Hello, my name is Jill Alessio and I am Wright’s Gifted and Talented Consultant. I have been with Des Moines Public Schools for 25 years. I have served students and staff as a classroom teacher, Math Leader, Instructional Coach, and Dean of Students. I am married with three children. I enjoy family time, vacationing, and advocating for children. I look forward to getting to know the Wright Community and learning how I can serve them.
Hello! My name is Bethany Canestraro, and I am excited to be the Speech-Language Pathologist at Wright! I attended the University of Toledo in Ohio for my Bachelor’s and Master’s in Speech Pathology. This will be my second year, but my first year in Iowa. I am from a small town in Ohio and moved to Des Moines this summer, which has been great! In my free time, I enjoy biking, traveling, cooking, and spending time with my family and friends.
Hi! My name is Melissa Dohlman, and I support literacy at Wright through Reading Recovery and Instructional Coaching. I have been teaching at Wright since 2016. I graduated from the University of Iowa in December of 2004 and have been teaching since August of 2005. I have spent my years teaching Reading Recovery, 1st and 2nd grade. I have a passion for literacy and hope that it shows in my teaching, and encourages my students to have a passion for literacy as well. I am married to a middle school teacher, and we have four children. I don’t seem to have a lot of spare time on my hands, but I love watching the Hawkeyes, reading, and being a “dance mom”.
I grew up in Des Moines Public Schools and graduated from Roosevelt High School. I attended the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!) where I received a Bachelor’s in Social Work, followed by a Master’s in Counseling from Drake University. I have been with DMPS since 2012, and this is my fourth year in the role of school counselor. I love the students and staff at Wright Elementary and am always excited for a new school year!
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children, as well as our pets (2 dogs and a cat). I also enjoy spending time outdoors, music, and traveling.
My name is Zen, and I love being the therapy dog at Wright! I am a five year old Labradoodle and hanging out with kids is my favorite thing to do! I completed 18 weeks of obedience training, including advanced and specialized obedience. With the support of my family and lots of practice at home, I became a certified therapy dog. When I am not at school helping students feel calm and happy, I enjoy hanging out with my family, going for walks, and eating Milk Bones.
Hi! My name is Courtney Nichol, and I am Wright’s Instructional Coach. As our school’s Instructional Coach, I partner with teachers to support professional goals and student learning. I have been part of the Wright team since 2012 and love this amazing community! I am originally from Iowa City and have my Bachelors from The University of Iowa (Go, Hawks!) and my Masters in Literacy Education from UNI. When I am not at school I can be found reading, cheering on the Hawkeyes, spending time with family and friends, and hanging out with my husband, Corbin, and my dog, Lola.
My name is Jessica Ramirez, and I have been teaching at Wright Elementary since 2014. I graduated from Drake in 2014 with a degree in Elementary Education with specializations in reading and mathematics and received my masters in administration from Viterbo University in 2018. I have lived in Iowa my whole life and currently reside in West Des Moines. Some of my interests include reading, exploring the outdoors, baking and spending time with my family.
Hello! My name is Erica Rugama. The 2018-2019 school year will be my 10th year teaching at Wright Elementary. I graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College in 2002 with my degree in Elementary Education and have attended Upper Iowa University and Grandview University to obtain my special education endorsements. When I started teaching I never would have thought that my journey would take me to Wright and the world of special education. My passion is helping students learn to be productive and safe. Every day is new and full of possibilities; my goal is to help my students understand that. In my free time you can find me at home with my husband and four girls. I love to be outside, enjoy traveling, and I try to do as much reading as I can.
Hi students and families! Welcome to Wright Elementary. I am the Success Case Manager here. This will be my first year at Wright Elementary and second year with DMPS. As the Success Case Manager, I get the opportunity to meet and work closely with families in and outside of the school to ensure each child’s needs are being met. I am excited for the new school year and look forward to meeting and working with new and returning students.
Facts About Me:
- Went to middle school and high school in DMPS (May Goodrell Middle School, East High)
- Iowa State Alumni (Go Cyclones!!)
- Oldest of 7 siblings (all boys)
- Enjoy working out and hanging out with my family and friends
- Love learning and reading about new things.
Hi! My name is Heather Saville. I joined the Wright Elementary team in 2011 after spending two years in Waukee as a special education associate. I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in coaching. I enjoy spending time at the dog park with my black lab, Remy. I am also the Varsity Basketball Cheer coach at Norwalk High School. In my free time, I like to run, read and spend time with my family and friends.
Hello! My name is Sonja Wastvedt. I am the Reading and Math Interventionist at Wright Elementary. I moved to Des Moines in 2013 from Pennsylvania where I taught for 10 years. During those years I taught Gifted and Talented, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grades and was a Literacy Coach. Previously, I taught 3rd and 6th grades in North Carolina and 1st grade in Montana. My undergraduate degree is from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota and my Masters degree as a Reading Specialist is from Westminster College in Pennsylvania. I have also lived in Rochester, New York and Lolland, Denmark. I am married and have 3 children. In my free time I like to garden, swim, read, cook and play my harp.