New PCSD teachers bring diverse talents, bright ideas to profession

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A talented group of 23 new teachers — some locally familiar — will assume new duties with the start of the 2019-2020 school year. welcomes the new faculty and is proud to sponsor this gallery as a free service to the public.

Mari Butler Abry, librarian

Currently a library student at UNI who will graduate in December of 2020, Mari holds a 2014 degree in secondary English from Wartburg College. She has taught English at Mt. Pleasant for the past five years. A husband and three cats compose the Abry family, and Mari lists pairing, drawing, singing and reading as favorite hobbies.

Mackenzie Baldwin, High school language arts

Mackenzie’s 2019 degree from UNI is in English. She was a student teacher at North Polk Middle School and Des Moines Hoover High School. Mackenzie has one sister and lists reading, biking and spending time with family and friends among her hobbies.

Ryan Burger, High school information technology

Ryan is a 1990 graduate of West Des Moines Valley and a 1994 Iowa State grad with a degree in business with certifications in language arts and journalism as well. He has been self-employed for 20 years. He and wife Becky have four kids, the youngest still in high school, the older trio all working in eductation. Ryan enjoys church, retro video games and spending time with his family.

Casey Canaday, Sixth grade to eighth grade English language learners (ELL)

Casey received a degree in elementary education from Iowa State in 2018 and spent the past year as a middle school substitute. Along with husband Josh she enjoys traveling, going to movies, baking and cheering on the Cyclones.

Michael Craig, Third grade

Michael has a 2013 degree in elementary education and physical education from Faith and Simpson Colleges. He taught fifth grade in Colorado for two year and K-12 PE for two years in Wilmington, N.C. He and wife Ally had a son, Logan, and daughter, Hadley. Michael professes to a love of kayaking and hiking.

Benjamin Evans, High school language arts

Benjamin holds bachelor’s degrees in English literature and political science, earned in 2013, from Iowa and a 2017 master’s degree in English literature from Iowa State. He taught freshman and sophomore composition at Iowa State for two years. Benjamin enjoys reading, writing and taking walks.

Madison Gay, Elementary English language learners (ELL)

Madison is a 2019 grad of Central College with a degree in elementary education. Her family includes her parents and a younger sister. Madison lists hiking and baking among her favorite hobbies.

Veronica Gilreath, High school special education

Veronica graduated from Buena Vista University in 2018 and spent the past year as a substitute in the Sioux City school district. In addition to mom Diane, her family includes sister Brooke, brother Jacob and beloved dog Sadie. Veronica enjoys listening to music, learning new things and spending time with loved ones.

Kenneth Hegwood, High school science

Holder of a 2012 bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in science education, with math and reading endorsements, Kenneth taught at-risk students at Highland High School and biology at Washington High School. He and wife Mary have a son, Dustin Allen. Kenneth enjoys biking and swimming.

Aaron Lyons, In-school suspension supervisor

Aaron holds a 2015 degree in business from DMACC. He will serve his second year as varsity head basketball coach at PHS — his seventh overall as a cage coach — and will assist with football. He and wife Megan have a daughter, Abby, and a dog, Benji. Lyons enjoys sports, movies, collecting movie posters and hanging out with family and friends.

Holly Killmer, Seventh and eighth grade iJAG

Holly’s Iowa State degree in child and family sciences was awarded in 2000. The former preschool teacher and husband Kevin have three children — Kade, Macy and Kain. She enjoys watching her children’s activitites, camping and the Iowa State Fair in addition to being with her family.

Amanda McDivitt, Sixth grade reading

A 2019 grad of Upper Iowa University, Amanda holds a degree in elementary education. She has experience as a special education associate for DC-G schools. Her family includes husband Jeff, stepchildren Bella, Gavin and Lily and daughter Lauren. A fan of the outdoors, she lists gardening, fishing, boating, camping, horseback riding, traveling and reading among her favorite leisure activities.

Adam Modlin, High school math

Adam earned his master’s degree in secondary education from Drake University in 2019. He served as a substitute for a year and spent four years as in-school suspension supervisor at Perry Middle School and High School. Adam enjoys watching and attending University of Iowa football games, photography and gardening.

Scott Mortensen, Seventh grade social studies

A 2019 Iowa State grad, Scott earned a degree in history. While in college, he served as a kindergarten tutor. Family includes father Dana, mother Laurie and brother Kyle. He enjoys playing and watching a variety of sports and also takes pleasure in reading.

Megan Newland, Middle school special education

A 2019 Iowa State grad in elementary education, Megan student taught in both Des Moines and Cuenea, Ecuador. Her family includes her parents, three brothers and a sister, with reading, drawing and cooking her preferred hobbies.

Rachel Nuhn, Perry Child Development Center prekindergarten/special education

A December 2018 grad of Iowa State in early childhood education, Rachel has experience as a substitute. She has two older brothers and enjoys cooking and watching movies and TV.

Kelsey Pettijohn, seventh grade special education

With 2017 a degree in K-8 elementary and middle school education, Kelsey has been a substitute middle school teacher. The only child of Brian and Kelly, she hails from Bondurant and currently lives in Des Moines. She loves to exercise, travel, read and try new things.

Samantha Ruggles, Title I elementary reading

A 2019 degree in elementary education from Iowa State was earned by Samantha. She and husband Connor are kept busy by dog Charlie. Samantha enjoys baking, reading and yoga.

Alicia Schmitt, Elementary school counselor

Holder of a 2013 degree in psychology from Iowa State and a 2016 master’s in professional school counseling from Buena Vista, Alicia was an elementary counselor for Muscatine schools for the past two years. She and fiance Matt have a year-old golden-doodle dog named Winnie. She enjoys cooking, being outside, boating and spending time with family.

Broc Sorensen, High school business

Broc graduated in 2019 from Northwest Missouri State with a degree in business education. He spent three years as a teaching assistant at NWSU for introduction to American government and politics. Parents Danny and Holly and younger siblings Brody, Kyle and Sienna all live in Harlan. Broc enjoys golfing, volleyball, traveling, trying new things and spending time with friends and family.

Erica Stevenson, High school English language learning

Erica had taught middle school ESL in Athens, Ga., the past 1.5 years after graduating from Iowa in 2017 with a degree in elementary education with ESL, math and reading endorsements. The youngest of four, she was born and raised in Des Moines and enjoys taking her puppy to the dog park, cooking and watching movies.

Emmaleah Veldboom, Elementary English language learning

Owner of a 2019 degree in elementary education with ESL, ELA and reading endorsements from Iowa State, Emmaleah lists running, knitting, reading and traveling among her hobbies.

Katelyn Whelchel, Kindergarten

Katelyn returns to her alma mater after recently earning a degree in elementary education from Buena Vista. Her family includes parents Jeremy and Janelle and siblings Karley, Kamryn, Karagyn and Jayse. She will serve as an assistant coach for both volleyball and softball, with traveling, attending sibling sporting events, watching Netflix and spending time with family and friends among her most pleasant activities. welcomes the new faculty to the Perry Community School District and wishes them a share of Perry Pride in serving the young people of the school district and their families.


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