Suzanne Halloran, school’s longest serving math teacher, leaving for Harvard-Westlake

20-year veteran, praised by students for her alternative teaching techniques, will be taking them to Harvard Westlake’s middle school.


Honor Fuchs

Ms. Halloran, who has been praised by students for her alternative teaching techniques, will be taking them to Harvard Westlake’s middle school.

By Eva Suissa, Opinion Editor

Ms. Suzanne Halloran, one of Shalhevet’s longest serving teachers and known for her clear teaching, deep care of students and spirited classes, will be leaving Shalhevet next year to teach math at Harvard-Westlake School in grades eight and nine.

Ms. Halloran has been teaching at Shalhevet since 1997, and although she’s sad to be leaving, she’s ready to move on.

“I see myself teaching for many more years to come, and I just felt like it was time to try something different,” said Ms. Halloran in an interview with the Boiling Point.

Sophomore Sadie Toczek was in Ms. Halloran’s Advanced Algebra 2 this year.

“She’s very understanding that everyone has different learning abilities, and strengths, and weaknesses, and she kind of structures her class in a way where everyone can do well and succeed,” said Sadie.

“We have dual curriculum, and we have personal lives, and we might not always be 100 percent all the time, and she really understands that. She’s just so open-minded and nice about everything.”

Sadie said Ms. Halloran’s teaching style is slightly unconventional. She gives students note-taking packets to fill in during class, and starts off every lesson with a math meme — a picture with a humorous caption. One showed a girl rolling down a flight of stairs with the caption: “When you miss one day of class.”

Junior Amin Lari gave another example about how Ms. Halloran’s teaching style is unorthodox. She once assigned his Algebra 2 class a project where they used math to solve a murder mystery.

“This is my first year with her, and honestly she’s taught me more math than the other two years I’ve been here,” said Amin.

His classmate Shana Lunzer said she always makes sure students clearly understand what they’re learning.

“If you don’t understand it, she’ll always give you the proofs for how something works,” said Shana.  “Before a test you could ask her any question, and she’ll show you on the board exactly how to show your work that is easiest for you to do it.”

Ms. Halloran grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin. In 1997, she moved to Los Angeles and began working at Shalhevet when they were back in the JCC building — the first time. Although she looked at several schools that year, she chose Shalhevet because she liked the idea of the Just Community and being part of what was then a brand-new school.

Halloran wasn’t always a full time teacher. Though she doesn’t remember what years she spent working part time at Shalhevet, she did take time off to care for her three children.

It was Ms. Halloran’s oldest daughter, Eleanor, a senior at Harvard-Westlake, who inspired her to make the move. Through her daughter, Mrs. Halloran got to know the school’s math department, which she called “very impressive.”

Harvard-Westlake offers grades seven to 12, and has existed for 25 years. It was originally two separate schools, the Harvard School for boys and the Westlake School for girls; they merged in 1989.

The combined school, which includes grades 7 – 12, is ranked as the fourth best private high school in the country, according to, and sixth according to Business Insider.

Ms. Halloran will be teaching on the middle school campus, located in Los Angeles.

She said what she’ll miss most about Shalhevet is the community.

“Starting at a new place I’ll have to meet everyone and meet the families, whereas here I know the families, and I know even like I’ve taught people’s cousins, or older brothers, or older sisters,” Halloran said.