Hello. My name is Ms. Raquel Allende (the two LL’s make a y sound ). I began my teaching career in California several years ago. For two years I lived and taught in the beautiful Emerald State, Washington. It was Virtual fun! I’ve taught Kindergarten through 3rd grade general education. Last year, I worked with Deaf students in middle school. It was an incredible experience and I enjoyed teaching and learning with Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. However, I am excited to return to elementary to work in early education. I graduated from California State Polytechnic University with a BA in Liberal Arts and from Walden University with a MA in Education. I speak Spanish and communicate in American Sign Language.
My three adult children live on the west coast with their families. I live with my adorable Yorkshire Terrier along with extended family. I enjoy being on the water and in nature. I especially enjoy taking road trips!
I hope to instill the joy of learning and to provide a safe welcoming place to learn!
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 Mark Battista. I’ve been a teacher at DMPS since 2007 teaching both 4th and 5th grade. I have received a bachelor and master’s degree from Drake University. I reside in Urbandale with my fiancé, Erica and our dog, Bocce. In my free time I enjoy golfing, playing hockey, and cheering for my Minnesota sports teams.
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 ten 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 challenging 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!
Hello! My name is Diane Conzemius. I have been teaching at Samuelson for 10 years. I previously taught kindergarten and preschool. I graduated from Upper Iowa with a BA in Elementary Education with endorsements in early childhood and reading. I also, have a Master’s in Differentiated Instruction from Graceland University.
My husband and I have seven grown children and eight grandkids. Last year we moved to Des Moines from Ames. I love spending time with my family, gardening and supporting the Hawkeyes and Minnesota Vikings. A priority for me is to build good relationships with my students and their families.
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 this will be my 4th year teaching 2nd grade here at Samuelson. I graduated from Drake University in 2019 with a BSE in Elementary Education, a Reading endorsement, and a minor in Leadership Development. I am currently getting my Master’s in Culturally Relevant teaching through Drake University. I always love to find new ways to grow and educate myself alongside my students.
I believe in creating a space where students feel safe and supported and know that they are cared for every day. I want students to feel comfortable to take risks in learning, understand that mistakes are part of our educational journey, and believe in their ability to learn as much as I believe in them. I am looking forward to a wonderful 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.
I am so excited to be in 3rd grade at Samuelson. Here is a little about me: My husband works at Iowa State at the Bio Century Research Farm. We have 2 kids, Addie and Alex. We also have a dog named Annabelle who is a Cavachon (small, white, & fluffy). I grew up in the Chicago Suburbs and graduated from North Central College in Naperville.
Hi! My name is Denine Larson. I have been a part of Samuelson since 2018 and am thrilled to be teaching first grade. My prior experience at Samuelson has been as a reading interventionist. I graduated from Fort Hays State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. I received my Master’s of Science Degree at Emporia State University as a Reading Specialist/Master Teacher in 2008 and Licensure for Building Level Administrator in 2016. In addition, I earned National Board Certification in Literacy in 2004 and renewed again in 2014. I have a passion for learning and work hard to instill a love of learning in my students.
I am married and have two daughters living in the Kansas City area. My husband and I moved to Des Moines in 2018 from KC where I was a Reading Specialist for 13 years. Previously I taught 2nd and 3rd grade for 7 years. We love to explore all that Des Moines has to offer, especially the outdoors. I also enjoy traveling, reading, Zumba,, spending time with family and friends, and teaching my students at Samuelson. Establishing relationships with students and families is a priority to me and I look forward to making connections as we have a wonderful school year!
Hello! My name is McKenzie Larson. I am grateful to have been teaching at Samuelson since 2019. I have been teaching Kindergarten the whole time being here which I couldn’t be happier about! I love seeing these little ones learn and grow throughout the year! I can’t wait for a year full of learning, fun and lots of laughs!
I graduated from Iowa State University with an Elementary Education degree. I am currently getting my master’s from Drake University in Culturally Responsive Teaching! When I’m away from school I love cheering on the Cyclones and the St. Louis Cardinals and spending time with my friends and family!
Hi! My name is Leanne Lewis. I have taught Kindergarten for 8 years, five of those years were in England which is where I am originally from. I love teaching, helping my students grow, and seeing all the progression they make in their first year of school. I 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 Sam Fam! I’m William Morris and I have had the pleasure of teaching at Samuelson for 4 years now. The staff and students here would make anyone proud to be a Husky Pup! When I ‘m not teaching, I am hanging out with my family. My wife Jana is a teacher for Des Moines as well. Together we have two middle schoolers, Erin and Ryan. When I’m not at Samuelson teaching, you can find me at my kid’s extracurricular activities, traveling, playing with Daisy our golden doodle, or catching a baseball game, GO RED SOX!
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Hello! My name Claire Park and this is my second year in 3rd grade. I am so excited for a year full of learning and fun. I grew up in the Quad Cities, then moved to Iowa City for college (Go Hawks!). At the University of Iowa, I graduated with a BSE in Elementary Education and an endorsement in reading. I am planning to enroll at Drake University to begin my Masters in Culturally Relevant teaching. I am excited to expand my knowledge and grow as a teacher.
I believe creating a space with the student where they feel safe, brave, and supported throughout the year. I want students to feel brave to take risks in their learning so that we can grow together as a classroom. I am so excited to teach and learn alongside every bright mind that walks through my classroom door.
Hello! 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 with children from birth through second grade. I received my teaching degree from Iowa State University (Go Cyclones!!) in the areas of Early Childhood Education and Special Education, and have my K-6 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 two sweet pugs J.T. and Fizer. 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!
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 am a third grade teacher here at Samuelson. I grew up in St. Marys, Iowa and went to Martensdale St. Marys School. After graduating high school, I attended Iowa State University and earned my degree in elementary education. I attended Graceland University to earn my master’s degree. My husband and I have 3 wonderful children and one very sweet dog.
Hello! My name is Lyndsey Zobrist and I absolutely love teaching at Samuelson! I have been an educator for nine years but have been teaching at Samuelson for the last five years in both 2nd and 5th grades. I am currently taking evening and weekend classes at Drake University to get my Masters in Education. In my room we work hard, but we also make time for fun! I’m so excited to learn and grow with my students this year!