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 has an extensive background in the performing arts and 40 years of teaching experience. Joni is an extraordinary technician who has received numerous “Best Choreographer” and “Top Faculty” awards for her original choreographed works.
Joni has traveled as a judge for national dance competitions and as guest faculty for many dance workshops. 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. Joni founded Suncoast Academy in Florida, Masterpiece Dance Ministries, Urban Stage, Artistic Discovery Camp, and 4th Wall Outreach in West Virginia. Joni was named “Hometown Hero” by WSAZ in 2003 for her ministry through the arts, however, she considers her greatest honors the Masterpiece hugs that she receives from the students daily. She remains passionate and dedicated to making an impact in the lives of children through the arts in the name of Jesus and welcomes students of all walks of life, age, religion, gender, and orientation to Arts in Action.
Cookie Samworth studied under master teachers for over 30 years and is dedicated to teaching the art of dance in excellence. Cookie began teaching for the Masterpiece dance program in 2001 with a teaching style that inspires and develops each student to their full potential. She began serving as artistic director in 2003.
Cookie is known for her exceptional gift in choreography in numerous genres of dance and production. She has been awarded countless awards for choreography and given the title of Top Teacher at a variety of competition performances. The original works that she choreographs for individual, duo, trio, and groups are received with overwhelming accolades. She choreographed two original pieces to perform with Landau Eugene Murphy, 2012 winner of America’s Got Talent, which were performed live with Landau at the Clay Center Gala. Her performance credits include touring with the Nutcracker, appearing in Comic Relief with Radar of Mash, touring with the well-known Stars of Tomorrow, dancing in Times Square, New York with Project Dance, and performing on Daystar Television Network to name a few. She is dearly loved by her students who are thankful for her passion for dance and for Jesus!
Smart. Talented. Hilarious. Jim-Bob Williams knows a lot of people like that. As for him, he left a 35-year career in engineering to pursue the application of humor in making life better. A performer with a local improv troupe, Jim-Bob has studied the application of improv comedy in improving problem-solving, listening skills, teamwork, and coping with tragedy.
While studying to be a Certified Humor Professional through the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, Jim-Bob was challenged to teach improv to children at-risk youth. As an elder of Providence Church in Barboursville WV, he is known for Sunday School topics such as “Humor in the Bible,” “Improv in Discipleship,” and “Does God Want Presbyterians to Laugh?”
Also, don’t ask him about his grandson unless you have a lot of time.
Shari Hardwick is the part-time assistant/part-time teacher of the Superstars group. When Shari was in high school, she was a member of 4th Wall and is a former Arts in Action student. After high school, Shari attended West Virginia Wesleyan College, graduating in 2008 with her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Special Education. She then worked in Early Childhood Education for 10 years.
Shari now works with her husband, Daniel, in their family business at AKL Security Solutions, managing the office. They live and work in Barboursville, loving life with their pets, and being involved in their church.
Shari looks forward to Friday night dance classes because it gives her the opportunity to teach and be creative again. She is thankful for all that God has provided in her life, and is blessed to have had Miss Joni in her life for many years, as a teacher, mentor, and friend.
Jim Florkevich began playing drums at the age of four on his first Christmas drum set and by God’s grace, will never stop. After winning numerous musical awards in high school, Mr. Jim, as known by his adoring students, majored in music education and performance at West Virginia University with the world acclaimed instructor, Dr. Phillip Faini.
As a member of the WVU Percussion Ensembles famed Percussion 70, Mr. Jim was a co-featured drum set soloist on NBC’s Today Show live in New York City. While a member of the Mountaineer Marching Band, he composed the original version of the drumline’s Boogie Cadence, still played today at the WVU Marching Band takes the field.
Among many prestigious awards, Jim was honored as West Virginia University’s Bandsman of the Year. Following a 30 year professional playing career, he taught music for 10 years at West Virginia State University. Serving as a percussion instructor, assistant band director, and two years as interim band director, Jim was blessed to have instructed some of the most talented musicians in the state, including gospel drumming sensation, Charlest Shelton, Jr. Many of Jim’s students are now music educators, worship leaders, and praise band drummers, lifting the name of Jesus throughout West Virginia.
Sue Ellen Evans has a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and philosophy, with a minor in music from The University of Charleston. She has provided music therapy to the physically challenged, intellectual and developmentally delayed population, including individuals with Autism, for over 25 years. She has worked with children and adults, using music as a treatment tool, to address fine/gross motor skills, social interaction, academic and decision-making skills, and improving self- esteem. She has provided services in adult day programs, Kanawha County School system, drug treatment centers, and the Domestic Violence Shelter. Sue Ellen currently teaches music and art at St. Agnes Catholic School.
Sue Ellen has worked as a therapeutic consultant for several local agencies that provide services to this population. She has worked individually, and as part of a treatment team for the individuals served. Sue Ellen has a definite passion for this population and with her experience, personality, and creativity has provided tremendous success for the individuals that she has worked with.
Sue Ellen was born in Charleston, WV and has resided there most of her life. She played the piano and organ for several churches during high school, college, and as a young adult. She sang in her church and school choir, All County Chorus, and participated for many years in The University of Charleston’s production of Handel’s Messiah.
Dr. Dianna Vinscavich
Dianna Vinscavich is the Music Director at Arts in Action as well as an instructor of piano, voice, and C3 Show Choir. She has professionally taught music for more than 36 years giving private lessons and teaching music and chorus at several Christian schools in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. She is a wife, mother of two, and a grandmother to one grandson.
Dianna holds a doctorate degree in Theology, has served as a full-time pastor for many years, and currently serves the Lord in the active prison ministry that she and her husband founded, Shalom Prison Ministries. Dianna is also a writer of Bible study-guide materials that are starting to be used as course curriculum in seminary school. Besides teaching the Bible and music, her passions are her family, gardening, quilting, and crocheting.
Kylie Collins is a Senior at Hurricane High School. Kylie started dancing at age 6 and is in her 12th year studying ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and lyrical dance at Arts in Action. Kylie chose to take part in the studio assistant program and has worked her way up from trainee, junior assistant, assistant, intern, and begins teaching pre-ballet and tap this fall. She is in her 4th year with the Master Ambition Performance Company where she has served as co-captain of the group, which performs locally and competes at the state and national level.
Kylie has taken multiple opportunities to study dance with master instructors over the years. When time allows, she is active with the local Young Life group, enjoys Mission Trips and has been a volunteer at her church for many years in children’s church ministry, and has served as a leader for the middle school youth group. On a personal note, Kylie is pretty adventurous, has two sisters and a brother, spends most of her time outside of dance with her friends and church family, and aspires to attend nursing school at Marshall University next fall.
Erin McGhee has been clogging since she was a toddler. 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 (OH), 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 Taste-of-All and Twin Falls Bluegrass Festival.
Erin has 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 traditions under Jeff Driggs, Ira Bernstein, and Mr. Lou Mauri.
Whitney Barnhart is an Arts in Action alumna who is returning to lead the Showstoppers Theatre program. While at AinA, Whitney served as Junior Assistant, Miss Arts in Action, and worked previously with ADC and Princess Academy while in high school, as well as the Winfield High School Dance Team and General Admission Show Choir. She also has years of experience in tap, ballet, jazz, lyrical, theatre dance, acting, film acting, improv, voice production/speech, stage combat training, as well as skills in ASL, Irish dialect, and yoga.
After high school, Whitney moved to New York City to pursue her education in acting at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and has appeared in films including There for You, Out of Hand, Sin Palabras, and theatre productions such as Dancing at Lughnasa and Escape from Happiness.
In her free time, Whitney enjoys spending time with her husband, Skyler, and her two cats, Kiwi and Ellie.
Haley Tennee Burgess is an Arts in Action alumna with an extensive background in dance and musical theatre. Most recently, she performed in entertainment at Walt Disney World as a dancer and various princesses and characters. She is also a professional mermaid! Haley is originally from Winfield, West Virginia and is moving back for the year. She has had 20 years of dance and theatre training through many performance companies.
Haley acquired her first professional dance credit at the age of 13 when she performed with The Moscow Ballet in their production of The Great Russian Nutcracker through the River City Youth Ballet Ensemble. Her other professional credits include performing at the New York, New York Gala with Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. (winner of America’s Got Talent) as a dancer through Arts in Action’s Master Ambition Company, multiple musicals with professional theatre companies in Florida, and various entertainment roles in Walt Disney World. She has performed in numerous dance performances with Arts in Action, The River City Youth Ballet Ensemble, The Macholah Ballet, Academy of Arts at January’s and The Orlando Ballet. She has performed in 13 musicals with the Charleston Light Opera Guild, Liberty University, Masterworx Theatre, Little Town Players, and Central Florida Arts. She also founded and directed Royal Princess Virginia, an award winning children’s character entertainment company, for five years in Lynchburg, Virginia.
In her spare time, Haley teaches English as a second language, works on finishing her degree in Next Generation Ministry through LU, and continues to work in Florida as the Children’s Director and entertainer for The Collective, a virtual ministry experience. Haley hopes to use her talents to train the next generation of dancers at Arts in Action who are ready to perform for Jesus. She will be teaching musical theatre, ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, Princess Academy classes, company conditioning, and Barre Above, a barre workout that fuses the best elements of pilates, yoga, aerobics, and strengthening exercises dancers do.
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. John is a professional artist who has an extensive background in visual arts education. As a dedicated artist educator, John believes in nurturing each student to reach their full potential as an artist.
“I believe that a teacher must instruct from the edge of their seat, and inspire and stir the gifts within, yet be humble and ever-learning. If I can teach a student how to see, how to discover things that were always there, yet hidden, I believe that it is possible to stir the artist that is within each one of us!”
Kayleb “Kay” Jones
Kayleb “Kay” Jones is a 21 year old Dancer/choreographer based out of Charleston, WV. He has been Dancing since the age of 10, trained in very modern styles such as Ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary. Winning many regional and national titles, in West Virginia, Ohio “ Mr. V. I. P.” In Sandusky, Ohio 16’ Kayleb since 2015 he has taken time to go to either LA, or NYC to take his training more serious! Kay currently is a hip hop/ Jazz funk choreographer for many studios in his area and is the founder of East304crew! Training many of dancers!
- Dajuan and Draco
- Opening for Kevin Gates
- Mark Wahlberg
- Worlds Dance Championships
Taylor is a physical therapist assistant from Huntington, West Virginia. She graduated from Marshall University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a minor in psychology, while on the Marshall Dance Team throughout her four years. She furthered her education to have completed the many dance genres including ballet/pointe, lyrical, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, pom, and musical theatre. With 15+ years of training, her performance credits include Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Cinderella, and Don Quixote. In addition to training, Taylor has danced competitively for six years receiving many top awards. Taylor is thrilled to be welcomed into the Arts in Action family in hopes to pursue her passion for dance as well as building new relationships and sharing the love of Christ with every student.