By Diana Whittle
If the Academy Awards presented Oscars to local talent, surely Pueblo’s theater teacher, Julie Hackmann, would have won more than her fair share.
Soon, she will move into a districtwide role for the upcoming school year, by serving as the Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator. In this new position, Hackmann plans to expand the art programs in Kyrene.
“While I am sad to be leaving Pueblo and my own classroom, I am very excited about developing the new position of Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for the Kyrene District,” said Hackmann.
“I see this as a great opportunity to support all the arts teachers in the district, to collaborate with the high schools, universities and community arts professionals to give great new experiences to the students in our area.”
For her long-time work as the director of many well-received musicals for schools in the Kyrene District, including a recent version of “Bye Bye Birdie,” Hackmann is held in high esteem by her colleagues and the community.
In addition, during her 21-years as a Kyrene teacher, she has earned the respect of her students, along with gaining the appreciation of parents for introducing their children to acting and uncovering some hidden talent.
In an email note to Kyrene Superintendent Dr. Jan Vesely, a parent, Maureen Williams wrote:
“Although my son enjoys singing, he did not know he would enjoy acting. However, after his two experiences with Ms. Hackmann, in the ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ in the fall and ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ this spring, he now feels confident enough to try out for productions in high school.
“Her teaching style has given all the kids a sense of belonging and joy in all of their accomplishments. Both productions were so amazing, and the parents left the performances with overwhelming feelings of pride and happiness in the kids and staff.”
A second email sent to Dr. Vesely by a parent, Elizabeth Salas, is equally complimentary to Hackmann:
“I would be remiss if I did not take a few moments to recognize the unbelievable impact that Julie Hackmann and her theater program has had on my daughter, Bryana Salas.
“In my 20 years of being a fairly involved parent within the Kyrene District. I have never had a teacher make the kind of positive difference that Ms. Hackmann made in her three months as my daughter Bryana’s theater director. By selecting Bryana and casting her in a role in the Bye Bye Birdie play she has literally changed Bryana’s life.
“Words could never express my gratitude that Bryana was blessed to be touched by Ms. Hackmann’s talent and undeniable ability to make a difference in a child’s life!”
And, a third parent, Monique Crudup, wrote to say how much her daughter, Morgan, gained during her participation as part of the cast for Bye Bye Birdie.
“She made great new friends and gained a love for the arts because of the great deal of care that Mrs. Hackman put into the kids. I have never seen her work so hard and love it that much. She would come home from rehearsal with a smile on her face and tell me how she loved it–so much so that she plans to pursue acting in high school next year.”
Upon learning about the accolades, Hackmann is appreciative, but humble because she believes the productions have been accomplished through a group effort.
“I have loved being part of the Kyrene Community, so it is fun to hear that people appreciate what I have been able to do, but I certainly don’t do it alone,” said Hackmann.
“I give thanks to a lot of wonderful district and colleague support. There are incredible teachers in Kyrene that are creating masterpieces out of children every year.
“It really is the parents and families who offered a lot of time and love to help my programs be successful. I’ve had amazing students and parents willing to jump in no matter how crazy the task seemed!”
Hackmann was raised in Iowa and was involved in music and drama all of her life. When not teaching, she serves as the Bell Choir director for the Dayspring United Methodist Church in Tempe.
“I graduated from Simpson College with a double major in English and Theatre, and a minor in Music,” said Hackmann.
“I’ve been singing and playing the piano since I was small, and have performed all over the country and in Europe. My parents instilled a love of music in my sisters and brother, and my whole family is musical.”
She is a National Board Certified Teacher and received the ASU Mentor Teacher of the Year award and also the Tempe Diablos Excellence in Education for Going Above and Beyond.
As for the odds of her winning that big national award like an Oscar or maybe a Tony–Hackmann is banking on her son, Nathaniel.
“He is a professional actor who lives in New York City and is easily found through a Google search. He recently finished a two-year run on Broadway, singing Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables.”