Hello Willard Wildcats! I am excited to yet again be working with the outstanding teachers and families here at Willard. I received a degree in elementary education with endorsements in reading, learning disabilities, and mild disabilities from the University of Northern Iowa and have been teaching for over twenty years. Throughout my years of teaching I have been driven by the same teaching philosophy: be a passionate, caring, and competent teacher striving everyday to make meaningful connections with students. Outside of the classroom I enjoy exploring and sightseeing with my husband, son, daughter and dog, Stanley. I also enjoy visiting the library and reading.
Hi, my name is Matt Ballman. This will be my third year in education and my second year in second grade! I attended Iowa State University (Go Cyclones!!!) and graduated in 2015 with a degree in elementary education with endorsements in history, social studies, reading, and coaching. I believe that Willard is a very special place. We have an amazing staff that puts students first and we have great families in the community! When I’m not teaching, I love to travel, watch (and attend) Iowa State sporting events, and hang out with my dog, Trice!
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Simpson College. This year I will be starting my second year here at Willard. Outside of school I enjoy golfing, being outside, and spending time with my family and friends.
Hello! My name is Renae Conway and this will be my fifth year teaching at Willard. I have taught third, fourth and fifth grades. I obtained my teaching license from Iowa State University with an endorsement in math and reading. I enjoy spending my free time with my family and friends. I love the culture and values of our Willard students and families. At Willard I get the opportunity to work with amazing families! I look forward to a great school year!
My name is Kaitlin Danner and I have been teaching K-2 special education at Willard Elementary since 2014.
I graduated from Iowa State University and earned my master’s degree from Morningside College. I have special education endorsements as well as a reading endorsement.
Away from the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my husband, family and friends. I am also a loyal Iowa State football and basketball fan! I am looking forward to a fantastic school year with the great students and families at Willard.
I graduated from Luther College with a degree in music education, and I am so thrilled to be starting my first year of teaching at Willard! In my free time I enjoy being outside, spending time with friends and family, and exploring Des Moines!
I will be starting my 14th year at Willard. I really love teaching here. I strive to serve the families and students of this community. Kindergartners can do so much and I love helping them with high expectations and a loving classroom.
Classroom parents only: SeeSaw
Hello and welcome to Mrs. Dorgan’s first grade classroom! I have been working with DMPS for 6 years and this will be my 5th year teaching first grade. I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa – Go Panthers! When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, shopping and biking the trails around Des Moines.
I love teaching at Willard Elementary because of the amazing staff, students and families. Teaching is such a wonderful responsibility – I truly love what I do! I am incredibly excited to begin this school year with my first grade students!
Hi! My name is Tina Fulton. I have been teaching for over 30 years – in the classroom as a Preschool and 2nd Grade Teacher, and out of the classroom as a Reading Recovery Teacher and Title I Interventionist. I received my BA Degree in Education from the University of Northern Iowa and my Masters Degree from Viterbo University. I also hold endorsements in Early Childhood Education and Reading and am trained in Reading Recovery. As you might guess, kids and reading are my passions!
When not at school, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, walking my 2 sweet dogs, traveling, cheering on my favorite sports teams and reading, of course!
Hello! I am Brittanee Grove and this will be my 5th year teaching at Willard. I have been a Willard Wildcat my entire teaching career! I am getting married this October so I will become Mrs. Chelleen. I love to read, be outside, and watch the Cubs play baseball!
Hello! My name is Cassidy Jackson and I teach 3rd-5th grade special education. This will be my third year of teaching at Willard Elementary. I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Special Education.
When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, being involved in activities outdoors, and reading. I am looking forward to another great year at Willard working with the positive students and staff!
Hi, I am Jayde Kennedy. I graduated from Grand View University in April of 2017 with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and an endorsement in special education. This will be my third year teaching and I will be teaching special education, primarily upper grades. I attended Des Moines Public Schools while growing up, so I am thrilled that I get to continue to be a part of DMPS while teaching.
When I am not teaching, I enjoy being outdoors (traveling, hiking, fishing, swimming, snowboarding, reading a book outdoors, running) and photography. I also cherish spending time with my husband, family, friends, and my dog Colty (Bernese Mt. Dog, he is precious). I love being a part of the Willard team!
I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Literacy Endorsement from the University of Northern Iowa. This will be my 6th year teaching at Willard and in that time I have taught 4/5 Reading and Math, K/1 Reading and Math, and Kindergarten! Willard is an amazing place for students to grow and I am very fortunate to be a part of the amazing staff. Outside of school I enjoy spending time with my husband and two sons. We enjoy spending time with our families, watching the Royals, and going on walks as a family
Hello! My name is Kippen Larson-Gulsvig (but the kids call me Ms. Larson) and I am OVERJOYED to be teaching your fourth grader this year! This is my sixth year teaching elementary and my second year teaching 4th grade at Willard. I have experience teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th grade, including teaching at an international school in Ethiopia from 2016-2018. I graduated from Northwestern College in 2014 with an elementary education degree and a reading endorsement. In my free time, I love to be active and outdoors, spend time serving in my church, travel, be with family, visit coffee shops, go to concerts, and hang out with friends! Teaching is truly my passion, and I LOVE developing relationships and seeing students grow academically, emotionally and socially. It is a true blessing to be working at Willard and I’m so excited to have another great year here!
Hello my name is Heidi Liventals. Seventeen years ago I graduated from Iowa State University and have been teaching ever since. I have spent the past 17 years teaching special education and loving it. This upcoming school year at Willard I will be half time special education teacher and half time behavior strategist. I’m looking forward to a great new school year with new and returning students.
I received my major in art education, along with minors in special education and art history, at the University of Northern Iowa. I will be starting my fifth year here at Willard teaching art, I absolutely love it! Outside of school I enjoy painting, doing crafty projects, and spending time with my family and friends.
My name is Aslynn Maudlin and I am a fifth grade teacher at Willard Elementary! This will be my 8th year teaching at Willard. During my time here I have had the opportunity to teach fourth and fifth grade. I graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 2011 with a degree in Elementary Education and my reading endorsement. I graduated in 2017 from Drake University with my master’s degree in Cultural Responsive Leadership and Instruction and my math endorsement. Outside of Willard, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children!
Hi! My name is Ms.McGinnis and I am one of the 3rd grade teachers here at Willard Elementary. I received my elementary education degree from Iowa State University, Go Cyclones! This will be my fourth year teaching, third year at Willard and second year teaching 3rd grade. When not teaching I enjoy spending time with family, friends, reading, and exercising. I look forward to another wonderful year of working with all of the students, staff, and families here at Willard!
Hello from Room 110! My name is Katie Neal, and this will be my seventh year at Willard and my sixth year teaching 1st grade. I attended the University of Northern Iowa. (Go Panthers!) When I am not teaching I love traveling, reading, and spending time with family. I am looking forward to another great year with 1st grade!
I earned my Early Childhood Education/Early Childhood Special Education degree from Iowa State University. After graduating, I taught the general education and special education preschool students in Webster City, IA. This is my third year teaching at Willard Elementary and I am very excited to continue my journey with Des Moines Public Schools! When I am not at school I like to exercise, take my dog to the park, read, and knit.
My name is Kelcie Stratton, and I teach fifth grade. I’ve also taught special education, third grade, and title reading/math. I live in Dallas Center with my husband, daughter, and two sons. I love spending time with my family and friends, watching my husband coach wrestling and football, reading, and scrapbooking. I absolutely love teaching at Willard because of the wonderful students and families as well as amazing staff members. There is nowhere else I’d rather teach!
Welcome to First Grade! My name is Mrs. Tabibi. This is my twenty-first year of teaching and my sixth year at Willard. I feel so lucky to work at Willard because of the wonderful staff and students! I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Go Panthers! Besides teaching, my loves include being with my family, reading, and shopping. I can’t wait to learn and grow with my firsties!
Welcome to the Peacemaker class!
My name is Sherry Thompkins and I am excited for my eighth year as a second grade teacher at Willard Elementary! I am in my 21st year of teaching and have experience as an
Aurally Handicapped and Special Education educator. As you can see I am passionate about teaching and learning! I also enjoy teaching a cooking class during 21st Century and some of my favorite recipes come from the Willard families and extended families! I am active in multiple leadership roles within our school and love opportunities to grow as a professional.
I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Elementary Education and Special Education with an emphasis in teaching deaf and hard of hearing students.
I later completed my Master’s Degree in Special Education, at Iowa State University.
When I’m not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband and adult children. I also enjoy walking, reading, and experimenting with new recipes. My favorite part about being a teacher is watching students become independent thinkers and team players. I love to watch students grow!
Hi, I’m Hilary Van Erem! This will be my sixth year at Willard. I taught kindergarten my first three years and now teach third grade I attended the University of Northern Iowa where I received my BA in Marketing then attended Iowa State a few years later to pursue my true passion, teaching, and received my BS in Elementary Education. I was born and raised in Humboldt and now reside in Ankeny with my husband, Nick, and our two kids, Pearl (4) and Eddie (1). They keep us busy and on our toes! We like to read, go to the park, watch movies, spend time with family, and be outside. I love working at Willard for so many reasons, mainly the students and staff. We love what we do and the kids are amazing. I can’t wait to make this the best year yet!
My name is Julie Vitek and I have been a teacher at Willard Elementary since 2012. I have been teaching for Des Moines Public Schools since 1991. I graduated from Upper Iowa University and earned my master’s degree from Viterbo University. I have a reading endorsement as well as an ELL endorsement. Before coming to Willard I taught second, third, fourth grades, title reading, and reading recovery. I have a passion for beginning readers! I enjoy laying the foundation to help ALL students succeed and watch them grow from being a non-reader to a reader! My husband and I live in Altoona with our two children, Connor and Jenna, and our dog Ella.
Welcome to Third Grade! My name is Chelsey Wierson and I graduated from Iowa State University in May of 2013 with my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary education. In addition I received my master’s degree from Viterbo University in Educational Leadership in May of 2017. This fall will be the start of my 7th year at Willard Elementary. I have one daughter named Ella, who just turned 2 last march. We like to play at the pool, go for walks, and listen to music.