Drama Kids Columbus GA Director Valeria

Valeria Marto


Valeria is passionately committed to developing kids through drama, as she herself benefited from it as a child. Valeria’s first appearance on stage was in middle school — an experience that changed her life forever! She devoted her teen and young adult years to studying theatre and participating in numerous productions. Valeria was born in Brazil but moved to the U.S. in 1996. Upon graduating from Columbus State University, Valeria began her career in the corporate world. There, she quickly learned that an articulate and expressive person with dynamic presentation skills would heavily outweigh the soft-spoken scholar. Joining Drama Kids International was a natural transition in 2007 when she brought the program to the Chattahoochee Valley. Today, Valeria lives out her passion by helping children develop those essential skills that will make the journey through life much easier. In addition to overseeing the program locally, Valeria teaches her beloved Acting Academy program for students in middle and high school.

Drama & Acting Teacher Leslie

Leslie Cardwell

Program Manager

Leslie has been with Drama Kids since 2012. She has been teaching drama for more than 15 years and has over 25 years of experience working with kids. Leslie is also a published playwright. She has written more than 30 plays and coaches our summer campers in writing their plays every year. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing (playwriting) from Mississippi University for Women. Leslie LOVES and shares the vision of Drama Kids, which is to build confidence, communication skills and acting abilities through drama, or in her own words, “seeing kids blossom and gain confidence through the skills they learn on stage.”

Drama & Acting Teacher Khaliah

Khaliah Wiggins

Drama & Acting Teacher

Khaliah started with Drama Kids in the spring of 2022, when she came to help us direct our spring shows. She has been no stranger to the stage. Since her middle school days, Khaliah has been involved in theatre in various forms – from back-stage support, to stage managing, to starring in lead roles. Khaliah was in the first graduating class of the prestigious Rainey McCullers School of Performing Arts in Columbus, GA. While in high school, Khaliah was the Thespian president for Troup 8787. Khaliah’s dream is to continue working in Arts Education. She loves helping others navigate their adventure in the field of drama, and is excited to share her knowledge and skills with her very own drama kids.

Drama & Acting Teacher Simone

Simone Bowen

Drama & Acting Teacher

Simone is thrilled to be joining Drama Kids! She loves anything that has to do with being creative. She has been involved in dancing, acting, and singing her whole life. Simone has been dancing since she was 5 years old. She has always loved creating routines and seeing the steps she envisioned come to life. Theatre became a passion of hers since in 6th grade. Simone graduated from Rainey McCullers School of the Arts as theater major. She has written her own script and performed in several plays. Simone is furthering her education at Columbus Tech and aspires to become a school counselor. She is looking forward to being a positive influence in the life of her students and helping them discover the fun in theater!

Drama & Acting Teacher Jeff

Kevin Johnston

Drama & Acting Teacher

This is Kevin’s second year with Drama Kids and he’s very excited for it. Kevin has had a passion for acting since the age of five, after viewing “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with Jim Carrey as the Grinch. He’s always been passionate about the voice and how to manipulate it, as well as physical acting. He has performed in a variety of shows in many of the Columbus theater venues: Springer, River Center, and CSU. Kevin has been a Summer intern at the Springer Theater Academy, and he also helped start a Drama Club for Eddy Middle School. He’s always thought that children having access to the arts is extremely important, whether they pursue a career in the field or not. It teaches children to express themselves and become in touch with their emotions. Kevin thinks that Drama Kids is an incredible group that will help our future generations stay inspired and caring for one another.

Drama & Acting Teacher AnnaKate


Drama & Acting Teacher

AnnaKate was exposed early to theatre at the age of 6 when she was denied a role as a witch’s cat because the rehearsals were too late at night. She longed for the stage until she finally had her chance in middle school. Once she took the stage as a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she never looked back! AnnaKate earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is currently working towards her master’s in Theatre Education from Columbus State University. AnnaKate and her cat, Buster, are a very recent transplants from Alaska and are looking forward to getting to know the beautiful south!


Drama & Acting Teacher Sydney

Sydney Cardwell

Drama & Acting Teacher

Sydney is a former Drama Kids student and is excited for the opportunity to share with her students the skills she learned as a student. She has been a part of the theatre since her family did Tom Sawyer when she was four. She participated in all areas of performance and production through her school years and performed with her college improv team until she graduated this May. Improv is her favorite way to perform theatre, but she also loves the production process of a full play and watching all the pieces fall into place during the final days of rehearsal!


Join our team! Click below to apply!

Drama Kids is seeking dynamic and fun part-time teachers to meet our growing class schedule.