High School
High School Faculty
Art Department

Heather Chesley, Art Department

Heather Chesley
How do you see & instill a passion for social justice in your students?
The Arts have always been inclusive. They examine the status quo and call that status quo into question when necessary. Theater looks closely through the lens of social justice at racism, issues in the workplace, sexism and socioeconomic differences. My Introduction to Drama class starts with Antigone, a 2500-year-old story about a young girl speaking truth to power in a society that doesn’t acknowledge her as a whole person. We end the year with Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, the story of a family struggling with their Black identity in the US while battling racism, red-lining and white flight. Advanced classes work with Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project, Clifford Odet’s Waiting for Lefty and Anna Deveare Smith’s Fire in the Mirror. Entertainment is a huge part of American lives. Learning to tell stories that hold up a mirror to the problems and, in some cases, evil in society (bigotries, racism, sexism, homophobia, castes and classism) helps performers and artists communicate the need for change to a wide audience. It opens a dialogue.
Describe something interesting about your experience of being a teacher at Immaculate Heart.
In my time here, I have learned more from my students than I could have ever imagined. They have taught me to be fearless, to stand up for each other, to look out for one another even in the most challenging situations. Watching these young women find their voices has been an invitation for me to find my own voice.
Besides teaching, what other roles do you play on campus?
I’m our Theater Director! While I love teaching theater history and skills in the classroom, there is no greater gift than working with students to apply all they have learned to a show.
What school tradition shows the spirit of the Immaculate Heart school community best?
Welcome Day. It is the day new students and teachers enter our “tribe.” It’s a time to celebrate the growth of our community. It’s a day where sophomores, juniors and seniors take a moment to stop and see our freshmen, to celebrate them and to welcome them into a school and a community that lasts a lifetime.
What do you love about the all-girls environment at Immaculate Heart?
Our girls support each other. They champion each other’s accomplishments. If one girl succeeds, we all succeed. Encouraging each other to learn, compete and discover our own individual talents and gifts makes us a stronger whole. Embracing our differences and uniting in our commonalities makes for a truly unique student body.
How did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
I didn’t know! I was teaching a Shakespeare acting class at A Noise Within Theatre when I was approached by my teacher. She thought I might enjoy teaching in South Coast Repertory’s Teen Acting Program. I had never taught before and immediately fell in love with the joy and energy students bring to an acting class. There is a willingness to take risks, to really play, and it makes theater arts so much fun. I didn’t go looking for a classroom, God put me in it.

Immaculate Heart High School & Middle School

5515 Franklin Avenue • Los Angeles, California 90028
phone: (323) 461-3651 • fax: (323) 462-0610
A Catholic, independent college preparatory school for girls in grades 6 through 12, Immaculate Heart has been located on a beautiful hillside property in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles since our founding by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1906. We celebrate more than a century of nurturing the spiritual, intellectual, social and moral development of students as they distinguish themselves as women of great heart and right conscience.