STARS Teacher Profile - Marissa Tavallaee

Marissa Tavallaee photo and link to video

Thank you to RISD's 2016 STARS teachers of the year for all you do for students!

Tagged for Flight: The Merriman Park Outdoor Learning Center

"Is that the way to Mexico?" asked Pedro, a second grader, on a recent fall afternoon at Merriman Park Elementary. Together with his class, Pedro was learning that monarch butterflies travel over 2,000 miles during their annual migration, so he wanted to make sure this particular butterfly was on the right track.

With each passing year, the monarch butterfly population is declining due to loss of habitat. Over at the school's Outdoor Learning Center (OLC), they’ve planted a special garden to attract all kinds of pollinators, and students are participating in a tagging program facilitated by the Monarch Watch program to help investigate the issue.

"We are so fortunate to have the monarchs migrate through Dallas," says Lindsay Baronoskie, the OLC coordinator. “It’s such a great opportunity to educate our students on this beautiful creature, why they migrate, and how we can help them on their way.”

The Lake Highlands students and staff are thrilled to be a rest stop for the monarchs on their long journey. “My class reveled in the opportunity to witness the monarch butterfly tagging process,” says Kindergarten teacher Evelyn Kane. Her student, Sloan, agreed wholeheartedly. "This is the best day of my life! I just love butterflies!"

The MPE Outdoor Learning Center is a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation that serves as an open-air laboratory where students perform scientific experiments, plant and harvest various crops, and observe and learn about ecosystems. The experiential curriculum allows students from Kindergarten through sixth grade to expand their understanding of science and their connection to nature.


MPE Outdoor Learning Center photos

Student Spotlight

Prairie Creek student choir photo

The Prairie Creek El. choir was invited to open the MUFSO convention downtown this week, singing the National Anthem and patriotic songs for the 600 attendees.

Tony Harkleroad photo

Harkleroad Announces Retirement

RISD Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Support Services Tony Harkleroad has announced his retirement, effective December 31. “I have been honored and blessed with the opportunity to serve in this great district, alongside dedicated colleagues, on behalf of our students and community,” said Harkleroad.

“On behalf of Richardson ISD, we recognize and thank Tony for his exceptional service to RISD,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone. “His consistent leadership and prudent financial approach has allowed RISD to navigate the ups and downs of the Texas school finance system and keep our focus on teaching and learning. His expertise, ability, and leadership will be missed.” Harkleroad, a CPA, is in his 25th year of service with RISD, including the last 15 as RISD’s chief financial officer. Under his financial leadership, RISD has:

  • Maintained balanced budgets
  • Consistently earned state recognition for financial transparency and accountability
  • Maintained the highest stand-alone bond rating among Texas ISDs
  • Continued to be among just three ISDs in Dallas & Collin counties to offer taxpayers a local optional homestead exemption that reduces their tax levy
  • Operated with a lower tax levy than many area districts, and currently operates with the third lowest levy of residential taxpayers in the area

In 2015, Mr. Harkleroad was named a Top Financial Executive by D Magazine.

RISD is beginning the process of identifying a new Chief Financial Officer.

Sandra Hayes photo

Hayes To Lead Operations

Dr. Stone has appointed current Assistant Superintendent for Technology Sandra Hayes to the expanded role of Assistant Superintendent for Operations.

In her new role, Hayes will oversee the Facilities, Maintenance, and Transportation departments in addition to continuing to lead Technology Services and Student Reporting. She has been with RISD for 29 years, beginning as a classroom teacher and coach. Ms. Hayes will begin transitioning into her expanded duties immediately.

Link to upcoming events

District Calendar

  • November 7 - Regular Board Meeting
  • November 14 - Board Work Session
  • November 21-25 - Thanksgiving Holiday
  • December 5 - Regular Board Meeting

Upcoming Events & Fundraisers

  • LHHS Choir Poinsettia Fundraiser - Extended to October 27
  • FMJH Market in the Meadow - October 29-30
  • Forest Lane Academy Holiday Craft Show - November 5
  • RHS Desperado Mini Clinic - November 5