GSA Faculty

GSA Faculty

Shelby Garrett


Shelby Garrett thrilled to return for her fourth year at West Virginia Governor School for the Art’s!

In 2003, Shelby attended GSA as an acting student and since then, has been lucky enough to be acting & teaching professional around the country.

 Shelby just recently finished her first National Tour of the hit Off-Broadway show, Girl's Night: The Musical.  Off-Broadway credits:  Girl’s Night: The Musical (Actor’s Temple, New York).  Chicago credits: Twelfth Night (Frameworks Theatre), In the Company of Men (World Premiere, Profiles Theatre),  A Christmas Carol  (Metropolis PAC), and Chicken Little (Chicago Kids Company). Minnesota credits: Tom Sawyer, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Sleeping Beauty (Prairie Fire Children's Theater).  Shelby has also studied at Chicago's top improvisational theatre, Improv Olympic.

 Favorite roles include The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz, Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Trinculo in The Tempest.  Shelby proudly holds her BFA in Acting & Musical Theatre from Wright State University.


Ashley Higginbotham

Creative Writing

Ashley Higginbotham is very excited to return for a second year to the faculty of the Governor’s School for the Arts. Ashley completed her Bachelor of Arts in English at West Virginia Wesleyan in 2008 and her Master of Arts in English at Marshall University in 2010. In 2013, she completed her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at WV Wesleyan, and she served as the McKinney Fellow for the 2014-2015 academic year. Ashley primarily writes short stories and is especially interested in exploring the bonds individuals share with the land where they are born. Her MFA thesis, a novel-length story cycle, explores these themes. Ashley has always enjoyed telling stories; her mother keeps copies of her earliest writings, including a story about being turned into a bug and another about a heroic cat with nine tails. Her love of reading began when she listened to her first book on tape as a child. Some of her favorite writers include John Steinbeck, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Neil Gaiman. She also loves the Harry Potter series and will happily discuss all things related to The Boy Who Lived.

Robert Howsare

Visual Art

Informed by a background in psychology and commercial printing, Robert Howsare’s interdisciplinary work explores failure and the glitches occurring within systems.  He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Ohio University.

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally; select venues include the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Austrian Cultural Forum of New York, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Urban Institute of Contemporary Art and the International Print Center of New York.  Howsare’s work has been recognized by WIRED Magazine, Abitare International Design Magazine, HOW, and other publications. Most recently his work has appeared in The Art of Tinkering, Meggs’ History of Graphic Design and on Adult Swim.  Awarded artist residencies include the Charlotte Street Foundation Studio Residency, Vermont Studio Center, and is currently an artist-in-resident at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Robert Howsare currently lives and works in West Virginia, where he is an assistant professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College.


R. Daniel Hughes, Jr.

Vocal Music

R. Daniel Hughes, Jr., Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he conducts the Concert Chorale, Wesleyan Singers and Concentus Vocum. He also teaches private voice, choral conducting, a first-year-seminar course entitled Music and Ethics and works closely as Musical Director and Conductor in conjunction with the Department of Theatre & Dance.

Prior to this position, Dr. Hughes was Director of Choral Activities, Coordinator of the Voice Area and Associate Professor at Nassau Community College in New York. He has also taught voice at Millikin University, directed choirs with Central Illinois Children's Choruses, directed choirs at Hofstra University and the University of Illinois, taught voice and conducted both the High School Concert Choir and the High School Women's Ensemble at the Interlochen Arts Academy Summer Camp, acted as Choral Director for the middle and upper schools at the Dwight-Englewood School (New Jersey) and served as Musical Director for SummerStock at the University of Findlay (Ohio) and The 4th Wall Theatre (New Jersey).

Dr. Hughes performs frequently as a tenor. Recent solo engagements have included Mendelssohn' Elijah, Mozart's Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, Schein's Israelis Bruennlein, Paine's Mass in D, Beethoven's Mass in C, Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri, Carissimi's Job and Jephta, Bach's Saint John Passion (Evangelist), Mass in B Minor and Magnificat, Rachmaninov's Solemn Vespers and Handel's Messiah. He has also sung with several professional choral ensembles including the Saint James' Episcopal Church Compostella Choir in New York City, Ensemble Choragos, The Baroque Artists of Urbana-Champaign, The Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and VocalBAROQUE. He has served in a variety of professional church settings as conductor and singer.

Dr. Hughes is active as an adjudicator and clinician. He has published several reviews in The Choral Journal, and recently completed the article on Dominick Argento for the recently published second edition of the Grove Dictionary of American Music.

Dr. Hughes received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Music from the University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign, a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from the Eastman School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance from Otterbein College. His dissertation is entitled Textual-Musical Relationships in Three Choral Works by Dominick Argento: Walden Pond, The Vision and Sonnet LXIV.



Donald Laney


Donald Laney graduated from the University, of California, Irvine, with an MFA in Dance.  He is currently the Producing Artistic Director of the WV Dance Company, the first and only professional touring dance company in the history of the state of WV.  Before entering the graduate program at UCI, Donald performed with the WV Dance Company, Houlihan & Dancers (Miami, FL), Randy James Dance Works (NYC), X-Factor (NC), and Trillium Performing Arts Collective (WV). While attending UCI, he had the opportunity to perform for Donald McKayle, Loretta Livingston, Lisa Naugle, and Christine Chrest, as well as presenting his own choreography which was chosen to represent the university at ACDFA in 2003 and 2004. Donald's work with Lisa Naugle and John Crawford has produced 3 dance videos that have been presented at the Lincoln Center and in dance video conferences in Yugoslavia, Japan, New Jersey, Michigan, Arizona, and at ADF in Durham, NC. Donald has served as the WV Governor's School for the Arts instructor in Dance, from 2005 to present.  

Besides performing, Mr. Laney also pursues a career as a freelance artist in teaching, choreographing, and costume design and construction. His choreography has been a staple of the West Virginia Dance Company’s repertoire for the last ten years.  He has created original modern dance pieces for the WV Dance Company, James Madison University, Marshall University, WV Wesleyan College, Charleston Ballet, and various high schools around WV. Donald has been a guest instructor in modern dance at ACDFA -Southwest & Mid Atlantic Regions, James Madison University, UCI, Lees-McRae College, Charleston Ballet, and Jack Britt High School (NC), and as an Adjunct Professor at Marshall University, Davis & Elkins, and WV Wesleyan College.

In 2008 Donald was granted permission to perform Daniel Nagrin’s 1948 masterpiece “Spanish Dance”.  This was Mr. Nagrin’s last project before his passing.  Donald Performed “Spanish Dance” for two years all over West Virginia as well as at a memorial service for Mr. Nagrin in Philadelphia.

Musical Theatre choreography credits include assistant choreographer to Tony Nominated Donald McKayle on My Fair Lady (UC Irvine), Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Quilters, Cabaret (Greenbrier Valley Theatre)Hair and Little Shop of Horrors (Marshall University), High School Musical (Theatre West Virginia), Urinetown (Davis & Elkins), Gypsy, Nunsense, Anything Goes, Urinetown (WV Wesleyan), HONK! and The Music Man (Cape Fear Regional Theater).


Phil McCollam

Digital Art

Phillip McCollam is a designer and educator specializing in web design and professional development. One time, he ran a marathon in shoes he bought a few hours before the start and he has successfully eaten an entire tube of cookie dough for a meal.


Dr. James Moore

Instrumental Music


Dr. James Moore, Associate Professor of Music, is the Director of Jazz Ensembles and instructor of trumpet at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Since 2011 he has served as the chairperson of the Department of Music at WV Wesleyan and has worked to build one of the most vibrant collegiate jazz programs in the region. Dr. Moore is an active member of the Pittsburgh jazz community where he is a member of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra and has been a member of RH Factor—the Roger Humphries quintet. In addition to his work in Pittsburgh he performs regularly with the Norman David Eleventet in Philadelphia as well as many other collaborative ventures in that city. He has performed with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Bob Mintzer Big Band, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Ahmad Jamal, Sheryl Bailey, Tim Warfield, and the Lars Halle Jazz Orchestra. Moore appeared on Bob Mintzer's GRAMMY nominated album For the Moment, released on the MCG Jazz label in 2012.

Dr. Moore is also an active clinician, having worked with many high school honors jazz ensembles throughout Pennsylvania and Western Maryland. He has presented master classes at dozens of high schools and colleges in the region. He is also a member of the Artist Faculty of the National Trumpet Competition, as well as serving on the research review board of the International Trumpet Guild. His articles on jazz trumpet pedagogy have been published by the Australian and International Trumpet Guilds.

Dr. Moore studied trumpet with Bonnie Miltenberger, Neil Stalnaker, John Swana, and Tim Hagans. He holds an MM in Jazz Studies from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and is the first recipient of the PhD in Jazz Studies from the University of Pittsburgh where his advisor was Dr. Nathan T. Davis—founder of the original Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra and of the Ethnomusicology program at the University of Pittsburgh.


John Morrison




John Morrison is on the music faculty at Fairmont State University where he teaches piano 
and strings, and is the choir and recital accompanist.  John is also the music director and
organist at First Presbyterian Church of Fairmont where he directs the Chancel Choir and 
Cambridge Handbell Choir. In the Fall of 2015 he participated in a faculty performance exchange 
where he gave a solo piano recital both at FSU and at West Liberty University.  John has been the WVACDA
(West Virginia American Choral Directors Association) Collegiate Honor Choir accompanist in Charleston the past two years 
and was the WV All State Children's Chorus accompanist this year.  Prior to serving as the choir and recital accompanist at FSU

for the past 10 years, he accompanied WVU's Choral Union and worked as a staff accompanist for two summers at the Interlochen Arts Camp.  


In 2012 he was a recipient of the City of Fairmont Arts and Humanities Commission "Excellence in Music Award".  John is currently the President-Elect of WVMTA (West Virginia Music Teachers Association) and is planning the Fall 2016 conference at Shepherd University. A graduate of WVU, he received a double undergraduate degree in Piano Performance and French and a Master's Degree in Piano Performance. His piano studies were with Dr. Marina Schmidt (Lupinacci), Dr. Peter Amstutz, and Dr. Christine Kefferstan. 


John Posey

Instrumental Music

John Posey is originally from Wheeling, WV but has resided in Morgantown, WV since receiving a Masters of Music in Jazz Pedagogy from West Virginia University. While pursuing the graduate degree, John served as the director of the Alderson Broaddus Jazz Ensemble. His undergraduate degree in Music Education was also completed at WVU. Staying active as a freelance guitarist in Northern West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania since 2007, he has performed with groups ranging from jazz combos to bluegrass bands to traditional calypso music. Throughout the course of his studies, he has also had the opportunity to learn and perform traditional Brazilian and Ghanaian music abroad


Tommy Schoffler



A proud native West Virginian, Tommy Schoffler’s favorite performance credits include Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz (Theatre West Virginia), Jinx in Forever Plaid (Oregon Cabaret Theatre), Finch in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Depot Theatre, NY), Yepihodov in The Cherry Orchard, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cripple Billy in The Cripple of Inishmaan (Warehouse Theatre, SC), Touchstone in As You Like It (Theatre at Monmouth, ME) and David in The Santaland Diaries (Greenbrier Valley Theatre; Sycamore Rouge). He has directed in New York for both the Connelly Theatre’s Dark Nights Series and the SoHo Think Tank Series, and regionally for the The Theatre at Monmouth, The Depot Theatre, Perseverance Theatre, Sycamore Rouge, and North Carolina Stage Company.  Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at WV Wesleyan College, Tommy holds an MFA in acting from The University of Texas at Austin where he was nominated for both Austin Critics’ Table and B. Iden Payne Awards for creating the title role in Love Jerry. He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. Tommy has also taught at Davis & Elkins College, Southwest Texas State University, University of Alaska Southeast and John Robert Powers Studio in New York City, as well as conducted workshops or adjudications for West Virginia University, the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Seton Hill University, the University of Findlay, the University of Idaho, the Texas State Theatre SuperConference, The Southeastern Theater Conference, Chanticleer Children’s Chorus of WV, the NYC Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the West Virginia Theatre Conference, the West Virginia State Thespian Festival, and the West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts.


Barbie Yurick



Barbara Yurick returns for her eighth year as Master Teacher of Ballet for The West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts. She served on the Dance Faculty at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV from 2007-2012. She is the Director of Dance-It! Oak Hill Dance Center in Oak Hill, WV. She guest teaches in studios, public and private schools, and college and university settings.

Barbara was an original member of The West Virginia Dance Company, performing ballet, jazz and modern dance and toured the Mid-Atlantic Region under the direction of Toneta Akers-Toler. She performed with Theatre West Virginia’s summer theatre for several seasons.

Barbara and her son Sam Yurick present “Smart Moves For Education & the Arts”  an integrated arts in education program which also uses iPad technology.

She hold a B.S. Degree from WVU, studied dance at North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, received dance scholarships to The Craft of Choreography Conferences SUNY, Brockport, NY and Geneva, NY. She has studied at various professional schools throughout the United States, Canada and France. She has participated in numerous Kennedy Center Workshops focusing on arts in education. She continues to study dance, education and the connections between all of the arts and human growth, development, communication and understanding.




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