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.
My name is Amy Beumer and I joined the Wright team in 2013. I am originally from Dubuque, Iowa but have lived in Des Moines since 2008. While living in Des Moines I have found that I love walking at Gray’s Lake, attending the farmers market and riding on the bike trails. In addition I enjoy reading and making art. I am looking forward to a productive, art-filled year with the student artists at Wright!
My name is Natalie Bradley. I have been at Wright Elementary since 2015. Before I came to Wright, I taught preschool, kindergarten and fifth grade. I have a degree in Elementary Education from Iowa State with endorsements in reading and language arts. (GO CYCLONES!) I love working with children and helping them learn and grow. My favorite part of teaching is watching a child gain confidence when they complete a difficult task. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family camping, hiking, watching movies, and playing board games.
Welcome to Room 115! My name is Wendy Call. I have been teaching in the Des Moines Public Schools for 23 years. This is my 18th year here at Wright, all at the fourth grade level. I received my Bachelors in Education at Grand View University and my Masters in Education from Viterbo University. My past time is spent walking, reading, shopping and spending time with my family. I am looking forward to a great year at Wright!
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 Courtney Christenson. I graduated from Iowa State in 2004 and I am a big Cyclone fan!! I was new to Wright in 2012 and absolutely love teaching 2nd Grade and being part of the Wright family. In my free time my husband and I enjoy traveling, camping and riding bikes together. I am an avid collector of moose items and a cat lover!
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”.
Iowa State University; BA K-12 Music Education
I have been teaching elementary music for Des Moines Public Schools since 2003 and I joined the Wright team in the fall of 2013.
I love music and enjoy playing the piano and singing. I also like to run, do aerobics, ride my bike, run and play with my two sons and pretty much anything else I can do to stay fit.
Hello, my name is Jacob Gebelein and this is my first year at Wright! This is my third year of teaching, as last year I was at East High School. I went to Upper Iowa University and Ellsworth Community College where I played football at both schools. I have spent most of my life in Des Moines as I grew up in West Des Moines and attended Valley High School. In my spare time I like to workout and spend time with friends and family. I am very excited to teach your child the importance Physical Education and the benefits it can have in his or her life!
Hello! My name is Jillian Hansen. I am a first grade teacher at Wright Elementary. I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Elementary Education and Minor in Technology. I have taught at Wright Elementary since 2018. When I am not at school, my hobbies consist of reading, exercising, and enjoying the outdoors with my family and friends.
My name is Mrs. Rachel Harmon. I figured out I wanted to be a teacher when I was a first grader, and I love helping shape the lives and minds of our young learners! I graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana with Bachelor’s degrees in both Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. I started my teaching career in Delaware in 2011 and moved to Iowa and Wright Elementary in 2016. I am married to my high school sweetheart, Matthew, and we have three fantastic children: Marcus, William, and Theresa. Outside of school, I love to read, sing, visit new places, and be creative.
Hi! My name is Nick Hinkle. I am excited to welcome you to Fifth Grade! I graduated from Iowa State University (Go Cyclones!) with a degree in Elementary Education and endorsements in Social Studies and Coaching. When I have free time, I enjoy spending it with my family and friends, going to the gym, and hanging out at the baseball diamond. I am looking forward to a fantastic year at Wright!
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 Erin Jennings and I teach Kindergarten! I started teaching at Wright in 2007. Before Kindergarten, I taught Special Education Behavior Disorders for ten years at Wright, Smouse, Orchard Place, and Muscatine. I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. My husband Ed is also a teacher. We have two boys. Our oldest is Evan, and he will be in 3rd grade. Our little guy is Elliott, and he will start Kindergarten this year in Ankeny! I also have a crazy dog named Henry and a cat named Monty (who thinks he is a dog). I love to travel, garden, ride my bike, read and play with my guys.
Hello, my name is Alica McElvain. I teach second grade at Wright Elementary School. I have been teaching in Des Moines for over twenty years. I received my bachelor’s degree at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. I am married with two sons. Our oldest son attends Iowa State University. Our youngest son is in 10th grade at Lincoln. On the weekends and throughout the summer I am busy being a spectator at all of my son’s sporting events. I enjoy reading and working in my yard and flower gardens.
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.
Hi, my name is Lindsey Redlinger. I have worked for DMPS since 2006. I graduated from Iowa State University with my degree in Elementary Education in 2006 and from Viterbo University with my Master’s degree in Education in 2011. GO CYCLONES! I have a passion for teaching reading and math. In my free time I enjoy kayaking and spending time with my husband Ryan, son Myles and dogs Sophy and Memphis!
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.
Mr. David Steinke is in his 9th year as a music educator in the Des Moines Public Schools and his 7th year as Assistant Director of Bands at Roosevelt High School. Duties include co-director of the Rough Rider Marching Band as well as Director of the Symphonic Band and Director of Percussion Activities on Des Moines West Side Feeder Pattern System.
Mr. Steinke also serves as Band Director for the Jackson, Jefferson, Howe, Park Avenue and Wright 5th Grade Band Programs.
Originally from Bettendorf, Iowa, Mr. Steinke owns two undergraduate degrees from Iowa State University in Visual Arts and in Instrumental Music Education as well as a Master’s in Media Design and Educational Technology from Full Sail University. Mr. Steinke is a member of the Iowa Bandmasters Association, South Central Iowa Bandmasters Association and the Percussive Arts Society.
Welcome to Fourth Grade in Room 113! My name is Maddy Swift, and I am so excited to be teaching at Wright Elementary again this year! I have been at Wright since 2017! I graduated from Simpson College with endorsements in Reading, Language Arts, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education. I am originally from Aurora, Colorado, but I love living in Des Moines. In my free time I enjoy cooking, watching the Broncos, drinking coffee, wandering around Target, being outside, and spending time with my friends and family. I am looking forward to a fantastic year!
Welcome to Third Grade! My name is Katie Thompson, and I have been at Wright Elementary since 2016! I previously taught Third Grade in St. Paul, Minnesota for two years, Fifth Grade at Edmunds Elementary (DMPS) for one year, and Fourth Grade at Wright for one year. I am an Iowa City native– Go Hawks!– and I love it here in Des Moines. I graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul, MN with my Elementary Education degree and an emphasis in Language Arts. I also played Division II softball there as a pitcher/infielder for all four years. In my free time, I enjoy playing with my Bernedoodle named Zeke, reading, playing & watching sports, traveling with my family, exercising, and coaching softball for Hoover High School.
Fun fact: I have a twin sister who’s also a coach/teacher for Des Moines Public Schools!
I look forward to a fun-filled year of learning with your student(s) at Wright!
Hi, my name is Penny Waddingham. I have been teaching at Wright since 2015. I earned my Elementary Education degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a reading endorsement from Morningside. Teaching is my passion, and I’m so excited to be returning to fifth grade. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband Scott and our two daughters Katie and Maddie.
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.