Meet Our Staff

Sarah Swayze


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.

Doug Van Oort

Public Relations

Doug worked as an educator for 43 years before retiring in 2019 as a professor in Education at Kirkwood Community College. Before Kirkwood, he taught special education, first with K-12 students and later with college students with disabilities, supporting their college success. Early, he was a work experience coordinator for Grant Wood AEA, helping high school students learn about their interests and careers that match, job-seeking and job-keeping skills, and college or training that fit their goals. He has also been an Adaptations Specialist and Mandt De-escalation Trainer.

His education includes a B.S. in Education, Northwest Missouri State University; Special Education endorsement, Drake University; M.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling, Drake; and Special Education Supervisor Certification, University of Kansas.

Since retirement, Doug has kept busy as an adjunct professor in Mt. Mercy University's graduate program in special education, substitute teaching, and assisting his former student Sarah Swayze in starting Empowering Youths of Iowa. He enjoys bicycling, landscaping, tennis, and kayaking.