Tom Lake is the Drama Integration teacher at Renaissance Academy. He enjoys giving kids the tools to tell their own stories through acting, writing, puppet-making and constructing time machines out of cardboard.
He has an extensive background in arts integration, having graduating from SUNY Brockport’s Interdisciplinary Arts for Children Program as well as Goddard College’s Masters in Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts Program. He has built a career out of creating unique drama and arts programs that integrate arts skills, curriculum, and children’s ideas into dramatic performances that celebrate the creative process. He has led trainings and professional development workshops on arts integration and creative drama in the Rochester area.
As Renaissance Academy’s Drama Teacher, Tom has created an integrated drama program that weaves New York State Learning Standards and 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.
In his free time he chases his two kids around local parks and coffee shops. In his near-non-existent other “free time” he is reading, making, or talking to someone about comic books.
He can be reached at:
255-4200 ext. 233
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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