Retiring teacher moves hearts through theater

Retiring teacher moves hearts through theater

Luke Wyrick

Terry Overfelt helped with the production of the play, "Almost Maine," which premieres tonight.
Colorful lights, friendly actors and children’s laughter set the  stage for the RBHS performance arts group Children’s Theatre.
Every year, students in the Children’s Theatre classes produce performances for children at schools around Columbia, providing entertainment along with learning. Students aren’t the only one teaching, though. They must be taught how to perform for them. This is the job that will no longer be the responsibility of Children’s Theatre teacher Terry Overfelt.
“I’ve had two jobs for 19 years, so now that I’m older, I just want to have one job,” said Overfelt, who also works at her church, at  Broadway Christian Church,   2601 W. Broadway. “Teaching requires a lot of after and before school time, and I thought maybe it would be in my best interest to have a job that had more traditional hours.”
Overfelt’s three children have graduated high school, which was her inspiration to not retire before her now 27-year stay. Although she explains why it is her time to leave, she said the students whom she has taught have been influenced in numerous ways throughout the years.
“Mrs. Overfelt is a wonder woman. She builds up talents and gifts in every student she encounters. She makes everyone feel included and part of a community when they are in the classroom.” senior Sami Kanago said. “She uses her humor and kindness to show her love for everyone. Rock Bridge won’t be the same without her.”
The way Overfelt leaves may have performance arts students  feeling like she cannot be replaced, but she thinks otherwise. With proper characteristics and enlightenment with theatre arts, she believes that they can accomplish anything without her accompaniment.
“I will miss the kids; I will absolutely miss hanging out with teenagers,” Overfelt said. “I have loved that. I love your creativity, your silliness, your passion and what good friends you are. But the lovely thing about teenagers who are so loving is that the world really is on your axis once I’m out of the picture.”
Although Overfelt will leave after completing this school year, she acknowledges that her students will not be without an important life skill. She believes knowing how to entertain children will not only benefit one in high school, but will also help with relationships with children later down the road.
“If you’re never going to take another art class and you just took the class to fulfill your fine art requirement, then you leave here with some real touchstones about how to entertain kids,” Overfelt said. “Because community relations, your family dynamics and just in your personal sense of work, artistic and personal are both the advantages that come out of this class.”
Speculation has arisen within the performance arts group about who will be the teacher next year. Children’s Theatre is not being discontinued, but instead, will be taught by Mary Margaret Coffield, who teaches Acting 1, 2 and 3 among other classes at Rock Bridge. In addition, because of immense popularity, it will expand to other schools around Columbia.
“You have such wonderful instructors and educational philosophies here in Columbia and particularly at Rock Bridge,” Overfelt said. “I’m really excited that Rock Bridge and even the district are expanding theater and their acting curriculum.”
Read about department chairs who are retiring here.
By Luke Wyrick
She is the first of four teachers who have announced retirement so far. Come back Sunday for an in-depth on another one.