Our Navigators 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 Champion to support them as they consider different career paths and explore the possibilities for their future.
“My curiosity drove me to explore many different career opportunities growing up, and I wanted to help ensure these types of opportunities were available to all students in our area. I enjoy seeing students find what is interesting to them and taking control of their learning.”
- Paul Ridder, Program Director
Paul Ridder is originally from Battle Creek, Nebraska, a town very similar in size to Woodbine. His wife, Amanda, is a Woodbine native, and they moved to Woodbine in 2017.Paul earned his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 2007. 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. And luckily, Paul’s curiosity drove him to our door, and he became IGNITE’s first Director in 2020.
“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 a Navigator is getting to know the Champions on a personal level and helping them set and accomplish future goals.”
- Michelle Barry, Curriculum 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.
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.”
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.”
Meg Kohles-Dunlop is passionate about healthcare and health science. She began her career as an LPN in 1976. In 1991, Meg received her RN degree and added a BS in Healthcare management in 2006. Meg was employed first as a charge nurse, then later became Director of Nursing at Rose Vista Home in Woodbine. Her career there spanned over 20 years. When she retired from her career at Rose Vista, Meg ventured into a new role, working as a nurse consultant for LTC Resources and traveling throughout the state to provide consulting services to long term care facilities.
Meg’s passion for healthcare and her compassionate, patient nature was a perfect match for the CNA program through IGNITE. In her previous capacity at Rose Vista, Meg trained and supervised many CNA candidates. She is excited about the opportunities that IGNITE provides for regional students.
“It was with great enthusiasm that I embarked on this latest career path, teaching CNA classes and Medical Terminology for WCS at Ignite Pathways. What a joy to watch these young people grow in healthcare knowledge and begin their paths as healthcare professionals.”
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.”
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!"
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.”
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 IGNITE Pathways coordinator, 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.”
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.”