This is my twentieth year of teaching and first year at Willard. I am excited to work 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. 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 reading, camping, hiking, and exploring with my husband, son, and daughter. I also enjoy walking my dog Stanley.
Hello and welcome to First Grade with Ms. Ashenfelter! I have been working with DMPS for 4 years and this will be my third year teaching first grade. I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa – Go Panthers! When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, reading and shopping.
I love teaching at Willard Elementary because of the amazing staff, students and families. I am incredibly excited to begin this school year with my first grade students!
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!
Hello! My name is Renae Conway and this will be my third year teaching at Willard. I have taught in third and fifth grade. 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, friends and puppy, Charlie. 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 teach K-3 special education. This is my fourth year teaching at Willard! I obtained a degree in Early Childhood Education and endorsements in special education from Iowa State University. I am currently working on my Master’s Degree through Morningside College, along with a Reading Endorsement.
When I am not teaching, I enjoy attending sporting events (especially ISU football games!!), shopping, and spending time with my family and friends. I look forward to a fantastic school year with the great students and families at Willard!
I have my education degree and math endorsement from Iowa State University. I have also worked to earn my Masters in Education degree from Viterbo University. I will be starting my 12th year at Willard. In my time here, I have taught 1st grade one year, 2nd grade for 6 years and will be starting my 5th year teaching Kindergarten. I love this place! I truly enjoy the families and students here and the staff is so passionate about doing what is best for children. We all work as a team to make Willard an amazing school. Aside from teaching I am passionate about spending time with my husband, son and daughter. We enjoy baseball, horses and rodeoing, and being busy.
Classroom parents only: SeeSaw
Hello! I am Brittanee Grove and this will be my 3rd year teaching at Willard! Our staff and students are rock stars and I love what I do! A little bit about me is that I am a triplet and I love to play softball. I played all through college, and in my spare time when I am not teaching, I am coaching. I also love to read and hang out with my family and friends.
Hello! My name is Cassidy Jackson and I will be teaching 5th grade special education. This is my first year teaching at Willard Elementary, and I am very excited! 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 my first year at Willard working with the positive students and staff!
I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Literacy Endorsement from the University of Northern Iowa. This will be my 4th 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 son. We enjoy spending time with our families, watching the Royals, and going on walks as a family.
Hello my name is Heidi Liventals. Fifteen years ago I graduated from Iowa State University and have been teaching ever since. I have spent the past 15 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 third 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 6th 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. This December I will graduate from Drake University with my Master’s Degree along with my Math Endorsement.
Hi! My name is Ms. McGinnis and I am the K-3 Math and Reading Interventionist. I received my elementary education degree from Iowa State University, go cyclones! This will be my second year teaching, but my first year at Willard Elementary. When not teaching I enjoy spending time with family, friends, reading, and exercising. I look forward to working with all of the students, staff, and families here at Willard!
Hi, I am Jayde Murray. 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 first year teaching and I will be teaching special education, primarily 4th grade. I was lucky enough to student teach at Willard so I know what a welcoming and fun environment Willard has to offer. 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 (hiking, fishing, swimming, snowboarding, reading a book outdoors, running) and photography. I also cherish spending time with my family, fiancé, friends, and doggy (Bernese Mt. Dog, he is precious). I am very excited to be a part of the Willard team and have an awesome year!
Hello from Room 110! My name is Katie Neal, and this will be my fifth year at Willard and my fourth 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!
Hello and welcome to 4th grade in room 309! This is my fourth year at Willard teaching 4th grade. I attended Iowa State University. My hope and dream for my students this year is that they find a passion for reading. When I am not at school I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling and reading! I’m excited for another year at Willard.
I earned my Early Childhood Education/Early Childhood Special Education degree from Iowa State University. For the past two years I have taught the general education and special education preschool students in Webster City, IA. This is my first year teaching at Willard Elementary and I am very excited to begin 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.
Hello! My name is Kelcie Stratton, and I teach third grade. I live in Dallas Center with my husband, two sons (3 years old and 1 year old), and foster daughter (13 years old). We also have two crazy dogs and two fish. 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. I know it will be a great year with great people!
Welcome to First Grade! My name is Mrs. Tabibi. This is my nineteenth year of teaching and my fourth 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. 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 sixth year as a second grade teacher at Willard Elementary! I am in my 18th 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!
Hello! My name is Mrs. Tigges. This will be my first year as a Reading/Math Interventionist, but my fourth year at Willard! I absolutely love working at Willard because the students, families, and staff are wonderful! I have previously taught second and third grade here at Willard.
I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and LOVE the Cyclones! In my free time, I like to spend time with my husband, our new baby girl, Millie, take our dog for walks, and read. I am looking forward to a great year supporting Willard students!
Hi, I’m Hilary Van Erem! This will be my fourth year at Willard. I have taught kindergarten the last three years so this is my first year in third grade. I am very excited for this new journey! I attended the University of Northern Iowa where I received my BA in Marketing: Sales & Advertising. After working in the business world for a few years I quickly realized it wasn’t for me. I went back to school at Iowa State to pursue my true passion, teaching, and received my BS in Elementary Education. I was born and raised in Humboldt, IA and now reside in Ankeny with my husband, Nick, and our daughter, Pearl. She’s a sassy, stubborn, smart, and silly little girl who keeps us laughing 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 room 310! My name is Denise Weston. This is my 6th year teaching English language learners (ELL) at Willard Elementary! I graduated with my BA in Education at Upper Iowa University in 2012, with endorsements in ELL, Reading, and English/Language Arts. I am currently working on my Masters at Drake University, and a special education endorsement.
My passion is teaching and learning! I teach my students that it is important to maintain their native language and customs, while learning English and learning about new customs. Speaking multiple languages will help them maintain ties to family members, and provide many opportunities for them in their future. I love teaching, and learning, from students who come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
My husband and I live in Altoona. We have four beautiful daughters, three amazing son-in-laws, and four adorable grandchildren under the age of four. I love bike riding, swimming, walking, traveling, and spending time with my family.
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. Last Spring, I completed my master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Viterbo University. I will be starting my 5th year at Willard Elementary. My husband Hank and I welcomed our little girl last spring. Ella Marie was born on March 29th and we are so in love!! Ella has two fur siblings named Cora and Cooper who keep us on our toes! Cora loves to chase bugs and play fetch. Cooper enjoys going for car rides and keeping a constant eye on Ella.