aroundkent Magazine Vol 13 2017

Page 40

Continued from page 39 Tom has had different jobs (many part-time) over the years, in the spirit of supporting himself as a “working actor”. He painted houses, did framing on construction crews, built furniture, did some plumbing, and even worked as a loan collector (“the worst job I ever had”). He also taught himself graphic design and worked web-design positions at John Carroll and Case Western Reserve universities while teaching theatre at both. His theatre skills helped him in many of these jobs and he learned valuable employability skills from them which he has used in the theatre. Tom has learned that surviving as an artist places remarkable challenges in front of you. The theatre gave him employability skills that he has found transferrable to nearly any job. Creativity is a requirement and with an entrepreneurial spirit, you can do most anything.

So what is Career Technical Education (CTE)? CTE takes experienced practitioners and brings them into schools to teach their careers to high school students. The teachers work on their teaching licenses while they actually teach. Thousands of Ohio CTE teachers, over the years, have been prepared through this path. Tom completed his teaching licensure coursework as part of master’s degree at Kent State University. CTE programs are founded on the principles of the European apprenticeship system for preparing people for occupations. Some graduates go right into the workforce, some go to community or four-year colleges, others go in the military, and some even start their own businesses. In recent years, the programs have expanded from more traditional programs such as culinary arts, carpentry, and welding

volume 13 | 2017 •

to contemporary programs like athletic training, interactive media, and performing arts. Ohio and other states have dozens of CTE programs in a wide range of occupational areas. For example, in Ohio, there are approximately 120,000 students in grades 9—12 in CTE programs. About 6,000 of those students are enrolled in the arts and communications programs, which includes performing arts. Students at the Academy are part of a group of 11 schools in Northeast Ohio that share CTE programs through the ExcelTech consortium hosted at Mayfield High School. Any student from the 11 school districts can attend the academy by passing the entrance audition. More details on the consortium are available at ExcelTECCCareerTechnicalPrograms.

performances, from selling tickets, to building sets, making props, and controlling lighting and sound. His range of experiences include all genres of theatre, from tragedy to musical comedy. His heart, however, belongs to Shakespeare and he believes and practices “If you can do Shakespeare, you can act in anything”. In addition to everything associated with performances, Tom has been an influential leader in theatre. His leadership is evident in starting regional theatre companies, such as Center Repertory Theatre, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, Cleveland Theatre Company, and the Professional Alliance of Cleveland Theatres. He was also director of the Fairmount Center for the Arts, as well as a leader in the Actor’s Equity Association.

Real World Experience— Authentic Learning

The Academy for the Performing Arts— Sharing Lessons Learned

This non-traditional approach to teacher preparation, based on real-life experience, appealed to Tom rather than the traditional approach most teachers take. Tom has taught many lessons over the years to hundreds of actors. It seems like Tom has been teaching all his life … maybe he just never realized it. Much of his career seems to follow the Chinese Proverb:

Tom’s extensive experience and influential role in theatre led him to direct the Academy, which was established as part of a major theatre renovation at Chagrin Falls High School. His experiences have taught him a great deal about patience, attention to detail, working with others, developing budgets, and managing large groups of people. Since taking the reins at the Academy, his administrative skills have tightened and “For the first time, I believe my ship is tight, and seaworthy.” It is interesting to note that Tom had approximately 40 years in his profession when he started the Academy.

It is the teacher’s job to open the door; it is the student’s job to go through the door.

Tom brings his extensive experience in virtually all aspects of theatre; locally, regionally, and nationally to his students. He has worked as a director, actor, producer, and a teacher of acting. He has done everything associated with


The Academy is essentially a college level program in a high school setting. The mission of the Academy is “developing courage, confidence. and self-awareness through mastery of the modern, musical, and classical theatre.” Eight shows are performed annually in the full range of theatre options. Some 100 junior and senior students, five full