Mr. John Breen Bio

This post is one in a new series of profiles of exceptional teachers and staff members at McPherson Elementary School. 

Today, we are profiling Mr. John Breen! He teaches a 4th/5th split class and is director of the spring musical. He told us a little bit about his background in teaching and theater, his work at McPherson, and his future goals. 


I was born in New York City, New York, and grew up on the New Jersey shore. I graduated from Monmouth University (West Long Branch, New Jersey) in 1988 with a BS in Elementary Education. My first teaching job was in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where I stayed for 17 years, until I moved to Chicago in 2002. I did take one year’s sabbatical leave from teaching (1999) to tour the country in a holiday production of Babes in Toyland. I then was cast in a sit-down production of Phantom in Springfield, Ohio. During my tenure at Asbury Park, I was a two-time recipient of the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, 1994 and 2002. I also have won various acting awards.

I came to Chicago in 2002 and worked for several districts and charter schools before settling down at McPherson. I did teach one year at another CPS school but returned to McPherson. Since my first year at McPherson I have directed the school’s spring musical. Past productions include: CinderellaDraculaThe WizThe King and I, and Aladdin. We are looking forward to this year’s production of Shrek!

We audition for the musical in January, after winter break. We rehearse several days a week for the next five months with a production date towards the end of May. It takes this long because A LOT of work goes into putting on a first-class, high-level production. Rehearsals are spent singing, dancing, and acting separately until putting it all together towards the end of the rehearsal period. Rehearsals are held after school. Auditions are open to all 5th through 8th graders as well as younger siblings of cast members and younger children of staff members.

Although the main goal of the club is to present a quality production, there is so much more to it. Instilling in children a sense of pride, commitment, and accomplishment is just as important, if not even more so. My favorite part of organizing and running this club is the way that students who are more shy get to display their talents and “shine.” Not everyone is a good athlete and this club gives those students a chance to be an integral part of the school community.


Shrek! auditions will be Wednesday, January 16 and Thursday, January 17. Thanks Mr. Breen! 

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