Hi! My name is Katie Baker. I began teaching for Des Moines Public Schools in 2000. I taught 2nd grade for many years and currently teach Kindergarten. I’m married and we have two teenage daughters. I love gardening indoors and out, spending time with family, and have a passion for reading. Looking forward to another fantastic year at Samuelson.
Hello! My name is Jennifer Butz. I have been teaching in Des Moines since 2008. I earned my undergraduate degree from The University of Iowa in 1999 and my graduate degree from The University of Oklahoma in 2004. I taught 1st and 2nd grade in North Carolina for two years, 1st/2nd grade Multiage in Mannheim, Germany for five years, for the first four years in Des Moines I taught 3rd grade, and have taught 5th grade for the past six years. I’m so excited to be a part of Samuelson’s staff as this is where I began my educational path as a kindergartener! I look forward to instilling a love of learning in children, and challenge them to read, read, read! I love teaching because of those “AH-HA” moments, and when students make a connection to the real world while in a lesson. I look forward to being a part of each child’s educational path!
Hi! My name is Kaitlin Clough and I am thrilled to be teaching 1st grade at Samuelson Elementary! I grew up in Fort Dodge, Iowa and then attended Iowa State University for my undergraduate degree. In May of 2017 I graduated from Drake University with a Masters of Science in Education degree. I previously taught 2nd and 1st grades for the Marion Independent District, before moving to Des Moines where I live with my husband Ben and our dog, Ginny. I love to spend time with my family and friends, bake, watch movies, and go out to eat at new restaurants! I love working with children and helping them grow emotionally and academically, so please know that I look forward to coming to work each day to help them do exactly that!
Hello! My name is Diane Conzemius. I have been teaching at Samuelson for six years. I graduated from Upper Iowa with a BA in Elementary Education and endorsements in early childhood and reading. I also, have a Master’s in Differentiated Instruction from Graceland University.
I live in Ames with my husband Roger and my dog Daisy. We have seven grown children and eight grandkids. I love spending time with my family, gardening and teaching the students of Samuelson!
Hello! My name is Megan Davidson and this is my third year teaching here at Samuelson. I graduated from the University of Iowa in 2007, and worked in the insurance field prior to following my passion of teaching. In 2015 I earned my Masters of Science in Teaching degree from Drake University with endorsement in ELL and reading. Being a teacher has been an amazing career change for me, and I feel so fortunate to work with all of the wonderful students and staff at Samuelson.
I also recently got married in September and enjoy spending time with my husband. We both love to read, watch movies and cheer on the Iowa Hawkeyes together! Having grown up in Urbandale, I am lucky to have my parents here in town and love spending time with my family. In my free time, I also enjoy hot yoga, cooking and doing crafts.
Hi! My name is Marisa DeVito and I am very excited to be teaching 2nd grade this year at Samuelson! I recently graduated from Drake University with a BSE in Elementary Education with a Reading endorsement. I also have a minor in Leadership Development.
I am originally from the Kansas City area (Missouri side) and am now proud to call Des Moines my new home. In my free time, I love to travel and spend time with friends, family, and my two puppies, Dolly and Toby. I am looking forward to working with all of the Samuelson students and staff and am ready for a great year of learning ahead!
Hi! I am Shannon Groth and I have been a part of this dedicated Samuelson staff since 2006. I have taught in the Des Moines Public School district since 1992. I graduated from Iowa State University in 1990 with a Bachelors Degree in elementary education. I received my masters in education from Graceland in 2010. In my free time I love traveling, reading, and spending time with my family. Teaching, as a profession, is something I have been doing since 1990 and I can not imagine anything else I would rather be doing.
My name is Kim Hofbauer. I am proud to be a 1st grade teacher here at Samuelson. I have been teaching first graders for over 20 years. It’s been a joyous career that I truly love. I hope to inspire my students to find excitement as they begin their journey of learning. I have 2 boys, Christian and Elijah. Christian is a senior at Iowa and Elijah is a sophmore at Waukee High School. I enjoy cooking, bargain shopping, farmer’s markets, reading biographies and walking my dog, Marley. I look forward to making positive connections with my students and their families.
Hi! My name is McKenzie Larson. I am so excited to begin teaching kindergarten at Samuelson! This will be my first year teaching- yay! I can’t wait to meet the kindergarten students and start a year full of learning and fun! I just graduated from Iowa State University in May 2019. Outside of school I love to travel, go to sporting events, watch movies and be with friends and family. I am looking forward to a GREAT year!
Hi! My name is Christine Lawler. Samuelson has been an amazing place to teach and learn. I graduated from the University of Iowa in education in 1986 and started my teaching career in Dallas, Texas. I returned to Iowa in 1994 and began teaching in Des Moines Public Schools. I received my masters in education from Graceland University in 2010. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
Hi! My name is Leanne Lewis. This will be my first year teaching Kindergarten at Samuelson and I am very excited about it! I previously taught Kindergarten in England for five years! I love teaching and can’t wait to help each and every one of my students develop a love for learning and to discover new interests. When I am not at school, I love spending time with my husband, taking my dog Soshi for walks, cooking, kayaking, and traveling the world. My favorite place that I have visited so far is Japan. I am looking forward to a fun-filled year!
Hello, my name is Melissa Martin. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching fifth grade at Samuelson for seven years. My first Samuelson students are graduating in May! Before landing here, I enjoyed being a 6th grade teacher at Harding Middle School, also in DMPS. I grew up in Des Moines, attending Woodlawn, Meredith, and Hoover. In December 1999, I graduated from Iowa State University. It’s fun to teach in my old neighborhood. Currently, my husband, son, daughter, and I live in Johnston. We enjoy traveling, playing outside, biking, gardening, and exploring.
In December 2017 I will graduate from Drake University! I’m earning my Master’s Degree in Culturally Responsive Leadership and Instruction. This will not take me out of my fifth grade classroom, it will enhance my teaching to benefit my students. My students know I hold high expectations of them and believe in their success. I value each student’s culture and uniqueness while I also help each child feel like they fit in. I feel incredibly blessed to have the best job in the world. I love spending my days with the amazing children of Samuelson Elementary.
My name is Denie Rew. I am so honored and proud to be a member of the Samuelson community! I have been a teacher with Des Moines Public Schools since 2003. During my career I have worked in preschool, home intervention, and classroom. I received my teaching degree from Iowa State University (Go Cyclones!!) in the areas of Early Childhood Education and Special Education, and I am currently earning my reading specialist endorsement. I am always excited for new learning opportunities and growing as a teacher.
I currently reside in Urbandale with my AMAZING family! My family includes my husband Jason, my daughter Dennan, my son Dayne, and our sweet pug, J.T. Our family loves going camping, playing sports, and watching our beloved Cyclones.
My goal is to always provide a fun, caring, and positive learning environment for every child that enters my classroom!
Hi! My name is Leah Sengbusch. I am so proud to be a part of Samuleson! I have been a teacher with Des Moines Public Schools since 2007. I have taught both 3rd and 4th grade during my career. I received my teaching degree from Iowa State University in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Language Arts. I am always excited for new learning opportunities and growing as a teacher. I am certified in Level 1 and 2 for the International Baccalaureate Program and have been to training’s for Responsive Classroom and Project Based Learning just to name a few. I am always looking for new opportunities to learn. I hope to pass on my passion for learning to my students, as well as, showing them that mistakes are awesome opportunities to help us grow.
My husband and I enjoy spending time with our 3 year old son and our new infant daughter. I love camping, riding motorcycles, cooking, walking our dog, and watching movies.
Hello! My name is Rachel Venard-Konchalski. I am so proud to be part of Samuelson Elementary. I have been a teacher with Des Moines Public Schools since 2008. I have been a substitute teacher, ELL teacher, and a 4th grade teacher. I received my teaching degree from Upper Iowa University in Elementary with Endorsements in English/ Language Arts, ESL/ELL, Reading, Social Studies, and Middle School Education. I enjoy learning about history, reading, and spending time with my pets. I am looking forward to another fantastic school year.
My name is Lisa Weatherall and I love teaching second grade! I attended Iowa State University to earn my bachelor’s degree in education and later attended Graceland University for my master’s degree in Education. I began my career in Des Moines Public Schools at Moore Elementary where I taught special education for 4 years before becoming a second grade teacher. I taught at Woodlawn for a year before we switched to the Samuelson Building. I enjoy working in the Beaverdale neighborhood and I love the diversity of our students. My husband Jim and I have three teenage children, who keep us very busy. We spend most of our free time involved in their athletic or school activities.
Hello, my name is Patricia Williamson and I am beginning my 32nd year of teaching elementary school with 23 years being in the Woodlawn/ Samuelson neighborhood. I take great pride in knowing that I have played a part in making Samuelson Elementary the best elementary school in Des Moines. I truly love my job and have put a great deal of my time into educating the children in this network. I am a graduate of Iowa State University and have stayed connected to the University by collaborating with them to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math opportunities (STEM) into my classroom. I have one daughter who is finishing her final year in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program at Des Moines University. She was a former soccer player at ISU as well. I am an active member in my church at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines. I enjoy flower gardening, yard work, reading, long walks and family. I believe relationships are very important to establish and hope I can build a lasting relationship with your child and with your family this school year that will last my lifetime.
Hi! My name is Lyndsey Vandello. This is my fifth year teaching, but my first year teaching 2nd grade. Prior to teaching at Samuelson, I taught 6th grade for two years and 4th grade for two years in Ottumwa. I love working with kiddos of all ages and learning just as much from them as they do from me!
I attended the University of Iowa, which means I am a Hawkeye fan! I love to read and watch movies, as well as spend time with friends and family. Of my two brothers and two sisters, I am the oldest. My youngest siblings are 9 and 10, so I travel frequently to see them and we have lots of sleep overs! I recently adopted a four month old puppy who loves to go for walks and cuddle on the couch.
I am so excited for this year at Samuelson! I look forward to working with your students and learning and growing alongside them!