Meet Your CF CAPS Instructors

Today is an A Day.

About Ethan Wiechmann

Boys and i

I always thought I lived a fast paced life until I met my wife, Lindsay. A couple years after meeting we moved to Cedar Falls and were married. Since then life has literally been a blur. In seven years we moved, married, built a house, each took new jobs and had three boys: Landon, Liam, and Levi. If asked if I would do it again, the answer would be a resounding, “ABSOLUTELY!” We love our neighbors, our schools and our Cedar Falls community.
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Below is a Q and A of myself.

What did you do before CAPS? Prior to my role as a CF CAPS instructor, I taught mathematics for 14 years. I also coach wrestling. Along with teaching, I enjoy working with my hands. Every summer I look for various job opportunities to keep learning and to provide a little extra income for my family. I have worked as a warehouse forklift operator, flat roofer, general contractor, an electrician and metal applicator. The last five years I have been working at Plumb Tech on various projects throughout the Cedar Valley and beyond.

What activities are you involved in? Music, sports, clubs, regular volunteering, etc.? I am a huge fan of the outdoors. Camping, hunting, fishing and sports are all activities I enjoy. One of my favorite outdoor activities is spending time working my garden. I enjoy seeing plants grow and harvesting the fruits of one’s labor. All of these activities are exponentially more rewarding when doing them with my wife and three boys. Throughout my college career and young adult life I played a lot of rugby. I still enjoy competing now and then but as I get older it takes longer to recover. : )

Do you have any siblings? I have an older brother who is always wanting to “size me up” every chance he gets. Couple this with a pestering younger sister who is a lawyer and you have quite the trio. My parents divorced when I was in 5th grade and both later remarried. Each married a spouse who had four children from their previous marriage. Therefore I also have eight step brothers and sisters.

What are some of your favorites?
Classical music - can’t get enough, helps me focus
Gardening - peaceful and fulfilling
Family (immediate and extended) - big believer in family and feel very fortunate to be a part of mine
Rugby - it’s my favorite sport of all time. Great memories and relationships formed from years of competition
Coaching - rewarding experience working with the growth and development of young athletes
Space - it's the final frontier
Food - Mom’s fried chicken, wife’s broccoli salad, mother in law’s potato salad, Pepper’s chicken strips

What are your areas of expertise? With all my experiences in life I would say I am a jack of all trades and master of none. Organizing and helping individuals achieve their potential are areas which I am effective in. I would like to say in a few years I am an expert at raising boys, but I am not sure that is possible.

What are your past experiences with the ideas and skills in this class? Coupling my years in the classroom with my summer job experiences allow me to have a unique perspective when it comes to professional skills and traits employees are searching for. My mathematics background and interest in engineering gives me insight on content specific items.

What is your biggest wish for this course? I want all the associates to leave this course having experienced practical, innovative work with a business where they made meaningful connections that will help them get to where they want to go in their lives. That may be college, working at a local company, starting their own business or something I haven’t considered. Whatever I can do to make that happen, I will.

Family: Wife Lindsay, sons Landon, Liam and Levi

Interesting Facts: I love classical music and gardening along with rugby and hunting

Activities: Wrestling, family, community organizations

Career Goals
What do you want to do when you grow up?
When I grow up, I want to be a CAPS Instructor! But if I weren’t a teacher, I’d want to be the captain of the Starship Enterprise.

Personal Goals
What do you hope to accomplish this school year? Before high school graduation? In your life? This year, I hope to help develop student professional and life skills in CAPS.

Why did you take this class? I took this teaching opportunity because I wanted to inspire students, prepare students for future success and help redefine learning.

Think of the best teacher(s) you’ve ever had. What did they do that made them great? They challenged me to always be improving; not to settle. They held a high standard because they believed that is where I should be operating. They were supportive and caring throughout. In other words, they were tough but sensible.

What is one thing you should avoid in order to have a successful semester? Don’t be inflexible. Don’t avoid challenges. Don’t hate change.

What are you most excited to learn this semester?How much everyone grows through their experience with CAPS.

About Mark Aalderks

Twenty years ago I had to make a decision, what do I want to do with my life? I just got downsized from the golf industry and didn’t really like the profession I had chosen to follow. I asked myself. How dImage titleo you want to be remembered? I always wanted to make an impact on kids’ lives. So from that day forward I have lived by the motto ”How can I make a difference TODAY!”. 

My wife, two daughters (Maya and Lola) and I moved to Cedar Falls in July 2015 from Pleasant Hill, near Des Moines. Our main reason for coming back to the Cedar Valley is to be closer to family. I am originally from the Aplington-Parkersburg area and attended UNI to get my degrees in Accounting and Education. We have always been attracted to this area which we call “God’s Country” because of its beautiful landscapes and friendly people.

Below is a Q and A of myself.

What did you do before CAPS? Prior to my role as a CF CAPS instructor, I taught business in the Southeast Polk School District for 13 years, then moved to Cedar Falls to teach business for 2 more years. While at SEP, I also was the Boys head golf coach for 10 years and girls assistant for 4 years. When we moved to Cedar Falls, I reinstated the DECA program at CF and began the overseeing of the Coop Program as well. I am very excited to add the CAPS role to my responsibilities at Cedar Falls High School and progress in forming business connections for our associates.

What activities are you involved in? Music, sports, clubs, anything student oriented? I am a huge fan of the outdoors. Golfing, Basketball, Football, and attending festivals are all activities I enjoy. All of these activities are rewarding and entertaining when doing them alone or with other individuals(Family). Although I am not an active coach in the district, I like to keep track of the student’s athletic successes and support the fine arts in their endeavors.

Do you have any siblings? I have two older brothers that are my senior by 4 and 5 years respectfully. My oldest brother lives in Parkersburg and works at UPS in Cedar Falls. My second brother lives in Dike and has worked for Jordan’s Nursery in Cedar Falls and Home Interiors out of Cedar Falls. My younger sister lives in Parkersburg as well and is an Instructional Coach for the North Butler School District in Allison. My family has always been very close and my mother is very happy to have us all close to home again.

What are some of your favorites?
I am an OLD soul- Give me the 50’s and 60’s music- You can actually understand the words.
Golf is my Stress Relief- I use to be more competitive, now I realize it’s not for money.
Family-  the reason we came back to Cedar Falls, being 20 minutes from everyone in the family  is awesome.
Golf Coach – Developing the physical and mental player. Watching them grow into a well-rounded  person/athlete. Golf is such a gentleman’s game. You are the player, coach and official all in one. Cheating would be easy, but detrimental if caught.
Food – Yes Please.  I like to experiment with all types of food and enjoy learning new cultures through food.

What are your areas of expertise? With having 5 years of business experience and 15 years of teaching experience, I believe this program sets up well with my background. Before being a teacher, I worked in a public accounting firm, a golf accessory company, the banking industry and retail. I am going to love watching students take their knowledge, desires and drive to produce ideas and products that real business need to benefit them in achieving their company goals and missions.

What are your past experiences with the ideas and skills in this class? Given the business world experiences along with the teacher know how, it creates an excellent opportunity for our associates to gain professional skills and enhance positive characteristics employees are searching for in the Cedar Valley.

What is your biggest wish for this course?  I want to make a difference in all associate’s lives. I want each associate to leave this course having experienced practical, innovative work with their businesses where they made meaningful connections that will help them network and achieve more than they even thought was possible. Possibilities are endless.

Family: Wife Jill, daughters Maya and Lola

Interesting Facts: Golf (It can tell so much), Food (Nice Steak), Making NEW Friends

Activities:Family, Church, Neighborhood/Community Events

Career Goals
What do you want to do when you grow up?
I will never grow up. I will always be a high schooler.  I became a teacher and a coach to help kids realize their potential. Too many kids don’t believe they have the potential to do great things. I want to show them how far they can reach.

Personal CAPS Goals
What do you hope to accomplish this school year? Develop associate professional and life skills while showing the importance of networking.
Before high school graduation? Give the associates the tools to be a successful and productive employee no matter the path they choose.
In your life?
To keep raising the bar.

Why did you take this class?I wanted to help change the face of how students will learn. Students need to be given the opportunity to show progress, improvement, and mastery of skills through real business projects. This learning will involve failing at times, but resetting and moving forward will be our motto.

Think of the best teacher(s) you’ve ever had. What did they do that made them great? They set a high, but obtainable vision for my learning. They challenged me not just to know, but understand. They were supportive with help, but not giving of answers. They asked me to think while completing a tough task, always asking questions to see what I knew and what I understood. They were tough and understanding.

What is one thing you should avoid in order to have a successful semester?
Avoid the Status Quo.
Avoid caring what people think. 
Avoid living in the Past, the Future is ahead.

What are you most excited to learn this semester?
Getting to really KNOW the associates.
            What are their skills, experiences and dreams?
            Who are their mentors, leaders and super heros?
            Why this course, right now?

About Megan Droste

Below is a Q and A of myself.Image title

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Megan Droste. I am very excited for this exciting year to start and hope to share my teaching passion with you!

Some background basics...I am originally from Rochester, MN (You Betcha!), received my B.S. degree in Family & Consumer Sciences Education, as well as a minor in Spanish and concentration in Coaching, from University of Wisconsin- Stout in 2008. I received a Master of Arts in Education and ESL through Morningside College in 2015.  This will be my tenth year teaching and this is my sixth year with the Cedar Falls schools.

What did you do before CAPS?
I have been teaching Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) classes for 10 years.  I’ve taught all secondary grades from 7-12 in the various content classes of FCS (food & nutrition, sewing, interior design, child development, peer helpers, human relations, adult living and exploring education,  just to name a few!) Most recently, I’ve taught at Peet Junior High (8th & 9th grade FCS, Peer Helpers) and the Hawkeye course, Exploring Education at the high school. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is working with my students and seeing them apply what they are learning in everyday life!

What activities are you involved in?
I love to spend time with my family and friends.  I am from Minnesota (you betcha), so I love traveling and hosting my family both near and far.  My husband, Ryan, is also a teacher and teaches Social Studies at Holmes Junior High.  Our daughter, Eden (18 months), keeps us VERY busy and we LOVE watching her grown and learn new things.

What are some of your favorites?
Food – anything Italian, but anything really! 
Traveling- I studied abroad during college in Spain and traveled all across Western Europe and Morocco, I definitely have had the traveling bug since! I love learning about other cultures and experiencing them first hand!
Sports – Volleyball, Basketball
Family – My number one people!
Color- Turquoise
Singer – Adele, Lady Gaga, Elvis and Bruce Springsteen (quite eclectic I know!) J
Book- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Firefly Lane, Bossypants, The Smartest Kids in the World

What do you want to do when you grow up?Looking back, many of your childhood interests can turn out to be your future career…no surprise, I played a lot of “School”, “Library” and watched the Spanish channel.  Both my older sister and I are teachers today.  I am originally from Rochester, MN (You Betcha!), received my Bachelors of Science

What is one thing you should avoid in order to have a successful semester? Avoid doing the same thing just because it is comfortable.  Branch out of your comfort zone to try something new.  That is when positive change will happen within YOU!

What are you most excited to learn this semester? I’m excited to build and expand our CAPS program and to share my passion of teaching with future educators! How great is that?! 

About Maria Perez

Image titleMy name is María Fernanda Pérez González, but I go by Maria Perez in the USA. I was born in Medellin, Colombia, the City of Eternal Spring!  I lived in Medellin with my family until I graduated from my bachelor’s (I have a degree in Environmental Engineering). Growing up in Colombia was wonderful, always surrounded by family, friends, music and colors! I loved my life there, but wanted to explore the world a little and came to Minnesota for an exchange program to work as a teacher aid in Spanish classrooms. I learned a lot about Colombia during that year, since I had to do several cultural presentations, and of course I got to learn a lot about the USA. After my exchange program, I went to graduate school at the University of Minnesota in Conservation Biology, and got to meet the most passionate individuals I have ever met. One of them was my husband, Mark Myers, who had at the time just returned from a season in the Antarctica, and who had spent many years doing research in the rainforests of Costa Rica. Needless to say, I fell in love with my husband and with life in the Midwest, and many years later, I am happy to live in Cedar Falls with my husband and two wonderful kids, Emma and Ben.


Below is a Q and A of myself.

What did you do before CAPS?
I have been an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Northern Iowa for the last 6 years. I have taught different classes in the Biology Department, mostly on Environmental Issues. Prior to that I have been in Grad School for a long time getting 2 masters, one in Conservation Biology, where I focused on sea turtle conservation, and one in Civil and Environmental Engineering, where I focused on the interaction of land management and floods. I also worked as an Environmental Specialist at the Iowa Waste Reduction Center, where I helped clients comply with environmental regulations, and at the Rice Creek Watershed District in Minnesota as an Engineer and Hydrologist, where I worked in different projects to restore the hydrology of the watershed, and to review construction plans for compliance with the District’s rules.

What activities are you involved in?
Having two little kids, I have to say that spending time with them, and growing with them, is my main and favorite activity. As a family we like to spend time outdoors, camping and fishing, and we also spend a lot of our vacations visiting relatives. I am also going to school to complete some classes I need to get my Initial Teaching License, since I am not a traditional teacher and currently have an Intern Teaching License. When there is extra time, I try to get together with my Latin friends and dance as much as I can.

What are some of your favorites?
Music: I love Colombian music, mostly Fonseca and Carlos Vives. I love latin music, and Juan Luis Guerra and Marc Anthony, are some of my favorites.
Hobbies: I love biking and swimming. I also enjoy being outdoors and spending time with family and friends. I love dancing.
Food: Asian food- Thai food, Vietnamese food! Anything my husband cooks is yummy, but my favorite would be grilled salmon, with grilled veggies and chocolate lava cake. I love tropical fruits, like mango, papaya, passion fruit, start fruits, and many more!

What are your areas of expertise?
Environmental engineering, water resources engineering, conservation biology, environmental sustainability, statistics, and mathematics.

What are your past experiences with the ideas and skills in this class?
This class is about exploring careers, self-learning, working in real life projects, working in groups and independently, using your previous knowledge and skills to solve problems, and being professional, among other things. Thorough out my education and job experiences I have done all of the above, and I am looking forward to help the associates that will work with me have many professional experiences, that will help them grow and will give them real experiences that will help them after high school. I will teach the technology and engineering strand, and my background on engineering will be valuable when working with my associates. I have spent so much time in college and grad school (as a student and instructor), that my experience in higher education can be valuable to those associates that want to further their education after finishing high school.

What is your biggest wish for this course?
I hope to provide amazing experiences to my associates and to businesses in the community. I hope to help associates and businesses find each other, and initiate relationships that may last way after the class is over. The Cedar Valley needs great professionals to stay here, and our associates are looking for great job opportunities. I wish CAPS becomes a way for our associates to discover their skills and interests, and for local businesses to discover and promote local talent.

Family: My husband is Mark Myers, a professor of Biology at the University of Northern Iowa. Mark is an amazing professor, researcher, conservationist, fisherman, but most important dad and partner. My daughter is Emma Myers-Perez, and she loves nature, outdoors (mostly in the winter), and making crafts. My son is Ben Myers-Perez and he loves fishing, seeing how things work, nature and building things.

Interesting Facts: My native language is Spanish, I was born in Colombia, I am an engineer and conservation biologist and I love learning new things, teaching, spending time with people, and dancing!

Career Goals

What do you want to do in 5 years? I am so happy to finally get into teaching that I hope to be have a long career in teaching and education. I am really excited about teaching CAPS, and I am looking forward to seeing how this program will grow!

What do you hope to accomplish this school year? I hope to make CAPS a strong program, to recruit great associates and community partners, and to provide my associates with amazing growing experiences.

What do you hope to accomplish in your life? I hope to leave a positive trace in this planet, through my interactions with my family and my community, and through learning how to be more mindful of other humans, and non-humans that inhabit the planet.

Why did you take this job? I accepted this job because Ethan Wiechmann is so passionate about CAPS, that he made me want this position really fast. I think that the idea behind CAPS makes so much sense, and I want to be able to provide my students with an individualized learning experience, which I can do through CAPS. In my education classes, we always try to find a way to provide unique opportunities to our students, differentiate instruction, and to use interdisciplinary knowledge in our classes. I am so excited to know that with CAPS, this is not only possible, but a key component of the program.

Think of the best teacher(s) you’ve ever had. What did they do that made them great? My best teachers pushed me to be my best, challenged me, but also supported me, and made me believe in myself.

What is one thing you should avoid in order to have a successful semester? Procrastinate. There is a lot of planning that goes behind CAPS and in order to have great experiences for our associates and community, I need to be proactive and never stop looking for opportunities to collaborate.

What are you most excited to learn this semester? I mostly want to get to know my associates, and learn how I can facilitate their growth through CAPS. I also want to learn about the Cedar Valley businesses, and how they can benefit from CAPS. I am most looking forward to the personal relationships that I will develop this semester.

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Cedar Falls, IA 50613
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