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FALL 2018

The Official Magazine of the Richardson Independent School District


Best for Music Education 30th Anniversary RISD once again has been named a Best Community for Music Education, marking the seventh consecutive year the district received this national recognition.

The RISD Council of PTAs Clothes Closet celebrated its 30th anniversary, dedicating its new location on Belt Line Road across from Richardson High School.

Over 200 Graduates Memorial Park Academy, the district’s non-traditional high school setting, graduated more than 200 students last school year and continues to help students achieve a diploma.

$10,000 Donation Through the Richardson ISD Excellence in Education Foundation, State Farm Insurance donated $10,000 to support the AVID program, which is designed to increase student learning and performance through participation and success in rigorous curriculum.

Fall 2018 • RISD CONNECT •





he Richardson ISD Board of Trustees consists of seven members elected to serve,

without compensation, for overlapping terms of three years each. Notices of all meetings are distributed in advance of the meeting, posted at the front door of the Administration Building and available online. RISD community members, students or staff may address the board on any agenda item by completing a visitor card at the beginning of the meeting and placing it in the designated box. Regular meetings are held at 6 p.m. in the RISD Administration Building, 400 S. Greenville Ave. Special meetings may be held with public notice. Time is allotted each month for public comments.

Why was being involved with Strategic Plan 2017 important to you? VICTOR GARZA Yale ES Parent

ELLEN YOST Northwood Hills ES Parent

As a country, much discussion regards

As a parent of young elementary students

which values to prioritize as society moves

and campus PTA President, I see every day

forward. Education for our children should

how teachers and staff make a difference

top the list. Technology, policy, science and economics change daily in our lives. Operating with past practices will be inefficient and ineffective. As part of the Justin Bono Board President

Educational Equity team, I got to help shape learning so our students are ready for society 20 and 30 years from now.

REGINA HARRIS Richardson HS Parent

Kristin Kuhne, Ph.D. Vice President

Kim Caston Treasurer

community member because it allowed me to provide a voice for my son, RISD

HANS BALDIVAS Richardson HS Senior As a student, it sometimes seems impossible to find that connection that

part of this team. There was instant consideration by the Strategic Planning Design Team regarding what I shared. Actions were taken on each of the suggestions I made on behalf of my fellow RISD students, which reinforced that

RENEE LAFFITTE North JH, Pearce HS Parent

process put students first.

I could not pass on this opportunity. As a member of the teacher recruiting and

to dream big on their behalf! Recruiting, developing and retaining the very best

• RISD CONNECT • Fall 2018

learning for all our students.

making a positive difference.

each and every student. I loved being able


can best support effective, innovative

However, I felt like I was listened to as

employees are critical to the success of

Katie Patterson Member

RISD’s budget and our choices as voters

allows your voice to be heard by adults.

retention group, we recognized that all

Eron Linn TASB Delegate

to learn more about how choices within

important to me as an RISD parent and

opportunity for me to assist RISD in

Karen Clardy TASB Delegate Alt.

I served on the Revenue & Finance team

Being a part of Strategic Plan 2017 was

kids and the community. It was an

Jean Bono Secretary

for kids in the classroom and on campus.

teachers and staff are key for our children and RISD as a whole.

JUSTIN BONO RISD School Board President I felt it was definitely the right time for the district to bring this group of internal and external stakeholders together. The outstanding work created by this team will provide critical support and influence to our district’s decision making process going forward.




with Proceeds From Bond Sales

Page 11


03 RISD Greatness

04 RISD Board of Trustees

04 Community Voice

Richardson ISD

05 District Calendar

Jason Philyaw

07 Connecting with RISD Superintendent

08 STEM for All

08 RISD Plays its ACEs

10 Dallas County Promise Program

10 RISD Alumni

12 Understanding Differences

13 Marketable Skills through CTE

13 Life Changing Experience for RISD Teacher

14 Methodist Health Science Program

15 TRE on November 6th

15 Strategic Planning Committee

Connect is produced by RISD Communications. The magazine is published periodically throughout the school year and delivered to students, parents and community members.

Editorial and advertising inquiries call 972.899.3637 or email your photos, stories, student spotlights and suggestions to for your chance to be featured. • Address: 3513 Yucca Drive, Ste. 200 • Flower Mound, TX 75028

• RISD CONNECT • Fall 2018


Scott & Kelly Murray



400 S. Greenville Ave. Richardson, Texas 75081 469-593-0000

Jana Melton

Steve Gamel CONTRIBUTORS Chris Moore


Lizeth Wallace Graphic Designers Alyson Modene Caroline Brock Letters

Richardson Connect welcomes reader feedback, story suggestions and general comments.

Email All submissions become the sole

property of Murray Media Group.

Published by Murray Media Group. Opinions expressed in articles or advertisements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher or the Richardson Independent School District. Richardson Connect is not responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented to the magazine. Advertisers and its agencies assume all liability for advertising content. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the permission in writing from the publisher. © 2018 Murray Media Group.

Connecting with RISD Superintendent



nother school year has begun in

Engagement Action Team was issued a

Richardson ISD. And we have another

daunting challenge. Their charge was to

means of sharing and highlighting our RISD

ensure that everyone—literally, everyone—

greatness with this new periodical Connect.

linked to RISD is engaged at some level in

Within this first edition, you’ll find stories

the district’s mission. The team’s solution

about our CTE programs and a note from

focused on grassroots efforts and one result

an alumnae who founded a company that

is this informative and beautiful magazine.

serves the freshest cookies in D-FW, in

Even the name Connect holds significance,

addition to news about some districtwide

finding its inspiration from Emma Young, a

projects and campaigns.

Pearce High School senior who was part of

With so many digital

Strategic Plan 2017. So, with this first

lines of communication available through a

edition of Connect,

click or a swipe, you

we have delivered an

may be asking: “Why

engagement opportunity

print?” Good question.

for everyone in RISD.

Even though many of

Business owners and

us spend so much time

residents alike can now

in front of an electronic device, jumping through information from online platforms to onscreen apps, many of us still want and appreciate the permanence of print publications. We in RISD have long considered producing a publication to complement our in-depth online content. Concepts and designs have been brought to the table before, but none measured up consistently. Until now. Connect came to life through our Strategic Plan 2017. A group of more than 300 community members and employees, including those on the Community

read the stories that unfold among almost 40,000 students and 5,000 employees. Our robust digital media presence will continue delivering RISD success stories to multiple audiences through various platforms. But now, with Connect, a print periodical has been added to our diverse outreach. It will offer a cornerstone for those who already live here and an instant connection point for the new families we welcome every year.

Stay connected, DR. JEANNIE STONE RISD Superintendent

Connect is a result of a recommendation of the RISD Strategic Plan that sought more avenues of communication for everyone associated with the district and across North Texas communities.



Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone says. While the grant has the long-term aim of creating a stronger-skilled STEM workforce for North Texas and beyond, the goal over the next three years will be focused on helping RISD build and implement the “STEM for All” concept in the classroom. The grant also will help the district work with postsecondary education partners in



business and industry to ensure relevancy and sustainability of the concept. RISD will begin implementing the grant from the

n an effort to improve access to education

STEM subjects across all grade levels to

Richardson-based tech giant during the

in science, technology, engineering and

better prepare students for postsecondary

2019-20 school year.

math, the Texas Instruments Foundation awarded RISD a $4.6 million grant to help

and workforce success. The Berkner attendance zone includes 16

create a STEM feeder pattern within the

campuses with more than 10,000 students

Berkner High School attendance zone.

from 80 different countries.

Together with the TI Foundation and

“RISD strives to inspire students from

Educate Texas—the public-private initiative

their very first day of school to explore

of Communities Foundation of Texas—RISD

and cultivate their interests to pursue a

will reshape the teaching and learning of

career pathway through a STEM culture,”



“We are committed to changing the culture within the Berkner feeder pattern through STEM-infused curriculum that ensures academic rigor, student engagement and relevancy across the entire curriculum.” – Dr. Jeannie Stone, RISD superintendent

Play its ACEs

our RISD schools—Carolyn Bukhair

the ACE model, the formal school day is

Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone said

Elementary, Forest Lane Academy,

extended, as are before-school and after-

during the ACE launch event at Bukhair

RISD Academy and Thurgood Marshall

school programs. Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Elementary School that was attended by

Elementary—transitioned into ACE campuses

are provided for free to all students, as are

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike

this year. The Accelerating Campus

uniforms. The programming also supports

Morath and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Excellence program has been successfully

more small-group tutoring, more clubs and

implemented by Dallas ISD and Fort Worth

enrichment opportunities and various other

ISD over the past few years.

enhanced academic support options, all at

ACE helps underserved students

no cost to our families.

in underachieving schools experience

“This is about equity for thousands of

consistent educational success. Under

our students with substantial needs,” RISD

“We are introducing this successful program in RISD to match many of our top educators with the students, campuses and communities that need them the most.” 8

• RISD CONNECT • Fall 2018

For more information visit


The Excellence in Education Foundation is gearing up for its annual 5K Spirit Run to benefit RISD students and teachers. Join RISD on Saturday Nov. 3 at Galatyn Park. Register online at SpiritRun.

Richardson ISD is the largest of seven school districts in Texas named to the 2017-18 Educational Results Partnership Honor Roll for its high achievement and student success.

RISD is spreading awareness of student mental and physical health through its new #livewiselivehealthy program. #RISDCelebrates The RISD BoT was

The @dallascowboys Rookie Club visited

honored to have student Deng Deng,

@SkyviewElem as part of the team’s

@BerknerHS Class of 2018, formally walk

celebration of the #NFLPlay60 initiative to

across the stage at the October meeting.

get kids up and active. @EVFusa provided

Deng and family missed graduation due to a

complimentary eye screenings to 5th grade

flight delay when heading back from Sudan.

students and those showing need of vision

#RISDGreatness #RISDConnects

assistance received free eyeglasses.


Craig Sandy, RISD’s 2017 Elementary Teacher of the Year, was honored in Austin and represented RISD and North Texas in the state teacher of the year selection process. Read more about Coach Sandy at #RISDGreatness #RISDConnects

Fall 2018 • RISD CONNECT •




he Richardson Independent School District is now a part of the Dallas

Some of the participating colleges in the Promise program include UNT Dallas, SMU,

County Promise program, which aims to

Midwestern State, Prairie View A&M, Paul

“reduce financial barriers and support

Quinn College and Austin College.

students to succeed in college, careers

This is the first year RISD has participated

The program is a last-dollar scholarship, meaning it covers the gaps between the cost of attending college and the state and federal grants students receive.

and life with a commitment to securing a

in the program, and registration began in

rewarding job in their career pathway.”

early October. Seniors must register and

are not committed to attending a partner

Seniors at Berkner and Richardson

complete the Promise pledge by Feb. 8

school. The Promise program simply provides

high schools are eligible to

to be eligible. There isn’t an

another avenue for students to cover tuition

apply for these last-dollar

income requirement, nor a

if they do decide to attend one of the

scholarships. The Promise

GPA requirement. There also

participating schools. February 8 is also the deadline for students

program provides funds

is no essay component, but there

that close the gap on a

are non-negotiable deadlines; and

to apply for the Dallas County Community

student’s tuition after all

non-citizens must meet Texas

College District’s Rising Star scholarship that

other applicable state and

residency requirements.

provides qualified graduates with academic

While the Promise funds can only

support services, career development and up

scholarships have been awarded

be used at participating colleges, the

to $5,500 for tuition and books at one of the

and processed.

pledge is non-binding and students

system’s seven campuses.

federal grants and potential

Being a Berkner Bandolera

Set Tiffany Taylor Chen on a Path to Success

Yale Elementary, Apollo Junior High, Berkner High School; graduated 1997 Co-founder and president of Tiff’s Treats, which delivers warm cookies and is based in Austin.


• RISD CONNECT • Fall 2018

RISD was a wonderful school system to attend. I loved going to school in Richardson. My favorite thing about my school experience was the incredible extracurricular activities offered. Being a part of the Berkner Bandoleras was a meaningful part of my life—one that I look back on with joy and one that helped prepare me to succeed. We learned how to work hard, how to remain disciplined, how to respect others, work as a team, and make things happen for ourselves. Once you graduate from high school, it is all up to you. The experiences I had at Berkner prepared me well for my adult life and career.

RISD Addresses With Proceeds From Bond Sales


ichardson Independent School District campuses remain highly sought after by

North Texas parents. The current RISD student population of nearly 39,300 has grown 15% over the last decade. Enrollment is expected to surpass

Proceeds from the bond package, which was approved by 67% of voters, provide for upgrades to all libraries to accommodate more students with flexible learning spaces. Equipment for a junior ROTC program at

41,000 for the 2021-22 school year and top

each high school was also funded with

43,000 students by 2027.

bond proceeds.

In May 2016, district voters approved a $437.1 million bond package to fund projects impacting all 54 campuses. Much of the bond proceeds will be used for maintenance at existing schools, including updating equipment and technology systems for classrooms at every school. The bond project also supports and funds increased safety and security systems and improved HVAC units across the district. The district will use

The RISD maintains a triple-A rating from Moody’s Investors Service and a AA-plus rating from Standard & Poor’s. RISD is one of only seven school districts in Texas that carries the gilt-edged ratings from Moody’s. S&P doesn’t rate any Texas school district at triple-A due to the confusing nature of the state’s school funding formula that also becomes more uncertain each time the Texas Legislature meets

bond funds to build new

every two years.

multipurpose activity centers

Moody’s analysts say the

at each high school to provide additional practice space and equipment storage for fine arts, athletics and other rapidly growing extracurricular programs. New band uniforms and upgrades to various playing fields are also coming at all four RISD high schools. RISD is adding more career technical

triple-A rating reflects RISD’s “sizeable tax base serving an area with a major employment base and history of strong financial management evidenced by consistently balanced operations.” The high ratings help keep the district’s costs of issuance down and result in lower

education spaces and equipment to enhance

interest rates on the bonds. Most Texas

the popular and growing programs that

school bonds are further supported by the

provide licenses and certifications for high school students in a variety of trades and industries. Expansion of the business, marketing and finance programs at Pearce

state’s triple-A rated Permanent School Fund that secures the debt in the unlikely event of a default. The PSF backing further reduces

and the STEM program at Berkner have

costs for the district and adds another level

begun as well.

of insurance for investors.

SOME INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS FUNDED WITH BOND PROCEEDS INCLUDE: • Multipurpose activity center at each high school • Technology enhancements for RISD classrooms • Transformation of libraries at each school into flexible learning environments • Additional Career Technical Education courses and JROTC program at each high school • Curriculum and instruction materials • Enterprise technology (business information systems, servers, hardware) All projects are on schedule to be

finished within five years. Residents

can learn much more about Bond 2016,

including a school-by-school breakdown of projects and anticipated completion dates, by visiting

Fall 2018 • RISD CONNECT •




nderstanding Differences is a disability awareness program

“Richardson ISD is committed to providing

immersed in the experience and to relate …

meaningful experiences to all our students

to develop empathy and most importantly to

established by the RISD Council of PTAs

to help support them socially, emotionally

understand how they as a friend, how they

to help students empathize with their

and academically,” Deputy Superintendent

peers through simulations.

Tabitha Branum says. “Understanding

as a peer can support those students who

The first program of

Differences is an

might be differently abled than they are.” Brian Spann is living with muscular

this school year was held

opportunity for our

at North Junior High

students to experience

School in October for

what it might feel like

5th graders from Canyon

to spend a day as a

Creek, Greenwood Hills,

student with autism …

band and how MD doesn’t prevent him from

Mohawk, Northrich and

maybe as a student who

doing anything he wants to do.

Prairie Creek. The program

is experiencing hearing

“Living with a disability doesn’t affect

includes stations designed

difficulties or eyesight

your desire to do great things,” Spann told

dystrophy. He spoke in October to RISD 5th graders about how he is an eagle scout, how he was a member of his high school

with input from district therapists that

difficulties … a student with dyslexia. It

the students at North. “A big thing we

simulate what it’s like to live with a disability.

creates an opportunity for our students to be

are trying to teach [students] is to stand up and protect. And also just be kind to other people that have differences by understanding that they are made differently, but we can help them achieve great things.” The RISD Council of PTAs plans to have all campuses experience this program on a two-year rotation. In November, 5th graders from Aikin, Forest Lane, Merriman Park, Moss Haven, Skyview and Stults Road will attend the program at Forest Meadow Junior High. Then, in January students from Audelia Creek, Forestridge, Harben, O. Henry and Springridge will go to Liberty Junior High. In February, the fifth grades at Big Springs, Dartmouth, Mark Twain, Terrace, Richland, Yale and MST will bus over to Apollo Junior High to participate in Understanding Differences.


• RISD CONNECT • Fall 2018

CT E Gives Students

Marketable Skills in Competitive Industries I n 2014, RISD teamed with local industry leaders and the Richardson Chamber of Commerce to comprehensively evaluate the future of the district’s Career and Technical Education programs. CTE prepares high school students for career pathways by providing authentic, hands-on opportunities and training within areas of student interest, aligned to different industries. Through CTE programs, students

earn professional certifications and licenses that are attractive to potential employers. These programs also provide students with tangible, marketable skills in a chosen competitive industry. Career and Technical Education in RISD is flourishing, and students are able to experience learning environments directly aligned with their areas of interest. More than 9,200 CTE courses were taken in RISD

schools during the 2017-18 school year, an increase of more than 30% since 2014.

Richardson ISD students earned more than 1,700 certifications and licenses last year in industries such as automotive tech, architecture, business administration and marketing, healthcare, hospitality, computer programming, emergency services and STEM. RISD currently leverages partnerships with area cities, chambers of commerce, regional higher education, and employers across North Texas to provide more of these opportunities for students. The district regularly evaluates different CTE industry clusters to match future employment and career opportunities with student interest as a way to determine what courses and

RISD Teacher’s

possible certifications and licenses to offer.

18,000 MILE



eorge Hademenos, a physics teacher at Richardson High School, visited Vietnam

this fall as part of the State Department’s flagship international educational

exchange program. Earlier this year, Prof. Hademenos received a Fulbright award from the State Department to travel to Ho Chi Minh City and work with faculty and students at Nguyen Quang Dieu Gifted High School from Sept. 21 through Oct. 13. “I am very interested in bringing global learning into my classroom and establishing

must tell you, that this is truly a life changing experience for me. The faculty and staff at the school have been so open, friendly and personable. In fact, they recognized me at a school-wide assembly and presented me with flowers. The students are very excited to speak to someone from the United States and are always asking me questions about the culture, language and food of Texas.” Dr. Hademenos said teachers and staff are hungry for new ideas, strategies and suggestions to help students learn. He

an international collaborative partnership

engaged students in various classroom

between our schools,” Dr. Hademenos said.

activities and introduced them to the egg

“I have never been to Vietnam before, but, I

drop project. Fall 2018 • RISD CONNECT •




chool district officials from across North

campus to RISD. In addition to learning

Texas, representatives from the Texas

anatomy, first aid and similar industry-

manufactured using a 3D printer. Representatives from the Dallas County

Education Agency and Region 10 toured

specific curriculum, the RISD CTE track

Community College, Methodist Richardson

RISD‘s Methodist Health Science program

also enables students to achieve various

Medical Center, Logotology and Paxton

on Oct. 5.

certifications and licenses.

Patterson also attended the tour.

Attendees at a regional meeting of the

The Health Science program exposes

Educate Texas College and Career Readiness

students to various medical fields and gives

School got to see what some 600 Richardson

instruction in real-world situations.

ISD students are learning and met some of the program’s industry partners. Since the start of the 2016-17 school

Dr. Christopher Sakezles is chief executive officer of SynDaver, which provides mannequins for the program. Dr. Sakezles

Educate Texas is the educational initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas that combines public and private entities “to achieve large-scale change to transform Texas public and higher education systems so that every student is successful in school, the workforce and life.”

year, RISD Career and Technical Education

demonstrated the functionality of the

students have gained invaluable hands-on

company’s SAMM mannequins, an anatomy

within CTE. She thanked the attendees

experience at Methodist Hospital on

and physiology cadaver and a surgical canine

and said the partnerships that have been

Campbell Road. In late 2015, the hospital

unit for attendees of the tour.

established are substantial and critical to

donated 7,000 square feet of space at its 14

• RISD CONNECT • Fall 2018

SynDaver’s SAMM mannequins are

Sari McCoy is director of Health Science

RISD students’ success.


Stakeholders to VOTE Nov 6


fter months of budget discussion, and

$1.04 operating tax rate is no longer

home by $25.45 a month, or $305 annually.

incorporating recommendations from

sufficient to fund the district in a way that

Numerous area school districts have raised

the comprehensive community and staff

meets the district’s mission and community

their operating tax rates over the last

strategic planning process that began last

expectations for a sought-after education.

decade, while Richardson ISD trustees have

fall, the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees

That tax rate has remained unchanged for 11

maintained the lower rate of $1.04 per $100

voted to set the district’s operating tax

years and is at a 27-year low.

of taxable assessed value.

rate at $1.17 per $100 of taxable assessed

From a revenue standpoint, the state has

valuation. This triggered a tax ratification

reduced its portion of funding to RISD by

election for Nov. 6, asking voters to approve

$16.1 million since 2013, and is projected to

a higher tax rate.

decrease another $41.8 million over the next

Many factors and months of study—largely by the community’s Strategic Plan Finance

five years. Trustees seek to raise RISD’s operating

Action Team in 2017—led Trustees to

tax rate, which has remained unchanged

the decision of presenting a TRE to RISD

since 2007-08, to $1.17 from its current

voters. A driving force was due to ongoing

level of $1.04. If approved, the change

reductions in state funding. RISD’s long-time

would raise the property taxes on an average

RISD is asking voters for an increase to specifically meet budget needs, increase pay for teachers and staff, add safety and security officers, maintain class sizes and add educators for students with special needs. For more information visit

Community Strategic Planning Committee

Guides RIS D into The Future


ore than 300 community members, staff, parents and students met for more than 100 hours to develop RISD’s Strategic Plan 2017. The comprehensive set of recommendations will guide Richardson Independent School District into the next decade. The plan was

adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees in April. During an intensive three-day development session in the fall of 2017, a 32-member strategic design team established six goals. The team then created six action teams made up of community members.

THE SIX STRATEGIC GOALS OF STUDY ARE: • Ensure that diverse and engaging programs, and learning opportunities, meet the unique needs of all students. • Guarantee that all students will perform at or above grade level. • Recruit, retain, and reward quality personnel. • Ensure that all families, businesses, and community partners are fully engaged in the mission of RISD.

• Actively pursue creative funding sources and responsibly manage current resources to support the district’s mission. • Ensure that RISD facilities and infrastructure adapt to support the mission. Action teams met multiple times throughout the seven-month process, gathering data and hearing presentations

from district departments and student groups. Area businesses and other school districts also shared best practices that RISD can incorporate into its new strategic direction. Progress within all of these areas will be marked, measured and shared with the community. For more information visit









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Richardson Connect - Fall 2018  

Stay connected with Richardson ISD. Fall 2018 edition.

Richardson Connect - Fall 2018  

Stay connected with Richardson ISD. Fall 2018 edition.