BOSTON (CBS) – The students at City On A Hill Public Charter School in Roxbury are certainly not the best actors around but they have a lot of character.

They come from some of the roughest neighborhoods in Boston to the City On A Hill and one of their favorite classes is theater, taught by Harvard graduate student Tramaine Montell Ford.

Tramaine made his way from the dangerous streets of Chicago to get his Masters Of Fine Arts Degree at Harvard University. He’s doing his residency at City On A Hill. “I am passionate about people that are dealing with life issues. I grew up in a dangerous environment and it was literally art that saved my life,” Ford said.

Tramaine Montell Ford with students at City On a Hill Charter School (WBZ-TV)

Tramaine Montell Ford with students at City On a Hill Public Charter School (WBZ-TV)

Here the students learn to have fun, focus and freely express themselves. “I’m not shy but there are times I am timid and Tramaine is teaching us to come out of our shell and go with the flow and improve,” student Azriah Williams said.

Freshman Dawu Copeland loves the experience. “I think he relates to us because he started off not on a good path and he switched routes and he took a good path and to act,” Copeland said.

Tramaine knows most of these kids at the school will not follow in his shoes and become actors, but he firmly believes they all have dreams and his mission is to break them out of their shell and express themselves through art. “These students are so special and they don’t even know it,” Ford said.

Tramaine wants his students to aim high and hit every note of opportunity. “I am taught don’t be scared to do anything if you think you can do it don’t underestimate yourself,” Williams said.

Paul Burton