Principal Faculty

The highly skilled, qualified and dedicated faculty at Arts in Action is passionate about equipping students with skills of excellence in the arts. The formidable faculty brings the arts to life in a safe and nurturing environment. Every teacher is committed to help each student discover and develop their God given talents to their highest potential through structured, disciplined and comprehensive education with Christian influence.

Joni Cantrell, Founding Director

Joni Cantrell has an extensive background in the performing arts and 31 years of teaching experience. Ms. Cantrell is an extraordinary technician who received the “Best Choreographer” and “Top Faculty” award for original choreographed works and traveled as a judge for national dance competitions and guest faculty. She has served on the board of directors for the Pinellas Dance Teachers Association and her memberships have included Professional Dance Teachers Association and Dance Masters of America. Ms. Cantrell founded Suncoast Academy in Florida, MasterPeace Dance Ministries and 4th Wall Youth Outreach in West Virginia;. Joni Cantrell was named “Hometown Hero” by WSAZ in 2003 for her ministry through the arts. She remains passionate and dedicated about making an impact in the lives of children through the arts in the Name of Jesus.

Cookie Samworth, Artistic Director and Faculty
Masterpiece Dance and Master Ambition Touring Company

Cookie Samworth studied under master teachers for over 20 years and is dedicated to teaching the art of dance in excellence. Mrs. Samworth began teaching for Masterpiece in 2001 and began serving as Artistic Director in 2003. Mrs. Samworth’s performance
credits include touring with the “Nutcracker”, dancing in Times Square, New York with Project Dance, appearing in “Comic Relief” with “Radar” of “Mash”, touring with the well known “Stars of Tomorrow” and recently with “Daystar Television Network.” Mrs. Samworth recently choreographed two original pieces to perform with Landau Eugene Murphy, winner of America’s Got Talent, that were performed at the Clay Center. Mrs. Samworth is known for her exceptional and anointed choreography with a teaching style
that inspires and develops each student to their full potential while giving them opportunitites to use their gifts for His glory.

John Sandy, Director and Faculty
Living Colors Visual Arts

John Sandy graduated from Anderson University with a BA degree in Art and received a BS degree in Education Art K-12 from West Virginia State University. Mr. Sandy is a professional artist who has an extensive background in visual arts education. As a freelance artist he has worked as technical director for several large musical productions. He is currently in his fourth year of employment as an art teacher for Kanawha County Schools. Mr. Sandy has also developed a program designed to inspire and motivate young artists called “Art-Ful-A-Fun! As a dedicated artist educator, Mr. Sandy looks at teaching as a great responsibility as well as privilege. “Each one of us is given a measure of faith. Therefore, I believe that each one of us is given a measure of gifts. As a teacher I feel that it is my responsibility to find and nurture each child’s gift within”.

Dr. Dianna Vinscavich, Director and Faculty Crescendo Music Program

Dr. Vinscavich has a vast experience in the arena of music performance and instruction as a praise and worship team leader and pianist in local churches and in national Christian conferences. She has been honored to teach music to children for many years at Christian schools in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and has taught private piano and voice lessons throughout the past 35 years. Mrs. Vinscavich holds a Doctorate Degree in Theology and spent many years as a full-time Pastor. Currently she and her husband, Co-Founders and Pastors of Shalom Prison Ministries, actively minister within West Virginia prisons. Residing in Milton, West Virginia, Mrs. Vinscavich is the mother of two and has one grandchild.

Erin McGhee, Faculty Masterpiece Dance

Erin McGhee has been clogging since she was a toddler and throughout a lifetime of performance, competition and attending workshops she has become a master clog dancer with a wide range of experience in both traditional and modern clog dancing.Erin began competing as a freestyle performer winning top awards at both dance and clogging competitions. Dancing with the WV Kickers clogging team, Erin has performed at the famous Renfro Valley Barn Dance as well as the Tamarack (WV), the Bob Evans Farm Festival (Ohio) and at Hoedown Island (KY) with Richard Jett. The WV Kickers are one of the few competitive clogging teams in the state of WV and have achieved grand champion status in precision line dance. Erin is currently performing for the WV Mountain Valley Cloggers who performed at the Taste of All and Twin Falls Bluegrass Festival.Erin collaborated with the Yellow Rose Cloggers of Ohio and was a featured dancer in the cross cultural dance event with Step Afrika at WVSU. Over a lifetime she has studied a variety of Appalachian dance and cultural tradition under Jeff Driggs, Ira Bernstein and Mr. Lou Mauri.

Maggie Kelly

Maggie studied dance at Arts in Action for 15 years in numerous methods, served in the assistant leadership program and performed with the Master Ambition Performance Troupe for many years.  After graduating Maggie spent two years in Los Angeles enrolled in the Dream Center Leadership School where she trained and studied leadership principles while working in a variety of hand – on ministry outreaches of the Dream Center.  After graduating for DCLS she worked as an intern for the TVCOG children’s ministry and returned to Arts in Action as dance faculty in all three of our dance programs.  When asked why Maggie loves to teach at AinA she replied “I love teaching at AinA because I get to give back to the ministry that invested so much into my life and helped shape me into who I am today.”