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21 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Great Hallmark Movie!

9/10
Author: willeagle23 from Ohio, United States
25 April 2011

My wife asked me to watch this movie with her last night and I'm glad she did. This was a very well done movie. All the actors did a great job especially Emily VanCamp as Stacey Bess. The child actors they got for this movie also did a very good job. I became very interested in the children and what their story was. And to probably be expected some were pretty sad. It was interesting to find out what happens to them during the movie. And as in all Hallmark movies there are some moments that tug at your heartstrings! And moments where you get a smile on your face. This was a story that I wasn't aware of so you could learn something from this movie as well as just get some enjoyment from it. A good choice for the family to watch.

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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Inspiring, well done

Author: vchimpanzee
28 April 2011

In this fact-based Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, Stacey is 24 years old in 1987 and fresh out of college. She has wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl. In flashbacks, we see her as a little girl who has to listen to her father yell at her mother, but other than that we don't know the specifics of why her early life was not pleasant. Then at 16 she becomes pregnant and drops out of school. Still, she married the father, Greg, and earned her GED, then graduated from college, all while raising not one but two children.

Stacey is interviewed by the head of human resources for the Salt Lake City schools (Timothy Busfield), who has one opening for her--a school for the homeless. It turns out to be much worse than she imagined: a dump of a warehouse which is also the homeless shelter, with no textbooks or real desks for the students who cover a wide range of ages and abilities, or anything to make it look like a real school. Every time a train passes it's like an earthquake. The substitute teacher she is replacing can't wait to get out of the place. There is a class pet--sort of.

But the kids are no worse than kids in any other inner-city school, and most of the homeless are really nice to Stacey. One exception is Candy, who doesn't understand her kids should be in school so they can improve their status in life. After the first day, though, Stacey has only one incentive to stay at this dump. She doesn't want her own children to see her quit. So she perseveres, finally getting through to the school children and really teaching them instead of just babysitting. But the real challenge is dealing with the bureaucracy--she has no actual principal, and no one wants to take responsibility for anything.

Eventually, Stacey gets Dr. Warren to listen, and things improve. Some of the homeless people assist Stacey in her efforts, and one is so good at his job he can be paid for it. Still, other challenges are ahead in this environment.

There is an additional complication in Stacey's life that has nothing to do with her job, but it's just a challenge that adds to the others. She won't give up.

This was a really good movie, though one possible criticism is the fact that these kids were too ideal. And Stacey's own children are too perfect to be believed. But the movie is based on fact, and maybe this is the way it was.

Another omission: at the end the real Stacey Bess was introduced, and she mentioned prayer. Not once was a specific religious faith brought up in this movie. Was this an effort to be "politically correct" and not single out one faith over others?

Emily VanCamp does a very good job. She looks so much like Melissa Gilbert that she seemed familiar, even though I don't really know her. The real Stacey Bess looked very much like Kiersten Warren, an actress playing one of the homeless parents. Still, Warren is much older than Stacey is supposed to be here, and she was well suited for a tough, more street-smart character.

All the leading actors were very good. I would single out Paola Nicole Andino as Maria, a sixth-grader intending to be a teacher but dealing with challenges. Also Liam McKanna as Danny, who goes from Stacey's worst discipline problem (but hardly anything to write home about) to one of the class leaders and a child with lots of potential.

It was worthy of the name Hallmark Hall of Fame.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Beyond the Blackboard

8/10
Author: cgflames from United States
25 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was surprised. I didn't intend to watch the movie, but once I started I couldn't turn it off or DVR the rest. I wanted to stay till the end.

I found the child actors to be believable and talented. I was happy with the job the adults did as well.

I found the story to be sad, but truthfully what can be expected in our world today with the way things are (unemployment so high, lots of businesses going out and leaving people unable to take care of themselves any longer, and so forth). I found that the movie made me want to read the book, to see how accurate the story is. I can imagine that things were much worse than they were shown in the movie.

I was happy that the ending was real and not a happily ever after ending. Life for the homeless rarely seems to end with everything hunky dory, for some people things improve, for a lot they just go downhill quickly.

Most of all I was happy to get to meet the real person at the end of the movie. Although there was good info on how to help, which I am sure was most important to this wonderful woman, it would have been nice to have a better update on her family situation. IE: still married with this many kids, all grown or ages (fill in the blanks). It is something I always look for at the end of a true story.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Beyond the Blackboard was an inspirational depiction of the Stacey Bess story

7/10
Author: tavm from Baton Rouge, La.
27 April 2011

I originally wasn't going to watch last Sunday but when I came home from work that day, my mom had it on there and seeing a familiar face from "Everwood" (Emily VanCamp), I decided to stick it out. I was very glad I did as this was quite an inspirational "based on a true story" movie though I'm sure since this was produced by the Hallmark greeting card company, not all the nasty things that went on that lower income school was going to be depicted. But you can see some of the frustrations this Stacey Bess went through and her struggles to get some needed textbooks and other materials when she talks to the man who hired her (Timothy Busfield). But when she then talks to another administrator (Treat Williams who I also recognized from "Everwood"), he decides to see what he can do and does more than she can thank him for. It was a wonderful surprise when these two former co-stars from the WB series showed up together on screen. There were other wonderful sequences but I'll just now say that this was very inspirational and if you're interested in this kind of thing, it's now on DVD at you're nearest Hallmark store. P.S. Loved the vintage Hallmark commercials that was shown throughout. Was especially interested in the one from 1975.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Beyond the Blackboard: Chalk it Up to Success ****

10/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
26 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While it often doesn't happen, this is the way schools should be.

A novice teacher in Utah is assigned to teach children who are homeless. Where they have housed these children and their families is an absolute disgrace to mankind. Our teacher heroine makes a life for these children. Quickly realizing that it can never be all about academics for these children, she first must get them to trust her and provide a warm, safe environment for them and their parents, many of whom are skeptical at the beginning. Academics shall follow. There is plenty of determination and true grit on her part.

Of course, not everyone would call this realistic. Discipline problems are quickly dispensed with as an example. The bureaucratic nature of education is revealed.

As this is a Hallmark picture, you know the story will be heartwarming and this film certainly is.

Based on a true story, I fully congratulate this outstanding teacher.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Thank you Stacey Bess and Halmark

10/10
Author: Mirriah56-775-962040 from United States
18 March 2012

I was lucky growing up- I had parents and Grandparents who valued education and were together as 1 family. In 1974 when I started college the furthest thing which I wanted to do was become a teacher, instead I became a volunteer juvenile probation officer while in college, a police officer afterwards and an Army veteran (all after college). God also blessed me with 2 wonderful sons whom I raised by myself because I lost their father in a car accident. I've always pushed education- expecting and demanding the best from their school boards, their teachers, myself, and my sons. Now, some 38 years after graduating the U of South Florida, I'm obtaining my Masters in Education. I've been a parent volunteer since 2006 in their high school, and I've been a substitute teacher since 2009. This movie just drives home what I've seen over the years, what I've fought for for my sons and their classmates, and for their parents. Thank you Mrs. Bess, for giving me the courage and the fortitude to carry on- I nearly gave up on my MA. Thank you for being the type of teacher which you are- you are indeed a rare breed of teachers and I wish that there were more like you. We don't give up- we look to reach all our students and their parents. You were there to help me and make me not give up- in 3 weeks I graduate with my MA, then it's off to the state board exams.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Beyond Typical Hallmark

9/10
Author: rrockwell-3 from United States
20 July 2014

I've watched a number of Hallmark movies and here are the reasons. They typically are low-stress (no explicit violence, no bad language, no scenes of immorality, happy endings). Also they generally involve talented and good-looking actors. However, what they lack is unique and well-crafted stories (quite predictable plots), much drama, and much realism.

Beyond the Blackboard fits all the above (including some engaging child acting) but reaches higher than typical. It is helped by the fact that it is based on the true story "Nobody Don't Love Nobody" by teacher and advocate Stacy Bess, the main character in the movie. Though the film tames down the realism, it still manages to shine light on the the traps of homelessness that are difficult to escape, the common needs we all share, and the impact of family. The story also encourages those who are more fortunate to sacrifice and take action, out of simple humanity and also the priceless rewards that follow having a positive impact on children's lives. Being a lifelong educator myself, I also empathize with the value the film places on a safe and accepting learning environment, especially for children who don't have that at home and naturally long for it.

I think people who may or may not be great fans of Hallmark movies will be pleasantly surprised at this one.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Beyond the average 'inspirational teacher' film

7/10
Author: studioAT from United Kingdom
1 June 2013

I've seen Beyond The Blackboard a couple of times now and each time it has proved to be an enjoyable watch.

While films about inspirational teachers getting the best out of wayward children are pretty common what separates this one from the rest is the heart and strength of the script behind it. It goes against the normal cliché's and this makes for a better film.

It is helped by the fact that Emily Van Camp (better known to many as Emily in Revenge and Amy in the dearly missed Everwood) gives a great performance as Stacey and is supported by some good performances from the young children playing her pupils. Fans of the formerly mentioned Everwood will like the sight of Van Camp working with Treat Williams again and their chemistry shines through in the limited scenes they have together. It is also nice to see Cal from Studio 60 (aka Timothy Busfield) also appear in this above average TV movie.

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sincere goodness

7/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
28 June 2016

Stacey Bess (Emily VanCamp) got pregnant at 16, dropped out of school, and got married to Greg. She eventually got her GED and 8 years later in 2009, she gets her first teaching job in Salt Lake City. She's horrified to find a chaotic railroad warehouse shelter with homeless families run by Johnny Hernandez. With only her own resources and the help of the parents (Nicki Aycox, Kiersten Warren), she tries to create a safe environment. She finally meets superintendent Dr. Warren (Treat William) who is surprised by her work.

It's a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. It's feel-good. It's inspirational. It's a tear-jerker. It's all of that. It's sincere and it does that sincerity very well. VanCamp is a solid lead. She embodies that goodness. It is everything one expects from this type of movie.

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INSPIRATIONAL... and Heart-warming

9/10
Author: Anindita Dutta from India
4 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The movie starts with a young teacher named Stacey Bess who goes for an interview and gets the job right away, without many questions being asked. When she asks the interviewer the name of the school, he says 'The school has no name... It is an initiative for homeless children.'

And that is the beginning of her journey... A journey of learning... A journey of bringing a change... not only in the lives of her students, numbered somewhere around 20, but in the lives of thousands of people all around. Stacey Bess tells you how a teacher should be. The movie manages to capture that essence very well. The movie leaves behind, with you, an experience to cherish and to learn from for years to come.

Emily VanCamp as Stacey Bess is beyond perfection, charming and so real that there are times you forget that she's just playing a part. All the supporting actors are excellent as well. All the child artists deserve a special mention.

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