By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy’s theatre teacher is one of the best teachers and directors in the state.

Kimberly Overstreeet won the best direction award during the Spotlight Awards ceremony in May.

Overstreet, a former Mt. Juliet Christian student, studied at Trevecca University where she majored in dramatic arts and music business. She received her master’s degree from Belmont University.

She said when she heard about the job at the school, she knew it was for her.

“It was a God thing,” she said. “I was involved in theatre in high school. I actually went to high school at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy. I had finished my masters at Belmont and was praying and seeking God’s will for my life. This job came available. I came in, and I interviewed, and it felt right, so that’s what opened up.”

At Mt. Juliet Christian, she teaches several theatre classes, including theatre appreciation and beginning theatre, where students learn the basics of theatre. They learn some theatre history, about the Greeks and Romans up to modern contemporary theater.

Several of her students have gone on to major in theatre, including Jake Yoder, who is at the University of Tennessee; Tate Runyon is at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga; Preston Raymer, James Laxton and Ray Robeson are among those who have brought her lessons into the next level of education.

“Most of what I like about theatre is the kids take life skills from it,” she said. “So whether they go on to major in it or not, a lot of them learn basic communication skills, self-confidence, how to express themselves, how to talk in front of people; things they’re able to carry into any career.”

The Spotlight Awards are presented by both the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and Lipscomb University and take place each May. It annually involves high school theatre programs from Middle and East Tennessee, she said. 

“Every school that’s entered, and MJCA has been a part of this program for about three years, [TPAC and Lipscomb] send out adjudicators to the schools,” she said. “They view one of the performances, they score the performance and out of those scores, they present the awards at a ceremony at TPAC in May.”

She said she was “shocked” to win the award for her direction of last year’s “Singin’ in the Rain.”

“It’s something that you always want,” she said. “But you never think it’s going to be you. I was so proud to get that award. It was a huge honor, really. Especially since MJCA is a smaller school. We’re competing against much larger better-funded schools.”

She said because MJCA is small, she has “to wear a lot of different hats, such as director, but also choreographer and musical director, build sets, do hair and makeup, pretty much doing a little bit of everything.

“It was awing and inspiring to be recognized for all of that work.”

She said she likes to direct different types of shows each year, giving the students a wide variety of experiences.

“That way, they get an experience from shows set in the 1920s to shows that are set in the 1940s and moving on forward. There’s a lot of factors that go into it such as who’s in the class, the ratio, the talent of the kids. I want to stretch them and teach them things like tap dancing, and at the same time, I want to highlight their abilities and skills.”