Meet Our Staff

Sarah Swayze

President

Sarah Swayze joined the Cedar Rapids Community School District in 1994 as a teacher's assistant in the special education program.

She is now the most senior member of Washington High School's special education department and has co-taught with Jacob Mason-Marshall (EYI 's Media Director) for the past three years. She is also the creator and sponsor of the Washington Steppers. She created and founded Washington High School's Picnic in the Park and the Washington Flip Squad, and she co-founded the Washington Black History Month Assembly.

She has an A.A. in business from Hamilton College; an A.A. in education from Kirkwood Community College; a B.A. in education, with an endorsement in English - Language Arts, from Mount Mercy College, now University; and a M.A. in special education from Graceland University. She clearly loves being both a student and a teacher.

If she's not busy working with students at school, you'll find her at home, reading or attempting to be creative.

Jim N. West

Education Director

Jim has his BA with an emphasis in History and PE. from the University of Dubuque. He has 33 years of experience teaching at Lisbon School and 15 years as a substitute teacher in the Cedar Rapids School System. He volunteered to teach at Empowering Youths of Iowa Credit Recovery Program for the summer of 2021 and is currently serving as a teacher and Director of Education for Empowering Youths of Iowa, Inc.

He has been married to Kate West for 48 years and has raised two children, six grandchildren, and twelve foster children.

His interests include reading, sports, and family activities.

Jim is looking forward to assisting in growing this much-needed educational program and working with the students that have and will benefit from participating in Empowering Youths of Iowa, Inc.

Janessa Morgan

Human Resources Manager

Janessa worked in Human Services for 10 years, first working with youths who had been through traumatic experiences such as abuse. Many had behavioral issues, and Janessa aided them in developing therapeutic coping skills as well as other skills necessary for success as they transitioned into adulthood. Janessa then transferred to working with adults who had physical or intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and/or substance abuse. She is currently studying to get her bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Additionally, she is owner and operator of a small business selling handmade all natural products. Her interests are true crime documentaries, reading about social justice issues (past and present), and hanging out with her four guinea pigs.