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Education | The School Residency Program

fake sword fighting


Because of the popularity of the program, it often sells out. Schools currently booking the program get first choice of dates for the following school year, but there are sometimes cancelations and new schools can be included.

To schedule a visit to your school or get on the waiting list, contact:

Lisa Ortenzi
Director of Educational Programming
216-241-5490 extension 306
Contact Lisa

The School Residency Program

Bring the classics to your classroom!

Launched in 1981, Great Lakes Theater's in-school residency program is now one of the most successful artist-in-residence programs in the country. Each year over 16,000 students in over 100 schools experience the pleasure, power, and relevance of classic literature brought to life right in their own classrooms.

"I personally saw many wonderful things during the week that the actors worked their magic. I saw a student who rarely reads the assignment reach for a book to read the scene while they acted it out. I saw a student who usually has great difficulty sitting quietly in class and following instructions jump right into the sword fighting, and follow the instructions with total engagement. And - perhaps most satisfying - I saw a student with learning disabilities have an opportunity to shine as the ghost of Banquo, a perfect part for him because he did not have to read or recite lines in public, yet he was integral to the action. I so glad we had the benefit of this enriching activity for so many of our students this year."

- Sue Maier, Shaw High School, East Cleveland

Using an interactive, hands on approach, a team of two specially trained actor-teachers visits your school for five consecutive days, teaching five classes per day; the same five classes for the entire week. The actors bring scripts, props, costumes - and for the high schools, swords, daggers, and stage blood - to turn the students into an acting troupe, exploring classic literature from an actor's point of view.

"The actors did an outstanding job with our students... I was truly impressed with the performances, professionalism, and patience of the actors. It was amazing to see the student performances they were able to elicit as well! Thank you for your time, energy and efforts!"

- Ellen Burchell, Mentor High School

Designed to meet state education standards, the residency program is hands on, creative, and interactive. Each day of each lesson plan, regardless of age level, involves three components: acting; discussion; theater exercises. There are days when your students do all of the acting and our actor-teachers serve as their directors. There are days when our actors perform for your students and they are our audience. There are other days when the actor-teachers and students rehearse then perform side by side, with one another.

"What a pleasure it was to have the actors at our school. They were true professionals. I was especially pleased when they applied terms from the district's Scope and Sequence into the activities (ex. Theme and personification.) The students now use many of the acting skills we learned with the stories we are reading together in class such as improvisation and pantomime."

- Kathleen Merk, Luis Munoz Marin Elementary School (CMSD)

For Elementary and Middle Schools

For grades 1 - 8

Lesson plans explore a different story each day.

Grades 1 - 3

The Snowy Day, Where the Wild Things Are, Anansi the Spider, The Sneetches, The North Wind and the Sun, The Giving Tree

Grades 4 - 5

Pandora's Box, Damon and Pythias, The Turtle Who Wanted to Fly, The Princess and the Beggar, The Giving Tree

Grades 6 - 8

The Diary of Anne Frank, A Raisin in the Sun, The Glass Menagerie, Romeo and Juliet

"What a wonderful opportunity for my current sixth graders to be challenged in a way that was different from the usual textbook or computer screen. Using their bodies and voices in a dramatic way was such a fun and challenging experience for them - enriching and building upon content that is already stressed in the general curriculum. My students were literally rushing up the stairs to get to class on time in anticipation of the daily activities."

- Charlene Muth, South Amherst Middle School

For High Schools

For the high school grades, one play is explored in depth for the week.

  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Macbeth
  • Julius Caesar
  • Hamlet
  • Death of a Salesman
  • The Crucible

New, custom-designed five-day lesson plans include (pending availability):

  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Othello
  • Merchant of Venice
    (appropriate for middle school)
  • A Midsummer Night's Night Dream (appropriate for middle school)

Also available is a combination lesson plan, a Shakespeare Sampler, and a five-day Drama Workshop.

"Your actor-teachers are marvelously trained as artists and educators. They are very talented, well-prepared, imaginative, thoughtful and have a wonderful rapport with the students. The quality of their work, and really more to the point, the quality of the students' learning during the residency, is extremely high. Thank you again for allowing us the privilege of hosting this program in our school."

- Dr. Scott Miller, Cleveland School of the Arts (CMSD)


One team of actor-teachers, up to five classes per day for five consecutive days cost: $1,315 (mileage stipend paid by schools beyond a 25-mile radius of downtown Cleveland: $75). Cost of adding one additional class per day (six class maximum per day): $200. Combining of students into other classrooms is not permitted. Housing provided to actors by host school if beyond a 50-mile radius of downtown Cleveland.

"GLT IS AWESOME!!! Shakespeare is alive and well... My students not only loved old Bill, but they lived it!"

- Joe Rock, St. Peter Chanel

How do schools pay for the program?

The residency program has grown so popular with teachers, students, principals and administrators over the years that some schools book as many as nine visits per year! How do schools pay for the program? Each district is different, but there are many ways to secure funding. Some schools simply build the cost of the program into their annual budgets. At other schools, teachers apply for grants to cover the cost. Some schools hold a spring or fall car wash, sell t-shirts or have other creative fundraisers, then get the remaining balance (if any) from the PTA. Many schools charge a student activity fee at the beginning of the year (anywhere from $5 - $10) to pay for the program. For example, if the actors teach 5 classes of 25 students each, that's 125 students. At $5 per student, that covers nearly half the cost of the program; at $10 per student, the entire program is virtually covered. Given that the actor-teachers teach 25 classes per week, the cost per student is just $2.07 per class taught!

"The students always enjoy the program and I feel it makes them more comfortable and builds community within the classroom. The kids are always willing to take more risks after the program and I truly enjoy and appreciate it."

Sandy Bean, Mayfield Middle School