Meet Ms. Hallman, Middle School Theater
What’s something our community doesn’t know about you?
I founded a theater company in 2005 when I was in college. It still operates today, and we donate the proceeds from our cabaret shows to local nonprofits. In our first year, I remember how proud and gratified I was when I handed a $5,000 check to the AIDS Fund. We tackle relevant social and political issues in our performances while supporting local organizations that we believe in.
How did you come to work at The Haverford School?
It was fate. I had worked for five years at three different schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. As an English teacher and theater and literature geek, I gave the kids a voice through interactive theater games and a storytelling unit. At each school, I forged strong connections with the community and the students; it was hard to say goodbye as funding was cut and schools were closed. When the chance to become a theater teacher full-time arose, I jumped at it. Part of the interview at Haverford required me to create a lesson for seventh grade drama students. We discussed theater in the time of Shakespeare and enacted Shakespearean death scenes. The boys greeted me as “Miss H,” jumped right in, and shared a lot of laughs during the class.
What’s the most rewarding part about teaching a Haverford School boy?
Being a part of the team that encourages these boys to follow their talents is amazing. I watch the transformation of our boys from sixth to eighth grade; they go from learning proper ways to communicate to delivering a monologue; from examining their feelings and motivations to channeling that insight to develop a character and write a play; from tapping in to their inner artist through workshops to putting on a full-scale performance. It’s my responsibility and reward to be a guiding light as the boys move through their years here.
Tell us about a time you witnessed an “aha” moment with a student.
I teach stage direction to sixth graders. To help them grasp the concept of terms like “stage left” and “house left,” I told them that the directional relation between the audience and the performers works like a mirror. It wasn’t until we got up out of our seats and I told them to kangaroo hop “stage right” that they understood. Moving from concrete to kinesthetic lessons activates different parts of the boys’ brain and can create those “aha” moments.
What’s your passion?
Singing! Between teaching and play rehearsals, I’m belting out show tunes in my office. I’m also a singer for the Haligoluks, the Headmaster’s house band.
I watch the transformation of our boys from sixth to eighth grade; they go from learning proper ways to communicate to delivering a monologue; from examining their feelings and motivations to channeling that insight to develop a character and write a play; from tapping in to their inner artist through workshops to putting on a full-scale performance.
Jennifer Hallman is a Middle School theater teacher at The Haverford School, where she also directs the School's fall and spring plays. She is a graduate of West Chester University and co-founder of HOPE Players in Elkins Park.