7-8 Year Old Team

Marja Bearda

7/8 Teacher

E: marja.bearda@dmschools.org

Biography

Hello, my name is Marja Bearda. I initially went to college to become a scientist and graduated from UW-Madison with a BS in Entomology in 1996. After four years, I realized working in a lab and staring through a microscope was not for me. Following graduation I took a year off and worked as an Au Pair in Norway, and soon realized teaching was my true calling! Thereafter, I returned to UW-Madison and earned by Bachelor in Elementary Education in 2001, and a Master's degree at Viterbo University in 2010.

I taught first and second grade for twelve years in Wisconsin before relocating to Des Moines. I couldn't be more thrilled to begin my first year at the Downtown School!

I am most passionate about teaching children the joy of learning. It is also my mission to teach children to be kind to one another, care for our Earth and strive to live greener, and to travel and see the world because, "Travel opens your mind as few other things do!"

Mollie Erpelding

7/8 Teacher

E: mollie.erpelding@dmschools.org

Rachelle Gerstel

7/8 Year Old Teacher

E: rachelle.gerstel@dmschools.org

Biography

Hello! My name is Rachelle Gerstel and I welcome you to my 7/8 year old classroom! I have been with the Downtown School since 2010. Before coming here, I taught first, second, and third grades for the San Bernardino City Unified School District in San Bernardino, CA for eight years. We then moved back to the Des Moines area where I had the opportunity to teach at the Downtown School. I attended Upper Iowa University and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in Reading and English Language Arts.

I am passionate about my family, always trying to keep them happy and organized. I have a wonderful husband and two boys who have attended the Downtown School with me. I enjoy watching my kids grow and try new things as they begin to mature in life. When I get a chance I like to work outside in our flower garden, read a good book, and bake for my family. School is another passion of mine. I have realized throughout the years that students learn more when they feel supported, and comfortable in their environment. I like to create an inviting environment for students, parents, and other community members that may visit our school.

Bruce Miller

7/8 Year Old Teacher

E: Bruce.Miller01@dmschools.org

Biography

Hello!  I am excited to be a part of the Downtown School!  I love the philosophy here and can’t wait to start our next project!  I moved to Iowa in August, 2012 from Virginia Beach, Virginia with my wife, Morgan, to be closer to family in Fairfield, Iowa. This is my 7th year teaching elementary school.  I graduated from Old Dominion University in 2006 with my Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.  It is truly awesome to watch a child learn, grow and be in control of their learning.

Melanie Schroeder

7/8 Year Old Teacher

E: melanie.schroeder@dmschools.org

Class Description

 

Biography

Hello! Welcome to our 7 & 8 year old classroom!

I grew up in Western Iowa, in the small town of Pisgah. My elementary and early childhood education degrees are from the University of Iowa -- Go Hawkeyes! In addition, I am a trained Reading Recovery Teacher and have my Master’s Degree as a K-12 Reading Specialist from Viterbo University. I have taught in Des Moines for over 20 years. My husband Kris and I have three teenagers; Evan at Iowa State, Sarah at Drake and Quinn at Waukee High School. Our family loves the Iowa and Chicago Cubs, my husband’s cooking, and reading. I am excited to join the Downtown School and am looking forward to a wonderful school year!