Hi, my name is Matt Ballman. This will be my 8th year of teaching. I’ve taught at Willard for all eight of those years! I love Willard. I believe that we have the best teachers and students. I’ve taught 2nd and 3rd grade but I am currently a k-5 academic interventionist. I love my job as an interventionist because I am able to work with students from all grades and have the chance to make an impact on many students!
I graduated from Iowa State in 2015 with a degree in Elementary Education. I graduated from Drake University in 2020 with a Masters in Effective Teaching in Urban Education.
When I’m not at school I love spending time with my family. Last year, my wife and I welcomed our first child. We also have two dogs at home. I am a huge Iowa State fan and love to watch my Cyclones!
I am very fortunate to be teaching orchestra at several elementary schools in Des Moines. I have been teaching since 1990, and in Des Moines Schools since 2000. I have had a diverse career of teaching band, choir and orchestra at levels ranging from fourth through twelfth grade.
Welcome to fourth grade! My name is Mrs. Burns and I am one of the 4th grade teachers here at Willard Elementary. I received my elementary education degree from Iowa State University, Go Cyclones! I also received my master’s degree in education from Drake University. This will be my eighth year teaching, seventh year at Willard and third year teaching 4th grade. When not teaching I enjoy spending time with my husband, my daughter, family, friends, reading, and exercising. I look forward to another wonderful year of working with all of the students, families, and staff here at Willard!
I am so fortunate to be starting my fourth year as the music teacher here at Willard! I graduated from Luther College in 2019 with a degree in Music Education. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and taking my dog for lots of walks!
Hello! My name is Katie Clater and I am the Teaching and Learning Instructional Coach at Willard Elementary. I started my teaching career in 2003, working as a middle school special education teacher at Moulton Extended Learning Center with Des Moines Schools. After teaching special education for three years at Moulton, I left the district and went to work for Carlisle Community School District. While in Carlisle, I taught both special and general education, ranging from fourth through sixth grade. I returned to the Des Moines Public Schools in 2011 and taught fourth grade at Willard Elementary before transitioning to instructional coaching.
I love teaching at Willard because we have the BEST students and teachers in the Des Moines area!!! All students and teachers come to school with a passion to learn!
In my spare time, you will find me enjoying time with my husband and three children. My children keep me very busy with sporting activities and their love for the outdoors! I also love to travel, work in my flower gardens and read.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Simpson College. This year will be my sixth year at Willard. Outside of school I enjoy golfing, being outside, and spending time with my wife and 2 kids.
My first year in education was 2006, where I started at Willard as a first grade teacher. My whole teaching career has been at Willard Elementary. I have taught kindergarten, first and second grade here over the years. I most recently have been the Mathematics Instructional Coach for the past 3 years. I love Kindergarten! I love watching 4-5 year olds learn to do things independently. The amount of growth in Kindergarten is amazing to watch and I get a front row seat. ? I’m blessed to work with Willard Kindergartners and their families.
Hello and welcome to Mrs. Dorgan’s first grade classroom! 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!
I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Literacy Endorsement from the University of Northern Iowa and this will be my 10th year teaching at Willard. 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 family bike rides.
Hi! My name is Becca Miller, and I am so excited to be a part of the Willard Elementary family! I graduated from The University of South Dakota with an Elementary Education degree and taught in rural South Dakota for 5 years. I came to Des Moines as a live-in nanny for a little boy. After 3 years with him I went back into education, where I’ve been ever since. I am so proud to be a part of Des Moines Public Schools! I love spending my day surrounded by young people who teach me something new every day. Having an opportunity to be a part of their learning and development is something I consider to be a privilege. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my cat, Salem, who loves to cuddle, play, and escape through the screen door. I also love trying new foods, traveling, hiking, and anything that deals with water including swimming, boating, and paddle boarding. College Basketball (March Madness!) is my favorite! I can’t wait for a great year at Willard!
Hello from Room 205! My name is Katie Neal, and this will be my 11th year at Willard. I have taught 1st grade for 8 of those years, and this will be my third year in 2nd grade! I attended the University of Northern Iowa. (Go Panthers!) When I am not teaching, I love traveling to see my sister in Oregon, reading, and spending time with family. I am looking forward to another great year at Willard Elementary!
Hello! My name is Peyton Smith and I am an academic interventionist this year at Willard. This is my second year teaching and at Willard! Last year I taught third grade, and I am so excited to be an interventionist this year. When I am not at school, I love spending time with my fiancé and our two fur babies, baking, and hiking. Let’s have an awesome year!
Welcome to First Grade! My name is Mrs. Tabibi. This is my twenty-fifth year of teaching and my tenth 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! We are going to have a great year together!
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 is my 10th year at Willard. I’ve taught kindergarten, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade. I attended the University of Northern Iowa where I received my BA in Marketing then attended Iowa State University a few years later where I received my BS in Elementary Education with a Reading Endorsement so I could pursue my true passion of teaching children. I was born and raised in Humboldt and now reside in Ankeny with my husband, Nick, and our two kids, Pearl (8) and Eddie (5). They keep us busy with all of their sports, piano lessons, and other activities! I love working at Willard for so many reasons, mainly the students and staff. The kids are amazing and we love what we do here. 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.