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Our instructors are committed to our students and share a desire to support them in finding their passions and giving them hands-on experiences that they wouldn’t normally see during a school day.
They work directly with each student to support them as they consider different career paths and explore the possibilities for their future.
“Being able to incorporate the core credits into the CTE classes will be a game changer for students, and I am very fortunate to be a part of this first-of-its-kind program! My favorite part of being an instructor is getting to know the students on a personal level and helping them set and accomplish future goals.”
- Michelle Barry, Director
Michelle grew up in Woodbine and graduated in 2001. After 15 years of living in Kansas and Nebraska, Michelle’s family moved back to Woodbine. This is Michelle’s 16th year in education. Her experience ranges from teaching special education preschool through 7th grade as well as being an adjunct for college courses.
In addition to her role as Curriculum Director at IGNITE Pathways, Michelle also has the privilege of teaching the Early Childhood Education and English courses. Michelle is thrilled to work with students that are considering a career in education. She looks forward to providing real-world experiences in which students will learn in hands-on settings, visit various daycare centers and classrooms, and talk to a variety of teachers.
Michelle decided to take on the role of Curriculum Director at IGNITE because she is passionate about meeting students where they are and helping them prepare for the future.
Meet Dave Borg, Automotive Instructor for IGNITE. Dave was I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He and his wife purchased an acreage outside of Missouri Valley several years ago. They both love their rural Iowa home and the communities that make up Harrison County. Dave fell in love with muscle cars as a teenager, and with help from his parents, purchased a 1970 Z28 Camaro when he turned 16. My father told Dave he needed to know how to take care of the car, and that started him on my journey to become an automotive technician a/k/a car mechanic. Dave attended Southeast Community College, automotive classes, at the Milford, Nebraska, campus and graduated with honors. He has over 30 years of experience, starting as an automotive technician. Later, Dave was promoted to the service manager position, and then to fixed operations director. Dave is a Certified Master Automobile Technician, Certified Service Consultant, and Certified Advanced Level Specialist through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). To be ASE Certified a person must test/retest every five years. I’m proud to say that I have been certified for over 30 years. Auto repair is more complicated than ever, and maintaining current certifications ensures that Dave is staying up to date with the latest technology, diagnostic tools, and automotive changes. Dave is a retired Fixed Operations Director of an automotive repair facility that was part of a car dealership. He was responsible for the Service Department, Body Shop, and Parts Department. He knows many high school students are interested in learning to take care of their car, and perhaps explore making a career of it. There is a high demand for skilled trades, and automotive technicians are definitely part of that demand.When asked what he likes best about teaching at IGNITE, Dave responded, "Cars and trucks are expensive, and high-quality automotive repair is a skill that requires skilled technicians. Helping to teach future generations the skills needed to care for their car, and expose them to the industry is rewarding."
Born and raised in the county, Teresa Coenen graduated from Logan-Magnolia High School before attending Dana College in Blair, majoring in Communications. She earned her Masters degree in education administration from UNI. Teresa began her teaching career in alternative education settings, before becoming a school administrator, working as a middle school principal in Harlan, then high school principal in Storm Lake.
Following her retirement from education, Teresa turned her creative passion for quilting into a business. She designs quilt patterns and teaches classes and quilt alongs, virtually, from her downtown makerspace in Woodbine. Over the years, Teresa has acquired training in social media marketing and currently holds certifications in several platforms. She teaches social media marketing to quilt-industry business owners across the country. She offered to assist IGNITE with its social media efforts, and quickly was recruited to teach the Social Media Marketing certification program.
“Social media marketing skills can be used in any career path, providing employment opportunities for our students during high school and after graduation. I really enjoy working with young, creative minds, and I love to see the products they create for real businesses and organizations.”
Adam validates science credit for IGNITE students who wish to earn core credit in their career-technical classes.
Adam was born, raised and graduated from Woodbine. He is proud to be a lifelong Tiger! In his 23rd year of teaching, Adam has spent the last half of his career in Woodbine.
Cox owns and manages rental properties and was raised on the farm, bringing additional experiences to relate to his students. When offered the opportunity to share his instructional expertise at IGNITE, Cox was eager to become part of an innovative and unparalleled approach.
iiJAG Education Specialist & Instructor
Justin Esser is from Portsmouth, Iowa and graduated from Harlan in 2017. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Iowa State University in Child, Adult, and Family Services.
After college, Justin returned home to be closer to family. He began his career working with children through counseling and therapy. Justin's expertise falls under helping kids overcome the difficult obstacles they face in life and teaching them how to use obstacles to learn and grow.
Justin got involved with IGNITE because he wanted to make a difference in kid's lives. In his role as iJAG specialist, Justin looks forward to working with so many amazing students in such a new and innovative learning environment.
Taylor validates Math credit for IGNITE students wishing to earn CBE credit within their career-technical courses.
Taylor is originally from Earling, Iowa, and has been living and teaching in Woodbine for the past year. and have been living in Woodbine for a year now. Frederick accepted the position as math validator because she recognizes the opportunities IGNITE gives students, She is convinced that the hands-on experiences students receive at IGNITE prepare them for their futures in their desired pathways.
"I love seeing students involved in activities they truly love. The energy and excitement from students at IGNITE is unmatched."
Meet Ethan Hammerand. English Validator at IGNITE. Ethan is from Epworth, IA and graduated from Loras College. He has completed English/Spanish secondary Ed Endorsement at Loras after student teaching at Dubuque Senior High School. He grew up on a farm and was involved in 4-H. He became involved with IGNITE after he found he liked the idea of students having alternative options! "Education is not a one size fits all and IGNITE allows kids to explore their interests, while continuing their education in core areas!" Ethan said."I'm excited to be able to continue using my English background as well as having the chance to learn as much from the students as they learn from me!"
Hi I am Cara! I’m from Omaha and my husband is from Woodbine. In 2017, we decided to move to the area to begin helping at the family farm. I started out as an 8th grade English teacher and have a masters degree in curriculum and instruction. I’ve worked on a few technology implementation initiatives in schools and workplaces, and have also worked as a corporate trainer, business consultant, and tutor.
I am currently working on building a drone photography business with my husband, as well as tutoring students grades k-12 in the area. I’ve developed a tutoring model that allows me to help a larger number of students across all grades, instead of just one discrete grade level or subject. I’m also a farmhand and learning to farm corn and beans.
I’m going to help develop the communications portion of the IGNITE curriculum. I’ve worked on projects similar to IGNITE, and I think I can help provide rich, authentic experiences for students.
IGNITE Pathways uses competency-based education, which is my expertise. It’s a different way of teaching and thinking, and I didn’t necessarily expect an opportunity like this to become available in my area. I’m really thankful for the chance to work at IGNITE Pathways. For a teacher like me, it is a dream come true.
I am excited to show students that everyone has strengths. Activating growth mindset so that an , “I can’t do that!”, changes into a, “Yeah, I can probably do that with a little bit of practice.”
Meet Michael Jensen, a lifelong resisdent of Woodbine Iowa. He has worked 12 years as a police officer, 8 years as a Police Chief, 8 years as a consistent Jiu Jitsu training Instructor, and is a 2016 American Nationals Division Champion. Michael is currently the Chief of Police and Training Coordinator for Woodbine Iowa. He will be teaching Jiu Jitsu/Self Defense at IGNITE Pathways as an affiliate of Scott Thompson Martial Arts. Michael came to IGNITE after being approached by a facility member as he was highly recommended from another instructor. Mike feels that everyone should learn self-defense as it would help in a stressful encounter. Michael stated, "I am excited to begin instruction at IGNITE."
Greg Kelley grew up on a family farm and graduated from Woodbine High School. He continued his education at Iowa State University and earned a degree in Ag Systems Technology.
After college, Greg returned to Woodbine and took over the family farm. He purchased broken down tractors and repaired them to use in his farming operation. Kelley farms around 2000 acres and has built a machine shop for repairing and maintaining farm equipment.
Using his shop as a classroom, Greg teaches Ag Mechanics for IGNITE. He is extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity to create and teach a course that would give high school students a chance to learn some basic life skills.
“I enjoy the couple of mornings each week teaching the students, in my shop, some of the basics of farm mechanics as it relates to an actual farm. We get to go out and fix actual problems that occurred the day before and provide basic maintenance before a machine goes to the field.”
Paul has lived in Woodbine Iowa his entire life. He grew up on a farm Southeast of town. and attended Iowa Western Community College for Automotive.
Kelley began his career at a Ford Dealership and served as a Mechanic & Service Advisor for several years. Paul retired from the City of Omaha as a Fleet Mechanic. He is currently enjoying his retirement while farming and restoring classic cars and motorcycles.
Paul serves as an Auto Mechanic & Small Engine Instructor at IGNITE Pathways. He wanted to share his automotive career experiences with students and allow them to get hands-on experience in a shop environment.
Meet Greg Kolpin, Social Studies Instructor. Greg is the Social Studies content validator for students seeking core curriculum credit through their IGNITE classes.
Kolpin is in his 9th year of teaching and coaching at Woodbine Community School District. He has been working with IGNITE for two years.
Why did Greg join the staff at IGNITE? "I enjoyed the alternative way of thinking that curriculum-based education provided, and it gave me an opportunity to try new things both in my own classroom and with non-traditional students."
Kolpin enjoys trying new ideas to innovate a subject area that isn't always the most exciting. He also enjoys making real-life connections with skills learned in social studies courses that can be applied in any area of work and or life.
Curtis Lee has lived in Woodbine most of his life. After graduating from Woodbine High School (a few years ago), Curtis attended college and settled in Missouri for 13 years before moving back home to Woodbine.
Curtis worked in construction for a year before starting his career in production control for a manufacturing company. He was promoted and transferred within the company to the Information Technology department for the plant. When he moved back to Woodbine, Curtis took his skills to a computer consulting company in Omaha. His career in the Information Technology field has spanned for over 35 years, both in technical and management roles.
Curtis is passionate about aviation. He has been a part time flight instructor for the past 35 years. All the while, Curtis has farmed just outside of Woodbine. When Curtis retired from his IT career in Omaha, he picked up a new role in Woodbine. Curtis is currently farming full time along with flight instructing and teaching at IGNITE. As a Navigator, Curtis is teaching Information Technology and Aviation classes.
“I enjoy working with students and keeping up with the industry’s changes. I want to help students to become more familiar with the opportunities that they have in their future careers.”
iJAG Education Specialist, Instructor & Marketing Manager
Danielle McMahon is the new Marketing Manager and iJAG Specialist at IGNITE. Dani grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and currently reside in the REFRESHING town of Manning, Iowa. She graduated from Iowa State University in 2018 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and a minor in Public Relations.
In college, Dani served as a leader for the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success, studied abroad, held a marketing internship at a non-profit, and recruited for Cobblestone Inn & Suites. In adjacent to those roles, she worked as a Teacher for a child care center to serve children and families of Carroll County. In 2018, Dani was recruited in a career to hold the role of a Business Development Specialist/Communications Specialist to help empower families and individuals to thrive in life and offer resources to get them there! She later opened up Marketing By Dani, a marketing consulting firm, and started working for Woodbine! This opportunity will allow her to instruct in the classroom and show students they can do ANYTHING!
Justin grew up on the family farm north of Walnut and went to high school in Harlan. After graduating, he earned his Ag Education degree at Iowa State University. He moved to Harrison County six years ago.
Justin taught high school ag in Missouri Valley for four years. When his daughter was born, Justin chose to take an early exit from traditional education and started his own business, Mills Mobile Detailing.
A few years later, Justin received a call from Mr. Wagner (who had been Justin’s superintendent when he was in high school). When presented with an opportunity to get involved with a NEW hands-on instructional program, Justin could not say no!
Currently, Justin leads classes in animal science and crop science at IGNITE Pathways.
“The best part about being a Navigator is that I get to learn alongside the champions. Our classes get out and about in our community as often as possible.”
Eric Moores graduated from Woodbine High school in 1996. After graduating with a Construction Management degree from University of Nebraska at Kearney, Eric moved to Omaha and worked as a Construction Superintendent for Benchmark Homes. In 2006, Eric started his own custom homebuilding business in Omaha, and he moved his family back to Woodbine a year later. In 2009, Eric added a spray foam insulation business focusing on re-insulating existing homes locally and in the Omaha area.
Five years ago, Eric accepted the role of Construction Trades instructor for Woodbine Community School. When he isn’t teaching, Eric continues to work as a private building contractor, working on remodels and custom homes in Woodbine. When IGNITE Pathways was formed in 2020, the Construction Trades program became IGNITE’s first career pathway. IGNITE’s philosophy of providing hands on opportunities aligns perfectly with Eric’s personal learning experience.
“The relationship that I am able to build with students is the best part of my job. I love seeing what some of my former students are doing in the construction industry now. I have students checking in with me to share their successes. It’s also pretty cool to have former students working as contractors on our IGNITE projects with us.”
Terry was raised on a dairy farm in northeast Oklahoma where he spent most of my life. He moved to rural Woodbine 20 years ago.
Terry has been in a production manufacturing facility of some kind or another for 34 years, mostly welding. He has a lot of fabrication experience as well.
Currently, Terry is a supervisor over a department at Tommy Gate here in Woodbine and has been for several years now. He would never toot his own horn, but Terry is a top welder for Tommy Gate. IGNITE asked for the best, and we got it.
A little over a year ago, Terry was asked if he would be interested in teaching at IGNITE and here he is! He goes into work early each day to carve out time to teach the welding program for IGNITE.
"I really enjoy teaching a skill that I know will have a big impact on certain young men and women. I don't think there will be anything other than raising my children that has been more rewarding to me!"
Paul Ridder is originally from Battle Creek, Nebraska, a town very similar in size to Woodbine. He worked in the manufacturing industry in Omaha with roles as a design engineer, project manager, engineering manager and director of engineering for a manufacturing company that designed and built equipment for large grain handling and processing facilities around the world.
Paul has always loved to tinker, build and break stuff, and work with his hands. He likes to discover how things work and how to build things. Paul’s broad interest in the trades sparked his interest with IGNITE.
Zach Ridder has lived in Woodbine for five years. He has worked in the construction industry for 17 years, working on houses, schools, agricultural facilities, food processing plants, pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, and offshore oil platforms. Within the industry, Zach has held many positions: concrete, framing, roofing, and plumbing. Zach also has extensive experience in project design and management. In recent years, Zach owned and operated his own construction business.
In 2021, Zach accepted the full-time position as the lead Construction Technology Instructor because he wanted to share his passion for construction and guide students as they explore the construction industry career path.
“I like working hands on with the Champions on a variety of different projects and sharing my lessons learned with them.”
iJAG Education Specialist & Instructor
Brian was born and raised in the Midwest, originally from Alta IA. Since 2005 he has been a youth pastor and real estate investor specializing in house flipping and rentals.
As the iJAG Education Specialist, Brian helps facilitate more communication with the students, parents and navigators to ensure an environment that is a place where all can thrive.
Many of his years as a youth pastor included working with youth, and although he decided to move away from full-time ministry, Brian retained the passion for helping high school students.
“IGNITE Pathways allows me to fulfill the purpose and passion by helping teens see a different direction while shaping how we educate for tomorrow.”
Hi! I am Amanda Stamp and I am from Neola Iowa. I have been in Neola since 2013. I have a Bachelor's degree in Nursing from Clarkson College. During nursing school, I worked on a memory care unit as a CNA/medication aide. After graduating, I worked on the Neurological Sciences Unit at Nebraska Medicine from May 2009 until August 2020. (5 years as a bedside nurse, and 6 years as a lead nurse). Elementary school nurse at Harlan for 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 school years.
I am set to teach the Health Sciences Pathway at IGNITE. I am excited to share my passion for caring for others with the next generation of caregivers. I will also get the opportuntiy to introduce students to a variety of different career options in health care and help guide them to successful futures.
Tim grew up on the south side of Chicago and went to college in St. Cloud, Minnesota before moving to the Woodbine area in 2001. He earned a degree in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University, and became a data manager for Gallup in Omaha.
Currently, Tim is the IT manager at Grato Holdings in Woodbine. Grato Holdings is an employee owned company that operates multiple brands and several GMP facilities, and has been rooted in the heartland of Iowa for over 30 years. Grato's mission is to teach about whole health and natural remedies. To produce the highest quality herbal extracts, homeopathic remedies, and nutritional supplements. In his role as IT Manager, Tim maintains Grato’s computer systems and looks for ways to grow the company through technology.
Tim teaches Information Technology classes, PC Support and Network Security. He is excited by the concept of reaching kids and giving them an avenue to explore their interests and learn real world skills while still learning the core curriculum for high school.
"I love interacting with the kids in a real tangible way. Connecting in their interests and exciting their imaginations by helping them to think about their education in a new way.”
Randy Vandemark was born and raised in Woodbine, graduating in 1981. Other than a short time away, he has spent his life and career in Woodbine.
With over 35 years experience in the HVAC industry, Randy owned and operated his own heating and cooling business in Woodbine for the past 31 years. You may have seen his work truck around town: Vandemark Heating and Cooling. AND you may have seen students inside!
Randy teaches HVAC for IGNITE Pathways. He also participates in the apprenticeship program through the Iowa Department of Labor. Currently, Randy employs a Woodbine senior as an apprentice in the program.
Vandemark got involved in IGNITE and became a Navigator because he found that fewer students were joining the technical trades. Most were being directed to 4-year colleges. He realized that many students do not have a clear direction on next steps they could take.
“I wanted to show kids that there was an alternative and they could have a successful career in the technical trades. By giving them hands-on experience in the trades in high school, they see that there are other opportunities out there and can find a place where they fit.”
When asked about the best part of his role with IGNITE, Vandemark commented,
“The best is seeing the smile on the kids’ faces when they learn something new or accomplish a skill.”