Hello! My name is Stephanie Avery. I grew up in Des Moines Iowa where I attended Adams Elementary School, Goodrell Middle School, and graduated from East High School. I have been with the school district for 5 years now and I love it!
This is my third year at Pleasant Hill Elementary and my second year as the Office Manager. I feel very blessed to be part of the Pleasant Hill Elementary family.
I live in Pleasant Hill with my fiancé Jeff, his son Levi 19, my daughter Jordan 21 and my son Robbie 18. I stay busy watching my son wrestle for East High School. I love to read, watch movies and walking our two dogs Griffin and Biscuit.
I grew up on the East side of Des Moines. I attended Wallace Elementary, Hiatt Middle School, and North High School. I earned my teaching degree at Grand View College. I have been at Pleasant Hill for the last 19 years. I have taught Kindergarten for 16 years and Preschool for 3 years.
My husband, Travis, and I will celebrate our 21st anniversary this summer. We have 2 children. Zackery will be 18 this summer and will be in 12th grade at North. Kristin is 14 and will be in 9th grade at North. We also have a golden retriever named Roscoe.
I am an avid reader and spend a lot of my free time reading. A few years ago I started running and have completed many 5K’s, 10K’s and 6 half marathons with my awesome running partner, Mrs. Horstman.
I spent my childhood growing up in Ankeny, and have always loved sports. When I was 17, I moved to Colorado and attended the University of Northern Colorado. During my time there I meet my wife, coached football, played for a semi-pro football team, and student taught for the Cherry Creek school district in the Denver metro area. I got my first teaching job at Eastridge Elementary, where I student taught, and worked there for eleven years. During that time, I competed in drug-free body building competitions with my wife Nicole, and both our two children Beau and Deviney were born.
In 2008, I was humbled and honored to win the Colorado Physical Education teacher of the year during my time at Eastridge Elementary.
My wife, Nicole, and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary this year. Our son Beau will be a 2nd grader at Ashland Ridge Elementary while our daughter Deviney will begin pre-school. When I’m not at Pleasant Hill I will be coaching football for Ankeny Centennial high school with the 8th and 9th grade staff in the fall, and working as a part-time personal trainer in Ankeny.
I enjoy working out (unless it involves running), playing poker, coaching football, watching movies, and playing games with my family at home. I very much look forward to working with the children of Pleasant Hill Elementary, and I’m very excited to be a part of the Pleasant Hill family!
I grew up on a farm south of Barnum, Iowa. I graduated from Buena Vista and later received my reading endorsement from Drake. After graduating I taught first grade and then went on to teach reading recovery and title for thirteen years. I am looking forward to another outstanding year and can’t wait to help the staff and students of Pleasant Hill as much as possible. This will be my eighth year at Pleasant Hill and I absolutely love it here. The supportive families and staff make it a great place to work.
My husband, Corey, and I live in Pleasant Hill and have four children. We love the Pleasant Hill community so much that we open enrolled our children here. Hallie and Hannah are 12 and will be attending South East Polk as seventh graders. Kyle is 11 and Kadie is 10 and they will be fifth graders this year.
Our summers are spent going to sporting events, spending time on the family farm, and going boating.
This is my thirteenth year at Pleasant Hill, and 19th year as a teacher at Des Moines Public Schools. I teach Special Education in Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and behavior all grades.
I grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where I graduated from Alburnett Community Schools. I attended Simpson College and graduated with a degree Elementary Education and Liberal Arts. I also received endorsements in Reading and Early Childhood. I got my Masters of Education from Iowa State University.
I live on the east side of Pleasant Hill with my husband Joe and our 6 wonderful children, Madison 11th grade, Payten 9th grade, Mackenzie 8th grade, Korben 7th grade, Brodie 4th grade, and Graydon 3rd grade.
We spend a lot of time together as a family doing fun things like playing games indoors and outdoors. We love swimming and going for bike rides or walks.
Most of us enjoy cheering for our favorite team the Iowa Hawkeye’s. While a couple of our family members feel that Iowa State is the better team. Our children are involved in many activities, soccer, football, dance, swim team, and cross country. We are huge Chicago Cubs fans, and love to sing Go Cubs Go! I am looking forward to another great year at Pleasant Hill!
I grew up in Des Moines Iowa where I attended McKee Elementary School, Hoyt Middle School, and graduated from East High School.
I attended the University of Northern Iowa where I graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. I was a member of the UNI Swimming Team, and was a co-captain my senior year. “GO PANTHERS”!
My husband Troy also graduated from UNI. We have three children- Keagan, Kade and McKenna. As a family we enjoy going on vacations. Disneyworld is one of our favorite vacation destinations. We also enjoy hanging out at the swimming pool, going to amusement parks, playing games, watching movies and of course reading books.
We also enjoy watching sporting events as a family. Our favorite teams are the Iowa Hawkeyes, Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs, and the UNI Panthers. Of course our most favorite teams to watch are any that our children are playing on. My children are all very active in extracurricular activities which keep us busy all year long.
I started my teaching career at Smouse Opportunity School in Des Moines. I taught 2nd and 3rd grade students with Behavior Disorders for seven years. While at Smouse I took graduate classes at Drake University. I really enjoyed my time at Smouse, and didn’t think that I would ever leave. Then in 2007 a first grade teaching position opened at Pleasant Hill. I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to teach at such a great school. The challenges at Pleasant Hill are different than the ones I faced at Smouse, but just as equally rewarding.
Hello Pleasant Hill Families!
May I start by saying I have the most AMAZING job in the world!! I get to do two of my most favorite things all day: create works of art and help students learn and grow artistically!
I graduated from Iowa State University with a BA in Curriculum & Instruction (K-6) and an endorsement in Art Education (K-8). I have enjoyed being a teacher in the Des Moines district for many years. I taught first grade for 7 years and Kindergarten for 4 years before deciding that I needed to grow my other passion, visual art, as well. Lucky for me, there was an opening at the best elementary school in Des Moines!
When I am not teaching, I am enjoying life at home and in the community. I have a wonderful son who is a former student here at Pleasant Hill. We like to hang out and play at home, go to farmer’s markets, ride our bikes, go to the zoo, and go to Adventureland, particularly Adventure Bay!
I am so excited to see everyone again this fall and meet the new families that will join our fantastic family! I can’t wait to see what all of our talented young artists have in store for us this year!
I live in the country near Runnells with my husband Jerry and our beautiful dog Bella. Our daughter Kate is also a Registered Nurse. I love to read, knit, swim, ride my bike, take Bella for long walks, and play piano. I have done many different kinds of nursing, but I love being a school nurse the best!
I attended Iowa State University where I majored in Elementary Education. I started my teaching career in 1991 in the Des Moines Public Schools as a substitute teacher. I have taught kindergarten, 1st, 4th and 5th grades. For sixteen years I taught fourth grade here at Pleasant Hill, but moved to fifth grade for the 2014-2015 school year. I will be teaching 5th grade again this year. I have one son Zach, who is a driver for United Parcel Service. He is also a graduate of Iowa State University. I am married to a wonderful man named Brad who has two grown children. We have two wonderful grandchildren, Grant who is 10 years old, and Stella who is 5 years old. Together we enjoy antiques, movies, gardening, bicycling, going for rides in our 1967 Mustang convertible, playing with the grandchildren and going for long walks.
Hi, my name is Trana Hanna. I am a Filipina, but lived in Thailand for 17 years. I am a Special Ed Associate at Pleasant Hill Elementary.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing but decided to be with our youngest daughter who was starting 1st Grade when we moved to the US in 2005.
I started as the Noon hour Associate/Volunteer in her classroom, then as a Library Associate for the next ten years.
I enjoy gardening, spending time with Family, soccer and playing with my Aussie.
My name is Amanda Horstman. I grew up in Colorado and moved to Iowa right after I graduated high school. My family and I live in Pleasant Hill and love it here. My husband Fred and I have been married 16 years. We have four sons (Yes my house is crazy!) The youngest one attends Pleasant Hill Elementary, the middle two attend SEP for 7th grade and 10th grade, and one who is 23 and lives near Iowa City.
I have been teaching kindergarten for 14 years and still love every minute. I love seeing the growth the students make throughout the year and the light in their eyes when they learn something new. Being a teacher is the most rewarding job a person could have. Kindergarten changes kids in ways most could never imagine. They absorb everything and are always looking forward to new learning both socially and academically.
In my “free” time I love to be outside, go running, going to Hawkeye sporting events, and spend time with my family. My biggest hobby is definitely running. I have run 8 half marathons and countless 5K and 10K races as well. I usually run with my great friends Mrs. Bowman and Mrs. Madsen. I am always looking for a challenge for myself, my family, and my students!
I was born and raised in Des Moines. I attended McKee Elementary, Hoyt Middle School for, and East High School. I am a PROUD member of the East High Alumni Association as is my husband Patrick. We are currently working towards establishing a scholarship for graduating seniors.
We both coach at East High, I am the head girls Varsity Swimming Coach, and Patrick coaches Cross Country. We both also coach middle school sports. Patrick teaches at Goodrell Middle School.
I attended Minnesota State University where I was a member of the Varsity Swim Team. I transferred to UNI where I swam one season for the Panthers and played one season of Rugby. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Spanish minor in 2000. I am certified to teach K-6 General Classrooms and K-8 Spanish.
I obtained my Master’s Degree from Viterbo University in LaCrosse, Wisconsin in May of 2016. I have a master’s degree in Educational Leadership.
Our son Tyler attended Pleasant Hill Elementary and is an 8th grader at Goodrell Middle School. Tyler is involved in Soccer, Swimming, Cross County, and Track. Tyler spent much of June in Kofu, Japan as a part of the DMPS exchange program. Tyler’s activities keep us very busy.
We love to travel. This summer we went on a European, Scandinavian cruise, the included a stay in St. Petersburg, Russia. Last summer we traveled to Alaska and Canada, and I have now been to ALL 50 States and 14 countries! We love going on road trips and especially like to visit the National Parks, Arizona for Cubs Spring Training and Florida.
I grew up in the small northeastern Iowa town of Maynard and attended UNI and Viterbo University.
I taught kindergarten and Reading Recovery in Waterloo before moving to the Des Moines area over 20 years ago. In Des Moines, I am the Reading Recovery Teacher Trainer for our district and for Heartland AEA and am also a part-time coach here at Pleasant Hill. The best part of my day is working with the students and staff at Pleasant Hill!
In my spare time, I enjoy gardening, raising chickens, and spending time with my husband and three sons.
Hello! I am Natalie Madsen. I am originally from Mount Prospect, Illinois (a northwest suburb of Chicago). I first came to Des Moines when I attended college at Drake University! Go Bulldogs! I have my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Reading. I also completed my Master’s degree in 2013 which focused on Curriculum and Instruction. I student taught at Pleasant Hill in spring of 2009 with Nancy Jennings in 3rd grade. I loved it so much, I had to come back and teach here!
I have been teaching at Pleasant Hill since 2010 and have been at second grade for the past seven years. I live in Ankeny with my husband Brian and our lab/boxer mix, Julius! When I’m not teaching, you can probably find me at a dog park, reading, or running!
I was born and raised in Des Moines. I attended Watrous Elementary (which is now Morris Elementary), McCombs Middle School and Lincoln High School. I absolutely loved school and want to instill that love and respect I have for education into my students.
I decided to become a teacher after working with special needs students as a teacher associate at Smouse Opportunity School. I went to college as a non-traditional student and graduated in 2004 from Simpson College in Indianola. I have a BA in Elementary Education, Reading Endorsement and a Special Education Endorsement. I taught Special Education for 10 years, 2nd grade for two years and 1st Grade for three years. I truly love working with children! I am so excited to be teaching 1st Grade again this year!!
I am married to Flip and we have two children. Jadie is a graphic artist for Meredith Corporation here in Des Moines. Cody moved to Colorado and works for Miller Coors. I have the privilege of being a grandparent to two precious kids! In my spare time, I enjoy playing games with my family, decorating my house, and gardening.
I am very thankful and appreciative to be working at such a wonderful school where every student’s education is a priority. I look forward to meeting and visiting with all of my students’ parents. My door is always open, so please contact me at any time with any questions or concerns.
Welcome to Team 3N (3rd grade) at Pleasant Hill Elementary!
My name is Michelle Nelson, I reside in Des Moines with my husband Jim O’Brien and chocolate Labrador mLee. We are blessed to be near our children and grandchildren.
I have an elementary education degree and reading endorsement from Buena Vista University, as well as graduate credits from Kaplan, Morningside, and Drake Universities. 2019-2020 represents my 19th year as an educator!
Our classroom is a community of caring, respectful, and responsible learners: Taking risks, making mistakes, and sharing while learning both independently and collaboratively is expected. Please review and sign your child’s planner daily; reminders and homework will be notated. If you have any questions and/or concerns, please contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or 515.242.8432.
Pleasant Hill Elementary is an exceptional school community! Join us in celebrating your child’s academic and social-emotional growth.
I attended Grand View College. I graduated in 1999, majoring in Elementary Education. I received endorsements in the area of Reading, Language Arts, and Early Childhood. I am starting my 21st year of teaching. My first year of teaching was in Newton, Iowa. I taught 1st and 2nd grade reading. Then, I taught four years at Wallace Elementary in Des Moines. There, I taught 4th and 5th grade and was also the 3rd-5th Literacy Leader. This is my 16th year at Pleasant Hill teaching 5th grade. My husband, Mike, is the elementary principal at Runnells Elementary School in Runnells, Iowa. We have been married 20 years. Our son, Brett, is an 8th grader and our daughter, Kendall, is a 6th grader. I graduated with my Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Viterbo University in Wisconsin during the summer of 2005. We also have a Miniature Dachshund named Sugar. I enjoy spending time with my two children and the rest of my family, friends, and of course, Sugar!
I am the instructional coach at Pleasant Hill, as well as teaching Reading Recovery. I live near Pleasant Hill and have 4 children: Megan, Alex, Monique, and Jordynn. I enjoy reading, playing the flute, being physically active, playing games, and hanging out with my friends and family.
This will be my 20th year teaching at Pleasant Hill Elementary School. Over the years, I have taught 1st grade, 4th grade, and special education. I love teaching, being with family and friends, working in the yard, and being active in my church. My husband is a general contractor. He started his own business over 25 years ago: JRitter Contracting. Our son will be a sophomore in college this fall in Missouri.
Hello Pleasant Hill students and families, my name is Doug Rucker! This will be my 5th year teaching in Des Moines Public Schools. Prior to graduating, I also served as an AmeriCorps member for 2 years at a DMPS school. In 2015, I received my bachelor’s degree in K-6 elementary education with a K-8 reading endorsement from Upper Iowa University. In 2019, I received my Master of Higher Education degree, also from Upper Iowa University. Go Peacocks!
I live in Ankeny with my wife, Nicole, and our two sons, Henry (5 years old) and Bob (3 years old). This will be Henry’s first year of kindergarten and Bob will begin preschool. We enjoy watching movies, going outside and being active, relaxing at home, and traveling to visit family and friends. My wife and I moved to Iowa in 2012 from Illinois where we both grew up in small, rural towns.
I am excited to teach 4th grade at Pleasant Hill Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year!
Hello Pleasant Hill families!
I live in Pleasant Hill but grew up in Perry, Iowa. I received my Bachelors from Drake University. Before joining Pleasant Hill Elementary, I supported families in the Head Start program, taught Pre-Kindergarten for 4 years, and was a substitute teacher with Des Moines Schools for 2 years. I am the Treasurer for Pleasant Hill PTO, the technology specialist, gifted/talented advocate and the Student Council sponsor for Pleasant Hill. I love being a part of the wonderful community at Pleasant Hill Elementary and working with a truly amazing and gifted staff.
My husband, Patrick, works in telecommunications in Pleasant Hill. We have two children, Kaitlyn (4th grade at Pleasant Hill) and Nicholas (6th grade at Grandview Christian). We have two pets, Louie (dog) and Zoey (cat) and enjoy family time camping, playing board games and reading books.
Hi! My name is Denise Weston. This is my 8th year of teaching English language learners (ELL).
I teach half time at Pleasant Hill and half time at Willard Elementary. I graduated with my BA in education from Upper Iowa University in 2012, and a master’s of science in education from Drake University in 2017. I am passionate about teaching and learning. I tell my ELL 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, as well as provide many opportunities in the workforce for them in their future. I also love teaching and learning from my students, who come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
My husband and I live in Altoona. We have been blessed with four intelligent, beautiful daughters, three amazing son-in-laws, and four adorable, energetic grandchildren. I love bike riding, swimming, walking, traveling, and spending time with my family!
Hello! It is hard to believe but Pleasant Hill Elementary has been my home for 23 years now! I live in Waukee, Iowa which leads to me always being asked, “Why do you make that drive every day?” and my reply is, “I love my school!” Pleasant Hill Elementary is an amazing school with an outstanding staff, wonderful students, and great families!
I grew up in the small town of Denison, Iowa where I was 1 of 12 children. My parents are Marlene and Gordon Wiebers. My mother passed away from cancer twelve years ago. I have four sisters and seven brothers. One of my greatest joys is being an aunt to my thirty nieces and nephews, as well as my almost 30 great nieces and nephews! It is always chaotic and loud when we are all together, but I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way.
After high school I attended AIB (American Institute of Business) in Des Moines were I earned an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and Office Management. I worked for 7 years as an office manager for a small sales business in Des Moines. I then decided to go back to school at Upper Iowa University in Des Moines and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. I also earned endorsements in Reading and Early Childhood.
I began teaching at Pleasant Hill Elementary in 1997. During my years at Pleasant Hill I have taught a first/second grade combination class for one year, a fourth/fifth grade combination class for one year, fourth grade for ten years, kindergarten for two years, intervention groups for one year, third grade for two years, fourth grade for two years, and this will be my fourth year teaching 2nd grade!
In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends, reading, shopping, and going to movies. I also enjoy watching or attending sporting events. I am a HUGE Denver Broncos fan, Iowa State Cyclones fan, as well as a Kansas City Royals fan! However, I am the biggest fan of my family, friends, and students!!!
I will be in my eighth year as music teacher of Pleasant Hill Elementary. I have been a music teacher in Des Moines district since the fall of 2006. Since beginning my music teaching career in the fall of 1997, I have taught vocal music at all levels from Kindergarten to 12th grade. During my tenure with Des Moines Public Schools, I have provided many different performance opportunities for students, including extracurricular choruses and show choir. At Pleasant Hill I direct the Panther Pride Show Choir and our Panther Pride Chorus who enjoy the opportunity to share out in the community, including a performance at the Iowa Cubs. I enjoy writing music for students, and I have written and performed several compositions over my years of teaching.
I believe in teaching the fundamentals necessary to help students take their music to the next level. I also believe in giving students many different performance opportunities to showcase their talents and develop confidence.
I have a son, John who is a freshman at Southeast Polk High, and my daughter Emma, who is in 6th at Southeast Polk both attended Pleasant Hill Elementary. My wife, Julie, is teaching Third Grade at Pleasant Hill Elementary. On the side, I own and operate a DJ business, “The Song & Dance DJ.” In the past, I have frequently used my DJ skills and equipment for various school events and look forward to continuing with those opportunities. I also work part-time for Colfax Tractor Parts as a farm equipment detailer.
During my time at Pleasant Hill, I have seen growth in the musical talents and involvement of students and am excited about the musical opportunities we will have at Pleasant Hill!
I graduated from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa with a BA in Elementary Education and endorsements in reading and special education. I taught third grade for four years in Manning, Iowa, and five years of fourth grade at Northwest Elementary in Ankeny, Iowa, before becoming a stay-at-home mom and Children’s Ministry Director at NewLife Church in the summer of 2008. I came back to teaching again in the fall of 2013 as the part-time interventionist here at Pleasant Hill Elementary. I returned to the classroom full-time as a third grade teacher in the fall of 2015. I’m looking forward to my fifth year teaching third grade at Pleasant Hill Elementary.
My husband, Scott, and I live in Altoona with our kids, John and Emma. John is in ninth grade at SEP. Emma is in sixth grade at SEP. It’s our first year without one of our kids in school with us! We have lots of fun camping, riding bikes, reading, playing games and going to Adventureland. I also enjoy watching the kids in their extra-curricular activities like chorus, band (including marching band), baseball and dance.
I’m a mom of 3 boys Jagger 6, Dominick 16, and Grant 15. My husband Mickey and I also have a Boston terrier named Daisy. I enjoy getting to help children learn everyday and working with the wonderful staff at Pleasant Hill Elementary!