ILA was birthed with a mission to raise up the next generation.

Independent Learning Academy started as a co-op in Laguna Niguel at the home of Joe and Lesley Russell in fall 2011. The program was called Thursday Co-op, and it was made up of twenty-three families and 65 children who met every Thursday from 8-3pm in the Russell’s home. It was an incredible year filled with God’s provision and His many blessings. The co-op consisted of many hard-working and talented moms who taught classes and cared for each other’s children.

In the fall of 2012, the vision expanded and the Thursday Co-op became a homeschool program offered to all of Orange County. Next Generation Ministries was founded by Joe and Lesley and the Independent Learning Academy was birthed whose mission and vision are to raise up the next generation of children to fulfill their individual God-given purposes based on Ephesians 2:10. Since 2012 ILA has opened three campuses that minister to many homeschooling students and families in California and in Idaho.

Founder, Lesley Russell, has worked over the past 17 years with young adults providing and equipping them with opportunities to learn and serve in their communities with various youth ministry programs. Having received her Master’s in Secondary Education from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, Lesley has taught in various locations and programs throughout the country. She and her husband, Joe, have enjoyed homeschooling their own four children for the past 15 years.

Independent Learning Academy looks forward to partnering with you and your children to provide an exceptional educational experience for your students to embrace through engaging academic classes, enriching electives, and exciting opportunities within the community to both express themselves and to make a difference.

Through our engaging academic classes, enriching elective programs, and outreach ministries, we come alongside you and your family to partner together.

Our Mission

Independent Learning Academy is a ministry that is available for the homeschooling community to embrace. Its purpose and intent are to raise up and equip the next generation to fulfill their individual God-given purposes and to become leaders in their community making a difference in people’s lives. Through our engaging academic classes, enriching elective programs, and outreach ministries, we come alongside you and your family to partner together to make an exceptional and memorable educational experience for your children that will make a lasting impact on their lives.