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  Our Teachers 

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Mary Joy Nelson

Ms. Nelson is the Founding Executive Director of InnOVATION Arts Academy. Previously, she founded the A.C.E. Preparatory program and Broadway Bound Summer Camps at the University of Kentucky, where she completed her MMus in vocal performance. Several students in her programs have landed major roles in national Broadway productions in recent years (Audrey Bennett, Brooklyn Shuck, Kyla Carter). She has been teaching youth and children in the performing arts for over 20 years and currently works at InnOVATION as an administrator, producer, director and music director.  She teaches students in Lexington, New York, LA, Utah, and Florida in voice, acting and audition techniques.

Stephanie Valentino

Stephanie Valentino has been dancing, singing, and performing in Lexington, KY for the majority of her life. Stephanie has taught dance and choreographed at the Academy for Creative Excellence, Stage Right Acting, and Innovation Arts Academy. She has also worked on countless productions at many of Fayette County's public schools. During the school year, she teaches fourth grade at Cassidy Elementary School. Some of her favorite performance credits include Margot in Legally Blonde the Musical and Tinkerbell in Peter Pan. Recent shows Stephanie has choreographed include Frozen Jr., Once On This Island, Aladdin Kids, and Lion King Jr.

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Erin Tuttle

Erin Leland Tuttle has been teaching music and performing arts for 20 years. She received a Bachelor's Degree in music education and a Master's Degree in education with an emphasis in music and drama. She has taught classroom music, chorus, drama, piano, and voice - and she loves it!  Currently, Erin is a musical director for local theatre groups, and for FCPS Gifted and Accelerated program.  She directs the choir and group piano program for Parks and Recreation Adult Therapeutic Music Program, and has a private voice and piano studio. A few of her favorite performance credits include Velma Kelly in Chicago, Ms. Hannigan in Annie, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Vi Moore in Footloose, and Shakti in Last Call, a new musical by written by local playwrights. 

Joshua Stone

Josh Stone has been on stage in Lexington since the age of nine. He has worked with several productions companies over his career and is very excited to share what he has learned with a new group of students. Some of his favorite roles include Ren in Footloose, Melchior in Spring Awakening, Paul in A Chorus Line and Lancelot in Spamalot. Josh looks forward to giving back to young actors and actresses, the way so many teachers gave to him growing up.

Susanna White

Susanna White earned her B.A. in Theatre at the University of Kentucky along with a Vocal Performance minor.  She has been studying voice for over 11 years, and it has always been a deep passion of hers.  Her performing credits include several productions through the UK Theater Department such as “The Tribe” in Hair and “Asaka” in Once on this Island.  She has also been a part of the UK Opera Theatre productions such as Sweeney Todd, It’s a Grand Night for Singing, The Promised Land and she recently premiered the role of “Sabrina” in BOUNCE, which was produced through Ardea Arts, a performance company in New York City.  Susanna has also performed locally in Lexington, KY through Stage Right Acting as “Luisa” in The Fantasticks, through Antagonist Productions as “Angela” in The Last Call, and through the Kentucky Conservatory Theatre as “Lisa” in Mamma Mia!  She competed in the 2015 and 2017 Miss Kentucky Pageant earning a place in the top ten, the Spirit of Miss Kentucky Award, and the Overall Talent Award. She now resides in New York City pursuing a full-time performing career. She hopes to be a positive influence in the performing arts world not only through her work, but through her heart for loving others. 

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Danyel Miller

Quiana Danyel is a sophomore theatre major at BCTC. She has been dancing since she was 3, and performing on stage since she was 12. Quiana had taught dance at D&A studios for 4 or 5 years prior to its closure and since then she has choreographed a plethora of Fayette County Public School musicals, along with side projects and shows. Recent shows her choreography was featured in are Freaky Friday the musical, Beauty and the Beast, and Heathers High School Edition.

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Kaitlin Rucker

Katy Rucker is a sophomore double majoring in Theatre and Elementary Education at the University of Kentucky.  She is minoring in Voice and English, with a Musical Theatre Certificate. Katy has been dancing since she was 3, acting on stage from the age of 10, and studying voice since age 12. A 2017 Governor School for the Arts theatre scholar with favorite roles including Sally Bowles (U/S) in Cabaret, Eva in Bring It On, Liesel in Sound of Music, Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, and Tobias in Sweeney Todd. Katy hopes to move to New York after she graduates to pursue acting and also wants to train to also be an elementary and preschool teacher. Her biggest goal in life is to give kids a safe space to grow, and create— especially through the arts. She thanks those who have touched her life, and wants to be at least a fraction of the wonderful teachers and beautiful people she’s met.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder is thrilled to be back with the Innovation team! Rachel is a professional musical theatre performer, currently residing in New York City. She has performed in regional theatre productions across the midwest, new work presentations in New York, and theatre for young audiences at the 92nd St Y. For the past three years, she has been a Lead Soloist on board Aida Cruises around the world. 

Rachel has been studying dance for over 15 years, in styles such as Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz, and Musical Theatre.  Rachel has spent many years teaching and engaging with students using all forms of artistic expression.

She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky where she received a Bachelor’s in Theatre, Musical Theatre Certificate, with a minor in Mathematics. In Kentucky, Rachel was most recently seen in The Lex’s inaugural production of “42nd Street”. For more information, check out www.rachelmariesnyder.com.