Walks in the Arbo – Ms. Hartman

Emily Freelund, Editor-in-Chief

Laurie Hartman is a beloved member of the MBS Community. Currently completing her 40th year on the Morristown Beard School faculty, she is the longest running member of the faculty and staff. Harman is a member of the Design Arts faculty teaching Art 2, 3, 4, AP Studio Art, Film Photography, Digital Photography and Printmaking this year, though she has taught a wide range of courses throughout her tenure at MBS. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Hartman runs the biannual blood drive as a personal passion of hers. Let’s take a “Walk in the Arbo” to learn more about her!

What about MBS has kept you teaching here this long?

Well obviously it’s my job. Obviously I love teaching. The students for the most part. This is my sixth [Head of School], so I don’t know I can say it’s the administration, but it’s the students. It’s the long running relationship I have with them even after they graduate. I have now taught kids of kids that I’ve had, so I feel like their grandmother. I’ve been to their weddings and baby showers, and I used to tell them “you can’t mess with me. I saw you when you were in your womb.” So, you know, things like that. It’s kind of that long running relationship with all of these kids that keeps me here.

Hartman coached cheerleading at MBS in the 80s. Here, she poses with co-captains Monya Taylor Davis ’88, Associate Director of Alumni Relations (left) and Dominique Bales Wagner ’88 (right) during a cheerleading practice in 1988. Photo courtesy Salmagundi, 1988.

Are you involved in any clubs or organizations here at MBS?

Definitely the Blood Drive is my thing. In the past, I kind of brought up the Food Drive for Thanksgiving. That was my baby until we came up with the Community Service Committee. I coached in my earlier days. I was the cheerleading coach here. I have personally never been one, but I did coach them. And softball. I was one of the four faculty members that brought the community service program  into being. Mr. Tony Daur, [a former history faculty member], was kind of the brainchild of it, and then he enlisted three of us to join him. It was really one of the most beneficial things I’ve done, so that was great. I’ve been a department chair. A lot of stuff I don’t even remember.

What classes are you currently teaching?

I teach Film Photography, Digital Photography, and then Art 2, Art 3, Art 4, and Advanced Placement Art. This year I picked up Printmaking. It’s a semester course. Last year we re-introduced our Art History course, basically because I said “let’s get them into the curriculum so that they’re there because I’ve been here a long time, and I will probably not be here much longer.” When I retire, I want to make sure they are in the curriculum for whoever comes after.

Hartman has taught a variety of art courses throughout her 40 years at MBS. (Emily Freelund)

What is your all-time favorite class, or classes, to teach?

That’s such a hard question. I definitely love the AP [Studio Art] because it’s somebody or a group of students who are so motivated to do their own thing with art. It’s wild to watch them and see what they can produce after three years steady. Film Photography is really what I do outside of here, so that’s become my thing. Film Photo is just fascinating to me, but that isn’t where I came from. I came from painting and drawing in college and high school—never had taken a photo course until I came here and was told I’ll be teaching it. I kind of had to teach myself, which was great. Our first dark room was in a bathroom. It was in the ladies room across from my first classroom up in Beard. I didn’t know, probably, what I was doing, so it was really interesting.

Where is your favorite spot to take pictures, on campus or in New Jersey?

I love Clinton—the town of Clinton—has a lot. It’s a really quaint kind of place. New Hope, Pennsylvania is also one of my favs. My favorite overall in my entire career was when I did my sabbatical. I went to two places. I went to Maine where a very famous artist, Andrew Wyeth, worked and painted, and it was fascinating for me—and beautiful. And New Mexico, where Georgia O’Keeffe’s residence was.

Hartman holds up a painting by Mr. Mazouat gave her of her favorite artist, Vincent Van Gogh, that was used as a sample for the library window art project in his Art 1 class in 2020. (Emily Freelund)

What is your favorite memory, or memories, from MBS?

Wow. That’s a stumper. There’s so many here. Ok, so Mr. Mazouat will laugh if he heard me say this, but it’s true. So I cry at every graduation. I think the graduations are very special—the ceremony itself. And in the older days here, it was run a little bit differently, as was Cum Laude. A teacher got to initiate the person into Cum Laude, not just the department chair. Speaking for a student I had had for a very long time was very emotional for me, and I relish every one of those that I did. And at graduation we used to give a lot of the awards that we give now as Cum Laude at graduation, and even though whoever was Head of Upper School would give the speech, they would call up the teacher to actually present the award, and that was incredibly personal and special for me. 

What significant changes have you seen the school undergo during your time here? 

While some of the Design Arts Department and the Center for Teaching and Learning are currently housed in South Wing, the building used to be the cafeteria until the late 80s. Photo courtesy of the MBS Advancement Office.

I’ve seen a ton of structural changes. Lynsey Hess [‘22] was my independent study student last year, and we had all these conversations in the dark room about the buildings on campus. She would be  like, “what do you mean that building doesn’t exist,” and “that wasn’t there?!” I was like, “oh you have no idea.” So, yes, the whole campus, the way the campus is laid out, what things were used for—this [South Wing] was the cafeteria—has changed. The auxiliary gym was the only gym, and around it was the parking area and driveway. That was mud basically. The senior parking lot was our tennis courts. We had faculty houses where the road goes behind Founders Hall. The third floor of Beard Hall were dormitories. There were an amazing amount of physical changes, but besides structural, certainly academic changes, policies, things like that. A lot of growth. I mean we used to—the faculty—all know each other and do a lot of social things together, and, now, I couldn’t tell you half the people that are new. It’s sad.

What’s your favorite pastime?

Reading and cooking. I love to cook and bake. It relaxes me. It’s like being in the dark room. There’s something about the routines of mixing, going to this, taking things out, that is very much like working in the dark room. So that’s a big thing for me. I love animals. I keep saying when I retire I’ll work in a shelter, but I don’t know that I can because I think I’ll cry everyday. I love reading. Mysteries are my thing.

What do you like to cook and bake?

Anything. Cooking I love to experiment with. Sometimes I just look in the refrigerator and go “what am I making?” and just start pulling things out. I try to do healthy cooking—not so much my baking. I’m doing a lot more with vegetables and grains rather than meats. For baking, I mean, at Christmas time I go a little hog wild. I have this very special cinnamon swirl bread that has become my signature bread. I like to bake for the people here. Christmas time is big. 

What’s something that many people in the MBS community don’t know about you?

I mean, I think I’m a pretty open book.

What about people that haven’t had you as a teacher?

Well, that’s an interesting one. Perhaps all the things that I used to do here. I don’t think most people know that I was a Department Chair. As far as personal, I don’t know. Maybe they don’t know that I’m actually a native New Yorker, but I’m generally pretty open!