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 and Seventh grade Language and Literature teacher at Merrill. This is my twenty-Third 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.
Sixth Grade Daily Planner:
This year will be my 6th year with Des Moines Public Schools. I began teaching at Roosevelt High School in 2017 after graduating from Drake University. I moved to Merrill in 2021 and love the community and students, especially with connections to the students I worked with at Roosevelt. When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time at home with my boyfriend and our dog Peanut. We recently moved to a new house in the Waveland Park neighborhood and have spent lots of time exploring and making it home! I also love running, yoga, and any activity that brings me outdoors.
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.
This is my 5th at Merrill. I have taught three different subjects, but science is by far my favorite!
I attended college at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IA and graduated with three undergraduate degrees: biology, Spanish, and secondary education. During my time at BVU, I had the opportunity to study abroad in three different countries, Spain, Australia, and Costa Rica. I also earned my masters from Buena Vista in teacher leadership with an emphasis in teaching English as a second language (TESL). During my summers, I do research at Iowa State University with Serb Lab. The focus of their research is scallops and eye gene expression. I was fortunate enough to be published for my research! In my free time, I am often cooking, planning my next trip or attending to my urban jungle.
When you walk into my classroom, you will see a myriad of plants from around the world. Most plants will be growing in soil, some will be grown in a hydroponics system, without any growth medium, and some will be propagated and ready to be taken home! I am always willing to accept plant donations!
I began my career teaching 2nd grade and then 3rd grade in Postville, Iowa. After two years in Postville, I took a year off of teaching to earn my M.A. in Reading and Language Arts from UNI. I’ve been teaching at Merrill since 2002. My first eight years at Merrill were teaching Reading Intervention. Then I decided I needed a change and began teaching 7th grade Language Arts. As a teacher, I do my best to listen to my students, provide flexibility within a predictable structure, and be fair. One of my favorite quotes is “Fair doesn’t mean everyone gets the same. Fair means everyone gets what they need.” I really try to hold myself to following the meaning of that quote and make sure students understand that. Outside of school, I like to spend time with my family, read, and exercise.
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.
Megan “Señorita” Vernon started teaching at Merrill in 2020. She has taught Spanish in South Korea, Arizona, Omaha and Northern Spain. She is a proud Cyclone married to a Hawkeye. Megan and her husband, Conrad, live with their sassy cat, Rubicita and an athletic, energetic cattle dog, Franky.