breakfast and a BBQ lunch, iLEADers enjoyed activities such as a rock climbing wall, a mechanical bull, a larger than life slide, twister, ping pong, outdoor chess, caricature drawings and much more. This year’s theme was “Together We Rise” and it included idyllic weather and company. A few of the iLEAD team shared some reflections on the value of this annual event:

Francesca Bolivar

“This year’s retreat was terrific! I deeply enjoyed bonding with my new team members and making friends with other members of our organization. It was nice to see so many familiar faces and to have the opportunity to play and create memories! It was an incredible reminder of the importance of play and connection. I plan to create more opportunities for play in the classroom by providing learners with engaging materials that promote exploration and learning. Thank you to everyone who planned such an unforgettable experience!” 

Francesca Bolivar, iLEAD Lancaster 3rd Grade Facilitator


Andrea SwanderWhat an amazing day! It was SO awesome to see our co-workers in person. It was such a treat to be able to spend time connecting and having fun. I left feeling so relaxed – like that feeling you have when you’re on vacation. The food was incredible! From that giant, fresh fruit cup to the super yummy bbq lunch and super fun snack shack! The games and activities were such a great time too!! Thank you to our wonderful leaders for placing importance on our mental health and giving us this refreshing experience!”

Andrea Swander, iLEAD Exploration Lead Educational Facilitator

Angie Nastovska“As proponents for play and play-based learning, we have done a wonderful job of leading by example. At the retreat, we were immersed in multiple opportunities for unstructured play with carefully designed intent to bond and build relationships. In the most adverse circumstances, we have managed to rise above the obstacles and build an opportunity to “BE” and “ACT” together. It was PBL and SEL at its finest. It was wonderful to enjoy healthy opportunities for talking, connecting and getting together. “Together we Rise” came alive as a true theme offering an opportunity to experience the togetherness. Everything was so well thought out – feeding people, breaking bread together, sharing space, teaming and synergizing. We had authentic opportunities to understand and apply the 7 habits.” 

Angie Nastovska, Director of Humanities and Innovation

See a special, in-depth Super Reflection here from Carrie Celaya, iLEAD Online 1st Grade Facilitator and Coach Carrie Celaya

Many team members have already indicated that they are already looking forward to next year. That seems like an amazing tribute to a successful event. 

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