Foundations of Theatre

Grades 9–12

This course serves as an introduction to the dramatic arts, with basic acting and technical skills as the focus. In order to understand theatre as a whole, students participate in the many parts of theatrical production, as actors, directors, writers and audience members. This is accomplished through a series of class performances and out of class involvement in other theatrical opportunities. The primary focus is to approach acting from various angles to develop not only concentration and focus, but also imagination, movement and vocal skills. This class will enable students to express themselves on stage in a believable and truthful way, and to grow to be well-rounded theatre students.

Advanced Theatre

Grades 10–12

The purpose of this course is to utilize the theatrical skills learned in Foundations of Theatre to produce a higher level of professionalism as actor, director, writer and audience member. These students put on the high school spring play, advanced improvisation performances, and other scene work. Students may take this course repeatedly because it changes emphasis each year; not only are the productions different each year, but the focus on material changes each year as well. In past years, the class has studied accents, stage combat, stage make-up, directing, script-writing, scenic design, children's theatre and radio plays. Future concentrations depend upon student interest and talents.

Middle School Theatre

Students in Middle School Theatre explore basic acting and technical skills. This semester course prepares young actors for participation in theatrical production and improvisation and equips them to develop imagination, movement, vocal skills, concentration, and focus. This course sets a foundation of exploration and delight for students interested in the performing arts.

6th Grade Theatre

Theatre will focus on basic vocal and physical acting exercises geared toward building character. Students will be introduced to improvisation, script-writing, and all the steps involved in putting on a short play: auditioning, memorizing, blocking, rehearsing and performing. In addition, the class will learn stage terminology, basics of design, and explore how theatre and musical theatre is used in the world today. Goals are to discover and develop God-given skills in the arts, to learn basic skills that will enhance awareness in the arts and an ability to participate in them, and to encourage and promote confidence through class showcases.


Mary Catherine Schimpf
Upper School Theatre DirectorMary Catherine Schimpf

Schimpf grew up in St. Louis, where she studied piano at Webster University, acting and singing at Westminster Christian Academy, and dance at Center of Creative Arts, and she performed in musical theatre productions around the city. She majored in music at Covenant College, and directed Covenant’s first musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, as her senior project. She conceived of a Musical Theatre Camp for children which she has been developing and directing for 17 years, in an effort to build performance technique and inspire interest in the arts. For 13 years, she has been teaching acting as well as directing plays and musicals at CCS, most recently Meet Me in St. Louis, which won Best Set Design, Best Ensemble, and Best Show at The Spotlight Awards in Nashville. She teaches Improv at CCS and in the community and has recently finished consulting with another high school theatre program. Her work as director was featured in a story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Kara Funke
Music Director and Voice TeacherKara Funke

Kara Funke is a teacher, performer, choral director, and published composer. She received her BA in Church Music from Belhaven University and her MM in Vocal Pedagogy and Vocal Performance from Belmont University. Originally from South Carolina, Kara served six years as Director of Music for Greenwood Presbyterian Church where she developed and let the children, youth, and adult choirs and the church orchestra. She also directed music for several youth productions at the Greenwood Community Theatre. Currently, Kara is an adjunct professor of music at Covenant College where she teaches private voice lessons and works with the Covenant Singers Women's Ensemble. Kara also teaches choir for the CCS 6th grade fine arts rotation and directs music for the MS and HS musical productions at CCS. She recently directed music and conducted the CCS production Meet Me in St. Louis. Kara also enjoys singing and performing on the stage. Some of her favorite roles have been Nanhi and a modern eagle dancer in Unto These Hills at the Mountainside Theatre in Cherokee, NC, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, and Marian in The Music Man.

Ellie Smoak Austin

Assistant Director

Ellie Smoak Austin graduated from CCS in 2014 and was a dedicated theatre student. She was in several productions, including The Music Man, Bye Bye Birdie, and Cinderella. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Theatre Education Certification from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, she has joyfully returned to CCS! While at UTC Ellie earned the Departmental Honors distinction for her thesis, "Drama as a Tool for Addressing Cultural Stereotypes," served as the president of Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society, and had the opportunity to direct and act in numerous productions. Ellie previously worked with CCS theatre as Assistant Stage & Production Manager for Peter Pan, Jr. and Meet Me in St. Louis, as well as Assistant Camp Director for the Summer Musical Theatre Camps. She teaches Middle School Theatre classes and serves as Assistant Director of CCS productions. In addition to her theatre work, Ellie serves as an Exceptional Education Paraprofessional.

Jamison Shimmel
Production Manager

Shimmel has valued his time at Chattanooga Christian School teaching both Middle and High School Spanish. He grew up in Wheaton, Illinois and began acting in 5th grade. As a graduate of Covenant College, he received his BA in Spanish while sharpening his fluency overseas in Sevilla, Spain. Following his undergrad degree, he continued at Covenant receiving a Master of Arts in Teaching. Throughout college, he performed in both musicals and plays during which he also founded and coached Laugh Track, Covenant’s first improv team. His favorite roles include: Baker (Into the Woods), Horton the Elephant (Seussical the Musical), The Ugly Ducking (Honk!), and Plate #8 in Beauty and the Beast. Most recently, he worked as Production Manager for CCS's production of Meet Me in St. Louis which won Best Show in The Spotlight Awards.

David Macallister 

Set Designer

David Macallister is the Industrial Arts teacher at CCS. He joined the faculty in 2017 and teaches Middle and High School Industrial Arts and Advanced Woodworking in the newly renovated shop. He showed his skill as the Set Designer for the spring 2018 production of Meet Me in St. Louis which won Best Set Design, Best Ensemble, and Best Show at The Spotlight Awards in Nashville.

Heath Austin 

Technical Director

Heath Austin graduated from CCS in 2015 and was involved in shows such as Mary Poppins (Bert) and Cinderella (Prince Christopher). Heath has been involved in both performance and technical theatre since he was young. He is currently pursuing a degree in communications from UTC, where he has performed in Evita (Juan Peron) and Oklahoma! (Will Parker) with the UTC Theatre Company. He is the Fine Arts Center Manager at CCS and has joined the Theatre team as Technical Director. Heath also works with the CCS Advancement Office as a videographer.