Mrs. Brinkley: bound to be biblical

Annalyse Powell, Assistant Editor

Kay Brinkley: known to some as former “Chapel Lady,” as ninth-grade Bible teacher to most and an unbelievably kind, insightful woman to all. 

Mrs. Brinkley grew up immersed in a Christian household as well as immersed in a religious education within SkyCrest Christian School in Clearwater, Florida.

A young Brinkley poses for her sixth grade photo at Skycrest school. The photo was taken in 1976: the bicentennial year.

As a result, a young Brinkley was able to build her faith and foreshadow the plans God had for her later in life. 

“I think my best memories of the building of my faith was probably when they put me in a Christian school in fourth grade. The public school system where we were was not great. And so they pulled me out…. And that is where, you know, I just remember my favorite day of the week was chapel. I think it’s uncanny how God proved to me what my future would be, because of course, I’d lead chapel here for 10 years and, you know, it was my  favorite time of the week here,” she said. 

Brinkley developed a natural affinity for chapel; however, she followed other career paths in seminary before joining the Carmel Christian fine arts department as a chapel director. 

She graduated from Wingate University with an undergraduate degree in human services.

She then graduated with a master’s degree in Christian education, finalizing her schooling at seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. After her schooling, her talent for fine and performing arts emerged, as she developed a performing group. 

“I actually formed a troupe that connected mime and pantomime, Sign Language, drama and dance together. And we performed and we would travel. We were called “Portrait”, and, you know, painting a picture, you know, a spiritual picture. And we traveled about probably about a year and a half to two years to perform to different churches in colleges, and just really had a great opportunity there,” Mrs. Brinkley said. 

After having formed a talented troupe with a range of talent, Brinkley became on-the-move across states for her jobs. 

“I actually moved to Texas and I was a youth minister down there for a while, and I missed North Carolina. I missed my roots and home, so I moved back. I was a youth minister as well at a church downtown, and then my College Alma Mater called and there was a position open for an Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Wingate University… I immediately jumped on that great opportunity and worked there until I had my son. Then I was lucky enough to be able to just be at home, but what I did was I freelanced and all the creative ministry opportunities that I actually performed,” 

She continued. 

“I started going into other churches and teaching other churches to form those groups. So, it was great and flexible while I was still a young mom and had a young child.” 

Afterward, the Lord opened a door, and an opportunity arose, one that included all of the talents that Brinkley possesses in the world of art. 

“And then we got word that there was a director of Fine Arts opportunity here at Carmel and my son was just getting ready to start kindergarten. And so it all worked together. And so I did that, but I, at that time, I was holding, you know, about four or five jobs down. So I did. I was director of Fine Arts. I did the musicals. I’d lead chapel. I did missions, started the dance team Faith in Motion, but then I always taught Bible and that’s always been my first love. So that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing now,” she said.

Brinkley is receiving flowers for her directing of the play “The Mousetrap.” She had loved the play after having seen it once in London and was very grateful for the opportunity to embrace it herself.

As the school started growing in numbers, so did the class schedules. Mrs. Brinkley then had to choose between being a Bible teacher or a chapel director. She was not available to do both. 

She chose Bible. 

“And I just said, I want to stay in Bible. I just did not want to let that go. Like I said, that’s where I’ve been trained, but the Fine and Performing Arts of course, that was a nice addition that I was able to add,” the creative teacher said. 

She was sure to implement elements of the fine arts into her classroom in order to provide visual engagement activities. These projects included dancing, feasting and participating in games.

The beloved teacher is dressed as the biblical Naomi for the 2023 Old Testament festival. Her smile was captured by freshman Sloan Pettus. (Sloan Pettus)

Mrs. Brinkley has been purposeful with her projects, choosing them specifically so that the students can make them come alive. 

She said: 

“And so when you are engaging all the elements of who you are and who you’re created to be, it just allows you not only to for things to really come to life, but it also you know, just allows you to be able to retain things better.” 

She has high hopes that her students will have profound takeaways from her class, due to her engaging activities. 

“Because again, there’s always going to be a point and a reason and a theme as to what we want it to focus on or a lesson that we want to learn. And so a lot of students can tell me, you know, oh yeah, this when we did the Tower of Babel, we were talking about, you know, the materials that we need to use that built a strong life. Yes. And so some students were able to tell me that and I just think a lot again, that mind-body connection and being able to have that ingrained in your brain just happens much more so when you are visually kinesthetically engaged,” Mrs. Brinkley said. 

Kay Brinkley was bound to be a chapel director due to her love for the day at an early age, was bound to pursue fine arts due to an affinity for the craft and was bound to be a Bible teacher due to the gifts that she has been given for student engagement.