“Welcome to all Park Avenue students and families! I have been teaching at Park Avenue as a special education interventionist for the last eight years, and the five years prior at Hiatt Middle School. I have my bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Upper Iowa with endorsements in special education Strategist I and reading; along with my masters in special education from the University of Nebraska. I am married with three grown sons and enjoy sewing, crafting, camping and spending time with my family. I am so glad you are here this year and look forward to working with you throughout the year!”
IB Trainings: An Introduction to the PYP Curriculum Model.
Hopes and Dreams: My hopes and dreams for my students is that they discover the love of learning and enjoy it as much as I do!
I attended Iowa State University and received my degree in Elementary Education. I attended Northern Illinois University and received my Master’s Degree in Learning Disabilities. I worked in Sandwich, Illinois for 3 years before returning home to Iowa. I have worked in Des Moines Public Schools since Fall of 2001.
Welcome to Kindergarten! This year will be my 30th year teaching for the Des Moines schools. I have taught grades kindergarten through third grade. Kindergarten is my favorite grade! The growth students make socially and academically is incredible – I am fortunate to be a part of your child’s life during this time.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa and my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Graceland University. My husband and I have two college age children. We enjoy attending their music and sporting events.
I am excited to be working with you and your child this year!
IB Trainings: Introduction to the PYP, Collaborative Planning and Play-based Learning
Hello! My name is Ben Bates and I am excited to teach 4th Grade at Park Ave. Elementary. I taught fifth grade before joining my new team in the lower grade level. Before joining Des Moines Schools, I taught in Ankeny, Urbandale, and Tracy, California. All of my teaching experiences have been between 2nd -5th grades. I grew up nearby in Urbandale and graduated from West Des Moines Dowling. After high school, I went to ISU and still have fun following the Cyclones. I have two kids of my own named Ryan and Brendan. We have a lot of fun watching sports, traveling to Northern Minnesota, and grilling out. I know it will be a great year!
Hello Park Avenue Families! My name is Leslie Bechen and this is my 1st year at Park Avenue as the Success Case Manager. I was born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa and I graduated from Simpson College. In my free time, you can find me cheering on my children in their various sporting activities.
The Success Program is here to work with students and families who need support in the areas of behavior, attendance and education. I can assist with referrals for basic needs, housing, parenting skills and mental health. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.
This is my 12th year of teaching and my 8th year at Park Avenue. I love being a Park Avenue Panther!! I grew up in Sioux City Iowa and went to college at the University of Northern Iowa. I double majored in elementary education and early childhood education with a special education endorsement. I graduated in 2005 and taught kindergarten at the University’s lab school. After that year I was offered a teaching position in Okayama, Japan where I taught preschool and elementary age Japanese children English. I lived in Japan for 2 years before moving to Des Moines and joining Park Avenue.
In my spare time I enjoy reading all different types of books. I love to travel and have visited over 12 countries, including China, Australia, France, Korea, New Zealand, and England. I love global perspective as part of the IB curriculum. I like to play golf with my husband and spend time with our daughter Ella, who turned 2 this summer.
IB Trainings: Making the PYP Happen, Collaborative Planning & Conceptual Learning, Inquiry Based Teaching
Hopes & Dreams: I hope every child at Park Avenue finds themselves challenged in multiple ways and begins to understand their potential in today’s global society.
Welcome to 3rd Grade! I am looking forward to working with the awesome families at Park Avenue this year! I have lived in Des Moines since 2009. I earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies from Grand View University in 2012. I earned a Master of Science in Teaching degree from Drake University in 2015. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family at the lake, going on road trips with friends, and reading.
Hello Park Avenue Families! I am so excited to be teaching third grade this year. I have spent the past four years as a special education associate here at Park Avenue. You may have seen me around the building or in the garden, where I love to be! Two years ago, I enrolled at Upper Iowa University and I graduated this past May with a BA in Elementary Education. My husband and I moved to Des Moines in August of 2005, and we welcomed our son in January of 2007. Our son was a student at Park Avenue and will be a seventh grader at Brody this year. I look forward to meeting my third graders and spending the year learning and growing together!
I enjoy teaching and being a 3rd grade teacher at Park Avenue. I earned a Bachelor’s degree from Grand View University and Iowa State University. I completed my Masters degree from Graceland University in Curriculum and Instruction. I have two children and two kitty cats. In my spare time I enjoy reading, gardening and watching movies. I am looking forward to working with your child this year.
Welcome to first grade! I am so excited to be your child’s teacher. This is my fifth year teaching. I graduated from Central College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a reading endorsement. I just started work to get my masters through Morningside College. I LOVE the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Chicago Bears, playing soccer, and being with family and friends.
We are going to have a fun, exciting, and learning filled year! My hope is that every student in my classroom falls in love with learning and that I inspire them to be their best each and everyday.
Welcome to Second Grade! Park Avenue is a great place to learn and grow! I am a second career teacher and earned my BA from Upper Iowa University. This is the beginning of my 19th year in the Des Moines School district and is my seventh year teaching 2nd grade at Park Avenue. Besides being passionate about teaching and learning, I enjoy nature, cooking, reading, walking my dog and time spent with family and friends. I am so excited for the opportunity to facilitate the social, emotion and academic growth of second grade students! Second grade is the best!
Hello! My name is Tracey Gibson. I am new to Park Avenue this year and am so excited to be working with each of your kiddos! I love finding new and exciting ways to make whatever we are learning about come to life for the students.
I am originally from a small town in Missouri — about 300 people! I graduated with only 12 people in my class. I have lived in Ankeny, Iowa for the past 20 years. I have been married to Mark for 17 years and we have three children: Delaney, Erin and Zachary. Oh, I can’t forget my dog, Daisy.
I have been a Stay-Home mom for the past 15 years while running my own In-Home Childcare business. I began taking night classes at Upper Iowa University and found my passion for Education.
HOPES AND DREAMS: It is my true desire to be able to challenge my students in and out of the classroom. I want to see my students take action on what they are learning about and truly make their mark on this world. I want their learning to extend to their home lives and become something they are eager to share with their families.
I look forward to getting to know each student and their families. 😊
Welcome to second grade! I love being a part of the team at Park Avenue. I have taught fourth, first, and second grade here. Before I came to Park Avenue, I taught prekindergarten at Wakonda Christian Church. I graduated from Lincoln High School, so I have lots of South side pride! I received my Bachelors in Education from Upper Iowa University and my Master in Education from Viterbo. I have a Reading Endorsement, Language Arts Endorsement, and Social Studies Endorsement. I am married and have 3 grown children and 13 grandchildren. I love to run and spend time with my family. I am honored to have a part in the education of your child. Thank you for sharing them with me.
IB Trainings: Introduction to the PYP and Learning in the PYP with a focus on Inquiry
Hopes and Dreams: I hope all my students end the school year with tremendous academic and emotional growth. I dream of a successful future for my students.
I look forward to working with your learner!
I have over ten years experience working with elementary age students. I completed my Masters in 2010 from Drake University with a focus on literacy. I am especially skilled in working with students who have special needs and with students who benefit from more time in a smaller group setting to strengthen learning in the areas of math and reading. I enjoy getting to know all of the students at Park Avenue and supporting their learning. There is nothing greater than watching my students gain new skills while experiencing the joy that comes with being a part of our community at school!
I have taught K-5 English Language Learners in Des Moines since 1999. I taught at Brooks/Lucas, Capitol View, Adams, and Cattell before Park Avenue. I love teaching ELLs and getting to know them and their families.
I graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in Studio Art and Elementary Education. I earned my Master’s Degree in TESOL (Teacher of English to Speaker of Other Languages) from the University of Northern Iowa.
I have two boys and a Corgi and a cat. My favorite things to do are attend family festivals and Broadway musicals. I also like cooking, shopping and trying new restaurants.
Welcome to Park Ave! This is my 11th year teaching, all at Park. Ave. I spent my first 8 years as a Special Education teacher. This will be my 3rd year serving as the Behavior Strategist. I went to the University of Northern Iowa and double majored in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education with a Special Education endorsement. I received my Master for Arts of Education from Viterbo in the summer of 2012 and currently working on my 2nd Masters!
In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my 4 year old daughter Aubrey and my 1 year old son, Will. I enjoy, running, being with friends, shopping and reading.
I’m excited for a great school year at Park. Ave.
Welcome to Second Grade! I received my B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa and M.A. from the University of Iowa. In my spare time, I enjoy being with family, camping and traveling. We are going to have an amazing school year!
Hopes and Dreams: I hope to provide my students with rewarding experiences that will help them succeed in the future.
IB Trainings: Introduction to the PYP, Inquiry, Collaborative Planning and The Role of Mathematics.
Welcome to Park Avenue! In 2010 I graduated from Loras College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Public Relations. I continued my education at Upper Iowa University where I completed my Elementary Education degree with endorsements in Reading and Language Arts. This is my fourth year of teaching, all at Park Avenue. I am excited for a great school year at Park Avenue. In my free time, I enjoy being outside and active with my husband and our children Max and Marley.
Hopes and Dreams: My hope is for all students to come to school each day and feel successful in the classroom, and in the world.
Welcome to music! I am in my fifth year teaching at Park Avenue Elementary. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in General and Choral Music Education from the University of Northern Iowa. I am fortunate that I get to spend every day at school doing my two favorite things: music, and working with children. In my spare time, I enjoy playing guitar, spending time outdoors and traveling.
I am excited to continue to help students at Park Avenue create and experience music inspired by cultures from all over the world! See you all at our Night for the Arts programs this year!
I am excited to be teaching 5th grade this year at Park Avenue. I have taught in the Des Moines district since 2005. I graduated from Upper Iowa University with my Reading Endorsement. In 2018, I attended Grandview University and now have a ELL Endorsement.
I am originally from St Louis, Missouri – LETS GO BLUES!! I am married and have two boys, Jacob and Evan. In my spare time I like to spend time with family and friends, read, and listen to all kinds of music.
Hopes and Dreams:
I look forward to working with you and your children. I hope to inspire my students to be the best person they can be and for them to learn more, dream more and do more than they ever thought they could.
Welcome. This is my 6th year as a full-time teacher and 5th year teaching 4th grade. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education/Middle level endorsement from the University of Northern Iowa. I received my Masters degree in Elementary studies from Morningside College. I feel fortunate to be teaching at Park Avenue as I have made great friendships with the staff and students here. My husband and I have three children which keep us busy with all of their different activities. I am excited to be working with your child this school year!
Hopes and Dreams: My hope is to help my students reach their fullest potential … to develop as confident thinkers, readers, problem solvers, and friends.
This is my third year as the IB Coordinator at Park Avenue. I am proud to be a part of the Park Avenue family and I look forward to another great year. Before coming to Park Avenue, I taught 3rd and 2nd grade at Greenwood Elementary for nine years. Prior to that, I was the program director for an adult refugee outreach program. My Bachelor’s degree is in French Literature and Global Studies from The University of Iowa, and my Master’s degree is in Elementary Education from Drake University. My husband Timm is the IB Coordinator at Brody Middle School. We have two sons in college, and in our spare time we enjoy playing in bands, riding bikes and attending Tae Kwon Do classes.
IB trainings: Making the PYP Happen, Assessment of the Program of Inquiry, Program Standards for Administrators New to the PYP, The Role of the Coordinator, and Concept-based learning
Hopes and Dreams: My hope is to support the staff and students as we all continue to move forward in successfully implementing the IB primary years program and in being life-long inquirers.
IB trainings: Making the PYP Happen, Assessment of the Program of Inquiry, and Program Standards for Administrators New to the PYP
Hello and Hola! My name is Abby Pudenz, or as the students know me, Señora (Sra.) Pudenz. I started teaching at Park Avenue when we first offered curriculum as an International Baccalaureate School – over nine years ago! J I am originally from Iowa City, IA and graduated from Iowa State University with endorsements in ELL and Spanish as a Foreign Language. Before Park Avenue, I taught at two different dual-language schools, one in Marshalltown, IA and one in Palm Beach, Florida. I also taught ELL for two years at a school near Chicago.
I am excited for your child to learn Spanish and about Spanish culture! Please visit my website to learn more about Spanish and for ways to practice at home: http://srapudenz.weebly.com
Hello! My name is Cassidy Lang. I am excited to be teaching 5th grade at Park Avenue! I am originally from Rockford, Illinois. I went to school at University of Northern Iowa. I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education, and Instructional Strategist. I also graduated with my Master for Arts of Education from Viterbo University.
This is my eighth year in the teaching profession. This is my fourth year at Park Avenue. You may know me from seeing me in the halls or visiting in my class.
I am excited to be on the fifth grade team. Mrs. Gibson, Mr. Richer, and I are excited to work together to make this year an exciting celebration for our students while learning, researching, and creating the fifth graders’ exhibition project!
Hopes and Dreams: I hope to give my students the support they need to feel confident in themselves. I hope to challenge my students and provide them with rewarding experiences to help them to succeed in their futures. I want to make learning exciting, fun, and valuable for my new classroom friends and families.
It’s another great year in kindergarten! This is my third year at Park Avenue and my 15th year teaching. Before arriving at Park Avenue I taught Montessori pre-k and kindergarten in small schools in the metro area. I am originally from Des Moines and have lived here most of my life. I have a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in elementary education with a reading endorsement from Drake. I also have my Montessori Early Childhood credential. I love reading, hanging out with my cats, and spending time with family and friends. Helping children to learn how to read is one of my favorite things to do. I am looking forward to sharing lots of books with my kindergarten friends this year!
I attended Drake University for my undergraduate degree and my master’s degree in Effective Teaching and Learning, Reading Specialist. I feel privileged to work with all students and staff at Park Avenue. Over the years I have taught 1st and 4th grades, gifted and talented, worked as an instructional coach and now am a reading/math interventionist. I am fortunate to be a long time south-sider and attended our neighbor schools Brody and Lincoln.
Welcome to Park Avenue! This is my 1st year teaching and I look forward to working with you throughout the school year! I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Drake University with endorsements in Reading, Special Education Strategist I, and English as a Second Language. I am currently working on my Special Education Strategist II endorsement through Upper Iowa University. I am originally from Glenview, Illinois and in my free time, I love to travel, bake, and spend time with friends and family.
Hello, my name Rick Soria and I am the school counselor at Park Avenue. I have been an elementary counselor with DMPS for several years. My educational background includes a Master’s degree from Drake University in the Science of Elementary Teaching with a counseling endorsement. For the past 30 years I have been employed in various educational positions such as elementary teaching, counseling, and international education with Universities. I have been married 35 years with two sons. I enjoy spending my free time playing music and being with my horses. My primary goal is to maintain a safe and meaningful experience for all the students. As counselor, my role is to provide individual, small group, and classroom guidance. The curriculum includes topics such as school expectations, problem solving/conflict resolution, relationships/friendship, personal safety/wellness, study skills, bullying, diversity, family/life changes, careers/goal setting, transition, and summer safety. I welcome families to discuss any concerns or situations that occur. I am very excited to be working at Park Avenue School.
Hello and welcome! This is my 3rd year teaching at Park Avenue. Previous to the past 3 years, I taught in Arizona for 20 years. I appreciate building relationships with students and look forward to guiding students each day. I also love teaching in our IB World School because we encourage both personal and academic achievement. The program calls for students to express themselves through writing, requires community service, and aims “to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” I am proud to be a part of this positive learning community!!
I am originally from Iowa and glad to be back. I have one son and a beautiful 2 year old granddaughter. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, water sports, biking, and laughing.
Hopes and Dreams: To guide students towards becoming positive, happy, healthy, confident problem solvers, as well as, enriched members of society.
Welcome! I am Mrs. Cooper and this is my 14th year teaching at Park Avenue. I have experience teaching Special Education, 4th and 5th grades. I have a BA from Grand View University, with a Minor in Psychology. I have also acquired an endorsement in Special Education and Reading from Grand View University. In 2011, I earned my Master’s degree from Drake University, in Education Leadership. I have taught 4th grade for over 9 years now. I am excited to begin our new school year and look forward to working with my upcoming class of students!
IB Training(s): Introduction to the PYP, Exhibition.
Mr. David Steinke is in his 9th year as a music educator in the Des Moines Public Schools and his 7th year as Assistant Director of Bands at Roosevelt High School. Duties include co-director of the Roughrider Marching Band as well as Director of the Symphonic Band and Director of Percussion Activities on Des Moines West Side Feeder Pattern System.
Mr. Steinke also serves as Band Director for the Jackson, Jefferson, Howe, Park Avenue and Wright 5th Grade Band Programs.
Originally from Bettendorf, Iowa, Mr. Steinke owns two undergraduate degrees from Iowa State University in Visual Arts and in Music Education as well as a Master’s in Media Design and Educational Technology from Full Sail University. Mr. Steinke is a member of the Iowa Bandmasters Association, South Central Iowa Bandmasters Association and the Percussive Arts Society.
I would like to say a big HELLO to my Park Avenue family!!!!!! After 28 years of teaching Physical Education to south side students I’m now teaching grandchildren. Yes, I’m teaching the children from parents that I taught when they were in elementary school. I’m a product of the Des Moines Public Schools. I started at Moore, then Oak Park, then Madison, then Goodrell for junior high, and I graduated from East High. Drake is where I went for my BA and while I was there, I played softball and worked in the Athletic training room. I received my Master’s Degree from Viterbo University in 2004.
While at Park Avenue I’ve attended two IB trainings. My level one training was here in Des Moines with many Stowe teachers and my level two training was in California. In California I got to meet 14 other Physical Educators from as far away as Brazil and Hawaii. In my free time I ride my bike and I’ve ridden it across the state of Iowa 31 times. I’ve also traveled to Ireland twice. Park Avenue is a great small corner on the south side that I have come to love, and I consider myself a south sider now.
IB Trainings: Introduction to the PYP, PYP C3 the Role of Physical Education
Hopes and Dreams: I am hoping that all students learn to love to move and that they see Physical Education as a lifelong investment.
Last year was my first year at Park Avenue Elementary. I am originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, but I have been living in Des Moines, Iowa for the past 6 years. I graduated from Drake University, with a Master’s in special education in 2018. I previously worked at a residential treatment facility for at risk youth, ages 7-14. In my classroom students have access to core instruction with specially designed instruction supporting student’s unique needs through accommodations, modifications, and additional services and supports. Students will learn socio-emotional, self-regulation and social skills, as well as our school wide IB education, to support their overall academic, personal and social growth. When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, crafting, listening to music, watching documentaries and keeping up with local and global political and social issues.
Welcome to First Grade! My name is Mrs. Beth Thede. I have been in the education field for 42 years. I have taught preschool, kindergarten and first grade. I graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and received my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Graceland University. I spend my free time with my family which includes my husband, two daughters and their husbands and of course my five beautiful grandchildren. I want students in my classroom to look forward to an engaging, challenging and fun year of learning!
This will be my fourth amazing year at Park Avenue! I am so excited to be sharing the day with our most awesome students learning about and making art.
I am originally from Eastern Iowa. I attended Iowa State University for Art and Design. After graduating I lived in Michigan and Illinois. In 2008 I returned to Iowa and attended University of Iowa for Art Education. My husband and I moved to Des Moines in 2011. We have a busy 3-year-old son. We spend a lot of our time in the parks around Des Moines, we also travel when possible, and love trying new things.
Hopes and Dreams:
I hope to inspire creativity and imagination in all our students.
Making the PYP Happen
The Role of the Arts
Check out our Art Studio Blog (in progress): http://parkaveart.blogspot.com/
Don’t forget to regularly check your student’s artwork on Artsonia! http://www.artsonia.com/
Welcome to Kindergarten! This is my twelfth year teaching for DMPS. I have taught universal preschool, first grade, and am now teaching kindergarten. I received my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa. I have my degrees in Elementary and Early Childhood Education with an Early Childhood Special Education endorsement. I finished my Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Graceland University in 2013. In my free time I like to go camping, play with my miniature dachshund named Dash, and spend time with my family and friends.
IB Trainings: Making the PYP Happen in the Classroom, Concept-based Learning, Play-based Learning