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The Official Magazine of the Richardson Independent School District


Excellence in Education Berkner High School teacher Bushra Haq was named one of five finalists across Texas for the H-E-B Excellence In Education Award. Winners will be named in May.

Industry in The Classroom Caring Bus Driver Pearce HS 2008 grad Dr. Samantha Stowe teaches Luke Reed’s veterinarian medicine students how to conduct a physical exam, bringing industry into the classroom.

Curtis Jenkins, a bus driver for Lake Highlands Elementary, asked every kid on the bus what they wanted for Christmas and then bought it for them. There was even a bike on that bus.

RIS D Life Changer North Junior High English teacher Shari Barat always searches for ways to positively impact students. In her final year of teaching, Shari has been nominated for a national LifeChanger of the year award.

Spring 2019 • RISD CONNECT •





03 RISD Greatness

05 Connecting with Dr. Stone

06 RISD Board of Trustees

06 Community Voice

07 STEM Symposium

08 Pre-K for All

08 Alumni Spotlight

09 STARS Teachers

10 A System of Great Schools

Page 10


12 Thurgood Marshall Elementary Teacher Wins National Award for Financial Literacy App

13 Board Approves New Voting Structure

14 ACE Progress

15 2019-2020 Academic Calendar

Connect is produced by RISD Communications. The magazine is published each semester 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 • Spring 2019

400 S. Greenville Ave. Richardson, Texas 75081 469-593-0000 PUBLISHERS Scott & Kelly Murray EDITORS Jana Melton Steve Gamel Bobbi Byrne CONTRIBUTORS RISD Communications Chris Moore Michael Mulvey Jason Philyaw ADVERTISING Kelly Murray Mary Worthington PRODUCTION Art Director 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. © 2019 Murray Media Group.

Connecting with RISD Superintendent



s the school year comes to an end,

students from Dartmouth, Mark Twain and

RISD continues to build connections

Terrace elementary schools and Apollo

that prove graduation is just the beginning

Junior High to touch a moon rock. In March,

for our students.

these students toured NASA’s Driven to

At our inaugural Partners for All luncheon

Explore mobile tech exhibit and listened

at Methodist Hospital in February, more

to Astronaut Chris Cassidy explain the

than 100 area business leaders connected

challenges and excitement of working in

with many of our Career and Technical

space, as well as why STEM is so important.

Education students, who honed networking

Our partnerships are flourishing. Our

skills that will bode well for them as they

dedication to STEM is working. Our

grow into adulthood. By giving our students

transformative ACE program is working.

a plethora of opportunities to learn outside

Teachers at Carolyn Bukhair, Forest Lane

of the classroom, we are preparing them for

Academy, Thurgood Marshall and RISD

success outside of RISD.

Academy have set high standards for their

Through our partnerships with Texas

students, and the students are responding.

Instruments and Discovery Education,

They want the extra and more challenging

we’ve begun a culture change within

work. They are thriving within the new

the Berkner feeder pattern through

structure. ACE students now know what’s

STEM-infused curriculum that ensures

expected of them, and they are starting to

academic rigor, student engagement

see the benefits for themselves. One ACE

and relevancy. At the end of February,

teacher has had students tell him:

educators from more than 20 school

“I feel smarter.”

districts across five states gathered at

We’ve made many valuable connections

Berkner to see the program in action.

this year as our students continue to learn

One of our junior high teachers related an

and grow and be ready to succeed.

anecdote of how her kids now run to her

Have a great summer, and I look

class trying to be the first one there. What

forward to connecting again soon!

a wonderful measure of success that is! Our partnership with the Communities Foundation of Texas enabled robotics club

Stay connected, DR. JEANNIE STONE RISD Superintendent

RISD continues to build connections that prove graduation is just the beginning for our students




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 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.

Justin Bono Board President

Why did you choose RISD? Karina Marr Merriman Park Elementary Parent

SFC Billy D. Patterson Jr. Pearce JROTC Army Instructor

Neighborhood based, small, community-

I chose RISD because it was the right

centered elementary schools with a

opportunity at the right time and the

commitment to academic excellence and

right place to continue my calling as an

parent/community involvement. And its

effective teacher. Making that decision

diversity: socio-economic and ethnic.

to transition from another district into

Carolyn Potter Lake Highlands Elementary, JH and HS Parent and Incoming Council of PTAs President We selected RISD for the neighborhood school concept. We love the idea of our boys walking to school and playing around the neighborhood with their school friends. We also like the diversity of the district, which if fostered well, can develop empathy and compassion as

Kristin Kuhne, Ph.D. Vice President

Kim Caston Treasurer

well as broaden points of view that lead

the RISD family was not a difficult one for me because I saw myself bringing solutions to everyday challenges our district is facing in the classroom. Teaching in RISD is fulfilling my life’s purpose of positively affecting students and influencing their families.

Fouad Jaber Dover Elementary Parent We heard that Richardson had good schools and began looking for a house

to meaningful discussions.

within the district, but what made us

Trinh Vo Richardson HS First Year Chemistry Teacher

diversity in the area. Our kids now

I completed my clinical teaching

West Africa, the Middle East and,

semester at RHS last spring. I clearly

of course, Texas, and we love that.

send our girls to Dover is the amazing have friends from various backgrounds: Central America, East Africa,

remember how nervous I was teaching Jean Bono Secretary

Karen Clardy TASB Delegate Alt.

my first lesson, and how my mentor and colleagues were there to cheer me on. They truly made me feel belonged and loved. It was impossible to leave this awesome family, so I stayed and started my teaching career here at RHS. My first year teaching has not always been easy, but I’m so grateful to have

Eron Linn TASB Delegate


Katie Patterson Member

• RISD CONNECT • Spring 2019

such supportive and kind colleagues by my side every day.

Kim Caston RISD Trustee It’s the tradition of educational excellence provided by caring teachers, administrators and staff. My parents moved our family to RISD for the schools; my husband and I chose RISD for our kids; and now my son and his wife are raising our family’s third generation of RISD students. The tradition continues!


hen Texas Instruments awarded RISD

up, and start asking them: ‘What kind of

includes the latest, high-quality technological

a $4.6 million grant last spring to

problems do you want to solve?’ We want

learning. The company is utilizing its

help create a STEM feeder pattern within

to help kids create a portfolio from Pre-K

the Berkner High School attendance zone,

through 12th grade to show potential

Streaming Plus tool that “brings the real

Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone said the

employers what kind of problems they’ve

district was “all-in.”

solved,” Moss said.

“We are committed to changing the

Paula Rilling is the Berkner science

culture within the Berkner learning

department chair. As a high school

community through STEM-infused

teacher, she describes herself as an end

curriculum that ensures academic rigor,

user for public education.

world into the classroom.” Helen Arceneaux, a second-year science teacher at Liberty Junior High, confirmed as much when she mentioned how she arranged a conference call with a cardiologist from Harvard one day during a lesson on heart health. She said she couldn’t

student engagement, and relevancy across

She said STEM for All is a transdisciplinary

the entire curriculum,” Dr. Stone said then.

approach and not a zero-sum game wherein

adequately explain how valuable the STEM

“RISD strives to inspire students from their

Humanities and Arts teaching suffers as

program has been for her and her students,

very first day of school to explore and

STEM subjects flourish.

who are “now running to my class to try to

cultivate their interests to pursue a career

“It’s exciting and engaging for teachers

pathway through a STEM culture.”

across the board,” Rilling said. “Our Discovery

Just nine months after the grant

Ed STEM-trained teachers have shown other

announcement, RISD is holding true to our

teachers how to bring it into classrooms;

commitment of changing the STEM culture

the culture shift is happening.”

in education ­— and not just in Texas. In late February, educators from more

The goal of the TI grant over the next three years will be focused on helping

be the first one in.” Arceneaux said meeting one-on-one with a coach each month has been invaluable, and there is no way she would be considering gamification, students implementing their created lessons, or

than 20 school districts across five states

RISD build and implement the STEM for

student-led research as a second-year

gathered at Berkner to see the program

All concept in the classroom. The Berkner

teacher if it wasn’t for Discovery Education.

in action.

attendance zone includes 16 campuses with

Discovery Education is facilitating implementation of the STEM program. “There are 4 million science and tech

more than 10,000 students. The grant also will help the district work with postsecondary education partners in

jobs in the U.S., and we are coming up

business and industry to ensure relevancy

with different ways to fill those positions,”

and sustainability of the concept.

Discovery Education VP of Global STEM

Melissa Hampton is director of

Cindy Moss said. “We need to stop asking

professional learning at Discovery Education.

kids what they want to be when they grow

She assured educators that the program

“Our Discovery Ed STEM-trained teachers have shown other teachers how to bring it into classrooms; the culture shift is happening.” – Paula Rilling, Berkner Science Department chair Spring 2019 • RISD CONNECT •


“High-quality Pre-K can no longer be considered a luxury for upper-income families or a special program for the

has been in foster care. As with any new RISD student

disadvantaged,” according to The Pew

registration, parents must provide the

Research Center. “Based on what we now

district with copies of the child’s original

know about a child’s brain development

birth certificate, passport or residency card

during these crucial years, Pre-K has

and show proof of in-district residency and

become just as necessary as kindergarten

income. An up-to-date immunization record

or first grade.”

also must be provided to the elementary

To be eligible for RISD Pre-K this fall,


are all children in foster care or a child who

school upon registering all students.

igh-quality Pre-Kindergarten instruction

students must be 3 or 4 years old by Sept.

is a cornerstone of a child’s future

1, and meet at least one of a handful of

achieving its goal of providing Pre-K for All

academic success. Equitable access to

parameters. The student must be an English

families, but limited seats are available for 3

curriculum-based Pre-K services is a goal of

learner or eligible for free or reduced lunch.

year olds for the 2019-20 school year.

RISD’s Strategic Plan.

The student also qualifies if the family meets

“Evidence-based early childhood

RISD is diligently working toward

the RISD criteria of homeless, the child is the

interventions lead to improved long-term

elementary schools with half-day and

dependent of an active military member or

outcomes,” according to the Center on the

full-day Pre-K programs available. Full-day

the dependent of an armed forces member

Developing Child at Harvard University.

seats for the upcoming 2019-20 school

injured or killed while on active duty. Any

“For every $1 spent on high-quality early

year are limited and may be determined by a

dependent of a person eligible for the STAR

childhood programs, it is estimated that

lottery if necessary.

of Texas award is also eligible for Pre-K as

$7-$16 is saved later in life.”

Registration is ongoing at all RISD

Dr. Philip Huang


eing a member of the high school band remains one of the greatest experiences of my life.

We were a nationally recognized and award-winning band, and some of my best friends in

life still to this day are the friends I made in the Lake Highlands High School band. RISD teachers

created such a supportive environment. I recall many memorable teachers, including Mrs. Rice who taught fifth grade at Stults Road and Mrs. Burns at Forest Meadow and, of course, all the band

directors: Eddie Green and Bob Brandeburger and Malcolm Helm and Pete Tolhuizen. I remember

one math teacher who taught us how to think in different ways and how math is used in animation. I’m grateful for the support I received from all my RISD teachers and can’t wait for the next Lake Highlands band reunion.” Stults Road Elementary, Forest Meadow Junior High, Lake Highlands High School; graduated 1978


• RISD CONNECT • Spring 2019

Dr. Huang studied medicine at UT-Southwestern and holds a master’s in public health from Harvard University. He has worked for the CDC and before returning to Dallas was medical director and health authority of Austin Public Health.


Teachers The Excellence in Education Foundation annually selects ten teachers who exemplify Superior Teaching Achievement in RISD Schools. Each of these STARS receive $1,000 and will be honored at RISD events in the spring and fall.

ERICA HOYT Wallace Elementary 3rd Grade ELA/Social Studies

SONYA AYERS Apollo Junior High Dyslexia Specialist

ASHLEY NICK North Junior High 7th Grade Mathematics

RACHEL NELSON Forestridge Elementary Music

JONATHAN ROOZEBOOM Westwood Junior High Orchestra Director

MATT SMITH Forest Meadow Junior High Language Arts

JASON SCHAYOT Berkner High Director of Bands

MARIA VELASCO Dover Elementary 2nd Grade Bilingual

JOHN WITTER Richardson High English/World History

COURTNEY WRIGHT Bukhair Elementary 4th Grade Writing/Social Studies

Thank you to the EiE Foundation and sponsors Texas Instruments Foundation, Credit Union of Texas, and AXA Advisors for recognizing some of RISD’s top teachers. Spring 2019 • RISD CONNECT •





ISD is defining what makes a great school and what constitutes a high-quality campus as it establishes a new School Performance Framework, as part of the district’s participation in the Texas Education Agency’s System of Great Schools. The design team includes parents, principals, administrators and RISD Trustee Jean Bono, led by SGS Executive Adviser Margo Roen. RISD applied to become part of the network, which seeks to better manage school performance, improve access to options and foster school autonomy. The TEA selected RISD to join the second cohort of districts implementing this “theory of action toward being more responsive to the individual needs of schools and families within the community.” “The goal of the SGS Network is to increase the number of students in high-quality seats year after year,” according to Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. “Districts in the SGS Network are provided with broad system-level supports. I hope that districts across the state will be able to look toward the innovation of those within the


• RISD CONNECT • Spring 2019

network as models for change.” RISD anticipates using the TEA’s free support and guidance to better position the district for grant opportunities, especially for schools serving families with higher needs and at-risk students. The TEA wants school districts “to develop a locally designed systemlevel innovation and problem-solving strategy with the goal of increasing the number and percentage of students in top-rated schools and reducing the number and percentage of students in low-rated schools.” While some school districts in the SGS network have chosen to build charter schools through the expanded optional help from the state, RISD has no intention to create a charter school. RISD wants to give principals more autonomy in their decision-making and then support those campusspecific decisions with appropriate resources. Inclusion in the SGS network provides access to best practices being implemented across the state. RISD expects the network to provide high-quality professional development for all staff, as well.




bout 50 engineering students from Berkner and Pearce high schools gathered at UTD in late March to build optical heart rate monitors in a challenge sponsored by State Farm. Volunteers from RISD partner Tech Titans helped facilitate the event, wherein students learned how to place electronic parts, solder pieces in place and test the board for performance. Workable devices were donated to training programs in the Dominican Republic and Africa through Engineering World Health, a nonprofit that helps hospitals and clinics in developing countries. The experiential learning introduces students to their potential futures and instills the skills essential to success in STEM careers such as problem-solving, collaboration and team work, according to Tech Titans. “When we can get students out onto a college campus, they can visit with actual college students and see themselves in this setting,” RISD CTE Coordinator Beth Brown said. “We know they can be successful.” Texas Instruments awarded Richardson ISD a $4.6 million grant to help create a STEM feeder pattern within the Berkner High School learning community, and the program really took flight during this school year. In addition to the heightened STEM focus at the high school level, elementary students also are gaining hands-on experiences. Robotics club students within the Berkner feeder pattern recently met Chris Cassidy, an astronaut and U.S. Navy captain, who explained the importance of a STEM education for continued exploration of space. The students also got to touch a moon rock as part of the NASA Driven to Explore mobile tech exhibit.


What an AMAZING turnout for the 1st Career Pathways Fair!! Bringing all departments together to grow & connect! #RISDConnects

A BIG #ThankYou to the 100 Women of Lake Highlands for their $30,000 grant to Skyview Elementary!

This is what a $120,000 hug looks like! We still can’t get over having 6 @ DellScholars! #thisisavid #wearepearce

Brentfield Elementary was recognized by the American Heart Association as the top fundraiser in Texas and second in the nation for its annual Kids Heart Challenge, raising $91,374! @bfebobcats @aha_dallas #RISDProud

Bukhair Elementary received a $25,000 gift from the local Micro Center via the Score with Intel Core competition. Principal Roxxy Griffin plans to use award for garden, healthy lifestyle education. #RISDConnects #RISDGreatness


Spring 2019 • RISD CONNECT •


Thurgood Marshall Elementary Teacher Wins




errick Wesley teaches sixth-grade reading at Thurgood Marshall

“AVID and Junior Achievement partnered to provide financial literacy materials for us to teach our AVID students,” Wesley said. Elementary. He also owns iMar Learning “The students loved the lessons but were Solutions, the developer of Plan-It, left with many questions and went home which teaches financial literacy to and asked their parents about the things empower communities and individuals we discussed in class. The parents didn’t through a heightened awareness and have a lot of the answers increased aptitude. to the questions they Derrick has been such Plan-It also allows were asking.” investment advisers to help an asset to RISD Then, Wesley stumbled clients by matching them through his commitment upon the Innovation Quest with appropriate financial to our mission of helping contest, noticed a financial information aimed at every student connect, literacy component, improving their and — with his AVID learn, grow and succeed. business acumen. students in mind — began In February, TD developing Plan-It. Ameritrade Institutional named Plan-It the Wesley understands getting the app to inaugural winner of Innovation Quest, a market requires more. national financial technology competition “My next step is to find more funding aimed at generating new ideas in and partners to invest and help me turn my investment advising. idea into a tool that can help change lives Wesley gave a 15-minute pitch at the as soon as possible,” he says. “Heather brokerage firm’s LINC Conference in San Fortner, chief operating officer of Signature Diego and won the grand prize of $25,000 FD, was one of the judges for the contest, on top of the $25,000 for being one of three and during my time on stage, she stated finalists for the award. that this would be a massive project that Wesley said the idea for Plan-It stems would require a lot of money.” from teaching eighth-grade reading The Louisiana native and University of and AVID at Richardson North Junior New Orleans grad also hosts a monthly High School. Youth Leadership Academy with Michael


• RISD CONNECT • Spring 2019

Finley through the Dallas-based foundation the former Mavericks player started to help young people overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential. “We meet once a month with the students that participate in [Finley’s] summer academic program. Our lessons focus on leadership, critical thinking, creative problem solving, analytical thinking, communication, and collaboration,” Wesley said. “I plan to continue working with our students in the ACE schools, for example, to help build their leadership capacity. Overall, iMar Learning Solutions’ mission is to help others to grow mentally so they can reach their full potential.” Richardson North Principal Josh Eason says Wesley seeks out the best in every kid. “Derrick makes great connections with students and truly invests in their lives,” Eason said. “He really pushes students to think for themselves and teaches them to open new doors for opportunity. Derrick has been such an asset to RISD through his commitment to our mission of helping every student connect, learn, grow, and succeed. He is beloved by his students and our staff for his belief in all kids and his actions as a valued teammate in our learning community.”




n early February, the RISD Board voted unanimously to adopt a single-member boundary map, outlining specific areas that Trustees will represent under the new election system. With the vote, RISD moves a step closer to creating more opportunities for minority candidates. Under the new 5:2 single-member district system, five of the seven RISD Trustees will be elected from geographic districts by registered voters who reside within those boundaries. The remaining two board spots will be elected at large by registered voters throughout RISD. Prior to the decision to change to a singlemember voting structure, school board members were elected at large. This system was challenged in a lawsuit that alleged the at large structure did not allow equitable opportunity for minority representation. The single-member district boundaries were drawn to create two opportunity districts in which the majority of eligible voters identify as nonwhite based on census data. RISD Trustees designated single-member Districts 3 and 4 as opportunity districts. Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone said her recommendation regarding the transition plan will express the board’s intent that the opportunity districts be among the first seats up for election this November. A major component of drawing board district boundaries was maintaining percentage requirements within the general population of the five districts. It presented one of the more challenging aspects for trustees.

Justin Bono, RISD School Board President. “As a result, many desired tweaks to the map could not be accommodated. The final map ranges from 41,000 to 44,000 citizens between those five districts, which keeps us within the required parameters.” Among other considerations by Trustees was balancing the established school feeder patterns while also creating expanded districts that allow board members to

represent a larger geography than just the feeder pattern in which they reside. Trustees received federal court approval to move the election to November and have begun a transition plan detailing which seats will be elected as the new system is phased in over the next three election cycles. The new system will be fully implemented in May 2021. Three seats will be on the ballot this November.

“There could not be more than a 10 percent variance between the most populated and least populated areas,” said Spring 2019 • RISD CONNECT •


ACE Progress T

he four RISD Accelerating Campus Excellence elementary campuses have completed the first semester of implementation of this accelerated plan that aims to improve the level of student achievement at some of the district’s lowerperforming schools. As part of the decision to transition Carolyn Bukhair, Forest Lane Academy, Thurgood Marshall, and RISD Academy to the extended-day ACE model, district administrators identified elementary teachers who exhibited a passion for the profession that drives them. They want to make a difference in each of their student’s lives. They can’t wait to get to work each morning, and they imbue that in their students.


• RISD CONNECT • Spring 2019

It’s working. ACE teachers have set high

The number of ACE students at reading

standards for their students, and the students

levels fell slightly compared to the prior year

are responding. They want the extra work.

across ACE campuses in 3rd, 4th, and 5th

They now seek more challenging work. They

grade but rose sharply in 6th grade, including

need the structure provided by the teachers. ACE students know what’s expected of them, and they are starting to see the rewards for themselves. One teacher has had multiple students tell him: “I feel smarter.” The middle of the year data prove as much. The number of 5th and 6th graders at all four ACE schools who now meet math

a 14-point rise at Forest Lane Academy. Teachers say increased support and resources from the administration have been a huge help. Meeting with coaches and team leaders weekly has helped teachers identify and recognize academic deficiencies and address them almost immediately. This allows teachers to go back and provide that little extra support for a specific need for

levels rose during the first half. The students

a specific student, while maintaining the

at these ACE schools now exceed district

accelerated pace of the new

averages in math.

learning environment.









Profile for Murray Media Group

Richardson Connect - Spring 2019  

Stay connected with Richardson ISD. Spring 2019 edition.

Richardson Connect - Spring 2019  

Stay connected with Richardson ISD. Spring 2019 edition.


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