Mrs. Andersen joined the Merrill Middle School team last year bringing 13 years of teaching experience in special education primarily in the Middle School setting. Prior to teaching in Iowa, she taught in Raleigh, NC where she earned Teacher of the Year in 2016. Veronica works hard to connect with every student academically to provide strategies for success and personally to help strengthen their self-confidence to enhance their learning capabilities. She is one of the eldest of 9 siblings and was born and raised in Illinois.
Mrs. Courtney Copic has been teaching music for 21 years. She has taught at all grade levels (PreK-12th) and for many different music content areas. While piano and voice are her main instruments, she has directed band,
orchestra, and even steel drum ensembles. Currently, Mrs. Copic is teaching 6, 7, and 8th grade Vocal Music as well as 7th and 8th grade Applications of Music at Merrill Middle School. She is also the facilitator for the Show
Choir/Jazz Choir and APAT. In her free time, she serves on the International Baccalaureate Educator’s Network where she provides feedback for Arts curriculum around the world, is an Arts MYP Workshop Leader, and an
MYP Site Visit Team member.
This is my 22nd year of teaching, all here at Merrill. I work with students who have math and behavior goals. My day is spent teaching social skills and co-teaching two 8th grade math classes. My goal is to help students reach their full potential and prepare them for high school.
I live in Clive with my husband and two girls. As a family we enjoy watching Gilmore Girls, Survivor, Amazing Race, and the Great British Baking Show together. In my spare time I enjoy reading, going on walks with our mini Goldendoodle, playing board games, and going on family vacations.
I am Shanna Freeman, sixth grade Language and Literature teacher at Merrill. This is my twenty-second year in education, a majority of those years have been teaching sixth grade. I received my bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa and my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Thomas.
I live in Ankeny with my husband, our two daughters and our Labrador puppy. In my spare time, I love spending time with family and friends, vacationing anywhere near water, going for motorcycle rides with my husband and getting lost in a good book.
Some of my favorite things about teaching are watching my students’ minds grow, the challenges that come each day with teaching middle school and the fact that no day is ever the same.
I look forward to a year filled with personal and academic growth, fun and exciting learning and the pleasure of serving my students in their education.
I believe communication and a partnership between school and home is essential for a child’s success. Therefore, I welcome your questions and concerns throughout the year (Shanna.firstname.lastname@example.org).
***Please find a link below that will help you in navigating our learning each day in the classroom.
Sixth Grade Daily Planner:
This is year twenty-one for me teaching science at Merrill. My goal is for students to like science a little bit more, and hopefully a lot more, than when they start the year. Sparking curiosity, igniting experimentation, and solving problems that seemed unsolvable is at the root of science.
In my free time, I enjoy visiting state parks and national parks across the country. Road trips are great for the soul. I also enjoy hunting down the best slice of pie while on the road, often taking me into rural Amish and Mennonite communities. I recommend Golden Delight bakery in Kalona, Iowa and Kountry Korner down in Bloomfield, Iowa.
William (Bill) Hendricks
Kathryn (Lucy) McCormick
I came up through Des Moines Public Schools, through King, Perkins, Callanan, Roosevelt and Central, while swimming and coaching for the North Side Otters all the way. After graduating I went to Grinnell College where I majored in political science. My first teaching job was at Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa, which is one of the most unique and holistic schools I’ve ever seen. My teaching is also informed and inspired by some of the places I’ve had the opportunity to travel to, such as India, Zambia, Greece and Bangladesh. I hold two masters degrees, one from Teachers College at Columbia University and the other from Drake University. These places have helped me understand the global issues I teach about on a different level. I’m amazed and please to say this is my 11th year teaching; my 6th with DMPS.
My name is Eka Nahdiati. I teach 6th-grade math. Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked as a market research statistician—I love to work with numbers and make forecasts based on complex data sets. I earned my master’s degree in teaching at Drake University.
I live in Des Moines. My family and I love to spend time outdoors. Biking and canoeing are our favorite outdoor activities. We also spend a lot of time gardening flowers and vegetables.
Please reach out to me through my email (email@example.com) if you have any questions.
In the classroom, we use the curriculum from Kendall Hunt, Illustrative Mathematics. Families may support students at home with what we learn in class by accessing the material from Kendall Hunt website. We also use Desmos for students to do their work electronically. Links to the resources we use in class:
To access Desmos activities:
- On the web browser, go to desmos.com
- To log in, username is student’s email, password is student’s id
- Click on Students Homepage to look for the appropriate activity.
Hello, Mustang Family! My name is Hang Nguyen and I am one of the PE teachers here at Merrill.
This is my first year teaching. I graduated from ISU and now live here in DSM with my golden retriever, two cats, and boyfriend. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and kayaking.
I look forward to getting to know your student(s) and hopefully inspiring them to live active lifestyles.”
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Nolan
David (Dave) O’Connor
This is my 22nd and final year of teaching here at Merrill. Mrs. O’Connor (P.E. teacher at Merrill) and I will be retiring from teaching at the end of this school year. Prior to Merrill, I taught speech and debate for 10 years at West High School in Iowa City.. I’m a big fan of the Chicago Cubs and all University of Iowa sports, where I attended school. I’m a musician (guitar) and enjoy playing in bands. I’m looking forward to a fun final year here at Merrill.
Early American History is the 8th grade social studies course for students in the Des Moines Public School system. It is a survey course that begins with the arrival of the first human beings into what is today known as North America and ends with the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War. In between all of that, we study European Colonization of the America’s, the American Revolution and Founding, the creation of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and our representative form of government, Westward Expansion and the Civil War itself.
Hi, I’m Mary O’Connor and I am one of the PE teachers here. I’ve been at Merrill for 10 years, and I have over 30 years in the district. Yes, I have taught children of some of my first students. Our associate principal Mrs. Kennedy was also a student of mine. Time flies.
Mr. O’Connor is also a teacher at Merrill, he teaches 8th gr. Individuals and Societies. This is the last year of teaching for both of us. We are looking forward to being retired and doing some traveling when it is not the hottest part of the year.
The teams I root for are the Miami Dolphins (I was born there), the Chicago Cubs (Mr. O’Connor turned me on to them), and the Drake Bulldogs (I graduated from there).
Hello! This is my 3rd year as a teacher at Merrill middle school. I began my journey as a science teacher but now you can find me teaching business and technology.
I went to Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IA and graduated with three undergraduate degrees. I studied biology, Spanish, and secondary education. I also earned my masters from Buena Vista in teacher leadership with an emphasis in teaching English as a second language (TESL).
In my free time, I like to cook and travel as much as I can. When I am at home, you can find me hanging out with my Great Dane, Stanley.
Cathy Short has been a middle school teacher with Des Moines Public Schools since 2005. She is certified in math, language arts, French, social studies, business, economics and marketing. Currently, she teaches 7th grade math at Merrill Middle School.
A native of Des Moines, Mrs. Short graduated from The University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s degree in French as well as Economics and International Business and also earned a Masters in Business Administration focused in marketing. She worked in international marketing in the Chicago area for 15 years. Prior to teaching for DMPS, she taught business and math courses at colleges in Illinois.
She and her husband have been married for 30 years and have two daughters in their early 20’s.
Gabrielle (Gabby) Smithman
Hello! My name is Kaleigh Snyder and I am one of the Physical Education and Health Teachers at Merrill Middle School. This will be my first-year teaching at Merrill Middle School as well as my third-year teaching.
I enjoy hanging out with my friends and family. I like to spend my time outdoors or at the gym. My favorite outdoor activity is disc golf.
¡Hola! Me llamo Megan Vernon. I´m a high energy Spanish teacher and my happy place is in middle school. I grew up in Iowa, left to live an expat life in Peru, South Korea and Galicia (Spain). I love music and being outdoors.
My name is Kristin Vogel and I have been teaching middle school since 2003. I attended Merrill as a student and liked it so much that I came back as a teacher. After attending Iowa State, I received my master’s in education and continue to take classes as a life-long learner. I enjoy traveling with my family, am passionate about reading & giving book recommendations, and I just ran my first marathon to celebrate turning 40.
Please check this link to see all the great things we are doing in room 118. I look forward to an amazing year!