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 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.
I am a firm believer that our kindergarten class is a family! We will encourage, love, and support each other to be the best we can be!
Any day spent with you is my favorite day. So, today is my new favorite day. —Winnie the Pooh
“When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.”
Welcome to 4th Grade! My name is Mr. Bates, and I’m excited to be your teacher. I grew up in Urbandale. went to ISU, and earned my Master’s Degree from Drake. I have two kids of my own who are also Cyclones. Ryan graduated pre-med, is applying to dental schools, and is working at Mary Greeley Hospital in Ames. Brendan is a junior and wants to become a P.E. teacher. I love working with kids at Park Avenue and know that it will be a great year!
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
Hello Park Avenue Families! My name is Leslie Bechen and this is my 6th 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 at 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.
You are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. -Christopher Robin
Hello! Park Avenue-What a great place to be!
I have been in education for 19 years and have enjoyed teaching K-6 music, in the classroom with Kindergarten, 1st, 4th, 5th, and 8th graders, as well as, supporting teachers with using arts integration strategies as an Arts Integration Coach.
I grew up in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and graduated from San Diego State University with an emphasis in English Language Learners. I received my Master of Arts Education from Viterbo University with a Reading Endorsement.
I came to Iowa from the West Coast because I met my husband Mark and now, we have two beautiful children Ainsley and Ficher, as well as a puppy named Latte. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, running, playing my violin, cello, flute, and piano, and supporting myself and others with our health journeys.
I am looking forward to a wonderful year here at Park Avenue!
Hello! My name is Calie Breneman. This is my 8th year of teaching and my 1st year at Park Avenue. I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful community!
I am originally from Illinois and attended Iowa State University. I have held many titles in my career including kindergarten teacher, special education teacher, and now 5th grade teacher. My husband and I are welcoming our first child this year and are very excited to be growing our family! I also have two dogs. In my spare time, I love to travel, read, and spend time with my loved ones.
I am looking forward to a great year in 5th grade!
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” -Abraham Lincoln
Hello! My name is Sylvia and I am starting my 17th year working for Des Moines Public Schools. Prior to coming to Park Avenue, I worked at Willard Elementary as the Before and After School Specialist for 5 years. My passion is working with kids and providing a safe, welcoming and enriching environment for all kids after school. I am happily married and have two boys. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and close friends. Some of my hobbies include cooking, gardening, being outdoors, camping, watching football, and going out to eat.
This is my 17th year of teaching and my 13th 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 majored in elementary education and early childhood education with a special education endorsement. I graduated in 2005 and since then I taught kindergarten in Waterloo, English to preschoolers and elementary aged students in Japan, preschool in West Des Moines, and kindergarten and 4th grade at Park Avenue. I have been an instructional coach for the last 8 years and love the opportunity to work in all of the classrooms in our building.
In my spare time I enjoy reading & listening to 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 like to play golf with my husband, listen to audiobooks, and spend time with our two kids, Ella (8) & Jack (4).
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Hello Park Avenue Families and Welcome to 2nd Grade! I am so looking forward to working with your family this school year!
This will be my eighth year of teaching and my third year of teaching 2nd grade! I earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies from Grand View University and a Master of Science in Teaching degree from Drake University. In my free time, I enjoy going to concerts, spending time with my family at the lake, and playing with my Yorkiepoo puppy, Dahlia.
“Every child deserves a champion; an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” – Rita Pierson
Hello Park Avenue Families! I am so excited to be teaching third grade this year. This will be my fifth year as a teacher, but I have been a part of the Park Avenue community since 2013. I spent four years as a special education associate here at Park Avenue, as well as a volunteer and PTA member. You may have seen me around the building or in the garden, where I love to be! I graduated from Upper Iowa University in May of 2019 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. He was a student at Park Avenue and will be a junior this year, he splits his time between Lincoln and Central Campus. I am excited to meet my new third graders and their families and I look forward to spending the year learning and growing together!
“Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today”. -Hemingway
Welcome to 3rd grade! I am excited to partner with your student as they learn and grow this year. I enjoy teaching and being a 3rd grade teacher at Park Avenue.
I have earned a Bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and Grand View University. I have my reading and language arts endorsements. I completed my Master’s degree from Graceland University in Curriculum and Instruction.
I have two children, two kitty cats and puppy dog. In my spare time I enjoy reading, gardening and watching movies.
We will have a tremendous year full of experiences and growth!
You have BRAINS in your HEAD. You have FEET in your SHOES. You can STEER yourself in any direction you CHOOSE. -Dr. Seuss
Welcome to second grade! I am so happy you are here!
My name is Hailey Edwards. I am a first-year teacher and am so excited to join the Park Avenue Team! I graduated from both Ashford University and Simpson College and obtained degrees in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. I love the Des Moines area and am eager to serve the amazing families here! I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, playing with my cat Izzy, and exploring new cities and restaurants!
I am so happy to be at Park Avenue and am looking forward to providing my students with opportunities to learn and grow together!
Hello! My name is Tracey Gibson. This is my 7th year at Park Avenue and I am so excited to be part of such an amazing team of educators and students. 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 26 years. I have been married to Mark for 23years. We have three children: Delaney(29), Erin(21) and Zachary(18). Oh, I can’t forget my dog, Daisy(10). I am also a GRANDMA! I have two twin grandsons – Walter and Barrett.
I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education from Upper Iowa University. I earned my Master’s in Education from Drake University in 2022. I am super excited to work with each of the students that come into my classroom. I love learning and growing and discovering new ways to be a more effective teacher.
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.
“Act as if what you do makes a difference – IT DOES!” ~William James
“Hi families! This is my 8th year with DMPS- all at Park Avenue! I graduated from Clarke University with Elementary and Special Education degrees as well as an endorsement in Reading. I recently graduated from Drake University for my Master’s degree with my Reading Specialist certification.
My husband and I are both from the Des Moines area and are raising our two children in the Metro area as well! Abigail is 4 and Oliver is 2! They keep me busy when I’m not at school!
I’m excited to see the growth that all students make this year!”
Hello! My name is Tillie Heithoff and this is my first year at Park Avenue. I earned by Bachelor’s in Social Work from Buena Vista University and my Master’s in Social Work from the University of Iowa. I am super excited to be at Park Avenue and I look forward to meeting students and their families!!
Hello! My name is Faith Howard and I am the music teacher here at Park Avenue! This is my third year teaching at Park Ave and I am very excited to see what this year brings! I am originally from northeast Missouri and attended college there at Truman State University where I majored in music education. I also received my Master of Arts in Education at Truman. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with my niece and nephew, reading, playing games, and taking walks. I’m looking forward to working with all the students here at Park Ave again this year!
Hello! My name is Jean Kile. This will be my 26th year in DMPS and I’m so excited to be at Park Ave. on the southside where I was born and raised. I have taught 1st through 8th grades at Lovejoy Elementary, Stowe Elementary, Weeks Middle School and Phillips Elementary. I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Upper Iowa University and my Master’s Degree from Drake University.
My husband and I have two beautiful daughters and two beautiful grandbabies! In my free time I love to spend time with my family, cook, bake and read.
“Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be” – Rita Pierson
Hello Park Avenue Families! My name is Sherida and I have been with Des Moines Public Schools for 13 years. This is my 5th year here at Park Avenue. Prior to Park Ave, I worked at Roosevelt High school as the bookkeeper, and in HR as an Executive Secretary. I love working with kids and providing a safe and fun place to learn. I have been married for 25 years and have a son, daughter, and daughter-in-law. In my free time I enjoy watching movies or TV , cooking, and shopping.
I began teaching K-5 (ELL) English Language Learners in 1999. I taught at Brooks/Lucas, Capitol View, Adams, and Cattell before Park Avenue. I love teaching ELL and getting to know my students 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 (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from the University of Northern Iowa.
I enjoy attending outdoor festivals and Broadway musicals. I also like cooking and trying new restaurants.
“Do more of what makes you happy.” 🙂
My name is Mary Love and I am the special education consultant. This will be my 25th year in education and my third year at Park Avenue. I earned my bachelor’s degree from University of NE at Omaha in English/Language Arts/Special Education. I have a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Concordia University, Nebraska. In addition to teaching here in Des Moines, I spent 9 years teaching in Omaha, Nebraska. I am an adjunct professor in education at Upper Iowa University . I am married and have three children. In my free time I enjoy spending time with them. I am excited to be here at Park Avenue Elementary!
Nicole Luna Fernandez
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.
Hello Park Avenue! My Name is Mike McCormick, and this is my third year as the school counselor at Park Avenue Elementary. I received my masters in school counseling from the University of Iowa and my undergraduate degree in psychology from Simpson College in Indianola. I’m very excited to be a part of the Park Avenue family and look forward to working with the students, staff and parents in the community!
I am the ALP (Advanced Learning Program) Consultant for Park Ave. Elementary. I grew up in this great city of Des Moines and graduated from Roosevelt High School here in DMPS. St. Olaf College is where I spent my college years and received my teaching degree and a degree in Psychology. After college, I moved back to Des Moines and got my first teaching job in Waukee where I taught third grade, fifth grade, and was an ELP (Extended Learning Program) teacher for 13 years.
I began teaching in 2017 at DMPS- all within the Advanced Learning Program. I serve Morris, Lovejoy and Park Ave. I love my job! Being able to support both students and teachers provides an opportunity for me to build wonderful relationships throughout the years and meet the needs of all of my students.
I live in Des Moines with my husband, two daughters- Lily and Elizabeth, and our dog, Goose. My girls also attend DMPS schools. We love to be outside, play games, cheer on the Cyclones and spend time with friends and family! I am looking forward to a wonderful year!
I have two teenagers and a husband who works in healthcare. I also have three pets at home. l love to read, write, and I also play the violin and ukelele. Professionally, I attended the University of Nebraska Lincoln and received my degree in Elementary Education in 1996. I received my master’s in special education from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2018. This is my 15th year of teaching and my first year working for DMPS. I am excited to be working in the Park Avenue neighborhood and look forward to connecting with students, families, as well as other staff members.
Hello Park Avenue Families! My name is Mercedes Michael. This is my second year as a classroom teacher. I began my journey with Des Moines Public Schools in December of 2020 as an Academic Interventionist, specializing in reading. I taught first grade last year, and am I am so excited to continue working with our first grade students here at Park Ave. I graduated from Iowa State University in November of 2020 with an Elementary Education bachelor’s degree. I am planning to continue my education by enrolling in a master’s program at Drake University in the future. In my free time I enjoy traveling, spending time with my family and cats! Can’t wait to make this year an amazing one at Park Avenue!
Hi all! I started at Park Ave in January of 2022, but I have been with the district since 2014. I have served as an Attendance Officer at Hoover High School, a Success Case Manager at Lincoln High School and a Restoration and Safety Coordinator at Lincoln High School. I have also spent time coaching football at Lincoln and was the Assistant Activities Director there.
I grew up on the south side of Des Moines right behind Paesano’s Pizzeria! I attended Jefferson, Brody and then graduated from Lincoln in 2002. I earned my AA from DMACC in Criminal Justice in 2005 and then my BA in Sociology with a Concentration in Deviance from Simpson College in 2007. Before joining DMPS, I did a variety of community-based jobs at Orchard Place, New Beginnings Counseling Service and Children and Families of Iowa.
I have lived on the south side for the majority of my life and take great pride in this neighborhood. I’m really looking forward to making Park Ave a great community school!
Welcome to 4th grade. This is my 12th year as a teacher in the Des Moines district an 9th 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 Master’s degree in Elementary studies from Morningside College. I feel fortunate to be a part of the staff at Park Avenue as I have made great friendships with the staff and students here. My husband and I have three adult children . I like to cook, read, be creative, and spend time with friends. 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.
“Teaching is not the filling of a pail , but the lighting of a fire. Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself. “
Hello! My name is Cassidy Rasmusson. I am excited to be teaching another year of 5th grade at Park Avenue Elementary! 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.
My husband and I have two kiddos, one daughter and one son. We also have a cute little dachshund named Ruby. We love to have a lot of fun family time together!
This year I will be teaching fifth grade with Mrs. Gibson and Ms. Sloan. Together, we will be working hard to help make this year a celebration for our fifth-grade students before they head off to middle school.
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.
*If you ever get the chance to treat them how they treated you, I hope you choose to walk away.
*If you are not willing to learn, No one can help you. If you are DETERMINED to learn, No one can stop you!
*They may forget what you said, but they will not forget how you made them feel.
It’s another great year in kindergarten! I have taught kindergarten at Park Avenue for several years and before that was a Montessori pre-k/kindergarten teacher. 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 and I am looking forward to sharing lots of books with my kindergarten friends this year!
Hello! I am Kristashea Sloan, and I’ll be teaching intervention this year! I started teaching in 2011, I have taught in Des Moines my entire career except for one year of teaching in Montana. I am a new mother to my son, Everett. We are an outdoorsy family; we love camping and anything on water. Our go to place is in and around Duluth, MN. I look forward to working with your student!
Greetings families! This year will be my third-year teaching 3rd grade. I am enjoying teaching 3rd grade and learning all the wonderful things that 3rd graders think about and enjoy as learners. I have taught at Park Ave for 18 years now. I have experience with teaching special education, 5th grade and many years of 4th grade. I earned my BA from Grand View University, as well as my Reading endorsement and Special Education endorsement. In 2011 I earned my master’s in education leadership from Drake University. With over 18 years of teaching experience, I look forward to an exciting year in 3rd grade!
David Steinke serves as the 5th grade Band Director on the South Side of Des Moines since 2017. Mr. Steinke has served as an Instrumental Music Educator in Des Moines teaching primarily Band since 2008. Mr. Steinke is also the Percussion Instructor for the Lincoln High School Marching Band & provides Percussion support for the 5th though 12th grade Band programs throughout the year.
Mr. Steinke graduated from Iowa State University twice with a Bachelors of Visual Fine Arts in 2000 and a Bachelors in Music Education in 2007. He received his Master’s in Educational Technology from Full Sail University in 2011. Outside of the School year, Mr. Steinke has worked as a percussion clinician for the DMPS Summer Middle School Band Camp & Cyclone Percussion Academy at Iowa State University.
Mr. Steinke is a member of the Percussive Arts Society, the Iowa Band Masters Association, the South Central Iowa Band Masters Association, and Alumni of the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps. He is a co-founder of ConcertCraft Publications, specializing in chamber music for percussion and custom arranging for Marching Band.
Hi Park Avenue Families! My name is Melanie Stroud and this is my sixth year teaching at Park Avenue Elementary. I graduated from The University of Iowa with a BA in Speech and Hearing Sciences and Disorders. While working at Heartland Area Education Agency in speech therapy, I received my BA in Elementary Education from Buena Vista University. This past year, I received my masters at Drake University. In my spare time, I love being with my family and dog outdoors.
Hi all! My name is Bailey Swain and I am the School Psychologist. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA and my doctorate in School Psychology from the University of South Dakota. I recently moved to Des Moines, so this is my first year with the district! I’m so excited to be a part of the Park Avenue family!
Hello Park Avenue families, welcome to first grade! My name is Abigail Tran and this is my 8th year of teaching and my 6th year in the Des Moines Public Schools district. I was born in Des Moines and graduated from North High School. After high school I earned a degree in Early Childhood Education, a Minor in Learning Technologies, and a Reading Endorsement from Iowa State University. I received my masters from Drake University. In my spare time I enjoy being with my family, riding my bike, and spending time outside.
“Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail.” -Ruby Bridges
Hi Park Avenue families!
My name is Aidan Tunney and I will be the PE teacher for the 2023-2024 school year! This will be my first year at Park Avenue Elementary and my first year teaching too. I graduated from Iowa State University in 2022 with my bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Health. My wife, Chloe, is also an elementary teacher. In my free time, my wife and I enjoy visiting state and national parks, playing pickleball, ultimate frisbee, and other outdoor activities. When I am not outside, I enjoy playing board games and watching movies. I am very excited to spend my first year with you all and being physically active while having fun!
This year will mark a DECADE for me as the art teacher at Park Ave. I am excited for all the fun we will have exploring art and materials this year! When I am not teaching, I spend my time with my husband and son. We love being outside, listening to music, reading, traveling, and trying new things. I am excited for another great year with Park Avenue students!
Welcome to Kindergarten! This is my 16th year teaching for DMPS. I have taught universal preschool, first grade, and kindergarten. I LOVE 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, be outside, play with my miniature dachshund named Dash, and spend time with my family and friends.
“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” – Chinese Proverb
My name is Kelsey Wood and I am an ELL teacher at Park Avenue. I am excited to get to know the families and students in our community! I have worked in DMPS for the last 3 years in various schools and I’m looking forward to working with Park Ave. again this year. I graduated from Iowa State University in 2019 with a Bachelor in English Education. Some of my hobbies include spending time with my family and pets, reading, and going on hikes.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~ Nelson Mandela
Hello and welcome! My name is Ann Zenti. This is going to be my 7th year as a special education teacher at Park Avenue. Prior to that, I taught in Arizona for 20 years. I am originally from Iowa and glad to be back.
My husband and I recently adopted a French Bulldog. She is a great addition to our family! I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, and reading.
My goal as an educator is to guide students towards becoming happy, healthy, and confident members of society. One of my favorite quotes is also a positive moto I use with my students… “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”- A.A. Milne