Executive Director and Lead Educator: ELA, History, Geography
Lori Peters is the founder of One Spark Academy. She wholeheartedly believes in the principles of teaching the whole child–meeting needs academically, socially, and emotionally– and inspiring students to be healthy, balanced, and globally aware. In June 2011, after 16 years in public alternative education, Lori decided to put her energy into helping students find their spark and enjoy the process of learning with like-minded peers in a truly unique learning environment.
Her professional experience includes 15 years committed to the CVUSD’s Open Classroom Program, serving as the lead petitioner and charter author of BRIDGES K-8 Charter School in Thousand Oaks, and teaching English Language Arts to 7th/8th graders at Ventura Charter School- a wonderful “one year” opportunity only possible due to the flexible nature of One Spark Academy. At OSA, Lori enjoys teaching language arts and geography/history courses, and appreciates the opportunity to build this new model in education with a close-knit team of dedicated educators and the support of the Thousand Oaks Teen Center. When not working, she and her husband/business partner, tech expert Todd Geist
, enjoy travel, reading, gatherings with friends and family, walking their two dogs Kona and Bella, and the pursuit of innovative, sensible, and sustainable ideas to improve education. Lori holds a multiple subject teaching credential, a BA in art, an MA in educational leadership and a preliminary administrative services credential.
Lead Educator: Food Fascination, Science, Science Fair, Foundations Math
Laura Erlig is the mastermind behind the Food Fascination classes and our amazing lunch option at One Spark Academy; she also teaches many science classes, Foundations math, Book Club, and runs study sessions. A firm believer in whole child education, Laura’s experience includes 16 years in public education. She was a team member at CVUSD’s Open Classroom Leadership Magnet,
then a lead founder and Education Coordinator at BRIDGES Charter School in Thousand Oaks. Her experiences with varied learners and progressive programs helped Laura forge her educational philosophy, whereby students must have choices and experience in order to comprehend the whole meaning of what they are taught– this connection keeps them engaged in their learning process. To motivate students down the path of increasing maturity, that path must be enjoyable and knowledge must be presented in a multi-faceted fashion. A student who participates in defining this path will be most successful. Additionally, collaboration allows students to explore the boundaries of what they have learned while building social and emotional skills. Lastly, when students set individual goals, they internalize new materials and skills, thereby increasing their confidence and propelling them toward higher levels of learning. Laura is not only an educator, but also a parent (with husband Hernan) of two fantastic twin girls, Katie and Ashley. Although identical, her daughters demonstrate the important lesson that not all children are the same or learn the same. Laura’s hobbies include walking, gardening, jamming, cooking, and creating family and friend gatherings. She also enjoys helping homeschool students ignite their creative and academic passions in a proactive way, while balancing health, learning, and social engagements. Laura holds a BA in Liberal Studies and a supplement in Mathematics.
Math, Science, Physical Education
Kalli has been teaching for more than 12 years and has served as a school administrator for four years. Kalli initially graduated with her BA in Psychology but was called to education while teaching skiing in Tahoe. She then earned her teaching credential and taught in Reno, Nevada for 10 years and two years in Ventura, specializing in middle school math and science. Upon getting her Masters in Educational Leadership, she worked as a school administrator in Oxnard for four years.
Kalli loves all levels of the education field and thrives when she is supporting her students, parents and peers. She believes that relationships are the key to success and works tirelessly to ensure she knows everyone of her students. As well as teaching math at One Spark, Kalli is a personal trainer, dog advocate and traveler. She and her husband live in Ventura, California with their two rescue dogs. As a family they love to run, camp and see the world.
Creative Writing, Book Club, Viewpoint
Way back in the day, when the birds sang a little sweeter and there was still a chance for your Hogwarts letter to come in the mail, Lori Peters had a student named Melanie. She ran wild, a barefoot child roaming the woods and the beach like some kind of fairy. She kept growing up, sprouting dreams, spanning miles until finally she ended up at UC Santa Cruz.
There, she spent four years studying Shakespeare, Kerouac, and Woolf, exploring Iceland and New Zealand and everywhere in between. With a creative writing degree under her belt and a self-published book under her arm, she moved back home, continued climbing mountains, surfing waves and backpacking secluded trails. And then, as fate would have it, she showed up on Lori’s metaphorical doorstep and this is where our story truly begins. After chaperoning the 2014 outdoor school trip to Santa Cruz Island, she came to love all the One Spark hooligans and knew she just had to join the team. So a little under a year later, she found herself walking through the doors as a teacher’s assistant, an English tutor and an overall supporter of the OSA mission. Now, with plenty of training under her belt, Melanie is a well-trained educator, with plenty of creative classes percolating. Melanie holds a BA in Creative Writing from UC Santa Cruz.
Lead Educator: Core Math Courses, Math At Your Level, Enrichment Math Courses
Candice has been coaching, tutoring, and teaching for over ten years. Her passion for math began at a young age and continued through college where she earned her BA in Mathematics. While attending college she coached gymnastics and tutored math for schools and independently. She then earned a teaching credential from SDSU and
taught middle and high school math and Leadership in charter schools for 3 years. Candice has a strong belief that any student can achieve success in math if given the proper tools and support. In addition to teaching math at One Spark Academy, Candice coaches competitive gymnastics, tutors, blogs, creates projects and worksheets for her business Alpha Delta Academy (www.alphadeltaacademy.com
), and is mother to two wonderful fur babies (Artemis the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Jade the cat!)
Improvisation, Actor’s Studio, Shakespeare
Mary Carrig is a classically trained actress, director, teacher and producer. She earned a B.A. in Speech Communication as a theatre major at Bowling Green State University and has trained extensively with Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. Mary is the owner of Inside Shakespeare, LLC and artistic director of Conejo Valley Shakespeare Society Youth Shakespeare Company. Mary directed “The Wind in the Willows” and “The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood” for the Young Artists Ensemble at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts.
The production included actors with disabilities from Conejo Theatre for Everyone’s Therapeutic Unit.
As a trustee of the Conejo Valley Historical Society, Mary directs the Living History Program for the Stagecoach Inn Museum. Ms. Carrig’s television credits include the recurring role of Natalie on the Young & the Restless, Passions, the Bold & the Beautiful, Criminal Minds and Make it or Break it for ABC FAMILY. She co-wrote, produced and directed the short film “Dispensing Justice II” with Julie Kochinski. For more info visit www.insideshakespeare.com
Body Talk, Crochet, Embroidery
Robin Lindsey loves to talk about anything dealing with how kids grow up, and appreciates the chance to present clear, factual, and honest information to teens. She has taught Our Whole Lives Comprehensive Sexuality Education for 11 years to students in grades 6th-8th privately and grades 4th-7th in public school. Besides Body Talk, Robin enjoys teaching kids to enjoy the art of crochet as much as she does. Her son Aidan attended One Spark Academy, and loved it! Robin, husband Tom Stough (who is a Board Member), and Aidan live in Thousand Oaks.
Dr. Steve Yoshinaga
Chemistry, Biology, Physical Science (CRPD classes)
Dr. Steve is an example of a scientist turned educator. He has taught science classes for the past ten years in the Conejo Valley, but he began his career in science as a researcher. Dr Steve received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from UCLA and worked as a research fellow at UCSF. He then moved to the Conejo Vallley to work at an eminent biotechnology company where he discovered novel genes and led a drug candidate into clinical trials.
He has contributed to the basic understanding of essential processes in our cells and has published his research in several of the best scientific journals. During his life, he regularly visualized the cellular processes he studied. This visual inclination inspired him to help youngsters understand the building blocks of nature, so that they too can visualize the molecular wonders in our world and within us. Dr. Steve is offering his science classes via the CRPD. For more on Dr. Steve, visit his website: http://www.magdna.com
Helle Rasmussen is a local self taught artist and educator. She is originally from Denmark, but has lived in Newbury Park for 16 years. She has three kids of her own and has taught art to students of all ages over the past 10 years. She has worked with Art Trek and Art Masters programs teaching K-6th grade and has since developed many of her own lessons while teaching home school students K-9th grade.
She has a great passion for hands-on teaching, exploring new ideas and connecting with her students. Helle likes to expose the students to a variety of different materials and introduce them to the artwork of artists from all around the world and throughout history. She enjoys teaching art as she feels it helps the students discover and nurture their imagination as well as develop critical thinking and problem solving skills while having lots of fun.
Game Design, Botany, Ecology, Electric Art
Tim Handley believes that knowledge, beauty, and life are intertwined – that an understanding of the natural world is a key ingredient for creating new technologies, making good life choices, and appreciating the beauty in everything from apples to rainbows to zebras. He has a BA in physics and an MS in Ecology, has worked as a technician at JPL and as a scientist at the National Park Service, and now works as a combination educator and agent of educational change. When not at One Spark, he is the Founder and Chief Everything Officer at Mindful Mammoth, where he designs board games, mobile apps, and outreach programs to promote the understanding of science, nature, and life through play.