Education Staff & Teaching Artists

Every Staff Member and Teaching Artist participates in ongoing professional development to enhance their skills in drama instruction and inclusive teaching techniques. A background check is done for all staff and teaching artists, and they are trained annually in CPR and First Aid.

Teaching artist with students

NCT Education Team

Colin Peterson (he/him)

Director of Education
Colin Peterson joined NCT’s team full time in 2012 and became Director of Education in 2020. He has worked with youth of all ages for more than 25 years. In his time as an educator, he has devised, scripted, and created unique curriculum to support student growth and instill empathy. It is his belief that all student's voices and ideas are valid and important, and more notably, it is paramount that those students KNOW that their ideas are valid and important. All of his work stems from this core principle. In his time as an administrator, his goal is to lift up Drama School students by guiding and encouraging their teachers through servant leadership. As with all art, if everyone feels open, comfortable, and safe they can do their best work. He believes that this is true for all ages, including adults. Each summer, he has the distinct honor to work with the Emerging Artists as the director of the summer productions (Elektra, She Kills Monsters, The Old Man and the Old Moon, The Secret in the Wings). In addition to his teaching, Colin is also a “part-time professional” projection designer and has worked for NCT, Studio Tenn, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music, and Nashville REP.

Jacqueline Komos (she/her)

Education and Engagement Manager
Jacqueline Komos (Jackie) is an enthusiastic Teaching Artist and Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) Professional. In her role, she has the opportunity to utilize the performing arts to help youth, as well as help equip adults and professionals with the creative tools to help their students, achieve their full potential and discover all the possibilities life has to offer. Jackie is committed to collaborating with her fellow passionate arts practitioners to bring the arts to children in new, exciting ways to help instill empathy, express self, and build connection. In addition, she is committed to playing her part in creating culturally-responsive, brave spaces as well as expanding representation, diversity, inclusion, access, and equity in the arts. She believes that the drama classroom and stage (and the artists, young and old, in those spaces) are cultivators of hope. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Every person needs a place that is furnished with hope.” Jackie believes that hope can be found at NCT.

Matthew Hayes Hunter (he/him)

Drama School Manager
Matthew Hayes Hunter is a Middle Tennessee native who has enjoyed exploring and creating through the performing arts since a young age. He attended MTSU, and has worked as a Teaching Artist with students of all ages in various camps, classes, and programs throughout the area since 2011. Prior to his time at NCT, he served as the Arts Education Director with The Arts Center of Cannon County, as well as teaching with area youth arts programs such as Williamson County Parks & Rec and Expression City. Matthew has a well-rounded theatrical background and likes to keep his creative brain busy in a variety of on- and off- stage production roles as an Actor, Director, Choreographer, and Wig Designer. He is also a Resident Cast Member at Land of Oz Amusement Park in Beech Mountain, NC, where he gets to use his love of the arts and performance background to bring the Cowardly Lion to life for Oz fans of all ages! He is excited to continue building upon the legacy that is NCT and bringing the arts to our area youth!

Prenda Mercado (she/her)

Education Coordinator
Prenda Mercado is a theatre professional based in Nashville. She graduated from Lipscomb University in 2022 where her passion for arts education was discovered. She is dedicated to creating a safe space for students of all ages, and specifically for artists of color. Prenda believes that students are our future, and hopes to inspire them to create art that reflects their stories. Prenda is also an Actor, Dramaturg, and Artist and loves spending as much time involved in theatre as physically possible. She is so excited to work with NCT and be a small part of crafting the artists of our future!

NCT Faculty Teaching Artists

Anna Clark

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Anna Clark(she/her)

Anna Clark is a Nashville-based Theatre educator who graduated from Belmont University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree and again in 2020 with a master’s in Teaching. Originally from southeastern Georgia, her love of Theatre began in summer camps hosted by her local community theater much like the ones she now gets to teach at NCT! In college, Anna discovered her passion is teaching young artists and has dedicated her career to fostering creativity and broadening perspectives. When she’s not teaching Theatre, she is reading books as an associate literary agent or grading papers as an English teacher at John Overton High School.

Annie Wolfzorn

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Annie Wolfzorn(she/her)

Annie Wolfzorn holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Education from Belmont University. While she is currently based out of Nashville, her love for theatre began in her hometown of Ankara, Turkey. While living there she founded and served as the director for an elementary theatre program at an international school. Some highlights of her time in theatre include directing Turkey’s premiere of The Lion King KIDS, writing and directing an immersive and family-centered play (The Bedtime Chronicles), and acting in Belmont’s Repertory Company across Middle Tennessee (Seasons in the Smokies). Annie has taught with numerous schools in Tennessee, from elementary to high school. She is dedicated to equipping students of all ages with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed as both artists and individuals.

Becky Pierce

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Becky Pierce(she/her)

Becky Pierce is thrilled to be teaching for Nashville Children’s Theatre! A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Becky holds a BFA in Theatre performance and an MA in Humanities/Theatre from the University of Louisville. Prior to moving to the Nashville area in 2020, Becky was a teaching artist for Stage One Family Theatre teaching camps, classroom residencies, and with the Disney Musicals in the Schools program. She also taught Theatre at Jefferson Community and Technical College and has taught both middle and high school theatre for Walden School and middle school music for Louisville Collegiate School. Teaching theatre to young people is inspiring and leading them to learn self expression and confidence is extremely rewarding!

Cameron Mitchell

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Cameron Mitchell(he/him)

Cameron L. Mitchell is the Actor Laureate of Murfreesboro and a well-versed Spoken Word Artist. In addition to mentoring youth with Southern Word for five years, Cameron has performed in many projects including “Ghost” at the Nashville Children’s Theater based on the book “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds, “Project Awake” with Abrasive media, Oz arts in Fast/Forward, and Pill Hill with Destiny Theater Experience to name a few. He is a Memphis native and graduate of Middle Tennessee State University whose poetic prowess and conceptual theatrics blend together for a transformational experience that inspires the community, and highlights mental health awareness.


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Candace-Omnira,Associate Executive Producer for SistaStyle Productions, is an artist and activist. She has been in the Nashville theatre and film scene for nearly ten years performing and directing. Her belief is that theatre and film have the ability to reflect the world to an audience. She has a passion for protest through art & disruption and believes strongly in opportunities for everyone to have access to the arts.

Chad Parsons

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Chad Parsons(he/they)

Chad Parsons hails from Philadelphia, PA and is a Theatre Artist who has attended West Chester University where he received his BA in Theatre with a concentration in Musical Theatre. After graduation, Chad pursued his career as a professional actor, he has had the opportunity to perform at/with Norwegian Cruise Lines, Walnut Street Theatre, Fulton Opera House, Media Theatre and OCTC to name a few. Chad is a two time Barrymore Award Nominee for his work in Fiddler on The Roof and Joseph . . Dreamcoat. After years of performing Chad turned to education and directing. Chad has directed over 25 productions with children and recently has been directing professional actors in such shows as Wizard of Oz, James and the Giant Peach and Fiddler On The Roof. Chad is excited to join the NCT family and will be going back to the classroom himself in August to gain his MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences from UNCG.

Derek Whittaker

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Derek Whittaker(he/him)

Derek Whittaker, a native of Nashville, has performed professionally for just over twenty-five years. He holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Acting from UT Knoxville, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from MTSU (where he is currently an Adjunct Theatre Professor). Derek is fortunate to have performed and directed both around the country and around the world. Closer to home, his work has been seen onstage at Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Repertory Theatre, Studio Tenn, and Chaffin’s Barn. As a child, Derek saw his first show at NCT and even trained here briefly under local legend Ruth Sweet. He considers himself very lucky to be a part of the NCT family – sharing the magic of live theatre and encouraging young artists to think, feel, live, laugh and grow!

Eileah Pye

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Eileah Pye(she/they)

Eileah first joined NCT as a Teaching Artistry Intern in the Summer of 2023 and is ecstatic to continue creating, learning, and growing with these phenomenal young performers as a Teaching Artist. She plans on dedicating her life to making theatre more accessible and inclusive for all students, regardless of their ability level or background, and incorporates that belief into her work as a special education teacher with MNPS schools as well as a theatre educator. She firmly believes that art is a powerful tool to empower youth to speak out for what they believe in; to gain social, emotional, and academic skills; and to provide a safe space to explore and learn. Outside of teaching, Eileah can be found performing with various groups around Nashville.

Eric D. Pasto-Crosby

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Eric D. Pasto-Crosby(he/him)

Eric D. Pasto-Crosby is proudly a native of Nashville, but he graduated from University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.F.A. in performance. He has performed with: Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Studio Tenn, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Stage One, Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, and People’s Branch Theatre. A loyal member of the Society of American Fight Directors and a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Erin-Grace Bailey

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Erin-Grace Bailey(she/her)

Erin-Grace is a Nashville-based performer and director. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre in 2021 with double emphases in theater performance and direction from Belmont University. Her recent credits include her direction of The Crucible with Elite Studio Works and her performance as Rosie in Things I Know to Be True with Actor’s Bridge Ensemble. Erin-Grace has been part of the education team at NCT since 2021 and is passionate about NCT’s mission to believe in the power of play and create art for everyone.

Eve Petty

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Eve Petty(she/her)

Eve Petty is a Nashville-based theatre artist. Though a Tennessee native, she moved to Nashville to pursue an education in acting at Belmont University. In school, she discovered her passion for stage combat and theatre for young audiences. She graduated with a BFA in Theatre Performance and Directing. Her artistic interests include new works, performance art, combat choreography, and theatre by/ for young artists. Eve is currently working with Nashville Children’s Theatre as a Teaching Artist and with other local theatre companies in various capacities. Eve loves performing just as much as she loves working behind the scenes and contributing to the creative process of local productions.

Genevieve Beddingfield

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Genevieve Beddingfield(she/her/hers)

Genevieve is thrilled to be back at NCT where she started her teaching career over a decade ago! She graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a BA in Theatre and a minor in Education. Her experience includes Nashville Children’s Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Lexington Children’s Theatre, and Kaiser’s Room, a non-profit in NYC that teaches theater to students with developmental disabilities. With her passion for working in the arts with young people, Genevieve loves jumping into their imaginations to create new worlds, make connections, and tell stories.

Gerold Oliver

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Gerold Oliver(he/him)

Gerold Oliver is a proud Nashville native who has been teaching theatre for seven years. He has been seen on stages around Middle TN including Studio Tenn (It’s A Wonderful Life Radio Play), Nashville Repertory Theatre (Pipeline, Shakespeare in Love), Nashville Shakespeare Festival (Romeo and Juliet, Jitney), Chaffins Barn (Sister Act, Newsies), and Nashville Children’s Theatre (Ghost, Pete the Cat, Wizard of Oz, Diary of Anne Frank).

Grace Weaver

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Grace Weaver(she/her)

Grace Weaver is an educator, storyteller, and multidisciplinary artist based in Nashville, TN. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater for Youth from Samford University. Grace has had the pleasure of teaching, directing, and performing across the country, including with Virginia Samford Theater, Birmingham Children’s Theater, The Alliance Theater, and The Rose Theater. In every space, she strives to cultivate inclusive environments for all learning styles and provide agency for all young people. As a movement-based, ensemble-driven storyteller; some of her favorite projects have been Peter and the Starcatcher, The Giver, and Apollo: to the Moon. Additionally, Grace is a dancer, choreographer, pianist, and visual artist.

India-Jane Hodge

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India-Jane Hodge(she/her)

India-Jane (IJ) Hodge is a Nashville based actor and teaching artist. In 2020, she received her BFA in Theatre Performance from Belmont University. Along with teaching at NCT, she is also the day program coordinator at Friends Life, an organization for adults with disabilities. Her passion for teaching theatre began in the 10th grade when she and her friends started their own theatre camp for the children in her area! IJ loves good storytelling, curious minds, and being a part of the NCT family.

James Rudolph II

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James Rudolph II(he/him)

James Rudolph II has been a professional performer for over 15 years and has been on stages all around town and abroad. A Nashville native himself, James grew up coming to this theatre as a child and being able to now pass the magic on as an adult is an honor and a privilege he doesn’t take lightly. Favorite NCT performances include: Lahdalord (James and the Giant Peach), The Cat (Einstein is a Dummy), The Snail (A Year With Frog & Toad), Man In Suit (Dragons Love Tacos), and Uncle Homer & Sheep (Charlotte’s Web). In addition to performing and teaching James is working on a degree in music, sharpening his skills in violin, piano, and trombone.

Jen Cunic

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Jen Cunic(she/they/theirs)

Jen believes that every young person holds truth within them and the more we can learn from young people, the more we remember our true selves. Jen is passionate about fostering the flourishing of creativity, wonder, kindness, and imagination in the world. Through educating children and nurturing each young person’s unique creative fire, Jen has witnessed incredible storytelling come to life. Jen has worked with young people in a variety of settings for 10 years, holds a B.S. in Theatre from MTSU, and a 200 Yoga Teacher Certification all of which inform their practices as an educator.

Joe Mobley

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Joe Mobley(he/him)

Joe Mobley, originally from Kennett, Missouri, graduated with a BFA in Theatre Performance from Belmont University in 2019. He is a Board Member of Verge Theater in Nashville and a member of the Gnu Tales improv team. He is excited for his first summer teaching at NCT after being an intern there in the summers of 2018 and 2019.

Jon Royal

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Jon Royal(he/him)

Jon Royal is a professional director, teaching artist, and actor with extensive experience in arts education and program development for Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and many others. Jon has also taught in partnership with the Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center’s TRIAD camp for kids on the autism spectrum. Jon holds a BA in Theatre from Middle Tennessee State University.

Kara Kindall

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Kara Kindall(she/her)

Kara Y. Kindall currently serves as the Theatre Chair at Nashville School of the Arts. She received a BS in English and Theatre from Austin Peay State University, an MFA in Theatre from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and an MA in Teaching from Trevecca University. In 1999, the North Carolina Theatre Conference chose her as the state’s “Most Promising Theatre Graduate Student” and awarded her a grant to pursue Professional Theatre Management. That experience compelled her to return home to the Nashville area to join Mockingbird Public Theatre, where she served as their Managing Director for three seasons. In 2004, she joined with Theatre Faculty at Nashville School of the Arts. Professionally, she collaborates with Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Repertory Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, BellaLuna Theatre in NC, and Community SPIRIT Inc. in Adams TN, working as an actor, teaching artist, director, producer, and commissioned playwright.

Katie Berger Wood

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Katie Berger Wood(she/her)

Katie Berger Wood is a theatre educator, musician, and book lover. Originally from Lexington, KY, she has taught and performed all over the country from Florida to Minnesota to New York City. When she’s not teaching theatre, you can find her with her nose in a book and a cat on her lap. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado.

Kelsey Jenison

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Kelsey Jenison(she/her)

Kelsey Jenison is a performer, choreographer, and teaching artist who recently moved to Nashville from New York City. She holds an MFA in Acting from UC Irvine and a BFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Evansville. She has worked regionally at Chautauqua Theater Company, ACT of Connecticut, the New Swan Shakespeare Festival, and more. Some favorite roles include the national tour of Elf the Musical (Josie u/s), Noises Off (Brooke), Parade (Lucille Frank), and Audrey (As You Like It). Kelsey loves working on new plays and musicals. Her experience includes the readings and workshops of the New Harmony Project, Counter Balance Theatre, and Play On!. Kelsey is so excited to join the NCT family and to start using “y’all” in everyday conversations!

Lindsay Peters

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Lindsay Peters(she/her)

Lindsay Peters is a theatre educator and actor. She has her BFA in theatre performance and her MAT in theatre education both from Belmont University. Originally from Louisiana, she has performed and taught in her hometown in Louisiana, Nashville, Orlando, and New York City. She most recently has taught high school and middle school in Davidson and Wilson counties as well as other local theatre companies.

Luna Mimms

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Luna Mimms(she/her)

With a love of education, Luna is a versatile pro who has been navigating diverse learning environments since 2015. Whether molding young brains in toddler classrooms or jazzing up language lessons for grown-ups, Luna is an experienced educator who lives and breathes the joy of continuous learning. Combining her experience in theater and education has been a lifelong passion of Luna’s. With a unique blend of educational expertise and a delightful theatrical flair, she continues spreading enthusiasm for education and the arts in the classroom like colorful confetti.

Maya Riley

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Maya Riley(she/they)

Maya is a Nashville native and graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She has worked at various professional theatre companies, including: Nashville Rep, Studio Tenn, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Children’s Theatre, the New Ohio Theatre (NYC). From studying Chekhov with the Moscow Art Theatre’s director (Slava Dolgachev) to performing Beijing Opera at the Shanghai Theatre Academy in China, Maya has accrued theatrical knowledge that she shares by teaching. She has taught the dramatic arts for several years. Some of the organizations Maya has worked with include: CUNY Creative Arts Team (NYC), TPAC Education – Disney Musicals in Schools, Nashville Repertory Theatre, and now Nashville Children’s Theatre!

Megan Castleberry

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Megan Castleberry(she/her)

Megan Castleberry has been working in education theater for 8 years in all aspects such as choreography, directing, design, and as a teaching artist in both Nashville and Austin, TX. This is her first year teaching at Nashville Children’s Theater and is so glad to be joining this community. She mainly works in musical theatre, choreographing for many schools theatre programs in Williamson County. Some of her favorite shows she’s worked on have been Xanadu Jr, SpongeBob the Musical Youth Edition, Moana Jr, Footloose Youth Edition, and several productions of Matilda Jr.

Meredith Daniel

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Meredith Daniel(she/her)

Meredith Daniel has been a part of the beautiful NCT family since 2012, and has loved every second. She holds a BFA in Theatre Education from Belmont University where she received the award for the 2013 Best Teaching Candidate. During the school year, you can find Meredith teaching and directing at Brentwood Middle School as the director of Viking Theatre. Her biggest joy (other than parenting her 8 year old son) is watching her students of all ages discover and explore their own creative spark.

Morgan Robertson

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Morgan Robertson(she/her)

Morgan Robertson received her BAM from Belhaven University before moving to Nashville. Morgan has enjoyed working with students of all ages as a choreographer, drama coach, voice instructor, and teacher for over a decade. She’s enjoyed being a teaching artist with Nashville Children’s Theatre for the past three years as well as working with Davidson county schools through their side-by-side coaching program. Teaching is the perfect way for performers to hone their craft, and Morgan is grateful for the opportunity to practice so often with such amazing students.

Natalie Brown

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Natalie Brown(she/her)

Natalie Brown is from Nashville, TN and is a St. Louis Native. She is a 2022 graduate from Belmont University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts as a Theater Performance major. She has been a Teaching Artist at Nashville Children’s Theater since 2022. TYA theater has always been a love of hers since she was a child herself doing shows. “I regard the theater as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” -Oscar Wilde

Piper Jones

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Piper Jones(she/her)

Piper Jones’ credits include Emmie Thibodeaux, CAROLINE, OR CHANGE (Street Theatre); Herself, THE RAY LEGACY (Studio Tenn); Ursula, THE LITTLE MERMAID (Nashville Children’s Theatre); The Neverbird, PETER PAN WENDY’S ADVENTURE TO NEVERLAND (NCT); Ensemble, RENT (Nashville Repertory Theatre); Season 14, AMERICAN IDOL. Piper is thrilled to be apart of NCT as a Teaching Artist. Being a Nashville native, Nashville Children’s Theatre played an integral part in cultivating her love for the arts. It is truly an honor to make art with such wonderful young actors, and an even greater privilege to have the opportunity to be a small part of their artistic development. Piper has a bachelor’s degree in Commercial Music with a Performance emphasis from Belmont University and is a local recording artist, actor, and voice teacher.

Rachel Hansen

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Rachel Hansen(she/her)

Rachel Hansen is so excited to be returning to Nashville Children’s theatre. Rachel taught at NCT from 2010-2014, and she cannot wait to create art with the amazing campers again! Rachel earned her BFA in theatre education at Belmont University and is the theatre teacher at Fairview Middle School.

Shawn Knight

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Shawn Knight(he/him)

Shawn Knight has been teaching at Nashville Children’s Theatre for over 15 years. At NCT, he has enjoyed playing Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, Horton in Seussical, and the title role in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, among several other roles. Shawn received an MA in English from Auburn University and an MFA in Theatre from the University of Louisville. He currently teaches at Belmont University and enjoys teaching theatre to students from age three well into adulthood.

Shawn Whitsell

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Shawn Whitsell(he/him)

Shawn Whitsell is a father, activist, actor, producer, director, and playwright. He is the founder of the Destiny Theatre Experience and Focused Dreams Films. Shawn has appeared in Bud, Not Buddy, Holes, The Watsons Go To Birmingham: 1963, and And in this Corner: Cassius Clay at Nashville Children’s Theatre. When he’s not onstage, Shawn can be found teaching drama at NCT or spoken word with Southern Word, Inc.

Tricia Combs

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Tricia Combs(she/her)

Tricia Combs is thrilled to be teaching with NCT. She holds her BFA in theatre performance from Western Michigan University and her MA in Educational Theatre from City University of New York. For nine years Tricia taught and directed with youth theatres and schools in NYC. During that time she also spent time in London, England and Pune, India studying and directing. For the last five years she has been the theatre teacher at Valor Collegiate Academy in southeast Nashville.

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