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Meet Our Faculty and Staff

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Dr. Michele Pagen

Artisitic Director


Michele is a professor of theatre in the Department of Culture, Media, and Performance at California University of Pennsylvania. A native of southwestern Pennsylvania, Michele knew that if given the opportunity, she would build a place where area youth could study theatre and musical theatre in an environment that was safe and nurturing, yet challenging and professional. The Mon Valley Performing Arts Academy is just that place. She received her B.A. in Theatre from California University of Pennsylvania and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Directing and Staging Pedagogy from Bowling Green State University. Michele teaches the acting sequence, directing, and voice for the actor courses at the University. She is an Estill Master Trainer with Estill Voice International. 

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Destiny Cumberland

Administrative Assistant

Destiny Cumberland has served as the Administrative Assistant for MVPAA for the past 3 years. Prior to this role, she served for 2 years as the Acting Teacher for Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High School. Destiny holds a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from PennWest California, and is currently employed at Duquesne University on their Campus Visit and Events team. Destiny also completed an Arts Administration internship in London, England, during the summer of 2021 with The Space Theatre. An avid stage manager, event planner, and lover of all things type-A and dramatic, she finds passion in assisting the MVPAA in new endeavors year after year. 

Michael Rozell 

Academy Singers


Michael Rozell retired in June 2023 from a 32 year career as a music educator with the Belle Vernon Area School District.  Having gone through the shortest retirement ever, he began a new career in September 2023 as the Executive Director of the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra.  He was thrilled to join the staff of the WSO where he is responsible for the day to day running of the organization.  A supporter of music in communities, Michael has musically directed musicals for the past 30 years in many of the local community theaters. Additionally, he is a member of “The Summer Singers” and also a member of Pittsburgh’s premier vocal group, “Voces Solis” where he was recently named the Director of Educational Outreach.

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John Wagner



John is a graduate from New York University with a MA in Performing Arts Administration and a graduate from Shenandoah University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. This is his 6th year teaching with the Academy, and he is also an instructor of Dance at Theatre at PennWest California. He is the Artistic Director for the Main Street Theatre Company, the resident theatre company at the State Theatre Center for the Arts. His directing and choreography credits include: Pippin, Beauty and the Beast, The Drowsy Chaperone, Newsies, Mamma Mia, Spring Awakening, Chicago, Peter Pan, Annie, Sweeney Todd, The Music Man, Carrie, Gypsy, Mary Poppins, Hairspray, The Producers, 42nd Street, The Nutcracker, and Cats. He is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association and his performing credits include: Spamalot, La Cage Aux Folles, Gypsy, All Shook Up, A Chorus Line, Anything Goes, Chicago, 42nd Street, and Footloose.


Christina Bordini


Christina is thrilled to be back teaching at MVPPA for another year! She is a Cal U alumna with a BA in Theatre/Musical Theatre '11 and a M.Ed. PreK-4 Education '21. She has directed SE Jr and co-directed SE the past three years. Christina currently teaches Kindergarten at Canon-McMillan SD, where she incorporates the arts into her lessons as much as possible. She hopes your youngins want to come learn, grow, & play at MVPAA!

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Alexandra Wilson


Alexandra is a 2020 alumna of California University of Pennsylvania where she received her B.A. in Theatre with a Concentration in Musical Theatre, as well as her Estill Voice Training Figure Proficiency Certification. She began her dance training at the age of three, and quickly fell in love with the world of musical theatre and performance. Alexandra also serves as the choreographer for Uniontown Area High School's spring musicals, as well as the director of their dance team and auxiliary. She has performed in a variety of musicals over the years. Some of her favorites including Pippin, Elf: The Musical, and Edges. She is excited to teach and share her love of dance and performance with younger generations.

Grace Hess


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Delaney Harvey


Delaney Harvey (they/them) is a Junior Theatre major with a concentration in Musical Theatre at PennWest. Delaney started dancing at age 3, studied competitive dance at Lanzi Academy of Dance from 2010-2020, and taught competitive dance at Studio K Dance Center from 2020-2022. They have served as Dance Captain under John Wagner for ELF the Musical (Fall 2021), The Drowsy Chaperone (Spring 2022), and soon again for PennWest's production of A Christmas Carol.

Grace is a sophomore veterinary technology major with a minor in dance at Pennwest California. She has danced since the age of 3. She studied at Point Park University and Millennium Dance Complex,
where she was a member of the Competitive Company and completed her certificate program. Grace also attended Point Park’s International Summer Intensives. Grace is now co-owner and instructor at Variations Dance Company in California, PA. She has won numerous choreography and teacher
excellence awards.

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Eli Gilbert

Acting and Improv


Eli Gilbert is a newly graduated teacher from Pennwest California and is very excited to take on his three classes for the upcoming semesters. Eli has been working with MVPAA for three years now, helping with two years of Summer Experience, one improv class, and filling in for other MVPAA teachers. He cannot wait to help his students grow in their craft and expand their acting belt!


Aubri Higgs

Acting and Improv

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