Rachel’s Story

Rachel Peters

One Spark Academy Teacher’s Assistant, Videographer, Social Media

563591_3135396818081_221652484_nIt’s funny how a lot of us will spend the greater majority of the beginning of our lives thinking we’re going to end up going down one path: doctors, lawyers, teachers, animal trainers.  I thought that for sure by now I would be working at Sea World, playing with dolphins and sea lions and getting paid to do so.  Who wouldn’t love that?  Animals are awesome.  Have you ever met a person that said, “Nah, I don’t really like animals.” No, you haven’t, because people like that don’t exist, or just don’t talk to human beings.  But after a year of living on my own, thinking I had made the right decisions about my life, my career… I needed a change.
Did I want to move home?  No.  I wanted to do anything BUT move home.  Moving home means I failed, right?  I failed at this thing called independence, a career, a life on my own.I’ve grown up being taught to never give up on my dreams, no matter what.  And lucky for me, my parents have been accepting of the fact that my dreams change every now and again.  I wanted to play softball and be like my big brother… up until they took away the tee and someone had to pitch the ball at me. I wanted to take singing lessons… until I had to sing in front of someone. I wanted to ride horses… until the horse started jumping over things.  Sorry, riding the horse alone is already breaking enough laws of physics and gravity for me to be comfortable, let’s not increase my chances of a full body cast.
I found a passion for dance in middle school.  I love music, I love anything that moves to a beat, and I love performing for people.  I danced all throughout high school.  I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t the worst, and I had a lot of fun.  I still love it, but thanks to a knee injury shortly after graduating, I can’t do almost anything I used to be able to do.In high school, I was still determined to end up training animals.
I never took an SAT test, because I knew I wanted to end up at Moorpark College in the animal training program, and you don’t need SAT scores for community college.  Honors classes, AP classes… I could have gone on to a decent four-year college and gotten a Bachelor’s Degree in anything I wanted if I had liked sitting in a classroom long enough to remain entertained.  But I didn’t.  So I tried hard enough to get good grades, but not enough to pass all my AP tests, and not enough to stress about an SAT exam.
I got into the school of my dreams. I had the best (and simultaneously the worst) two years of my life.  Hands-on education with animals is exactly the kind of thing a kinesthetic learner like me needed.  And for a while, I was on top of the world.  I had two job offers before I graduated, both of them jobs where I would learn invaluable skills and information.
But somewhere along the way, I stopped being as passionate about animal training as I was.  (Just ask my parents, because I’ve more or less given up on training my dog, and she’s kind of a menace.  Someone should train her.)
That Robert Frost poem comes to mind, the one about two paths diverging in a wood.  That’s what happened.  I came home, took on a few random jobs to get by until I could find another animal job that I would really love.
But something happened before a job came along…I took a trip to Yosemite.  I started off as a chaperone, turned into a videographer, and have now all of a sudden ended up as an amateur filmmaker.  In helping out my aunt at One Spark Academy, a culmination of 16 years of whole-child education experience and an unwavering dedication to her vision, I in turn found my spark.  Creating a video scrapbook of the events in Yosemite flipped a switch in my brain and lit a fire in my soul.  It’s cheesy to say, and even to write, I know.  But to be quite honest, I have never felt something this incredible before.
And to think, what started off as a low-resolution handicam and iMovie has now become a $3000 investment in equipment and programming to churn out the best of the best that I can possibly create.  I’ve evolved into a computer geek.  I learn something new almost every single day, certainly every time I create something new; something about lighting, angles, different types of shots, storyboarding, editing… and every time I create a new project, I’m inspired to do more, and to do better. I’m inspired by reality, by an authentic smile, a hearty and genuine laugh, tears of joy, and passionate exclamations.  I’m inspired by the kids at school.  I’m inspired by my aunt, who has never, ever given up on what she believes in, even when facing what seemed like unconquerable obstacles.
If you believe in something hard enough, you make other people believe, and things start to happen.  Good things.  Big things.I need to get better.  I need to learn more.  This isn’t just a want anymore; it’s a thirst for knowledge the likes of which I’ve never experienced.  I want to make people laugh and cry and feel real emotions because of real things that happened.
It feels good to be recognized, but even greater than that is the feeling that I could be doing things to continue to help these kids, kids who deserve the world on a silver platter.  I want to see One Spark Academy grow and thrive, to have all of the things they need.  I want to be a part of making that happen.