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Merrill Middle School

May 27, 2019

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter of reference in support of Melinda Allison. I am the principal at Merrill Middle
School, an International Baccalaureate World School in Des Moines, IA. I have had the privilege of working
with Melinda and supporting her in her role as a 6th, 7th, and 8th grade special education teacher. She serves
our students through both a collaborative teaching model with general education teachers as she supports
students in the general education population, as well as through a self-contained model where she provides
individualized instruction for students with IEPs.

Melinda has implemented the significant district priorities of Des Moines Public Schools. We expect a lot of
our teachers and Melinda has certainly stepped up and provided a rich learning environment for our students.
Three focus areas for Merrill Middle School are listed below along with Melinda’s commitment to each.

1. International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program: Melinda has utilized the IB MYP framework and
plans lessons in which students develop an understanding of our common humanity and are
encouraged to take action and serve the community around us.
2. Equity: As DMPS aims to become the model for urban education, much of our professional learning
has been around serving all of our students to high levels regardless of their economic, racial, ethnic,
or social background. Melinda’s dedication to this topic is evident in the gains made by the students
she serves. She works hard to close the achievement gap and builds strong relationships with her
students.
3. PLCs: Melinda collaborates regularly with both her general education and special education
colleagues, as well as with building and district leadership. These teams meet to make instructional
decisions, problem solve, and move forward in ensuring all of our students leave our middle school
ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead of them.

The most important thing you should know about Melinda is that she has built professional relationships with
students, colleagues, and families that are student-centered and conducive to learning. She has created a
classroom environment where students feel welcome, where students feel supported, and where students
experience daily success. Her classroom is where many of our students choose to go to when they are upset,
frustrated, or having a bad day.

In closing, Melinda has made a commitment to make a difference for all students at Merrill Middle School
and for our larger community. We are so lucky that she chose this profession. Please don’t hesitate to contact
me with questions at kathryn.panek@dmschools.org or 515-242-8448.
Respectfully Submitted,

Kathryn Panek
Principal
Merrill Middle School
Des Moines Public Schools

5301 Grand Avenue Des Moines, Iowa 50312-2198


515-242-8448 Fax: 515-323-8656 Website: www.merrill.dmschools.org
Merrill Middle School

Kathryn Panek
Principal

Heather Farris-Vermeer
Vice Principal

Daniel Johnson
SIL

Martin Luft
Behavior Coach/
Activity Director

Kimber Foshe
School Counselor

Shawn Karaidos
SUCCESS
Case Manager

Danielle Taylor
Instructional Coach/
IB Coordinator

Jane Schumann
Office Manager

Joyce Grace
Attendance Clerk

Debra Menke
Nurse

5301 Grand Avenue Des Moines, Iowa 50312-2198


515-242-8448 Fax: 515-323-8656 Website: www.merrill.dmschools.org