February 2014 Risley Post

Risley Hosts the 38th Annual District Spelling Bee

 On Thursday, February 13th the annual District Spelling Bee came to our school and the cafetorium buzzed with spellers. Diane Derby from KKTV Channel 11 was the announcer and among the judges was our very own Pueblo County Sheriff, Kirk Taylor.  All of the spellers in attendance did a great job.  The three students who represented Risley in the District Spelling Bee were Ashley Martinez, Valeria Enciso, and Abreann Trujillo, who also took 4th place overall.  Abreann will be competing in the state spelling be later this year in Denver.

Congratulations also goes out to Monty Jefferson-6th grade, Kyra Fanning-7th grade, and Ashley Martinez-8th grade.  These students were the top spellers in each of their grade levels for our school spelling bee.  Great job spellers and thank you to Mrs. Johnson for sponsoring them!

 Featured Teachers

Dr. Debra DeWitt

Dr. Dewitt was born in Logansport, Indiana.  She moved here for her husband’s job. She went to school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She attended Northeast Jr. High and Creston High School. She got her BA in Education from Michigan State University, and earned a doctorate degree at Georgia Southern University. The reason she became a teacher was because she loves learning and teaching. She has been teaching for more than 30 years. She and her husband have been married for 25 years. They have two college-aged daughters who graduated from East High School.  Currently they are both attending college at CSU-Fort Collins. During her free time, Dr. DeWitt likes to crochet, make jewelry, and read mysteries. She has been all over the Unite States and Canada.  She has also traveled to multiple cities in Europe. She also hopes to write a book someday. Her favorite things about Risley are that she has gotten to know everybody and the hand shaking when you go into a classroom.  Her message to the students is to never give up.

Mrs.Tanya Gregory

Mrs. Gregory was born at St. Mary Corwin in Pueblo Colorado. She went to Roncalli Middle School and South High School. For college she went to CSU-P and got a degree majoring in English with a minor in Education. She also went to Adams State College in Alamosa. She became a teacher because she had a great middle school language arts teacher who inspired her to be a teacher. She has been teaching a very long time, she was her own children's first and best teacher. She has been married for 25 years and she has a daughter who is the GEAR UP coordinator here at Risley.  Her son is a junior in college. She enjoys working out, running, spending time with family, and learning about the Bible. She has been to France, England, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Canada and all over the United States. Her favorite thing about Risley is her Avid Students. In the future, she wants to  retire healthy and do more traveling with her family. Her message to students is to invest in themselves now by putting in the effort and the hard work so they will be successful in life and not have regrets.


Students there are some great things happening at Risley International Academy in March and early April!  Be sure to mark your calendars!!!

  • March 3-14:  TCAP testing, all grade levels
  • March 17-21: TCAP makeups
  • March 6th: East Quadrant Choir Festival at East HS at 7:00 pm
  • March 13th: East Quadrant Band Festival at East HS at 7:00 pm
  • Friday March 14th:  Pep Assembly in the Gym—Grizzly will be there and he’s wondering which grade level will have the most spirit!!??)
  • Friday March 21st:  Students vs. Staff Basketball game.  (Grizzly thinks that the staff might win again this year.  Who are you rooting for?)
  • March 24th-28th is Spring Break
  • March 31st—April 4th Intercession
  • April 7th: 4th Quarter Begins



School of Choice Parent Night Event

February 10th brought 5th grade parents to Risley in spite of the very cold weather, to learn about our school and all of the outstanding academic programs, clubs, and services we have to offer incoming 6th grade students.

It was a fun night that included a warm welcome from Principal Macaluso, a slide show presentation,  Mrs. Gregory’s AVID students, Mr. Kouba’s Jazz Band, and several of our elective teachers and instructional coaches, all sharing information about Risley programs. There were  also several informational booths from community organizations offering services to Risley students and families including the Pueblo Library District, the Boys and Girls Club, Spanish Peaks, and the Pueblo Community Health Center.

Valentine's Day Royalty 2014


  Left: Duke & Duchess
  Center: King & Queen
  Right: Prince &Princess

A Page from Risley’s History…..

 Valentine's Day Royalty 1953

This picture was taken in 1953 of the Risley Valentine’s Day King and Queen receiving their crowns from a classmate.  Sadly, there are no names on the back of the picture, so we don’t know who these royals from the past are, but I thought it was a great picture to share with you in this month’s edition of the Risley Post.  The students would be in their mid seventies now.  They probably didn’t think about the history they were making then or that 61 years later, Risley students in 2014 would be looking at their pictures in the school paper.  Friday, February 14, 2014 some of our own students made history by becoming this year’s royalty. 61 years from now, in 2075,  you will be 70-something and there just might be Risley students looking at pictures from the archives I’m creating today, that you are in.  Never forget that you are the ones making Risley’s history today!

  Featured Teachers

Mrs. Dawn Johnson

I was born in Portsmouth, Virginia because my father was in the Navy.I went to Warner Robins Jr. High and then to Warner Robins Sr. High school in Georgia. I began my college journey at Houston Vocational School, earning a certificate in Accounting; I followed that with Macon Jr. College with an Associate Degree in Business Management; Ireturned to college 10 years later at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania with a Major in Elementary Education and a Minor in Special Education. Finally 6 years ago, I finished my Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Adams State University, earning my principal license.

I became a teacher out of my love for children and through the difficult time my son had in school. Initially, I wanted to become a CPA and work for a big corporation but as my son grew older, he was struggling more and more in school. After working with the schools and counselors all the way into Middle School to try and help my son, I had an opportunity to go back to college and I decided to go into education so that I could help other struggling students just like him. This is my 16th year in education; 12 years in the classroom, then 1 year as a Literacy Coordinator, 2 yrs. as an Instructional Coach, and now I am the IB Coordinator.

My father was in the Navy for 8 years and then the Air Force for 4 years as an Air Traffic Controller. We moved every year for the first 12 years of my life until we ended up in Georgia.  I have been married for 28 years and we have a blended family of 5 children (1 is mine and 4 are his) and 4 grandchildren, with one more on the way. My son did complete High School and served 6 years in the Army with the 101st Airborne and is currently in Honduras working on Black Hawk helicopters for a government contractor. He got married last year and will be a new father at the end of February.

My favorite hobbies are reading a great novel, watching old movies, and enjoying the outdoors through hunting and camping. Because I am a “military brat” I travelled a lot as a child which also gave me a love of adventure! By the time I was 12, I had been to 12 different states, including Hawaii, Washington State, South Dakota, and New York State. As an adult, I have been to Mexico and Germany along with several states along the East Coast and the South West. My favorite thing about this school is the creative side of our students.I love the arts and I have seen so much talent in our students from singing and dancing, drawing and sculpting, to comedy and reporting.I am always amazed at the things our students are blessed with. My message to students is to continue on the path to excellence.  I love this quote “If you are NOT WILLING to learn, no one can help you.  If you are DETERMINED to learn, no one can stop you!” This is from an anonymous author, but it says so much about making the choice to be determined. I am a product of making that choice in my life and I feel so fulfilled because of it!