Teacher of the Issue: Dr. James Fry

Director of Student Life at Malvern, Dr. James Fry helps the music and art department thrive during the Pandemic.


Growing up with two siblings in Cheltenham, Fry was encouraged to participate in sports and music.

“We had to participate in sports and play an instrument until high school. Then we decided if we want to continue or not,” he said. “I took the guitar and tried clarinet, but I wasn’t good at either.”

Shortly after being introduced, Fry fell in love with the performing arts.

“It was in middle school when we were introduced to our performing arts. I started and got really excited about it. It stuck through high school and did it in some theater groups in college,” Fry said.

After graduating from Spring Hill College, Fry worked as a theology teacher at Hallahan, an all-girls Catholic school in Philadelphia. Shortly after, he found a job at Monsignor Bonner.

“I was lucky enough to get a job at Bonner,” he said. “I was a science teacher, and after four years, I started [at Malvern].”

Approaching his twentieth year at Malvern, Fry had to transform the arts and music to comply with pandemic protocols. He specifically worked with theater kids over the summer to find something they would be interested in during the year.

“I did some google meet sessions with some of the theater guys and discussed our possibilities. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we were like ‘we’re gonna make it work,” Fry said. 

Unable to create the regular spring music, Fry and Mr. Ed Liga, Chorus and Guitar Ensemble Director, plan on combining Chorus, theater, and guitar ensemble for a collective performance on May 13.

“We’re going to do a broadway review,” he said. “I feel like parts of it are gonna be like a Glee episode when they’re on the risers and they are singing and moving around.”

Recently, Fry and Liga worked together to produce a Stations of the Cross performance that was widely appreciated in the Malvern community. Fry believes the tradition was important to uphold. 

“I think a big part of it was having that sense of normalcy. Also, the fact that we’re able to start doing those performances was what was really necessary to boost some sprites and morale, especially going into the holidays,” Fry said.

Fry is very aware how important music and arts are for many students, discussing how it’s their way to express themselves and have fun. He looks forward to next year and hopes to see a positive change.

“I would love to see us be able to use the theater as it was intended and have live audiences,” Fry said. “Mr. Liga and I are hoping to have two regular shows next year, so we hope to bring that back.”