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.