Student painting
Dance student and teacher

Arts Overview

Pursue your creativity.

Through the arts, students learn to take creative risks, push beyond perceived boundaries, and discover new ways of expressing themselves and engaging with the community.

Our highly qualified and trained arts faculty are active in their respective disciplines, keeping our programs fresh and relevant. No matter the area of interest or level of experience, students have the opportunity to work privately with teachers.

Students have the opportunity to showcase their talents both on campus in our galleries and on our stages as well as in the community. Student artists regularly show their work in local and regional shows and performance groups participate in area competitions.

At Walker’s, the arts provide numerous opportunities to develop leadership skills so students can grow as leaders as well as artists by choreographing original works, holding leadership positions in performance groups, including our School’s chapter of the National Art Honor Society, or guiding teams of technical theater volunteers.

Arts in Partnership with the Community

The arts can help create connections and build community, and Walker’s students use their talents to serve. Here, students tap into their creativity while using organizational skills to deliver unique programs that create joy. Arts community service activities include student-designed dance classes for children with special needs, CT Inclusive Arts, Unified Art with Special Olympics athletes, and the Memory Project, an international program where students create portraits for youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges.

Find Your Passion


Whether you are an experienced dancer or just starting out, classes are available for every experience level. You’ll be challenged to grow, and will have multiple opportunities to showcase your abilities.


Learn the fundamentals of performance through acting, singing, and dancing, and apply your knowledge to mainstage productions, including plays and musicals that range in genres from classic to contemporary.


Whether you are a novice or advanced musician, you can choose from a rich variety of musical classes and ensembles, such as Ethel Walker Choir or Orchestra.

Visual Arts

Our Visual Arts Program strives to provide our students with the opportunity to create, present, connect, and respond to art through a variety of experiences and hands-on activities.

Arts Facilities

Art Studio
Dance Studio
Ferguson Theatre
Little Ferg
Ceramics Studio
Music room
Art Studio

Walker’s spacious art studio with ample light and spacious views is fully-equipped with large tables, free-standing easels, mannequins, two printmaking presses, and independent studio spaces for art concentration students.

Dance Studios

Walker’s state-of-the-art dance suite in the Centennial Center facility includes two dance studios with sprung floors.

Ferguson Theatre

Ferguson Theatre accommodates 350 people and is the site of dance concerts, several school productions such as the Middle School Play and the Upper School Spring Musical, and many more school performances.

Little Ferg

Walker’s smaller black box theater, known as “Little Ferg,” is typically the site of our Winter Play and other performances.

Ceramics Studio

Walker’s ceramics studio includes eight pottery wheels, a high-fire kiln, cleaning stations and ample room for working and glazing.

Music Rooms

There are several spaces for Walker’s musicians to rehearse on campus: a spacious choir room, four music practice rooms and our beautiful Chapel.

Arts News

Art Galleries

Walker’s offers two formal galleries for visiting artists and community members, including alumnae, to exhibit their work. Artists exhibit for approximately seven weeks, with the opening of the show celebrated with a reception that is open to the public and the Walker’s community. During receptions, students are invited to discuss the exhibited artwork with the artist, with many visiting artists conducting workshops for students in Walker’s visual art studios. Artists interested in exhibiting their work should contact Ben Barker at or 860-408-4263.

Learn More

Meet the Faculty

Ben Barker

Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair, Visual Arts Faculty

Ben Barker


B.Sc., University of East Anglia, England

Ben Barker earned a B.Sc. (Hons) in Environmental Sciences from the University of East Anglia in England and is a graduate of the Connecticut Film Industry Training Program from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Ben spent over 20 years in the environmental industry conducting laboratory analysis, mobile laboratory site investigations and indoor air quality studies. He is a State of Connecticut Department of Health Services-certified Environmental Laboratory Director. After leaving the scientific arena, Ben pursued his life-long love of photography and film by working in locations management for film and television productions in New York City and Connecticut. He is also a seasoned and qualified soccer coach, having coached the game for 15 years. Over that period he has coached all youth ages from two to 18 years old.

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Marissa Forde P'28

Visual Arts Faculty

Marissa Forde P'28


B.A., Jacksonville University
M.Ed., University of Hartford

Marissa, a Simsbury native, joined the Walker’s community in the winter of 2011 after beginning her teaching career in the local public school system. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art with a focus on Illustration from Jacksonville University, and her master’s degree in education from the University of Hartford. She holds certifications in both art education and elementary education. Marissa teaches middle school visual arts. She also teaches ceramics with students ranging from beginner through advanced level three. Marissa is passionate about engaging girls in art by encouraging her students to explore how artistic creations are born through the solving of problems.

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Shannen Hofheimer

Shannen Hofheimer

Director of Theater, Music Faculty

Shannen Hofheimer


B.M., University of Hartford

Shannen, a classical artist and musician, holds a B.M. in Vocal Performance from The Hartt School of Music. She provides musical and theatrical instruction for students from beginner to the conservatory level. Throughout her work, Shannen seeks to share with her students the excitement and joy of making music. Her experience includes musical theatre, opera, jazz, rock, and more. She works with her students to equip them with versatility in vocal styles and a colorful repertoire. As a child, Shannen had the privilege of performing with NETworks Productions on the international tour of “The Sound of Music” starring Marie Osmond, which taught her professionalism and responsibility at a young age. She also toured nationally with Chamber Theatre Productions where she performed classic works of literature adapted for the stage for school groups. Her performance endeavors have instilled in her a deep passion and love of the performing arts, which she hopes to pass on to her students.

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Laurie MacAlpine P'08

Music Department Chair

Laurie MacAlpine P'08


B.S., Ladycliff College
M.M., The Hartt School

Laurie MacAlpine came to Walker’s in 1998 and has expanded the music program to address the needs of a growing student body. She earned her bachelor’s degree in science with a minor in vocal music from Ladycliff College and went on to receive her master’s in music composition from The Hartt School, University of Hartford. An accomplished musician, she studied composition and theory with Arnold Franchetti, classical guitar with Janet Marlowe, and piano with Bridget de Moura Castro. Before coming to Walker’s, Laurie owned her own piano and classical guitar studio for 10 years and started four independent music programs for home school associations in Connecticut. She has conducted several children’s choirs in churches throughout Hartford and is currently the cantor at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. At Walker’s, she has expanded the music program to include a gospel choir and a chamber choir (Voce Felice), Upper and Middle School orchestra, a handbell choir, and chamber ensembles. In October 2006, she was awarded The Natalie Galbraith Mitchell Chair in the Humanities for her work at the school. She is currently a member of Simsbury Town Band in the clarinet section.

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Cheri Soule

Director of Dance

Cheri Soule


B.S., SUNY Brockport
B.A., Eastern Connecticut State University
M.F.A., Smith College

Cheri Soule is the Director of the Dance Program at Walker’s. She teaches modern, jazz, ballet, choreography, and improvisation in both the Upper and Middle School programs. She received an MFA degree in Dance from Smith College, a B.S. in Dance from SUNY Brockport, and a B.A. in Fine Arts from Eastern Connecticut State University. Cheri has danced professionally with The New England Dance Theatre and The Judy Dworin Performance Project. She also enjoys designing sets for JDPP’s Moving Matters! program in Hartford. Cheri has also served on the faculty at Springfield College, and as visiting artist at Trinity College. Her favorite part about being at Walker’s is the chance to teach, rehearse, and collaborate with such enthusiastic young dancers.

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