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.
My history with the Downtown School goes back to 2006, when I was fortunate enough to be chosen to do my pre-teaching at the Downtown School. I then received my undergrad from Simpson College in 2008 with my degree in Elementary Education, Liberal Arts, and a minor in Psychology. I received concentrations in reading and special education.
Since being hired with the Downtown School, in 2008, my journey here has gone in various directions. I have worked with the 7/8 team, the 9/10 team and I currently work as our K-5 special education teacher. I am also part of our build leadership team and our building technology specialist.
In addition to all of my professional roles at the Downtown School and with DMPS, I am a UNI Panther. I completed my masters in administration the summer of 2018 with University of Northern Iowa as a part of their Urban Education Principalship Network. My new learning has been a gift in preparing me for future roles in our district.
I am grateful for my professional career with Des Moines Public Schools and the Downtown School. It continues to be a dream! I truly can’t imagine a better place to be!
My Mission: Support a school culture that focuses on cultivating the skills needed for every child to fulfill their future dreams.
Please visit my links below to see the other district work I am involved in.
Or feel free to browse through my journey with UNI.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Hi! I couldn’t be happier to be here at DTS. I’m excited to be working with this great team and all these wonderful kids.
I grew up on the Southside of Des Moines and attended DMPS myself. My Dad taught for Lincoln High School and the district for over 35 years. I graduated from LHS as well as both of my daughters. We now live in Norwalk where my husband, Scott, and his family are from.
I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Science of Nursing from Grand View University. I have worked over 25 years in a variety of settings. The past 22 years I worked Internal Medicine at UnityPoint. Recently I was a Care Manager who specialized in working with high-risk patients and their families. Teaching Diabetes Education as well.
My husband Scott is an Engineer with Union Pacific. We have two daughters, Sarah and Jenna. Sarah just started her career as a fourth-grade teacher with DMPS. My youngest daughter Jenna is a college student at Iowa State University majoring in Elementary Education.
I have a lot more time now that both of my daughters aren’t home much. I enjoy traveling, reading and spending time with my three French Bulldogs, Nora, Lincoln and Pearl. They keep me on my toes!
Van Waardhuizen, Deb
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.