By Tianna Peters
Because I’m a dancer/model with a schedule so intense it’s wacky, I asked to be home-schooled from 7th grade through high school. I loved setting my own pace, project-based learning – and getting enough rest. I worked, trained, and socialized with friends my age, so I didn’t miss the high school experience at all. As a Senior, I wondered what life would be like after home-school.
I took a one-year post-graduation academic break. With no syllabus, I mainly read lightweight books and enjoyed my “time out.” My mom and I moved to New York for awhile. I trained & performed as a dancer, did magazine shoots, walked runways for Fashion Week – and loved the Big Apple. Navigating the streets of Manhattan, learning the subway system, and seeing live theatre and dance nearly every weekend was a treat.
Midway through my East Coast adventure, a New Zealand modeling agency invited me to work in Auckland, N.Z. for three months. My mom is my manager and travel buddy; we flew to another hemisphere. That’s where I shot my first magazine cover, got to know the Maori indigenous people, as well as their history – and fell in love for the first time. I was with my beau so much that my mom finished a book of short stories, some of them written there, down in the South Pacific.
When I wasn’t shooting, my boyfriend gave me an insider’s tour of his beloved Auckland and lush surrounding areas. At a gorgeous black sand beach, I felt like we were on another planet. We visited islands that were like paradise and great museums. To work and live there was a peak life experience. We went home for the holidays, then returned to New York City. My N.Z. beau visited me here, but we decided to just be friends.
Manhattan earns its reputation as, “The city that never sleeps.” Restaurants, stores, and cafes don’t close! I walked at dusk in Central Park and saw the city by night with friends. It was great to spend time with my Brooklyn grandma. For the last few weeks of our stay East we stayed in her brownstone – cozy and warm in the freezing winter.
We missed my dad and our poodle despite many visits, and I wanted to begin serious acting training at Playhouse West in L.A. We came home, where Ford had far more calls for me, now that I’d modeled in New York and internationally and developed a big portfolio. I juggled castings/bookings and dance classes/concerts, with acting training.
Even with a jam-packed schedule, I missed learning daily – in areas unrelated to work. I read about online college in a local paper. A week later, I enrolled and loved it; I’m now a sophomore. I have a curriculum, but choose which days/nights/hours to devote to studies. In so many ways, online college reminds me of home-schooling. I write papers or do readings/assignments in cafes, backstage, or in dance studios. It’s exciting to go for a degree. I love internet literary discussions, and getting to “know” my classmates online.
People [including family members!] weren’t thrilled that, as a teen, I planned to defer college in order to pursue my career. Online college is a perfect way to work in fields you love while getting a higher education. My life is full home-school fully prepared me for college distance learning. As a teen, I did college prep classes and worked. Now, I’m a model/dancer, as well as a fulltime college-and-acting student. My days and evenings couldn’t be fuller, but I love it. There’s a fascinating world out there. Home-school paved the way for me to be up to the challenges of higher education. So I just wanted to let home-schooling students and parents know that there IS life after home-school – and it’s sweet!