Based out of Bakersfield, Calif., Schoolhouse Escapes is a burgeoning business developed with lots of love, using ideas from entertainment and education to create cooperative activities where children at ALL learning levels can participate equally and feel useful. We consider ourselves custodians of the escape room industry, administering well-developed escape adventures as mindful agents of this developing market to ensure our young participants have a GREAT first time escape experience. Our team begins by using Common Core standards to create the puzzles, and then we use creative methods to ensure that every child feels that their role was imperative to the ultimate successful outcome, no matter their skill level. This is important to us. As each student goes home at night, we want them recounting stories of how much fun they had or how their team needed them to “win” the game during their first (in most cases) escape adventure experience.
“Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul.” ~Maria Montessori
(We love this!)
President and Creative Director
A little about Dana…
I am best characterized as a ringmaster of many circuses, but I’ve actually made money as a freelance writer for Woman’s World magazine, as a nine-time contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, editing books and novels, and working with haunted attractions across the United States. I was the president of Writers of Kern for five years and editor of the nation’s first citizen journalism magazine, The Northwest Voice. I also serve on the board of directors for a local water company.
I earned my degree from CSUB, started my own marketing and communications company and was a substitute teacher until I started working for, then owning, two haunted attractions in California’s central valley. An entrepreneur at heart who loves kids, I started S.C.A.R.E. (Supporting Community Actors Receiving Education) and S.C.R.E.A.M. (Students Creating Real Entrepreneurial Adventures & Mentors), both non-profit programs designed to uplift, teach, and mentor students of all ages. I also sit on the board for Innovative Entrepreneur Education, a California non-profit corporation founding a charter high school for entrepreneurs in Bakersfield, opening 2020.
But by FAR, my favorite adventure to date has been Schoolhouse Escapes, where I get to use all my gifts to create, delight, and entertain students (of every skill level).
I’m a wife, mom to three grown children (one who is a professional baseball player for the Texas Rangers), and grandma to two special tiny baby boys who are my inspiration for the picture books and stories I write for Schoolhouse Escapes. And I love Halloween. But I promise that our games are NOT scary. Yet. (j/k!) xo
A little about Robin…
Dana first met Robin waaaay back in high school, but after years apart, the two came together again by way of the haunted attraction industry. When Dana learned of Robin’s attention to detail and her organizational exceptionalism, she asked Robin to manage the entire ticket booth at her busy haunted attraction, where Robin solidified her spot forever as Queen of Organization and Lady of Loyalty.
Friendly, smart, easy to work with, and an extraordinary woman of faith, Robin was the obvious choice when Dana needed help embarking on this new entertainment adventure.
Robin received her degree from Fresno State University and has taught for 25 years in the Clovis Unified and Norris School Districts and uses her mad teaching skills to develop curriculum and puzzles for Schoolhouse. She also helps run the in-class games and creates the (sometimes complex) schedules schools use when booking their reservations.
Robin has been with her husband Jerry since high school, and together they have two daughters, various and sundry pets, and she has a love of country music unmatched by most mortals (no, really–and she’s met nearly all of the artists, too. All.). She’s happy and kind, but her biggest asset to Schoolhouse Escapes is her ease and leadership in the classroom and ability to manage students during the high-energy, intense games. We would never want to do this without her!
A little about Kacey…
Kacey came to Schoolhouse by way of a pipe dream–she answered a “help wanted” business ad we published with a lofty list of qualifications we NEVER thought we’d find. We shot for the moon, had nothing to lose, and developed a description for our ideal “lead” position but never expected to find a perfect fit. Our reputation means everything to us; no one short of amazing would do.
In walks Kacey. Charming, fun, energetic Kacey.
A native of Bakersfield, Kacey attended Bakersfield High School, then California State University Bakersfield, where she earned her degree in Business Administration. As a “lead” now during Schoolhouse Escapes games, Kacey’s strength is in her ability to handle excited schoolchildren with ease, managing our tiny clients and ensuring that they are having fun and getting the BEST experience we can give them.
Kacey has been married to her husband Matt for 14 years, and together they have three young children, who all share their love of sports. They are die-hard (read: DIE HARD) Dodgers fans, and Kacey plays in an adult soccer league, as well as runs marathons and coaches two youth soccer teams in her spare time (said loosely). We are beyond excited that she uses what time she has left to help us make our customer experiences great.
A little about Michelle…
Dana first met Michelle as a sophomore in high school when she applied as an actor in the local haunted attraction Dana operated. Spunky, happy, smart and friendly, everyone recognized she was someone special. She brought positive energy and lightness everywhere she went, the other actors gravitated to her, and she worked long hours, never lost energy, and never complained. She was an ideal role model for the rest of the employees.
Over the years, Michelle wasn’t content to act for a month and then disappear. She never left! She showed an eagerness to learn and willingness to help build, clean, paint, plaster, wash disgusting costumes, and mentor other kids during the off-season. Before long, Michelle was promoted to Dana’s assistant and back of house manager. (She had to relinquish her acting roles, however–and that didn’t make her happy!) 🙂
When this company started, hiring Michelle was automatic because of her work ethic, attention to detail, likability, and ease with children. Michelle is currently in college, is a whiz in mathematics, is married to a former Marine, and has a delightful 2-year old son.
She works two other jobs but juggles her schedule so she can work at Schoolhouse Escapes as Head Elf Re-setter. We are lucky to have her.
A little about JoJo, Darlene, Brynley & Ali…
Working with actors in a fast-paced haunted house environment, Dana was able to predict who would be good employees based on how the actors handled less than ideal working conditions, which turns out to be similar conditions found in classrooms: soaring heat, tight quarters, screaming, getting punched, standing for hours–all while ensuring customers get the best possible experience.
In all her years training and observing haunt actors, Dana recognized many who would make good employees in any industry, so when Schoolhouse Escapes needed resetters, these amazing young women came quickly to mind (all except Ali, but we will fix that!). The common denominator in the three former actors is not only that they were dedicated and talented haunt actors, but also that they want to please, they have attention to detail, and they do an incredible job anticipating our needs before asked. You’ve already met Michelle, and here are the other four:
Jordan (we call her JoJo) has a unique ability to be joyful in any situation, she’s creative, productive, genuinely kind, sweet, ambitious and smart–she has common sense and book smarts. She works her first job on the night shift, then she shows up to work for Schoolhouse Escapes with a smile and energy and never complains.
Darlene is as comfortable on a farm as she is in the classroom–and we bet she’s the only resetter around who can drive a tractor! Darlene is full of great ideas, love for children, and is dedicated to any job she’s given. She’s organized, intuitive, loyal, punctual, and trustworthy. She works a second job and somehow manages to go to college full-time, too… all while wanting to advance in the company!
Brynley has been with Dana from 9-years old, starting off as a “Thriller” dancer in the haunt’s graveyard, and since that time has been with any program or company Dana started. She’s delightful, smart, dedicated, loyal, and is a treasure to this company and anyone who knows her. She shows up for work days, cleaning days, volunteer days and is always present, punctual, and in a good mood.
Ali is our “newbie” — she has never been associated with a Halloween business but comes to us by way of an amazing family, who has raised a wonderful young woman full of kindness, sweetness, respect, punctuality, and the desire to do everything RIGHT and with perfection. She never complains and works hard to help us out between her college classes.
boosting student learning through cooperative adventures
• Critical thinking
Designed to Reinforce Common Core Standards
Student led, hands-on problem solving &
Common Core standards-based games
All the Fun of a Field Trip Without Having to Leave School
High energy opportunities for students to practice grade level-acquired knowledge in real world scenarios
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Kacey Tatsuno came to Schoolhouse by way of a pipe dream–she answered a “help wanted” business ad we published with a lofty list of qualifications we NEVER thought we’d find. We shot for the moon, had nothing to lose, and developed a description for our ideal “lead”...