Former Sevier teacher finds new career in Johnson City


Michael Fanning, Staff Writer

Hunter Graybeal was a Sevier teacher and director of “Sevier on Stage” last school year. Now, he has left Sevier and teaches in Johnson City at Science Hill High school.

“I taught 7th Grade Language Arts at Sevier since 2016 and co-directed ‘Sevier on Stage’ with Mrs. Miller,” Graybeal said. “I now teach a theatre class at Science Hill.”

Graybeal went to ETSU and majored in vocal performance. He then went to the University of Southern Mississippi, earning his Bachelor of Arts in Music.

After he got into professional acting and singing, he decided to get his Masters of Arts in Teaching. Graybeal was a student teacher at Science Hill in the theatre department, but his first teaching job was at Sevier Middle.

Although he enjoyed his time at Sevier, he couldn’t resist teaching a theatre class.

“I thought that I would only ever want to teach theatre, and that students needed someone that had really been an actor for years if they were going to get a quality education,” he said.

Graybeal’ favorite part about teaching at Sevier was getting to do “Sevier on Stage”.

“I loved teaching Language Arts, but my heart is in theatre and I truly felt like I was in my element when I was directing those outstanding performers,” he said. “I also cherished the relationships I was able to develop with both colleagues and students. I look forward to many years of friendship with many Warriors.”

His least favorite part of teaching at Sevier has nothing to do with Sevier at all; it was the long time that it took for teaching Language Arts to feel natural to him.

“Let me tell you, teaching students how to comprehend reading, write effectively, and understand grammar and vocabulary is a Herculean task that would ideally be split among 3 teachers,” Graybeal said. “Language Arts teachers have some of the hardest work to do, with a lot of pressure on them to do it well.”

Graybeal had a clear reason why he left Sevier and started teaching at Science Hill.

“My heart is in the theatre, and it’s the subject that I got into teaching in order to teach,” he said. “It’s my first love. I was a student teacher at Science Hill and when the opportunity came up to go back there and be a full time theatre teacher, there was no way I could pass up my dream career. It broke my heart horribly to leave the incredible students at Sevier, and I’ll always come back to see them and follow the outstanding work of ‘Sevier On Stage’.”

So far, Graybeal is enjoying his new position at Science Hill.

“At Science Hill, I teach ‘Theatre Arts 1’ which is the beginning theatre class,” he said. “I teach three class periods per day, each at 90 minutes per period. We do cover some of the same elements of a narrative and characterization and poetry that I taught at Sevier, but we approach it from the angle of how to create a performance.”

Graybeal is also involved in some extracurricular activities

“I am the assistant coach of our school’s competitive speech and drama team,” he said. “We’re called the Science Hill ‘Showstoppers’ and we’re the equivalent of DB’s ‘Dramahawks.’ I also coach the student improv acting team and sponsor a theatre tech club where I teach students how to work behind the scenes on plays.”

Although he enjoys his new duties, Graybeal still misses Sevier a lot.

“I definitely miss our school culture at Sevier,” he said. “It really feels like a family of Warriors, and it’s only getting stronger there.”

Since Graybeal had been involved with “Sevier on Stage”, he did check out this year’s performance of “Aladdin Jr”.

“I thought the students did an outstanding job in ‘Aladdin Jr’,” he said. “The actors and the crew members really put together a super entertaining show, and it went off just as smoothly as it did the past two years.”

He felt honored to be asked to record his voice as the “Spooky Voice” in the book that Jafar and Iago read.

“Even though I’m at another school, I’ll always feel like I’m part of ‘Sevier On Stage’,” he said.

Graybeal is still in contact with faculty and students at Sevier.

“Of course, I stay close with my Language Arts friends, my ‘Sevier On Stage’ friends, and my 7th grade teacher friends,” he said. “I see some former students at competitions and around town.”

Graybeal feels that Johnson City Schools is a better fit for him.

“Right now, I do feel like Johnson City is where I’m led and called to be,” he said. “Teaching theatre is my first love and it’s what I believe I do best.”

In the end, Graybeal learned a lot from his time at Sevier Middle.

“I would say that my time at Sevier was both incredibly rewarding and also a bit of ‘trial by fire’ because I had my first experiences teaching middle schoolers and teaching Language Arts while I was there,” he said. “Dr. Flora so graciously hired me to teach Language Arts even though I’d had far less experience with it than I had in theatre.”

Graybeal appreciates his students at Sevier for hanging in there and making him feel like he has been a positive part of their lives.

“I truly hope that I have been,” he said. “If any of them need anything from me, I’m still here and would do anything I could for them.”

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