If she dug down far enough Katie always knew that she was called to theatre, perhaps even before thoughts of college and majors and vocation had entered her mind. Things really began to fall together in high school, when a teacher inspired and motivated Katie to fully realize her passion for theatre. Katie realized that it was "a gift that the Lord had given me" and declared a theatre major upon coming to Messiah.
As most Christians enter the job field they must begin the difficult task of reconciling their work with their faith. In the world of theater, this process often manifests itself as artists determine what they will participate in and what they will not. For some, this can be a difficult process, but for Katie, the integration of faith and learning at Messiah eased her transition. "With the spiritual basis at Messiah," Katie says, "especially in theatre . . . it was amazing to learn theatre with Christian professors. Learn how much to stay true to the art form and how much to stay true to the faith."
Having to assess her major through her faith (and vice versa) helped to ground Katie in a way she might not have otherwise experienced. Although she was specifically learning how to negotiate the relationship between Christianity and theatre, Katie developed an understanding of her faith that serves her in all aspects of her life. But her Messiah experience also afforded her "a lot of work in a lot of areas," as Katie explains. "[Messiah] was a very strong program in an academic nature. I felt like I really understood [my] art, and the academics were very strong."
• "Major in what you love, not what you think is a good idea."
• "God gives you passions where He can best use you."
About halfway through her time at Messiah, Katie realized another passion: teaching. But there was no education concentration in her major. After trips to the Department of Education chair, Katie worked out a balanced schedule of theatre and education classes, essentially creating her own concentration in theatre education. Now that Katie had received the necessary training, she needed to find her own spot in theatre education. She chose Florida - a hot spot for theatre, particularly in high schools - and headed off to find a job.
Katie had some previous teaching experience from Messiah, where she had completed a student teaching internship at Redland High School. With this background, it did not take her long to find a job. She began teaching theatre at The First Academy in Orlando while also working on her master's degree at Roosevelt University. Soon Katie switched to the Episcopal High School in Jacksonville where she was appointed Director of Theatre, a position she still holds.
Katie teaches five classes, so the majority of her normal days is taken up with class preparation and teaching. Since she also directs two full-length and two one-act shows every year, she is also often caught up in the many details of running a theatre production.
"Teaching is a mission field," Katie asserts. "I have so many conversations with my students that are real spiritual conversations." As a teacher and director Katie is gifted with the chance to significantly bond with many of her students, providing her ample opportunities for meaningful conversations. Working at a Christian school, Katie is further blessed to be in an atmosphere where she can share her faith with her students in any setting. Katie works not only to educate her students academically but also, when she can, to guide and aid them as best she can through the formative years of their faith.
Find out what paths other certified teachers are pursuing:
Stephen Lias, music theory professor/composer
Judy Armacost, church planter/missionary
Ben Armacost, church planter/missionary
Todd Parnell, general manager, Altoona Curve (AA baseball)
Lyle Blackketter, financial advisor/performance ministry
Owen Byer, mathematics professor
Find out how other Messiah grads work with children in their career:
Kate Binder, social worker
Malia Meiser, abstinence education director
Elizabeth Imboden, pediatrician
Karen Willis, pediatric research dietician
Profile by Angela Kriebel and Brianna Davidson, May 2005