When sixth grade literacy teacher Bayle Larpenteur began teaching at Prairie Ridge Middle School in 2010, it was a bit of a homecoming. Larpenteur herself graduated from Ankeny High School and then attended the University of Iowa and Drake University. She graduated with a bachelor of arts in elementary education, and from Drake, she received her master’s of science in teaching and professional development with an additional endorsement in talented and gifted.
“It was a really natural choice to be back teaching in Ankeny, and I was so happy to move back to the Des Moines area and come back to my own school,” she says. “The school district is known for being such a good one, and now I work with teachers who taught me as I grew up, so it’s a very unique and fun position to be in.”
Larpenteur says her goal is to instill a love of literacy in all students, but a particular focus is on those students who might fit into the talented and gifted category. This year she’s excited that many of those students have been placed in her classroom specifically, and she’s eager to infuse talented and gifted opportunities in a regular classroom.
While others might see the middle school years as a challenge, Larpenteur sees them as an opportunity for amazing growth. Larpenteur says she loves teaching middle school, and sixth grade in particular.
“As I was growing up, this was my favorite grade,” she says. “I have experienced other grade levels, but this is the year where kids become so independent, and they are experiencing this huge transition from elementary to middle school. They’re becoming mini adults. I don’t see their attitudes. They’re learning and growing so fast, and it’s such fun to be a part of.”
Another unique aspect to Larpenteur’s position is that in addition to being a literacy teacher on the north side, she is also a coach on the south side. She coaches eighth grade boys and girls cross country.
“It’s such a great position to be in because I get to be around both north and south side kids, which I absolutely love,” she says. “It’s great for me to see kids all over town achieve their goals, both in the classroom and in sports.”