Iowa big staff

Who We Are

Iowa BIG’s staff is comprised of teachers, coordinators, and support staff to help students reach their true potential.

For General Inquiries

Coordinator Contact

lseyfer@iowabig.org or azhorne@iowabig.org 
319.899.3115
NewBo  –  415 12th AVE SE Cedar Rapids, IA
BIG off Blairsferry  –  5313 N Park Place NE, Cedar Rapids, IA

Our Teachers + Staff
Alphonce O’Bannon

Alphonce O’Bannon

Leadership Coach (New Bo)

aobannon@iowabig.org

Amanda Zhorne

Amanda Zhorne

Strategic Partner Developer

azhorne@iowabig.org

Becky Herman

Becky Herman

Social Studies (Boyson)

bherman@iowabig.org

Bio

Alphonce O’Bannon (Al) is a small business owner and a Certified School Counseling Leadership Specialist, recognized by the American School Counseling Association. Al brings his Leadership skills and credentials to Iowa BIG to support the overall development of the students. He also brings the entrepreneurial and global mindset work he does within TransWeb Global (TWG) and Transitions Lab University Prep School (TLUPS) which includes counseling students from around the world in their efforts to study abroad (College Prep). More recently, Al has established the Transitions in Global Education Journal (TIGE Journal), an internationally read, quarterly magazine to showcase all of the opportunities for students, faculty and administrators around the world, with which TWG and TLUPS are involved. Al also is the founder or the a local non profit called Leaders Believers Achievers Foundation (LBA). For the last seven years, Al has counseled hundreds of students and families to understand and develop purpose. Al and his wife Kelli have two kids and live in Cedar Rapids. Al’s motto when it comes to motivation is “Always stay in Beast Mode!”

Bio

Amanda was a former BIG partner who recognized her passion for connecting students with the community. Amanda is always thinking of other people and genuinely cares about students having the most engaging BIG experience they could have. Amanda is passionate about the literary world, and served as Barnes and Noble’s Community Business Development Manager prior to joining BIG. Amanda is married to her wonderful husband Matt and has two children – Gage and Jeremiah.

Bio

Becky grew up on the East Coast and loves living in the Midwest. She enjoys mentoring learners as they journey into adulthood and has a passion for mixing geography and history. She is an avid sports fan, loves music and theater, and is a member of a local, semi-professional pub trivia team. She believes that young adults are the most under-utilized resource in our society and she strives to give a voice and a hand to those young people who’d like to make the world a better place. When she’s not at BIG, she’s helping her husband Jason on their cricket farm and learning, playing, and singing with her kindergartner Stori.

Charlie Goetzinger

Charlie Goetzinger

Science + Math (Boyson)

cgoetzinger@iowabig.org

Dee Wesbrook

Dee Wesbrook

English/Language Arts (Boyson)

dwesbrook@iowabig.org

Dennis Becker

Dennis Becker

Social Studies (NewBo)

dbecker@iowabig.org

Bio

Charlie is passionate about mentoring and relationship building. He firmly believes that if educators focus on cultivating positive relationships with students, they will be willing and able to learn anything. Charlie enjoys watching and playing sports, the outdoors, reading, watching Netflix, and conversing with others. He has an amazing wife, Rachel, and two young boys, Gannon and Brooks. Charlie is a native of Dubuque, IA, but has lived in the corridor area for the past 11 years.

Bio

Dee is passionate about all forms of communication and strives to have others recognize that their words matter. She is a news junkie, an avid reader and a lover of travel with her son and daughter. She enjoys spending summers visiting national parks and reading in her hammock.

Bio

Dennis mentors BIG’s students in connecting their passions and projects to rigorous social studies curriculum. He wants students to see all the opportunities that the Creative Corridor has to offer and cultivate relationships that benefit both the students and our communities. Dennis is excited about the opportunity that BIG students have to build their personal brand and develop the grit necessary to be successful in our ever-changing world. Dennis has a wonderful wife, Jenny, and two children, Charlie and Jonathan and two wonderpups, Lucy, and George Woofington.

Joziah Grimm

Joziah Grimm

Technology Intern

jgrimm@iowabig.org 

Laura Seyfer

Laura Seyfer

Strategic Partner Developer

lseyfer@iowabig.org

Mark Matson

Mark Matson

CTE (Boyson)

mmatson@iowabig.org

Bio

Joziah hopes to impart his passion for learning onto students who, like him, may not excel in a traditional school environment.  As a former student of Iowa BIG he knows the opportunities for hands on learning of real world applicable skills exceed any options currently available. Joziah works to make the technology available to students easy to use and understand, consults on tech based projects, and develops custom software to meet needs of Iowa BIG students and staff. In his free time he enjoys reading books about history, philosophy, and economics, with a focus on understanding how people think and behave.

Bio

Laura has a passion for food, community engagement and sustainability. Prior to BIG, Laura served two years with AmeriCorps in her hometown of Cedar Rapids. Her first year was with the VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) program and her second year was with FoodCorps. Both terms focused on food-related issues including food access and childhood nutrition. It was during this time that she fell in love with her hometown and realized her passions. She hopes to inspire BIG students to follow their passions and connect to CR in a meaningful way.

Bio

Mark has always been passionate about student engagement in learning. BIG offers any student the opportunity to partner with our community to create something awesome that he/she is passionate about. Seeing students’ passions come to life in real-world projects is exciting and transforming the way students view their communities. Mark is an undeserving husband to Amber, father of three wonderful children (Megan, Mackenna, & Tate), and an avid outdoorsman and golfer.

Nate Pruett

Nate Pruett

English/Language Arts (NewBo)

npruett@iowabig.org

Nikki Wilcox

Nikki Wilcox

Business (New Bo)

nwilcox@iowabig.org

Shawn Cornally

Shawn Cornally

Science + Math/Co-Founder (NewBo)

scornally@iowabig.org

Bio

Nate helps students explore and embrace their passions, connecting those passions with the innovative people in the professional and community-based settings of Iowa’s Creative Corridor. He hopes to help students discover things about themselves and their community, while creating a clearer vision of their current and future possibilities. Nate is a geek who loves “different” music, comics, hockey, and cheese (lots and lots of different cheeses). Nate is blessed with an amazing wife, Christy, and two wonderfully goofy children, Cole and Audrey.

Bio

Nikki’s favorite part about working with students is seeing the passion of learning come alive. She wants students to leave Iowa BIG with a deeper knowledge of what their passions are and what they want their next chapter to look like. Nikki believes that one of the amazing things about BIG is the opportunity for students to have real life learning experiences and being able to apply those skills after they graduate. Nikki has a wonderful husband, Derek, and two children, Gracie and Tommy. She loves to travel, explore new restaurants, and watch Iowa Hawkeye football. 

Bio

Shawn helps students turn passions and projects into reality. He wants any family whose students are interested to have the option to attend a school like BIG so that their student can truly differentiate themselves and learn what it feels like to be a doer. Shawn cures his own bacon, researches gravitation, makes his own belts, and loves teaching. Shawn has a beautiful wife, Lianna, and 3 children, Lenora and Julian, and Griffin.

Trace Pickering

Trace Pickering

Executive Director/Co-Founder

tpickering@iowabig.org

Bio

Dr. Trace Pickering was on the design team that created Iowa BIG. He is the administrator of record for the school, advises students, and acquires resources to ensure student project success.Trace has a passion for transforming education and building human-centered systems that help every learner realize their full potential. Trace founded Iowa BIG with his colleague and friend, Shawn Cornally, and two courageous and forward-thinking Board of Education members. He is the administrator of record for the school, ensures BIG staff have the room necessary to exercise their professional expertise and drive the shared Iowa BIG vision forward, and enjoys engaging and interacting with the amazing kids who honor us by choosing to be a part of the learning at BIG. Trace and his wife, Kim, live on a 5 acre “ranch” with their German Shepherd, Stella, where they aspire to become “zero carbon” and grow most of their own food. They have two grown daughters, Samie, a recruiting and office coordinator with New York Life in Hiawatha and Shelby, a senior electrical engineering major at Iowa State.

Coordinator Contact

319-491-1797

Amanda - azhorne@iowabig.org

Hours

M-Th: 9:00-5:00

F: 9:00-3:15

 

 

Locations

NewBo

415 12th Ave SE,

Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

 

BIG off Blairsferry

5313 N Park Place NE

Cedar Rapids IA 52402