No textbook. No curriculum. No lesson plans. No working equipment. That was the scene when former local television reporter and anchor Mark Raines was hired to revive a video production program, after the school's students destroyed all the equipment and ran off three teachers in one semester. With a VHS video camera borrowed from the football team and a small group of students, Raines transformed the video classes into a state and national award-winning television production program and the model for state curriculum. He has since started and successfully run three award-winning television and film production programs since starting to teach in 2000, winning local, state, and national teacher awards.
In 2011, Raines’ 11th year in the classroom, he developed an adult on-set speech impediment after an extended period of illness. Raines continued to teach while he fought to regain his speech fluency, through countless specialists and five months of speech therapy. After almost a year, an answer came through Parkinson’s medication. The speech problem is still there today -- it’s just controlled by the drug, which causes drowsiness and fatigue. Raines now struggles with fear of public speaking, after nearly a lifetime of speaking in public. You can hear more of his story in two TEDx talks featured on the main page of this website.
Throughout his health struggles, Raines has turned to his faith, family, friends, and fitness to fight back. He began sharing his story, including how fitness helped him transform his body, mind, and spirit, on Instagram in November 2014 under the username @california_thor. The page quickly grew into a social media success, and led to sponsorships by companies like Metabolic Nutrition, Flex Comics, FitMark Bags and others. Raines now appears at the biggest fitness expos on behalf of his sponsors.
Born in Monterey, California, Raines moved throughout the United States in a military family and in his television career. He now lives in San Diego, CA and leads the television and film program at Canyon Crest Academy.