Congratulations to MJCA's 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year, Kimberly Overstreet!
Associate Head of School Mrs. Van Vactor said, "It has been a delight to watch Ms. Overstreet grow up from a fifth grader at MJCA to becoming one of our outstanding teachers. Her love for her craft has led to her excellence in working with students and fellow teachers. Her love for the Lord brings a humbleness of spirit that desires to serve God and bring out the best in each student. Congratulations on receiving MJCA's Teacher of the Year 2020-2021!"
Get to know Kimberly below:
1. As an alumni, what brought you to MJCA and what brought you back to teach? How long have you been teaching at MJCA?
I have been teaching at MJCA since the fall of 2011. After I graduated with my masters degree, I was looking for an opportunity to teach in a Christian environment where I could use my theater and music degrees simultaneously. I was excited to return to MJCA and to have the opportunity to start Wilson County's only show choir and to build the musical theater department into the award-winning program it has become.
2. What is one of your favorite teaching moments/memories at MJCA?
Seeing my high school theater students perform live on TPAC's stage in the Spotlight Awards! My proudest moment as a teacher was watching them perform and seeing them cry tears of joy and jump with excitement after winning the top award for Outstanding High School Musical in Tennessee for 2019! In that moment, not only was I honored for being recognized for my accomplishment as a director, I was so proud of my students for their dedication, commitment and hard work. Several of those students had been in my theater & choir classes since I first started at MJCA and I was so happy to see how they had grown and achieved what they thought was impossible.
3. What is your favorite thing about teaching at MJCA?
Mentoring students and inspiring them to grow and become the best that they can be.
As a choir & theater teacher for students in grades 6-12, I have the unique experience of really getting to know and build relationships with my students. I believe there is much more to a person than first impressions, which is why with every class I strive to give my students songs/roles/activities that will require them to step out of their comfort zones and learn something new about themselves and their abilities.
4. What ranks among the most important things you teach your students?
To believe in themselves, have confidence in their abilities and to never compromise who God created them to be. My goal is when my students graduate that they are not only equipped with the knowledge and artistic talents they need to succeed, but also with the skills needed to become dynamic leaders and achievers with the desire to make a positive difference in the world.
5. What has this year specifically been like for you, teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic? How were you able to adjust to teaching Fine Arts online? What did you learn?
Theater teaches us to adapt, improvise and go with the unexpected, and this school year has been just that. From conducting online auditions, rehearsals over zoom, organizing and presenting virtual live streamed concerts, to rehearsing in small groups with face shields, the students remained positive, dedicated and pressed forward because they believed in the program. We also had the added challenge of finding an off-campus performance location for our productions. It has been a tremendous challenge to navigate all the COVID-19 regulations for performances and concerts, but we learned to never give up in the face of adversity and to keep pressing forward because in the end all your hard work will be rewarded.
6. What are a few of your favorite MJCA productions you have directed and why?
I have directed over 16 theater productions in my time at MJCA and each one is unique so it is very difficult to pick a favorite. The ones that really stood out to me were "Singing in the Rain," "Guys and Dolls," and "Thoroughly Modern Millie."
"Singing in the Rain" because it incorporated lots of different technical elements we had never used before, like making a black and white silent move or making it rain onstage during the production. Additionally, the majority of the students did not have any prior tap dancing experience and I taught them tap for the production. We received 12 Top 5 nominations in TPAC's Spotlight Awards for this show and won Best Director and Best Costume Design.
"Guys and Dolls" because it was the type of musical that makes theater-goers laugh and walk out of the theater happy and elated. The ensemble was top notch! It was the perfect fit to highlight the talents/dramatic abilities of the students in the class. We received 10 Top 5 nominations in TPAC's Spotlight Awards and won Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Costume Design.
"Thoroughly Modern Millie" because this was the show where everything was against us.....a tornado and pandemic and yet these students pulled together to make it happen. This cast was dedicated to making this show happen and even several alumni returned to make a guest appearance in the show or to help out backstage because they believed in the program, the school, and each other. Despite everything, the cast faced the challenges head on including giving up several weeks of their summer vacation, remained optimistic to perform a fantastic show.
We are currently going through the book of Mark at FBCMJ and not only do I love the lessons learned from this book, but I really enjoy the way Mark writes with succinct purpose. However, I can’t help but wonder how he could have really described what was occurring in verse 56.
“And wherever he went--into villages, towns or countryside--they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.” Mark 6:56
If that were to happen today, I think I can see the scene from Seinfeld when George Kastanza is knocking senior citizens and children out of the way to run out of an apartment because the smoke detector is going off! Would people be knocking one another out of the way to get to Jesus for their healing? Or would they be helping one another to make it happen for everyone.
Though Mark does not describe the scene as chaotic, I’m just not sure if that is what we would see now! I like to use these types of thoughts as self-reflection when I can. Would I be knocking other people over or out of the way to get to Jesus for my healing or even the healing of a loved one I was taking to Him? Or would I be helping all to find ways to just get close enough to touch just the hem of His clothing for healing? I would hope I would be in the latter category, I hope we would all be in the latter category.
Isn’t it that way with knowing Jesus also? Do we have a selfish approach in knowing and appreciating what Jesus has done for us? Or are we trying to share the good news of what Jesus can do for all? Just imagine If we could all truly grasp the concept of simply reaching out just to touch the hem.
In Hot Pursuit!
As a child growing up, this was a popular phrase used in police chase scenes that usually involved a sports car or muscle car with a “well-intentioned” driver, a bumbling law enforcement officer and a whole lot of cars getting smashed! These scenes may be fun to watch, but are certainly not reality.
But, as I think of this term from a different perspective, what are we really in hot pursuit of?
To prove that our opinion or solution is the right one?! or...
To make all believe the way we believe...or...
The next thing that will make us happy??
I saw a quote that made me laugh today, “I’m not arguing, I’m just trying to tell you all the reasons I’m right!” I feel we are culturally falling into the trap of pursuing our “rightness” for our own gain. This type of pursuit is birthed in the flesh and most always ends in selfish interests being pursued.
We may not always think of actively “pursuing Jesus'' because we know that through the Holy Spirit, He is with us always. But, that is exactly what the term “seeking” is directing us to do! Throughout the Bible, over and over again, the Word of God encourages us to seek Him. Not to just sit back and see how things go, but to earnestly seek Christ.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
These verses indicate that seeking Jesus--the pursuit of Him--is an active process and one that involves a constant personal choice. What are you in pursuit of at the moment? Being right? Secular checklists? Or are you seeking Jesus with all your heart?
Be in hot pursuit of Jesus!