Meet the Team

Dedicated & Certified

Katie Christiansen

Executive Director

Lifelong public school educator, lover of non-traditional education  

I have just completed my 19th year in public education, serving as a Title 1 Reading Interventionist, Classroom Teacher, and Instructional Design Strategist. Both my BA in Elementary Education and MA in School Administration came from the University of Northern Iowa. With each passing year in my career as an educator and administrator, I have more of everything–more questions, more answers, more concerns, more ideas, more complaints, more strategies, more solutions. With Tamarack, I plan to use them all. 

Lianna Cornally

Communications Director

Entrepreneur; Wonder and nature enthusiast

After getting my degree in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa, I started Wondergarten Early Enrichment Home, a play-based early childhood program. With the freedom to teach children exactly how I knew in my heart they needed, my eyes were opened to the natural development of children and the joyful process of human learning.

I continue to seek a deep connection to nature through my hobby, Wondershire Farm, where I raise goats, chickens, and my own three kids.

Liz Ernst

Program Director

Certified Child Life Specialist; Certified Play Specialist

As the former BASP Director at both Longfellow Elementary and Prairie Green School and Assistant BASP Director at Weber Elementary, my passion is playful connection. Through involvement with local organizations and nature exploration, we can help our kids have a real impact on the community they live in and find a sense of belonging and purpose. I believe the more we can connect our children to their world around them, the more successful and kind our future will be. 

Taylor Bigbee

Primary Classroom Teacher

Reading & Behavioral Health Specialist, Outdoor Enthusiast

After getting my Behavioral

Health Paraprofessional degree, I pursued a Bachelor's degree with a Reading Endorsement in the University of Iowa College of Education program where I

graduated in the spring of 2020.

Some of my favorite hobbies are snowboarding, biking, roller skating, yoga, and camping. I have always known that I wanted to work with children, but I didn't know exactly what that might look like. Being outside makes me happy, and working with children ignites my mind, so having the opportunity to teach

children outside makes Tamarack Discovery School my absolute dream job!

Maddy Moloney

Environmental Educator

Environmental Scientist, Yogi, Ballerina

I am an Iowa native who grew up on the East Side of Iowa City and spent my summers participating in School of the Wild, playing night games in her neighborhood, and exploring the outdoors at her family lake house in the North Woods of Wisconsin. For 15 years, I studied classical ballet, and in 2018, I earned my 200- hour yoga certification. I pursued degrees in both Science and Environmental Science, was an Assistant Preschool Teacher  in Fort Collins, Colorado, and enjoyed backpacking and hiking in the Rocky Mountains with my dog and boyfriend.

I moved back to Iowa City in August of 2020, and I am thrilled to share my passions with the kids at Tamarack.

Becky Jensen

Intermediate Classroom Teacher
Lifelong Educator, Music Lover

I have had the distinct honor of teaching hundreds of children in my 30 years in education—some with special needs, some who spoke little English, many living in poverty, some crying out with their behaviors, many just seeking acceptance and love—and all gifted in their own right. I have embraced the most noble of professions, have a loving, service-oriented family, and have come into my dreams with Tamarack children, families, and staff. I am so very blessed!

Amanda Dian​​

Environmental Educator

Environmentalist, Sustainability Professional

After growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I pursued my bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa in Environmental Policy and Planning with a certificate in sustainability. Through my time at the university, I developed my passion for sustainability and environmental education for all ages. I am incredibly passionate about shaping the environmental attitudes and opinions of young students and I hope to use my expertise to help Tamarack students build strong, positive relationships with nature and the environment around them. Outside of my career, I enjoy traveling, hiking, and spending time with loved ones. I am looking forward to this adventure with Tamarack Discovery School!

BoardattheBarn.JPG

Our Beginnings

Tamarack Discovery School is what happens when a group of parents, educators, therapists, and dreamers come together to re-imagine education. Traditional education has become one-size-fits-all box that segregates students by age and ability. We want to offer our community something different! We are building an academically rich and hands-on, authentic approach to learning that connects kids to their natural environment, their community, each other, and their sense of purpose.