August-September 2014 Risley Post

The Risley Post

August-September 2014

Student Leadership Rally Held at Risley

On September 9th, the Risley students and staff, joined by Dr. Jones, several community members, and visiting guests from Pueblo Academy of Art, had the privilege of attending a motivational assembly that featured professional youth speaker, Gabe Salazar.  The event was coordinated by the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI) and Mr. Salazar was introduced by special guest, Dr. Juan Andrade Jr., the USHLI President. Mr. Salazar entertained the enthusiastic audience with stories of his youth and the challenges he had to overcome to get where he is today.  Everyone in attendance enjoyed the humor and stories that Mr. Salazar shared.  He interacted with the audience, asking students to share their hopes and dreams for their futures.  There was no shortage of volunteers, and one Risley student  who said she’d like to be a singer, even got up and sang the Star Spangled Banner. 

Mr. Salazar’s message was one of encouragement and he challenged the students of Risley International Academy to dream and to work hard to achieve their life’s goals.  He talked with students about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and gangs, and why it is so important for everyone to stay away from them.  He told the young people in the audience that each and every one of them is important and that no one is here by mistake.  He urged each of them to go out and make a positive difference in the world.

Risley’s Library Gets a Makeover, New Technology, and Funding  for New Books

In early June carpenters, electricians, and painters from Pueblo City Schools’ Maintenance Department came to Risley’s Library Media Center and spent several days giving the room a much needed makeover.  The carpenters, Tom Procell, Steve Rodriguez, and Chris Romero removed old built-in computer tables and counters.  They also relocated several units of wall shelving, while  electrician Brent White took care of removing all the old electrical  and Internet wires.  Painter, Tracy Lay put the final touches on the room with a beautiful new coat of paint. 

The school’s principal, Mrs. Charlotte Macaluso, procured funding to purchase hundreds of laptops and Chromebooks, increasing the technology available to every Risley student.  School library media specialist, Mrs. Karen Olson, was awarded the Laura Bush Foundation for American Libraries (LBFAL) grant for Risley in May of this year.  The $5,000 grant will be used to purchase new, high interest books for students as part of an ongoing, school-wide effort to encourage students to develop a life-long love of reading and to raise their achievement levels in reading.  The Pueblo City County Library District (PCCLD) generously donated to Risley’s library all of the books that were part of the PCCLD Eastside Satellite Library program.  The combination of the PCCLD book donations and the LBFAL grant will give Risley readers access to thousands of additional new books and endless learning opportunities.   Stop in and check out a book today!


Principal’s Principles

        Mrs. Charlotte Macaluso

Welcome back to school! I am very excited about this school year. Whether your child is entering middle school for the first time, or you are a veteran parent of a middle school-aged child, the start of a new school year is always a time filled with excitement. Our focus is to provide each child with new challenges that will result in a rewarding school experience. We want your child to be happy and successful at Risley and you play a key role. That role is to continually show interest in and to support your child. A child who knows his or her family is interested in and supports school programs and staff, will almost always enjoy greater success, and will have fewer problems in school.

I continue to be inspired by the dedicated staff and families in this community, and look forward to getting to know our new team members. Risley is a school where students are supported and encouraged to grow in all areas- academically, socially and emotionally. 

We are continuing in our journey to implement the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IB-MYP) as well as Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID).  As we continue to implement the components of our Innovation Plan, I am confident we will continue to improve student achievement. I am fortunate to be a part of this high-quality learning community, and I speak on behalf of the entire staff when I say we are excited to have each of you as part of our school community. It takes all of us to help each and every child reach his/her potential, and we look forward to sharing in your child's learning experiences.

Working together we will have a wonderful year filled with learning, lifelong relationships, and the joys of success and accomplishment. I look forward to meeting each of you, and to working with you and your children throughout the year.

Warm Regards,

Mrs. Charlotte Macaluso

From the Assistant Principal’s Desk…

Mrs. Amy Hausman                                              

Let me first say —Welcome Back! And, if this is your first year at Risley International Academy of Innovation, welcome to our school. Beginning my fifth year as your assistant principal, it is my sincere pleasure and honor to be able to assist Mrs. Macaluso, our teachers, and staff in making this a great school year. 

As many of you already know, my name is Amy Hausman, and this will mark my 28th  year in education. My teaching experiences have included elementary grades, middle school math, and work as an instructional coach. I received my BS in Marketing and my BA in Elementary Education from Adams State University and my MA in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado.  I have eight children, the last two in high school this year as a freshman and junior, as well as eight grandchildren. 

I believe it is extremely important for your child to know their school administrators, and I will work hard to make sure that happens. You will frequently find me at lunch with the students, or in classrooms throughout the school. I hold myself accountable for being visible in the hallways, cafetorium, classrooms and at school functions. My hope is that you and your child find me both approachable and easy to speak to and you won’t hesitate to contact me if you ever have questions, concerns, or just want to share good news about your child or about our school. During the course of the 2014-15 school year, it is my hope that we will work together to provide the students of Risley the best possible opportunities in preparing them to be world-class citizens ready to conquer the challenges of the 21st Century. My door will always be open and I welcome your involvement. It is my desire to work with you as a partner to ensure your child’s success in education.  I anticipate a very successful year as we support the academic, social, and emotional growth of your child.


Parent Involvement Corner

                                  Mrs. Elaine Madrid


Welcome parents and students to a fabulous new school year! 

Parent involvement begins with all the “small things” we do in the best interest of our children.  With that being said, understanding the world your child lives at Risley is an important part of student success.  The “Parent Portal” provides information about attendance, hour to hour classroom tardies, grades, homework assignments, and much more.   Allow me to “teach” you how to access the Parent Portal so that you can be on top of your game when it comes to teenagers in school.  Call 549-7440 to schedule a quick 15 minute one-on-one training.  Walks-in are welcome! I am in the building most mornings. Don’t forget to visit the Parent Resource Corner in the Media Center.  We will be providing materials of interest for your taking.

Box Tops for Education

We are raising money for our school and you can help!  Many items you purchase at the grocery store have this logo on the product label.  Cut them out and send them to school.  Drop boxes for the box tops are by grade level  and are located  in the main lobby.  The grade level with the most box tops will win an ice cream social! 



                                    Music Notes

                                                   By Mr. Matt Kouba



 The Risley Music Program is off and running already this year. We have two choirs; beginning and advanced. They will join together for performances. We have two jazz bands that will also perform together. We also have one concert band, and new this year is that we only have one beginning band instead of two.

Our first performance is called the Risley Fall Concert. It will be on Thursday, October 16th and will begin at 7:00pm in the Risley Cafetorium. The choir will be singing a medley of songs by Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin. They will also sing two traditional choir songs. The jazz band will play three exciting tunes that are swing or Latin jazz and our Concert Band will also perform three new tunes.

It’s not too late to sign up for choir. Mr. Kouba is excited to work with any student who loves to sing.  Stop in the music room today to see Mr. Kouba if you are interested!

         Risley’s 2014 Open House-Parent Night Huge Success

On September 9th, parents and students attended Risley’s annual open house hosted by the administration and teaching staff.  The event was coordinated by our Parent Involvement Coordinator, Mrs. Elaine Madrid.  Each grade level met in different locations where teachers gave brief presentations on our Title I status, the TCAP results from last spring, and various school-wide policies and initiatives.  Parents then went to their student’s roll room for additional information.  The evening was a lot of fun for all in attendance.  Prize baskets and centerpieces were raffled off with winners from each grade level.  Punch and cookies were served in the cafeteria where numerous booths were set up by various community organizations including, the YMCA, Pueblo City County Library District, CSU-Extension, Spanish Peaks, the Wellness Center, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the Boys and Girls Club.

 Counselor’s Corner 


Ms. Gina Curtis

Ms. Curtis is one of our counselors this year and new to Risley. She was born in Charleston, Illinois which is in Central  Illinois.  She moved to Denver in 1988 and has been in Colorado for 26 years.  Ms. Curtis came to Pueblo in 2000 when she got a counseling job here. She went to middle and high school in Oakland, Illinois.  She then attended Eastern Illinois University before transferring to Illinois State University where she earned her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Masters in Education, School Counseling. 

She knew when she was a child that she wanted to be a teacher.  Ms. Curtis says, “I loved school and played school with my little sister…poor thing. She had to go to school and then come home and have her big sister make her pretend like she was in school again.”  She taught elementary school for four years and has been a school counselor for 24 years. 

Her mother and her stepdad, sister, niece, nephew, and three great nieces live in Central Illinois.  When asked about her favorite hobbies she said, “I love to read, swim, do yoga, hike, and sell on ebay.” She has been to all but 15 states and has seen many beautiful and interesting sights in our amazing United States!  She has travelled to Mexico City, Oaxaca, Mexico and on south to Puerto Escondido at the ocean in southern Mexico.  She also stayed a couple weeks in San Jose del Cabo and visited north  in the city of La Paz. 

Ms. Curtis says that she LOVES being at Risley because we have an amazing, talented staff and the best students in the city of Pueblo!  Ms. Curtis shared a motivational message for all students saying, “Risley Students….no matter what you are going through in your life, what you have or don’t have, you are strong, brave and smart enough to be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do in your life.  Believe in yourself and your dreams and reach for the stars.”


 By Officer Jason Smith

Definition:  the act of stealing; specifically :  the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Students today carry a variety of technological devices that include; iPods, cell phones, mp3 players, gaming systems, etc.  These items are the most common items that children between the ages of 12-18 target while at school.  Backpacks, school books and clothing are other items that students look for.  By the age of 17, 43% of youth in the United States have stolen property worth $50 or less. (Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report)

The only true way to protect your kids from the chance of getting property stolen at school is to have them only bring what is needed to school.  They should leave iPods, cell phones, and other electronic devices they can’t use during school at home.  We all know that no matter what the school administrators or parents say, kids are going to bring these items.  The following precautions can help prevent things from disappearing. 

Remind your kids to keep their lockers locked and secured at all times.  Do not share lockers even with their friends. And at the end of the day take the valuables home do not leave them in the locker. 

Don’t leave backpacks, clothing and other items unattended.  If for some reason students have to leave class, tell them to take their belongings with them.  It is not our responsibility to keep track of their stuff. 

Avoid calling attention to the items you bring.  Showing your friends your cool new phone or your new coat could led to others hearing or seeing what you have.  Remember, if you like your stuff you’re not the only one that will like it. 

Again, consider having your kids leave anything of value at home.  If you do let them bring electronic devices to school make sure you write down the make, model, serial number and any other identifying marks so if it is stolen you can give the information to the police.

Recovering stolen items is difficult, but there are cases in which items have been recovered.  The sooner your child reports something missing the better chance of getting it back. 

When thinking about crime prevention always remember the three elements that must be present in order for a crime to happen; desire, ability and opportunity.  If just one of those three elements is removed, the crime simply cannot occur.  Opportunity is the easiest one to remove.  Lock your items up when you can and do not leave them unattended. 

Stop in to see Officer Smith if you have any questions.



Risley Teachers Attend Professional Development to Prepare for New School Year

On August 4th the dedicated Risley teaching staff returned to school ready to start a new year.  During August and September, our teachers have attended various professional development sessions covering a variety of programs including, AVID, the International Baccalaureate Program, Educator Effectiveness, and Standards-Based Grading.  On-going professional development is scheduled during early release on Friday afternoons, as well as full day trainings throughout the school year.  Teachers also participate in grade level or content specific Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) every morning from 7:15 to 7:55. PLCs allow our teachers time to collaborate as well as discuss current student data and trends in order to modify instruction to meet the needs of every student.

Our teachers are committed to the success of all Risley students and are looking forward to an exceptional year!


Featured Teachers & Staff



Ms. Dady—8th Grade English Language Arts


I was born in Oregon and moved here to be a Risley Bear! I went to an amazing middle school called Sunnyside Environmental Middle School, a local charter in my neighborhood in Portland Oregon. We got to go on field trips every Thursday to volunteer in the community. We ran a farm, harvested the food from that farm and cooked lunch for the entire school monthly. We also took week long trips into the wilderness with our peers, and had mixed 6-8 classes! It radically shaped the person I am today and I wish everyone as positive a middle school experience as mine was. I attended 5 different high schools and graduated in 3 years.  I later attended University of Oregon and was actually Miss University of Oregon 2012.  I created my own major of Business, Environmental Studies, and Law.  I have freed myself from the cycle of minimum wage and manual labor in my family by attaining an education and I wish to encourage and inspire others to do the same. 

 This is my first full school year as a teacher.  I have two big sisters and a little brother. My fiancé and I met in Oregon and he is from Minnesota. Growing up, my mother took in a lot of children so I have about five unofficial siblings.  My hobbies include: live music, dancing, singing loudly and in public, learning how to make things, being outdoors, and making art.   I have been to 27 countries and 30 states or something like that; it's hard to keep track. I've lived on three continents and visited every continent except for Antarctica. 

 I love the commitment, hard work, and dedication I see in every single one of the teachers here at Risley. Everyone is so positive and supportive. I also love the emphasis on celebrating students through positive incentive systems and the school uniforms. 

My hope for the future is that every child world wide has access to an exceptional education and embraces that opportunity.

Ms. Alvarez—ESS Teacher


I was born in the city of Morelia, Michoacan in Mexico. I moved to Chicago at an early age.  I was raised there. So, I call Chicago home. Teaching is what has brought me to Pueblo.   I attended Lionel Hampton School and Hubbard High School in the Southside of Chicago. I attended the University of Illinois at Chicago. I had a double major in applied psychology and sociology.  I wanted to become a teacher because my experiences with schooling instilled a passion for learning and education. I had great teachers who served as role models for me. My community work was centered in increasing access to higher education for students of low-income communities and quality education overall.  I had originally sought a career in crisis intervention counseling.  However, I did not find it as gratifying as when I worked on my education-related work. When I recognized my love for education, I became certain that I wanted to be a teacher.  This will be my first year teaching.

 My nuclear family consists of my parents, my two sisters, and myself. I am the oldest child of three daughters. My younger siblings are 19 and 6 years of age. However, my familia also encompasses my extended family. I spent a large portion of my childhood with my cousins and they continue to be important part of my life to this day.

 I love the arts overall: film, photography, and drawing. I like to sketch during my free time or go on walks to take some snapshots.   I have traveled to a few places: California, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and North Carolina. I have family in three of those states. 

 I love the cohesive vision that you find at Risley and the commitment from all the staff, which makes it a very welcoming community.   Cesar Chavez’s quotation, “Students must have initiative; they should not be mere imitators. They must learn to think and act for themselves - and be free,” resonates with me. I agree that true power comes with the ability to think and to make informed decisions. When I walk into the classroom, I hope that my actions promote self-thought.


Mr.  Assaf—7th Grade English Language Arts

I was born in Detroit, Michigan. After college, I applied for jobs nationwide and Pueblo was the first job that I found. I liked it here, so I stayed.  I went to Shrine Academy and High School in Detroit. Later, I went to Grand Valley State University (Allendale, MI), and majored in English and Psychology and minored in Applied Linguistics.  I had so many great teachers growing up.  They inspired to me to become a teacher because of the amazing effect they had on my life and others’ lives as well. This is my third year as a teacher.

 My father immigrated from Colombia when he was four and lived in New York City until he graduated from High School. He worked for HP for about 30 years before retiring and is obsessed with the New York Giants. My Mom’s side of the family moved to Detroit to find work in the auto-plants, and she is the hardest worker I have ever met. My sister works for the Fox Sports Detroit network, and covers Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings games. I really enjoy reading, golfing, collecting colorful clothing, and being creative in any way I can. I like to play video games when I have time as well. Right now, I’ve mostly been playing FIFA Soccer and Madden 2014. 

 I’ve traveled to Hawaii, Phoenix, Toronto, San Francisco, Key West, Keystone, and more. My favorite part of Risley is how positive the teachers and students are about Risley PRIDE, and our school culture’s dedication to success!  My goal is to help as many people as possible through education. I had a hard time in middle school, so it is especially important to me that kids don’t give up, and know that they can achieve their dreams with effort and empathy.


Mr. Donovan—7th Grade Individuals and Societies

I was born in Denver, Colorado and I moved to the “Steel City of the West” before words could be spoken or steps could be taken.  Following a tradition that runs deep within the roots of many who were planted here long before me, I was the third generation of my family to attended Central High School. And, first generation to be elected school president of Pueblo Academy of the Arts (formerly Pitts Middle).

Upon completion of high school, I did as most young and discontent adolescents of Pueblo do and moved away to see a glimpse of the outside at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. While pursuing my degree there, I realized that my passion for people and desire to help others could translate into the profession of teaching.  And so now, my journey in the classroom continues two years after having received my bachelor of arts in History AND a stronger identification with this city I call home.  With nearly all the Garcia side of my family living in town, I joined their ranks as a civil servant in the community. When not working to empower the minds of young people, I enjoy collecting vintage goods and distributing them around world. On a more personal note, Tango, a blue nose pit has been my most recent  family addition. Upon entering Risley, what struck me most was the tradition and pride among staff and students in this tight knit community. I look forward to becoming more involved with Risley and the role that we play in the East Side of Pueblo.


Ms. Jaime Bergstrom—Instructional Coach

Good day Risley Bears,

My name is Ms. Jaime Bergstrom and I will be a Data/Instructional coach this year at Risley International.  This is my 11th year in education. I have been a middle school English teacher, a high school Reading Interventionist, and a high school English teacher. I am very excited for this new challenge as a Data/Instructional coach but I am more excited to be here with the fabulous Risley students.

I was born here in Pueblo a long, long time ago. I am a mother of a wonderful son who is very good at school and athletics. I love watching him play soccer and basketball. I also have an older sister, who is a teacher and a younger brother. My family believes education is very important and for that reason several of my family members are also teachers, my mother, my aunt, my cousin, my cousin in law and my sister.

My family moved around a lot in the town of Pueblo so I started out at Belmont Elementary, then we moved to the south side of town and I went to Pitts Middle School and eventually South High School. I received a volleyball scholarship to UCCS. After a year away from home I came back to Pueblo and graduated from CSU-Pueblo with an English degree and a minor in Reading. I also have a Master’s Degree in School Administration.

Outside of school I love to watch sports, especially soccer. My favorite teams are Manchester United, New York Yankees, and the Denver Broncos. My favorite time of year though is March Madness. I am glued to the television cheering on Coach K and the mighty Blue Devils.

I would like the families, friends, and teachers to know that I am so impressed with the teaching that is going on in the building and the willingness of the students to learn.

My favorite quote is the one about the starfish. “A young boy was on a beach where thousands of starfish had swept ashore. He bent down and started to throw the starfish back into the ocean one by one. An old man asked him why he bothered, saying it was pointless and that there were too many starfish to help them all. As the boy flung another starfish into the ocean, he replied, IT MATTERED TO THAT ONE!”

Everyone matters!


Mrs.  Denysenko-ESS Teacher

Ms. Denysenko was born and raised in the Ukraine and Russia.  She attended college at the National State University in the Ukraine before coming to the United States and attending Weber State University in Utah.  She decided to become a teacher because of how the school system was in the Ukraine and in Russia.  She has been now been teaching since 1999.

She is married and her husband is an engineer.  Her favorite hobbies are reading, poetry, writing, and watching movies.  She has traveled to many places around the world including, the South African Republic, Israel, Bulgaria, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Hawaii. 

When asked what her favorite thing about Risley was she replied, “The support and collaboration from the staff.”  For students she says, “[It] Doesn’t matter where you are from—you [are the] only one who can make a difference!”



School Dance Coming Soon!!!!

Mark your calendars for the first Risley dance of the year.  On October 17th the PBIS committee will host the annual Fall Harvest Dance in our cafetorium from 12:00— 1:10pm. ***

Students will be able to purchase dance admission tickets at lunch that day for $2.00.  The admission cost will include a free soda and snack.  On the day of the dance, students will be able to wear jeans for $1, and for an additional $1 they can also wear the shirt of their choice.  Students will pay for their non-uniform shirts and pants in their roll rooms on the day of the dance.  Non-uniform jeans and shirts must follow all district dress codes and policies. 

Mr. Kouba will be laying the beats down, Mrs. Madrid, Ms. Smalley and the Art Club will be decorating, and we want ALL Risley students to come to the dance and bring their school spirit and Risley PRIDE!!! 

See you at the dance!!!