Tom began his teaching career working in integrated Pre-School classrooms as a Play Educator, Teaching Assistant, and 1:1 Aide. Wanting to be more involved in working alongside children creatively, he pursued his undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Arts for Children at SUNY Brockport. While there, Tom studied creative arts pedagogy in Theatre, Visual Art, Dance, and Music. Upon graduation, he quickly found work as a Creative Drama Specialist, creating drama programs in several local early childhood centers and after-school programs. Tom specialized in creating unique programs based on the interest of the children and administration he was working under.
As Renaissance Academy’s Drama Teacher, Tom has created an integrated drama program that weaves each classroom’s English Language Arts curriculum into his own drama class. The students have drama class in their own classroom, and work on drama skills alongside their classroom teachers. Drama class often builds upon classroom material by exploring the feelings of the characters they read about, exploring habitats and environments through pantomime, and writing and performing student’s stories.
While at Renaissance Academy Mr. Lake received his Masters of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College, where he studied Creative Drama, and the Performative Arts. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his wife Corinna, and their two daughters, Penelope and Everleigh.
The Secret School Detectives: The Case of the Mad Monster
This is a short movie made by Second Grade students who were part of a Drama Enrichment time at Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts. The students were asked to write a story, using the elements of stories they were learning about in their classroom. They also were tasked with creating a story where a problem happens and is resolved at school.
The story they wrote together, about a classmate whose anger transforms her into a monster, could only come from the minds of children. It is spontaneous, (notice the surprise addition of the mystery character, later revealed to be the students “Pet Snake”!) scary, and funny. Most of all, it demonstrates that storytelling can be an engaging way for children to explore issues that are important to them. Fights, friendship, anger, and adventure, all come to the fore in just a few minutes.
After watching, if inspired, ask the kiddos in your life to tell their own story. Record it by writing it down, or taking video with a phone or camera. Ask them to improvise costumes out of household items. You will be surprised what they can come up with when given a stage and an audience, even if the stage is your living room, and the audience is simply your undivided attention.
-Mr. Lake, Drama Teacher
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