Perry Schools look to build momentum during new school year

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief

Everyone will be back in their own buildings when school starts next week for the Perry Community School District.

When school started last year, the high school shared its building with the middle school students as the middle school was being renovated. Superintendent Clark Wicks said the middle school students will be back in their own building to start the new school year on Aug. 23.

Grades 1-12 will start on Aug. 23. Half of the kindergarten classes will start on Aug. 24 with the other half on Aug. 25. The first day for all of the kindergarten classes will be Aug. 26.

“Overall, I’m emphasizing one key thing and that’s momentum,” Wicks said before the start of a new school year. “I think the thing that we’re most excited about is that we're gradually getting back to normal.”

Other new initiatives include the addition of a bus tracker system and a new cell phone policy.

Wicks said the new tracker system will gradually be implemented and will allow the district to “know where all of the students are and then on what bus everyday.”

“That’s going to be important because when you have a student who’s lost, we need to know where they are so we can help the parents get to the right spot,” he added. 

The new cell phone policy, which was recently approved by the school board, will be implemented on the first day of school. Middle and high school students will place their cell phones in a basket when they enter the classroom, Wicks said, “so we can focus on our standards and our student learning and teaching.”

Wicks also reemphasized momentum when it comes to increasing student test scores. 

“We’re making an assertive effort to have our Professional Learning Communities be a well-functioning and well-oiled machine as we look at student growth and student data and being able to respond to that data with differentiated instruction,” Wicks said. “We want to catch momentum with student success.”

That success will start on the first day of school.

“I’m always excited to get the year started,” Wicks said.

A number of new faces will also be in the hallways when school starts this week. 

Get to know the new teachers at Perry Schools

Paige Davidson

  • Position: Kindergarten
  • Year graduated from college: 2019, University of Dubuque
  • Degree: Elementary Education - reading, math, coaching endorsements
  • Experience: Three years total, one year in 2nd and two years in 4/5
  • Family: I live in Perry with my husband Brentlee, daughter Frankie and two poodles Duke and Nelson.
  • Hobbies: Reading, playing tennis and volleyball, playing with Frankie
  • Comments: I am so excited to be in Perry.

Chase Fletcher

  • Position: Elementary reading interventionist
  • Year graduated from college: 2020, University of Dubuque
  • Degree: BS Elementary Education (K-6)
  • Experience: I was a district employee for Urbandale the last two years filling long-term substitute positions.
  • Family: I have a 2-year-old dog
  • Hobbies: I play guitar, have been learning banjo and am restoring a 1975 200cc motorcycle.

Brooke Kingsley

  • Position: 2nd grade
  • Year graduated from college: 2020, Iowa State
  • Degree: Elementary Education
  • Experience: ½ year as a Title 1 interventionist at Perry, one year as a 2nd grade teacher at Panorama Elementary
  • Family: Two sisters, mom and dad, husband
  • Hobbies: Golf, reading, drinking coffee
  • Comments: Glad to be back teaching at Perry Elementary with my husband and mom!

Luke Kisker

  • Position: Elementary PE
  • Year graduated from college: 2019, University of Northern Iowa
  • Degree: Phys Ed
  • Experience: Half a year of student teaching and one year of substitute teaching
  • Family: Three brothers, one older, one identical twin and one younger
  • Hobbies: Watching/playing sports and spending time with friends and family
  • Comments: I’m excited to start my career here in Perry!

Shannon Koch

  • Position: 4th grade
  • Year graduated from college: 2019, Faith Baptist Bible College
  • Degree: BS Elementary Education
  • Experience: One year of subbing (2021-22)
  • Family: Husband, Ryan. He also teaches at Perry, 7th grade science
  • Hobbies: Fly fishing, hiking, doing puzzles, sports

Torian Lee

  • Position: Title 1 math
  • Year graduated from college: 2021, UNI
  • Degree: Elementary Ed, minor in Mathematics
  • Experience: Taught one year in Waterloo, 7th grade math
  • Family: One brother, one sister, mom and dad
  • Hobbies: Sports, traveling, concerts
  • Comments: Go Bluejays!

Meg Menke

  • Position: 1st grade
  • Year graduated from college: 2007, Wartburg College
  • Degree: Elementary Education, Masters in Education
  • Experience: Seven years - five in special education, two in 1st grade
  • Family: Husband, Ned and three kids, Pierce, Brynn and Miles
  • Hobbies: Cooking, bike rides and walks with my family, reading
  • Comments: I’m returning to 1st grade after spending eight years at home raising my kids.

Rachel Rothmeyer

  • Position: Title reading
  • Year graduated from college: 2017, Iowa State
  • Degree: Elementary Ed with reading, ELA endorsements
  • Experience: Four years in 2nd grade, one year in 4th
  • Family: My mom and dad live in Perry. I have a brother who attends ISU. I also have a corgi named Evie!
  • Hobbies: Reading, watching TV and spending time with friends and family

Brittany Rydstrom

  • Position: School counselor
  • Year graduated from college: 2021, Buena Vista University
  • Degree: Master in Education
  • Experience: Six years as a behavior interventionist 
  • Family: Spouse (Meghan), husky mix (Gus), mastiff (Hagrid)
  • Hobbies: Reading, video games, Dungeons and Dragons

Kersten Seeger

  • Position: PK
  • Year graduated from college: 1997, Drake University
  • Degree: Bachelor of Science - Elementary Education
  • Experience: Taught 3-4-year-old preschool, early childhood coordinator for a family resource center
  • Family: Married and have two sons
  • Hobbies: Reading and being outdoors

Cameron Smith

  • Position: High school social studies
  • Year graduated from college: 2019/2021, ISU/Upper Iowa
  • Degree: Political Science/Social Studies
  • Experience: Two years special ed associate at Waukee
  • Family: Mark (Father), Melanie (Mother), Marshall (Brother), Harrison (Brother)
  • Hobbies: Camping, hiking
  • Comments: My mother is a teacher at Van Meter

Martha Stetzel

  • Position: 7th grade special education
  • Year graduated from college: 2016, Iowa
  • Degree: Masters
  • Experience: Four years teaching in West Des Moines
  • Family: Recently married and have two dogs
  • Hobbies: Spending time with friends and family

Nick Wailand

  • Position: Elementary PE
  • Year graduated from college: 2022, UNI
  • Degree: Physical Education
  • Experience: Half a year of student teaching
  • Family: Too many siblings to county, ranging from 54-14 years old
  • Hobbies: Sports and hanging out with friends and family, traveling
  • Comments: I cannot wait to bring new and fun ideas into the classroom.

Ashley Webb

  • Position: High School English
  • Year graduated from college: 2022, University of Northern Iowa 
  • Degree: BA in Secondary English Education 
  • Experience: Three years as a writing tutor at UNI
  • Family: I come from a family of teachers - dad teaches at Ames High, mom is an association at Roland-Story, brother is in college for teaching
  • Hobbies: Singing and choreographing for local theater troops, writing and publishing my first novel
  • Comments: I am excited to become a part of the Perry community! 

Rachel Zwick

  • Position: 1st grade EL
  • Year graduated from college: 2018, Iowa State
  • Degree: Elementary Education with endorsements in ESL, reading, special education and social studies
  • Experience: Three years substitute teaching
  • Family: I have a fiancé, Matt. We have a dog named Lulu.
  • Hobbies: I love to travel as much as possible and attend hockey games.