Kumar Wickramasingha: Founder

Kumar is perhaps best known in Fort Madison and southeast Iowa for his culinary expertise. His mission and vision are to create innovative after-school programming for area youth and get students excited about learning.  Kumar also believes in empowering educators who are passionate about teaching to go above and beyond in helping students prepare for the future.
 
Kumar arrived in the United States in 1986 from his native country of Sri Lanka. He was fortunate to meet George and Jean Alton, both teachers in the Fort Madison Community School District. The couple invited Kumar to share their home and gave him an opportunity to pursue higher education. With their love and passion for learning, he was able to get the education he needed, which enabled Kumar to fulfill his American dream of becoming the owner of a well-known local restaurant and later becoming a leader in a successful statewide healthcare organization.
 
To show his gratitude for the opportunities provided to him in Fort Madison, he wants to “pay it forward” by giving back to the community, which he loves and treasures. He envisioned an after-school academic program that made learning fun while incorporating life skills and his passion for cooking. He went about making his vision a reality in rural Iowa towns by forming the Test Kitchen Education Foundation and opening the very first Elliott Test Kitchen and the Test Kitchen STEM Lounge in Fort Madison, Iowa. After making the Elliott Test Kitchen and the Test Kitchen Stem Lounge one of the top after-school programs in Iowa, he entrusted the oversight and management of the program to the Fort Madison Family YMCA.  His mission today is to expand the Test Kitchen concept across rural Iowa.  He believes that an investment in youth is the best investment for the future.

Board of Directors

Paul Schulte • Timm Lamb • Brent Zirkel • Kim Ensminger
Doug Snaadt • Mio Santiago • Jim Plate • PJ Marshall • Justin Pieper

The Paul and Jodi Schulte Family

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Paul and Jody Schulte are both successful business leaders who are passionate about the community of Fort Madison.  As the parents of two daughters, Ellie and Molly, they truly care about the education of area youth.  Ellie and Molly have attended the Elliott Test Kitchen since its inception and they embraced the experience.  By witnessing the girls’ love for cooking develop, Paul and Jody became the biggest supporters of the Test Kitchen Education Foundation.  Their generosity has allowed the foundation to provide quality programming to thousands of area youth.  Their vision for the betterment of area youth has guided the Test Kitchen Education Foundation to a path of success. They have also extended their continued support to students who have gone on to pursue college endeavors through the Test Kitchen Education Foundation. The Test Kitchen Education Foundation is very grateful to the Schulte family for their support and generosity.

The Elliott Family Foundation

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The Test Kitchen Education Foundation was inspired by an idea of James T. Elliott IV, a successful businessman who was a mathematics teacher early in his career. He always considered his teaching job to be his most satisfying endeavor because it fueled his passion for improving lives by creating positive outcomes for students, families, and communities. Due to his past work as a teacher, and his ties to the rural communities in Iowa, he embraced the need to create a place to celebrate education in an innovative way. His generosity has made possible the establishment of the very first Elliott Test Kitchen in Fort Madison, Iowa, under the guidance of the Test Kitchen Education Foundation. His daughters, Sophie, Phoebe, and Lily have continued supporting the Foundation’s work.

Kevin Rink • Timm Lamb • Jim Sholl • Donna Peterie • Paul Schulte • Mary Jo Scheetz • Mary Kurtz

Educational Consultants

Brent Zirkel is currently the Elementary Principal at Mary Welsh Elementary in Williamsburg, Iowa.  Before that, Brent served as the Associate Principal at Fort Madison Middle School.  Brent also taught Spanish at Fort Madison High School for 12 years. He has a BA in Geography and Spanish Education, an MS in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Bilingual Education (ELL), and is certified as a Pre-K-12 Administrator and Special Education Supervisor.

 

Brent is also a co-founder of Cadre Learning, LLP: an innovative partnership of educational specialist and consultants dedicated to bridging the technology gap in order to modernize teaching for the 21st Century. Brent has been honored five consecutive years with the Terry Branstad Inspiring Teacher Award for serving as a motivational force to some of Iowa’s top performing high school students.

 

Brent enjoys spending time with his wife, Michelle, and two sons, Brevin and Bram. He is an avid fan of Survivor, the TV show, and is a true believer in progress through struggle. Brent sees education as the greatest opportunity to build a better tomorrow by positively impacting the lives of his students.

Andrew Troxel has recently moved back to his hometown of Richland Center, WI to teach Social Studies at the high school level.  Before that, Andrew served as the Technology Integrator for Fort Madison Community School District in the Teacher Leadership System and as a Curriculum Specialist at the high school.  Andrew has seven years of teaching experience in Social Studies and was a finalist for the Iowa Teacher of the Year.  He has a BA in Secondary Education and Broadfield Social Studies from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, as well as an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instructional Technology from Iowa State University. 

 

Andrew is also is one of the co-founders of Cadre Learning, LLP, a company that specializes in educational consulting and technology integration training.  Andrew has received the Iowa Governor’s Scholar Influential Teacher award and the Western Illinois University Most Influential Teacher award. 

 

Andrew is happily married to his wife, Jillian, for and has two children, Rosalyn and Liam.