Seeing the little iconic golden crown emblem has sort of become an autograph for quality programming. It’s the sign of Hallmark branded products and while, most people may think of a meaningful greeting card when it comes to that name, what you are missing out on are some truly moving productions.
Beyond the Blackboard (2011) Hallmark Hall of Fame Review
Ever since she can remember Stacey has aspired to be a teacher. It was her dream. School was a haven from a home-life that was anything but happy, which inspires her passion. Years later, her decisions lead her to quit high school, and she struggles to finish her education. Eight years later at twenty-four, Stacey (Emily VanCamp) is a mother married to her high school sweetheart, Greg (Steve Talley). Juggling a personal life, she finally earns a degree, and now wants to teach with the New Mexico public school district. Even though she’s hired, she assigned a class full of homeless children. Excited to see her dream being realized, Stacey doesn’t expect what she gets.
Determined to make things work, she uses some of her long-suffering gumption as she devotes much of her time to her class of twenty emotionally bruised, but clever students. Pouring her own money and time into resources, Stacey eventually makes her classroom into something resembling a proper learning environment. But in order to complete her work she must get the superintendent (Treat Williams) to take notice of the good she is doing and the progress “her kids” have made.
Anytime there is a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV slot, my family sits down together and anticipates something superior from such a signature production line. Especially since we know their past (nearly always) stellar reputation. Luckily, unlike the Hallmark Channel programs these air on a station available at my house. Being a true story always lends credence to an account that will not only be well-rounded but emotional. A script or in this case, a teleplay based on actual events has a lot to live up to, and more potential to see that realized, but also a responsibility to display the humility and “authentic” feeling to the story. Most of the programming that comes from Hallmark is family acceptable, but since this is more adult in its subject matter, there are a few thematic elements.
Everyone in the cast is phenomenal. From the talents of the adults, including Emily, Treat and Steve (and even Nicki Aycox from the short-lived TV show Dark Blue puts in a heart-breaking performance) to the kids, the cast is wonderful. Really though, it’s the kids who steal the show, sort of by default, because they are cute. Each and every one of the kids is impressive and everyone works together so well; there’s an authenticity in each tension fueled moment. The palpable emotional connection and scenes are touching – and I do not normally have much of an emotional (shedding tears) reaction to a movie unless something about it seems special. Beyond the Blackboard is one such film. Stacey is not just an advocate, she’s also a kind of inspiration to her students. Something that comes across on-screen in ways we’ve come to expect from such programs.
A heartbreaking, tender story that demonstrates some of the small ways a person can make a big difference in other’s lives. Beyond the Blackboard – also known as Let them Shine – is a wonderful, inspirational (true) story that teaches a form of mutual respect, and though it’s tough to see, I do recommend it.Emily VanCamp ('Revenge,' 'Captain America: Civil War') stars in this #Hallmark Hall of Fame original about determination & dreams. Beyond the Blackboard - Inspiration Determines a Dream Click To Tweet
CONTENT: Many of the children come from broken homes; fathers and mothers are in prison; one mother locked her children in the basement. Rebellious to a fault, a pre-teen smokes as do many of the parents; one parent must leave the shelter because of bad choices. We learn a sixteen-year-old becomes pregnant. The film is TVPG.