Mentor teachers

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Picture of Darla ArendsDarla Arends

Model Teacher, Mentor Teacher

Darla Arends (Miss Arends) is a Learning Center Educator (Special Education) and Team Teaches in English 

She was raised in Zearing Iowa, the home of the 40 horse hitch with Dick Sparrow. She attended and graduated from NESCO community schools. She completed my under graduate education from the University of Iowa. She has 4 brothers and a sister, 11 nieces and nephews, and 13 great nieces and nephews and loves being around my family. She is a fur mom with two cats, Grace and Whiskers. They keep her very busy and entertained. She LOVES gardening. 

Darla taught 7 years in Forest City at NCHS (North Central Human Services). This is a private facility for persons with significant needs. She then moved to Charles City and has been teaching in the high school for 17 years. 

Darla is currently taking the Iowa Core Standards-Based Rubric IEP Pilot class through the AEA.  She continues to develop team teaching practices and plans on attending conferences and classes to learn more about standard based learning. She attends and assists with ICTE and is an active participant in many groups within CC Schools. 


Picture of Kelly Bailey

Kelly Bailey

Mentor Teacher

Kelly Bailey currently teaches Kindergarten. She is from Nashua, Iowa.  She is married and has two daughters.

Kelly eceived her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in early childhood and reading from Central College.  She earned her Master's Degree in Elementary Education with emphasis in reading and math from Walden University. She has taught in the Charles City School District for 13 years.

 Kelly is currently working on learning our new Lucy Caukins phonics curriculum. 


Picture of Renee Boss

Renee Boss

Mentor Teacher

Renee Boss currently teaches fifth though eighth grade middle school band.  She also teaches band to students from IC elementary school.  Renee is originally from Charles City and a proudn graduate of the CC clas of 1993.  She graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Music Degree, majoring in flute performance and education.  She and her husband have three school aged children who them very busy.  They are all active members of the Immaculate Conception Church and avid Hawkeye fans. 

This is Renne's sixth year teaching in Charles City.  Before becoming a band director in Charles City Renn taught in both Mason City and Williamsburg, Iowa.   Renee is currently working improvin her recruitment and retention skills in her bands. 


Picture of Marie ConklinMarie Conklin
Success Coach, Mentor Teacher

Marie Conklin is currently a K-4 Success Coach.  Before becoming a Success Coach, Marie taught special education for 10 years.  She taught for five years in the Marshalltown School District, two years in Peterson, IA at Midwest Christian Services and taught in Charles City for the three years as a special education at Lincoln Elementary before becoming a success coach.   She enjoys fishing, deep conversations, gardening, cooking, reading, playing cards, and doing puzzles.  

Marie is also the middle school drama director.  Before directing in Charles City, Marie directed community theater, and has 14 years total of Middle school directing from High school to 2018.  Marie also enjoys acting herself.  Marie is also currently wokring on her masters in special education with an emphasis on autism and consulting.  

Marie is currently is constantly looking for new insight when it comes to education and is engaged in the following profesional learing: PBIS Coaching Network, Shannon Suldo: Positive Psychology Interventions in Schools, Creating Coaching Partnerships Forum for PBIS and Instructional Coaches, NEIC Coaching Network, Trevor Ragan: Teaching a Growth Mindset to Achieve Success for All Learners, Creating a Culture of Reflective Practice with Pete Hall through Blended Learning, Fierce Conversations.


Picture of Carrie Eiklenborg


Carrie Eiklenborg

Mentor Teacher

Carrie currently teaches Title 1 Reading, grades K-2, at Washington Elementary.

Carrie grew up in small town Ackley, Iowa and now lives in small town Greene, Iowa.  She has two children that are involved in many activities-sports, music, drama, scouts, and church activities.  Chase is a senior and Sydney is a sophomore at North Butler. Carrie keeps busy running to her kids events, helping with Luther League and Church Council, coaching basketball and volunteering with Booster Club. 

Carrie is a UNI grad and obtained her Masters from Morningside University.  She has taught at Charles City for 21 years with experiences in first grade, kindergarten, and now Title 1 Reading.  

 Carrie is always striving to build better relationships with all children, not just the ones in Title 1.  Academically she is looking for instructional strategies to build fluency and comprehension with her young readers.  


Picture of Jake GassmanJake Gassman

Mentor Teacher

Jake Gassman teaches High School Instrumental Music.  He grew up in Dubuque, Iowa. After graduating from Hempstead High School he attended the University of Iowa and received his degree in music performance and education.  Jake has a wonderful wife and three fantastic children. 

He is in his 9th year at Charles City Schools. Prior to that he taught for 6 years in Central City, IA. He constantly collects new and meaningful data to drive his teaching and analyze trends in his instruction.


Picture of Ann Hanes

Ann Hanes

Mentor Teacher

Ann Hanes is a Success Coach at the middle school/high school.  Her work includes, but is not limted to being the PBIS coach for the middle school and working on multiple MTSS efforts at the hgih school including SMART lunch.  Before becoming a Success Coach Ann was a high school special edcuation/reading teacher.  Before joining the staff at Charles City in 2005, Ann was a businesswoman in Mason City at Midwest Wholesale, Inc for 24 yers.  She has been active in her community by serving on the boards of Grl Scouts, First Presbyterian Church, Opportunity Village, Salvation Army, and Lions Club.  She has been an active Girl Scout for over 50 years.  She enjoys supporting the talents of many other people in sports, theatre, and music. Ann loves spending time with friends and family traveling, enjoying nature, reading, swimming, playing games and doing puzzles. 

Ann Hanes enjoys learning from many people and is currently engaged in the following professional development: NEIC Coaching Network, Teaching a Growth Mindset to Achieve Success for All Learners: Trevor Ragan, Fierce Conversations, Elena Aguilar's The Art of Coaching, and Creating a Culture of Reflective Practice with Pete Hall.


Picture of Stephanie HervolStephanie Hervol

Mentor Teacher

Stephanie currently teach Biology, AP Biology, Human Anatomy and Microbiology at the high school.  She is originally from Lubbock, TX where she met her husband at Texas Tech University. They moved to Iowa 7 years ago from New Mexico where she taught for 11 years. They have three kids ranging from 8th grade to 12th grade, and they keep them quite busy with their activities.

Stephanie has taught for the last 18 years with expereince that ranges from elementary physical education, middle school science and high school science.  Her last six years have been with Charles City.  Professionaly, she is working to continually grow as an educator.  She is working on the implementation of Standards Based Grading and proficiency scales.  Her goal is to use these to improve her teaching strategies and provide more effective student feedbck to help them grow as learners. 


Picture of Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson

Mentor Teacher

 Amy Johnson currently teaches 5th-12th grade Health and PE.  She loves the Hawkeyes, Packers, Cubs, as well as spending time with her family.   

She has taught for 10 years and is not currently taking any classes.  

She is curring working on using Love & Logic in the classroom.



Picture of Jim LundbergJim Lundberg

Mentor Teacher

Jim Lundberg teaches High School Agriculture.  He grew up in Black Hawk County and has his BS and MS from ISU in agricuture.  Jim has been with the Charles City Community School District for 35 years. He is working to improve his mental health practice. 





Picture of Tim MalvenTim Malven

Mentor Teacher

Tim Malven teaches Middle School Special Education. He is a graduate fro UNI and is married with four children.  He enjoys most sports, attending his children's activities and ATVing,  

He is in his 22nd year of teaching and currently not taking any classes. He always is looking to find ways to help kids become more independent.  



Picture of Trudy McKeagTrudy McKeag

Mentor Teacher

Trudy McKeag is beginning her 12th year of teaching high school English in Charles City.  She currently teaches 10th grade English and AP Language and Composition/Dual-credit Comp I and Comp II and Dual- credit Public Speaking.  

She has been a member of Iowa Council of Teacher's of English, as well as the National Council of Teacher's of English for about 10 years.  This is her 7th year as a mentor teacher with the district.  

This school year, she will not be taking any additional classes, but will return next Fall to continue working on her Ph.D.  

Picture of Melina Mina-Davis


Melina Mena-Davis

Mentor Teacher

Melina teaches Spanish 2, Spanish 4, Journalism, and is a Comet Council Advisor at Charles City High School.  Melina received her BA in Journalism and Political Science from San Diego State University in 2008, then returned to school in 2014 for her teaching license. Melina is a native Spanish speaker and enjoys sharing her language and culture with her students. She is currently in her 5th year of teaching and truly loves the work she does!

Melina strives to create a positive learning environment, where students can feel empowered, successful and can value the work that they do. She wants her students to feel connected to their community, and seeks to empower students through cultural competence and awareness of our community, both in Charles City High School and beyond. 


Picture of Brandy MutchBrandy Mutch    

Model Teacher, Mentor teacher

Brandy Mutch is a first grade teacher at Washington Elementary. She is the co-owner of Cedar River Signs with her husband, Cory Mutch.  They have two children - Jillian who is in 7th grade and Addison who is in 3rd grade. They enjoy having movie nights, bike rides, and camping. 

Brandy attended college at NIACC and UNI, majoring in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.  She has been teaching first grade for 10 years in Charles City.  She taught Kindergarten in Mason City for eight years. 

Brandy is currently taking the Literacy Instruction in a Workshop Setting class. This year her focus is on building classroom community and relationships during their morning meeting each day.


Picture of Kim Niichel


Kimberly Niichell

Mentor Teacher

Kimberly teaches kindergarten at Washington.  He has has taught for 24 years.   She previously taught preschool (5 years), first grade (2 years), second grade (3 years), and Kindergarten (14 years), and enjoys them all.

Kimberly live on an acreage just south of the Floyd County Fairgrounds.

She has been married to her husband, Craig, for 25 years and has three sons.  Seth is 22, and just graduated from Cornell College, with a BA in business finance.  Jake is 21, and is a Junior at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, majoring in elementary education, and will wrestle as a “Peacock”.  Sam is 19, and a Freshman at Loras in Dubuque, majoring in secondary math education, and playing football as a “Duhawk”.

Kimberly is currently taking a "Numeracy" elementary math education class

She is also working to implement meaningful "share-outs" of student work in readers, writers, and math workshop


Picture of Mollie OttMollie Ott

Mentor Teacher

Mollie Ott has been with Charles City for five years.  She started co-teaching in a preschool special education room, then went to a general education preschool room and now dual teaching as a  gen ed and a special education preschool teacher.  Mollie grew up in Rockford and went to school at UNI.  Mollie lives with her husband, Drake and daughter, Addie in Nora Springs. 



Picture of Rob PitmanRobert S. Pittman    

Model Teacher, Mentor Teacher

Robert teaches 9-12th grade, the classes he teaches are US History, World Geography, Contemporary World Issues, Philosophy, and Expeditions (An outdoor education class).  He is gloriously married and has two daughters, Zadie and Fiona, who are ten and nine.  He is also a wrestling and volleyball coach in the school district and coach and sponsor the fencing club.  He enjoys eating, cooking, reading, travel, and rock climbing.

He started teaching in 2002 in Colorado, and is in his thirteenth year teaching in Charles City, Iowa.  He is currently interested in two fields of study: 1. Bringing STEM into the Social Studies classroom and developing a sequenced DBQ writing strategy for students.  He also teaches with the Iowa AEA on introducing the Social Studies aspects of the English Common Core Standards.


Picture of Jen SeehusenJen Seehusen

Mentor Teacher

Jennifer Seehusen decided to be a teacher as a second career choice after identifying her passion to help other reach their potential, while she was training associates at a department store and coaching local teams in volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball. 

Jennifer is married to a 4th generation grain farmer, Marc, and lives on a horse farm north of Bristow.  She has three children and three grandchildren.  Her free time is consumed by family outings, grandchildren, volunteering at church, watching and feeding brids, tending to her flowers, fishing, kayaking, bicycling, jogging, riding horses, traveling, woodworking, cheering on Charles City Comets, UNI Panthers, Iowa Hawkeyes, New York Yankees, and Dallas Cowboys. 

Jennifer started working in the Charles City Community School District in 2006 after she earned a Bachelors of Arts degree from University of Norther Iowa for Elementary/Middle Level Education and minor in Mathematics.  Over the years she has worked in preschool, fourth grade, and fifth grade.  She is currently teaching fifth grade math at the CC Middle School.

Over the years, she has gained training in PBIS, Nurtured Heart, Orange Frog, and CPI.  She has attended many conferences in literacy, mathematics, science, and standards based grading.  She is working on finishing her Masters's Dgree in Mathematics from Walden University and welcomes the opportunity to learn new things. 


Picture of Amy Spieker

Amy Spieker

Mentor Teacher

Amy Spieker is a special education teacher at Lincoln Elementary, serving third and fourth grade students with behavioral and academic goals.

She was born and raised in Charles City and loves her hometown. Her husband, Cory, was in the Navy for eight years, and they spent most of that time on the east coast. While they enjoyed the advantages of big city living, they preferred their children, Sydney and Rex, have the educational advantages a small community offers. They moved home in 2008.

Amy taught third grade for two years before moving to her current position. After working as a youth counselor at a residential treatment center during college, she became passionate about assisting students with unique needs. Her role as a special education teacher allows her to address emotional and behavioral issues while ensuring students are thriving academically.

Amy’s favorite trainings include PBIS, Nurtured Heart, Orange Frog, and CPI. She is currently working toward her master’s degree in special education with a behavioral emphasis. 


Picture of Bret Spurgin

Bret Spurgin

Mentor Teacher

Bret Spurgin teaches 7th Grade Woods and 9-12 Agriculture/Metals.He grew up on a farm outside of Moravia, IA and went to Iowa State University.

This is his eighth year teaching. He taught for three years at West Fork, three years at Oskaloosa and this is my second year at CC.

Bret constantly works on improving himself as an educator through reading, talking w/colleagues, and through Social Media.


Picture of Keisha Trettin

Kiesha Trettin

Mentor Teacher

Kiesha helps students and graduates ages 14-25 on working toward their adult life goals.  She focus mainly on working and helping students achieve the steps to obtain their career goal.

Kiesha is a wife and a mom to two girls, ages four & two.  They enjoy camping, being outside, cooking, and spending time together. Kiesha graduated from Hawkeye Community College and UNI. 

Kiesha worked at Hawkeye Community College for seven years and then as a Medical Records & Transcriptionist Manager at the Mason City Clinic before choosing to pursue a career in Education.  Kiesha finds her current job duties is a great mix of her background in business and in being a teacher.  

Kiesha is finishing a Career & Technical Education course this fall and is looking forward to other learning opportunities this school year.

She is working on developing standards to assist in the performance evaluations used for students on a job site.  Growth Mindset is another area she has focused on and continues to implement with students and herself

Picture of Liz VonHagen


Liz VonHagen

Mentor Teacher

Liz currently teaches third and fourth grade special education at Lincoln school.  She has taught first through fifth grade Special education at both Lincoln & Washington.

Liz grew up in Rockford and went to NIACC/ UNI for college. She is married to Orey VonHagen and they are highschool sweethearts (11 years). They have 2 cats and a dog and currently live in Osage. 

Liz has taught students with a wide range of different abilities including students that have: autism, Aspergers, Down Syndrome, DiGeorge Syndrome, heart defects, seizures, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, ADD, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, processing deficits, deaf and heard of hearing, acquired brain injury, anxiety disorders, severe allergies, heart defects and much more. 

Liz is not taking a class this semester, but plans on taking many classes on sensory needs and mental health. Her avorite professional class so far was a week long training on Autism and work systems. 

Liz is working with Amy Spieker to create a sensory room for students with ADHD and sensory processing disorder.  The room will also be available to students with behavior concerns as a positive place to expend extra energy.  They are trying to improve the positive supports that Charles City Community School District provides students in order for them to have success at school.

Picture of David Voves

David Voves

Instructional Coach, Mentor Teacher

After graduating from Wartburg College in 2007, David Voves began his career as a Charles City Comet.  During his nine years as a high school math teacher, he strived to not be complacent and to craft that “balance of firmness and understanding, of guidance and freedom, of mentor and friend.”  He and his students recognized every day as an opportunity to learn mathematics while growing as young adults.  He was the recipient of the Golden Apple Award and Charles City's Excellence in Education Foundation's Star Award.  Possessing a deep love and passion for teaching and learning, he earned his MA in Educational Leadership in 2011, an Instructional Coach Certificate from UNI in 2016, and an Instructional Coach Certificate from Central Rivers AEA in 2018.  David is eager to grow as instructional coach beside and with the teachers he serves.  He believes in the power of collaboration and reflective dialogue; and he knows the opportunities afforded to the CCCSD by the teacher leadership program of coaches, model teachers, and mentor teachers, will help our students achieve greater outcomes.  David and his wife, Renee, enjoy spending time with their sons Michael and William.

David thoroughly enjoys learning and is engaged in the following professional development opportunities: Project-Based Learning Curriculum Developer Certification Program, Creating Coaching Partnerships, Forum for PBIS and Instructional Coaches, NEIC Coaching Network, Teaching a Growth Mindset to Achieve Success for All Learners: Trevor Ragan, Fierce Conversations, Elena Aguilar's The Art of Coaching, and Creating a Culture of Reflective Practice with Pete Hall.

Picture of Michelle WilliamsMichelle Williams

Mentor Teacher

Michelle Williamshas taught 5th grade at Lincoln and Washington, Title 1 at Lincoln and IC.  She is from Nevada, Iowa and went to Iowa State University.  Michelle is married with three kids. 

Michelle has alos  taught at Ballard CSD, in Burlington, IA and Thornton, IA

She is curretnly working on researching new reading strategies to help ALL students learn to read to their best ability!