Dennis Becker, Social Studies
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 a wonderpup, Lucy.
Shawn Cornally, STEM
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 2 children, Lenora and Julian.
Trace Pickering, Executive Director/Co-Founder
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.
Nate Pruett, ELA
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.
Molly Sofranko, Art & Design
I want to help students connect to their community by providing unique real world learning opportunities. I want students to see the difference that they can make in their community and find passion in what they do. I enjoy biking, cooking, absorbing culture of all types and making art. I have a kindergartner named Clark, a high school senior named Ian, and a partner in crime, my husband Bryan.
Troy Miller, Director of Strategic Partner Development
Troy is a serial entrepreneur and former Language Arts teacher who has also served six years as a school board member who has found himself in industries ranging from solar energy to food production to mobile wallet app development. Troy is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Iowa BIG. He likes to write, metal detect, SCUBA, and cheer on the Iowa Hawkeyes!
Mark Matson, CTE
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.
Liz Sheka, English
Liz believes strongly in the power of words and loves to help students discover the power of their own voice. She is committed to working with students as they think, do and create and helping them discover ways to allow their passions to benefit themselves and others. Liz is a native of Cedar Rapids, up for any adventure, has a somewhat unhealthy obsession with certain TV shows and is extremely proud of and continually inspired by her amazing college-aged daughter, Kayla Scout.
Laura Seyfer, Administrative Coordinator
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.