DTS Staff

Beth Angier


E: elizabeth.angier@dmschools.org


Hello, I'm Elizabeth Angier but I prefer "Beth". I am a Registered Nurse, and hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology.

I am most passionate about my family, photography and people. I have three children. My older children live out of state, one in Georgia, the other in Canada. My youngest daughter will attend Callanan and lives here in Des Moines. My eldest son is a pilot for Delta Airlines, and also a pilot for the Army guard flying the Blackhawk Helicopter. My youngest son owns a dance studio in Canada which has approximately 950 students. I have 4 grandchildren, 2 boys, 2 girls ranging in the ages of 17 to 3. My 82 year old mother resides with me and has since the tragic passing of my father.

My camera follows me everywhere. I have spent countless hours shooting everything from a magnificent sunrise, the architecture of an open window in a collapsing barn or the many beautiful faces of which my family members often present. I also enjoy helping others. In the past, I have spent many years working with the homeless, both adults and children crawling into abandon buildings, walking the wooded areas, and working food vans, providing whatever attention was needed. I have volunteered with my church working various shelters, and food banks.

Erika Buckner

TLC Instructional Coach

E: erika.buckner@dmschools.org


Hello!  My name is Erika Buckner. I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, and received my Master's in Effective Teaching and Learning from Drake in 2009.

I started my career at The Downtown School in 2005, where I have been a 7-8 and 9-10 year old teacher, and an Instructional Coach. I also have experience as a Demonstration Teacher for the district as well as being a Trailblazer, working on integrating technology into the classroom and personalizing learning.

I love Project Based Learning and can't imaging teaching any other way! It's amazing to see the knowledge and independence in learning students gain throughout the process. I am passionate about the use of technology with students to further their understanding and personalize their learning experience. I also value building independent, reflective learners who are able to set goals and track their progress to see how much they are growing, taking charge of their learning!

Dawn Coppinger


E: dawn.coppinger@dmschools.org


Hello! I am Dawn Coppinger the new Professional School Counselor at the Downtown School. Previously, I was a substitute teacher for  multiple preschools, Van Meter Schools, and West Des Moines Public Schools. I was also a school counselor at Mann Elementary and did my counseling internship at Merrill Middle School. Prior to that, I was a special education teacher at Merrill Middle School, Windsor Elementary, and Meredith Middle School.  I was teaching for Des Moines Schools as I acquired my counseling degree from Iowa State University.  I grew up in Hull, Iowa, and moved to Des Moines after I graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with an Elementary Education degree and Special Education degree with emphasis on Behavioral disorders and Learning disabilities.

I live on an acreage by Waukee with my 4 awesome kids--2 boys and 2 girls-- my husband, family dog, chickens, ducks and other friendly animals. My children attend school at Van Meter Elementary and High School.  If there is any time left in my schedule, I enjoy reading, doing crafts and sewing with my girls, cooking, and anything in the snow or water (which we do as a family). I also love watching my kids participate in football, volleyball, soccer, basketball and track. I am really looking forward to this brand new year here!

If you have any questions or concerns about your child, please contact me at dawn.coppinger@dmschools.org.  Thanks!

Deb Croft


E: debra.croft@dmschools.org


Debra Croft is a University of Northern Iowa graduate, and holds a Master of Education in Collaborative Learning and Teaching for K-12 Educators from Graceland University. She has been teaching for 38 years, primarily as an interventionist. Her passions are family, educating children and exercise!

Hope Jones

Special Education Associate

E: hope.jones@dmschools.org

Dana L. Allen

Dean of Students

E: dana.allen@dmschools.org


I learned about the Downtown School when I was a high school student at Colfax-Mingo. Since then it was my dream to become a “Downtown School” teacher.  When I first heard about this school, I thought it was a dream and in the years I have been teaching here, I can’t imagine teaching in a better place.

When I chose what college to attend, I originally went to Buena Vista University, but when I was told I was unable to student teach with the Downtown School I made a change.  I transferred to Simpson College in order to connect with the Downtown School for my pre-teaching experiences.  I graduated from Simpson College in 2008 with my degree in Elementary Education concentrating in Reading & Special Education, Liberal Arts, and a minor in Psychology.

My history with the Downtown School goes back to 2006, when I was in college because I was fortunate enough to be chosen to do all of my pre-teaching at the Downtown School.  Since being hired with the Downtown School my journey here has gone in various directions.  I have worked with the 7/8 team, the 9/10 team and have worked as out school's special education teacher.  I am a part of our build leadership team and also share the position as our building technology specialist.

In addition to these building positions, hold a few roles  within the district.  I am a DMPS Trailblazer and TLC Demonstration Teacher.  You can find the work that I have done in both of these roles by following the links below.  In addition to all of my professional roles at the Downtown School and with DMPS, I am a UNI Panther.

Currently, I am working with the University of Northern Iowa as a part of their Urban Education Network.  This program is a principalship program focusing on schools in an Urban.  In addition to all of the work I am doing in our building and within the district, these next two years I will be expanding my knowledge and applying it to my work with students here at DTS.

Overall, my professional career with the Downtown school continues to seem like a dream!  I truly can't imagine a better place to be!



Please visit my links below to see the other district work I am involved in.





Deb VanWaardhuizen

Office Manager

E: deborah.vanwaardhuizen@dmschools.org


Hi!  My name is Deb VanWaardhuizen (it stands for "keeper of the house" in Dutch).  Most of the students refer to me as Ms. Deb or Mrs. V, but you can call me Deb.  You can find me at the front desk upon entering the school. I started in the district in August 2000 at Park Ave Elementary then moved to the Downtown School in July ’08.  Working in offices has been my main role, formerly with a Methodist Church and Simpson College.  When not at school you can find me camping, attending auctions, crocheting by the woodstove, or just relaxing on our 14 acres 30 miles SE of Des Moines.  I’m a “farm wife” and we’ve raised pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, llamas, donkeys, horses, chickens, ducks, cats, and dogs …. Did I miss anything??  Oh yes, the grandchildren – have 7 ranging in age from 2 to 19 - and we enjoy spoiling everyone, then sending home!  They all like to ride/drive our 8 antique AC tractors that my husband Robert collects and parades.  I’m a former 4-H member/leader and currently the Marion County Supt. for Dogs. We “train” kids to teach their dogs obedience and agility.   If you have any questions about the school, let me know and I’ll certainly try to answer them or I will find out who can.