“Welcome to all Park Avenue students and families! I have been teaching at Park Avenue the last six years as a special education interventionist, 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! I have been teaching for 28 years; this is my sixth year teaching kindergarten. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa. I completed my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Graceland University in the spring of 2013. My husband and I have two children. We enjoy attending their music and sporting events. I am excited to be working with your child this year!
IB Trainings: Introduction to the PYP, Collaborative Planning
Hopes and Dreams: My hope is to instill the love of learning in all of my students.
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! My name is Dawn Cullison and this is my third year as a Special Education Associate at Park Avenue. When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my husband and our son, who is a fifth grader this year. I also enjoy working in the garden, both at home and at our World Garden here at school. I am currently enrolled at Upper Iowa University and I am working towards a degree in Elementary Education. If all goes well I will begin student teaching in January of 2019. I am excited to meet the many new students we have this year and also see how my friends from last year are doing. I hope to see you in the garden!
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. We are going to have a fun, exciting, and learning filled year. This is my third year teaching. I graduated Central College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. I have my reading endorsement. I LOVE the Iowa Hawkeyes, playing soccer, and being with family and friends.
I hope that every student in my classroom falls in love with learning and that I inspire them to work hard to be their best each and everyday.
Welcome to Second Grade! This is my third year teaching at Park Avenue and my fifthteenth year in the Des Moines School District. Before I came to Park Avenue I was a reading interventionist. I am a second career teacher and received my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Upper Iowa University with a Reading endorsement. I am married and have an adult son and two daughters in college. My interests include reading, walking and watching soccer. I am excited for the opportunity to work with your child this year!
IB Trainings: Introduction to the PYP, Making the PYP Happen
Hopes and Dreams: I hope and dream that all of my students learn, grow and succeed.
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.
This is my third year at Park Avenue, but my 16th year teaching. I have a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in health, safety, and physical education and a minor in art from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska. I also have a Master’s degree in literacy education from the University of Missouri. I have taught as a regular classroom teacher, a specialist teacher in art, PE, and media/technology, and as a math and reading interventionist. I love to travel and have lived and taught in Slovakia, Australia, and Japan, and have visited a total of 20 different countries. When I’m not at school, I enjoy spending time with my husband doing just about anything outside. I am looking forward to working with you this year!
IB Trainings: Introduction to the PYP Curriculum Model
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.
Foodcorps wants to connect kids to healthy foods, give them access to hands on learning, and foster a schoolwide culture of health.
I am from Iowa and grew up in a small town, so farming has been a part of my life from the beginning. I have also worked on rainforest restoration programs, a farming project for poor women that needed extra income, and horticulture in tropical areas. Recently, I have worked with community gardens and worked on the Red Earth Gardens as a part of the Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative in Tama, IA.
Wildlife and Ecology
I have worked at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo, at the Wildlife Care Clinic at ISU Vet Med, and created many child-focused wildlife education events. I have also worked with animals and ecology in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Costa Rica. I’ve traveled to 7 countries overall. Orangutans are my favorite animal!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with an Environmental Studies minor. I’m currently finishing a Master’s in Anthropology. Anthropology is the study of the human experience across space and through time. I have a background in ecology, food culture, Iowa, primates, evolution, Latin America, South Asia, and development work.
Welcome to Park Ave! This is my 9th year teaching, all at at Park. Ave. I spent my first 2 years teaching Early Childhood Special Education and the past 7 years I have been a K-3 Special Education Interventionist. This year I’m excited to be in the Behavior Strategist position at Park! 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. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my daughter, running, being with friends and reading. I’m excited for a great school year at Park. Ave.
Hopes and Dreams: My hope and dream is for each student to make academic growth and to feel welcomed into our community each day.
Welcome to Second Grade! This is my ninth-year teaching at Park Avenue. 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. I am excited to be working with your child this school year! 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, and Collaborative Planning
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 second 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 son Max.
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 third 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!
Hopes and Dreams: I hope my music students will develop the skills to think creatively as well as grow in confidence. This will help them to succeed in all areas of life. It is also my dream that all students will develop an appreciation for music that lasts a lifetime.
I am excited to be teaching 3rd grade for another year at Park Avenue. I have taught in the Des Moines district since 2005. I am originally from St Louis, Missouri – GO CARDS!!!! In my spare time I like to spend time with family and friends, read, and listen to all kinds of music. I am passionate about teaching and helping children attain their full potential. I look forward to working with you and your children.
Welcome. This is my 4th year as a full-time teacher. 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
College(s) attended: Iowa State University
Highest Degree Earned: Bachelors – Elementary Education
Endorsement(s): K-6 Spanish, Athletic Coach
IB Training(s): Collaborative Planning, Reading and Writing Through Inquiry
Years of Experience: 14
Years at Park Avenue: 4
Original Hometown: West Des Moines, Iowa
High School Attended: Valley High School
I am so excited to be teaching kindergarten at Park Avenue this year! This is my first year at Park Avenue and my 13th year teaching. I previously taught Montessori pre-k and kindergarten at small schools in West Des Moines and Norwalk, and am so happy to be back in the Des Moines Public Schools. I grew up in Des Moines and attended Windsor, Merrill, and Roosevelt. 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 four 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 started my career in education back in 2000 as a 2nd grade teacher in Earlham, Iowa. After two years there, I came to Des Moines and have been here ever since. I have worked at King, McCombs, Lincoln, and Hoyt as either a special education teacher or counselor. This year I am beginning my new role as a GT Consultant serving Findley, Moulton, Park Avenue, and Willard Elementary Schools. I am excited to start this new chapter working with our Gifted and Advanced Learners!
I have a beautiful wife named April and three amazing stepdaughters aging from 22 to 17 years old. I enjoy hanging out with friends and family, riding motorcycle, watching movies, hunting, and fishing.
Hello! I have taught piano lessons for 25 years, 22 years in the Des Moines schools. I teach private piano lessons at Park Avenue for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. The lessons are 30 minutes once a week during the day at school. There is a cost for the lessons. I’m not paid by the school district. Playing the piano is a good foundation before playing a band or string instrument and also for singing. Please email me if you have any questions. Signup sheets will be with Ms. Murphy, the music teacher, and also in the main office. I hope your student will consider piano lessons! They’ll get to play some fun songs!
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! I am excited to be a new teacher at Park Avenue for the 2017-2018 school year. For the past 20 years I have been a teacher in Arizona. I am originally from Iowa and glad to be back. I have one son and recently I have become a grandmother to a beautiful granddaughter. I enjoy spending time with my family, water sports, biking, and laughing.
Hopes and Dreams: To guide students towards becoming happy, healthy, confident members of society.
Welcome! I am Mrs. Cooper and this is my 13th 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 am looking forward to lucky number 13 school year!
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 26 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 Masters 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 29times. 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 life long investment.
GYM SHORTS – (NOTES FROM THE GYM)
Dear Parents of Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade Students,
I would like to remind all parents to take special notice of their child’s Physical Education class days. Students need to come to Physical Education class dressed in comfortable, active clothing and appropriate shoes. Shirts that expose the stomach or pants that hang below the waist showing under garments are not acceptable. We do many outside activities so your child needs to be dressed and ready to participate in the activities of the day.
Your student’s P.E. schedule is listed below.
Anderson Rohde Weilt Benson King
Monday Tuesday Monday Monday Tuesday
Wednesday Friday Thursday Thursday Friday
Thede Fix-Schmidt Hampton Martin Tuesday Tuesday Monday Thursday
Friday Thursday Thursday Friday
Your student is assessed on following directions and participating appropriately. The curriculum in the lower unit is based on large motor skill development; skipping, galloping, hopping on one and two feet, throwing over and underhand and catching, to name a few. Assessments will reflect a
variety of skills and could change from one grading period to the next.
Fall Field Day will be held on Friday September 29, 2017 with a rain date the following Thursday, October 5th. The Fall Field Day is centered on team building activities. Your child’s class will be paired with a class of a different age level so students can meet and become part of the Park Avenue community.
Once again students in grades 1-5 will be attending an Iowa Wild Game Thursday November 9th 2017. I look forward to working with you and all the students at Park Avenue.
GYM SHORTS (NOTES FROM THE GYM)
Dear Parents of Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Students,
I would like to remind all parents to take special notice of their child’s Physical Education class days. Students need to come to Physical Education class dressed in comfortable, active clothing and appropriate shoes. We do many outside activities, so your child needs to be dressed and ready to participate in the activities of the day.
Your student’s PE assessment is based on following directions, dressing appropriately, and participating correctly. Shirts that expose the stomach, shorts that are too short, or pants that hang below the waist showing under garments are not acceptable. Your student is required to record their Fitness Tests results on their Fitness Card, which is a large part of their grade. I will begin to monitor their dress starting Monday, September 11th 2017.
Gibson Lang Richer Bates
Tuesday Tuesday Wednesday Monday Wednesday Friday Thursday Thursday
Cooper Pentico Crossett Dawson Nelson
Monday Monday Monday Thursday Tuesday
Wednesday Wednesday Friday Friday Friday
Fall Field Day will be held on Friday September 29, 2017 with a rain date the following week Thursday, October 5th 2017. The Fall Field Day is centered on team building activities. Your child’s class will be paired with a class of a different age level so students can meet and become part of the Park Avenue community.
Once again this year, student in grades 1-5 will be attending an Iowa Wild Hockey game on Thursday November 9th. I look forward to working with you and all the students at Park Avenue.
Welcome to First Grade! My name is Mrs. Beth Thede. I have been in the education field for 40 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 four 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 tenth year teaching for DMPS. I taught universal preschool for two years, first grade for six years and this is my second year 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 read, garden, play with my miniature dachshund named Max, and spend time with my family and friends.
IB Trainings: Making the PYP Happen in the Classroom, Concept-based Learning
Hopes and Dreams: I hope to instill the love for learning into each of my students!