The Risley Post

November 2013 ~ Volume 1, Issue 3

Veterans Honored at Risley

Risley students took turns asking LCPL Carlson questions.  His dad, Mr. Scott Carlson, a teacher here at Risley, accompanied LCPL Carlson  on stage  and was later joined by several members of the Carlson family.


Monday, November 11th students and staff at Risley honored veterans of the United States Armed Forces in an all-school Veteran’s Day Assembly.  The school choir, led by Mr. Matt Kouba, sang The Star Spangled Banner, My Country Tis of Thee, and America the Beautiful.  Members of the East High School R.O.T.C. color guard presented the  colors.  In the audience were several veterans and their families representing all branches of our military.  Also in attendance were family members of deceased veterans who had served in both World War I and II, and the Korean War.  The guest speaker was LCPL Colton Carlson of the USMC who was injured in Afghanistan in 2012 and as a result lost both of his legs.  He shared his military service experience in a video created by his sister, which also documented the long road to recovery that he braved after returning to the U.S.  His advice to anyone who wishes to join the military is, “...To do it.  It’s worth it….” After the event, Principal Macaluso said, “In this month of Thanksgiving, I am truly grateful for my dedicated team members who give unselfishly of their time in order to provide our students with lessons of perseverance, respect for one another, and allegiance to our country.  The event was AWESOME!!”  All veterans who were present for the assembly received a certificate of appreciation for their service and sacrifice.  It was an honor for all who attended to be in the company of those brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country. 


         Principal’s Principles

                 By Mrs. Charlotte Macaluso

 In this season of Thanksgiving, it is easy to reflect upon the many things that I am grateful for.  I am particularly grateful for my experiences at Risley International Academy and the lessons learned from my interactions with staff and students.  Many things have contributed to the advancement of our organization.  Each day I have the privilege of witnessing the teaching and learning process.  Teachers are dedicated to our students, and students are willing to persevere even if the task is challenging.  Many of our students are involved in extra-curricular activities and programs, and staff members give freely of their time and talents in order to support these activities.  Every day I witness the importance of positive relationships and how they make a difference in each of our lives.  Take the time this season to give thanks for the people and events that help to shape this wonderful world we live in.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Music Notes

By Mr. Matt Kouba

Risley’s choir is off to a great start this year. There are two choir classes (beginning and advanced) and they both mix together to make one large choir. Their first performance was singing for the ground-breaking ceremony for the new library across the street. They sang the National Anthem and another patriotic song. The choir sang well and was really well-behaved. 

The choir’s first concert was Tuesday, October 15th at 7:00pm. They performed a medley of songs by Etta James. These three songs were later popularized by Beyonce’. The choir will also sing a medley of songs by Sam Cooke, and amazing singer from the 50’s and 60’s.

The jazz band is also off to a great start this year. They performed at the Fall Sports Assembly on Friday, October 11th. They  also performed at the Risley Fall Concert on Tuesday, October 15th. They played several different styles of music for this concert including; gospel, swing/jazz, funk, and Latin Jazz.

Our concert band is off to a fast start this year. On October 15th, they performed three traditional concert band pieces, including one written by Beethoven, based on the Ode To Joy theme.

There are many outstanding music students in our program this year. Several students devote themselves to music by taking two classes per day. All but five students in jazz band take two music classes per day, and the remaining five will get music back into their schedule after their intervention classes.


Featured Teachers


Mrs. Kim Salinas

Ms.Salinas was born in Pueblo but grew up on a ranch in Beulah. She went to Beulah Middle School and South High School. At Colorado State University-Pueblo she majored in Biology and Minored in Business. At University of Phoenix, she got her masters in Education. She loves science and wanted to share her knowledge with young adults. She has been teaching for seven years. Ms. Salinas is married to her husband, Joel, for 20 years she has two daughters one who is a junior and one who is a freshman at Rye High School, Her parents live in Beulah and her father-in-law lives in Rye. Her hobbies are reading, volleyball, golf, and more reading. She has visited South Padre Island in Texas, Mexico, Florida, and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. When asked “What is your favorite thing about Risley?” she responded with “The sense of community- Once a Bear- Always a Bear.” Her hope is “ If  you really want to succeed, you need to believe in yourself and make it happen, take responsibility for your learning and for your future.”  



Ms. Erin Murphy

Ms. Murphy was born in El Paso Texas.  She followed up on a job opportunity she had when she graduated from college. She attended Clark Middle School and Americas High School. She went to Cochise College for general studies, then to Grand Canyon University for one year. She later attended the University of Texas for interdisciplinary studies in math. Her father was a big influence in her life.  He taught at a school similar to Risley. She wanted to change how students viewed math. She wanted to make math fun for everyone. This is her second year teaching. She has two wonderful parents and a brother. On her free time she loves to play sports like basketball, softball, kickball, and football. She has traveled to Hawaii, Mexico, and up and down the East Coast. Ms. Murphy’s favorite thing about our school are the staff and students.  She  loves to work with all of them. Someday she hopes to go to graduate school and teach in a foreign country.  The quote she shared was, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage that counts.”



Mr. Scott Carlson              

Mr. Carlson was born in Greeley, Colorado. He moved to Pueblo in 2006 to become a pastor for a church here in town. After being here a couple of years he transferred to being a school teacher. He attended Estes Park Middle School in Estes Park, Colorado. He then graduated from Scottsdale Christian Academy in Phoenix, Arizona.. For college he went to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, with a B.S degree in Pastoral and a minor in Greek. He's always loved working with youths so he became a teacher. He has been teaching for six years. He is married, and has five children: Adriana -26, Colton-23, Jesse-23, Annelies-17, and Emma  who is 11. He loves the great outdoors, hiking, backpacking, camping, four wheeling, disk golf, and snowboarding. He has been to multiple places in the U.S. as well as Mexico City, and Jerusalem, Israel. He loves the students here at Risley and being the wrestling coach. The quote he shared is, “Follow your bliss.” - Joseph Bliss



Mr. Mario Arellano

Mr. Arellano was born in Pueblo and attended Risley in the late 1990’s. He went to Central High School and graduated in 2004. He went to Otero Junior College on a baseball scholarship. Then he moved back to Pueblo and finished school at CSU-P. He never really wanted to be a teacher, but when he got his first job, he fell in love with the idea of working with kids. He has now been teaching for five years. He got married in July to his fiancé of nine years- Mrs. Arellano.  They have three beautiful children together, ages 7, 4, and 1. His favorite hobbies are anything that involves baseball.  He also enjoys fishing, hunting, and trying exotic foods. He has traveled to Canada, Mexico, 20 out of the 50 states including New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, and all the states in the American West. The students and working with the people from his neighborhood are his favorite things about Risley. Hopefully someday he will be a professor of History at a University. “Read more, learn more, change the globe.” - Nas

              Rake Up Pueblo

              Submitted by Mrs. Elaine Madrid

Risley was represented well in this year’s “Rake Up Pueblo” event hosted by SRDA.  We had 21 students work together to rake the yards of four East Side Community homes.  It was heart-warming to see such generosity of time and work by Risley students to support families in need of a helping hand.  Thanks to several students from Mrs. Sanchez’ class and Pride Leadership who gave up a Saturday to participate in this city-wide event. 

Also, a big “Thank You” to our parent involvement group; moms of Marcus, Diego & Luis and Dominic F.  These ladies gave of their time, expense and cooking to reward the efforts of our hard work. They made homemade spaghetti, salad, corn on the cob and rolls to satisfy hungry appetites after a busy morning of raking.  In addition, Frank, our custodian, came in on a Saturday to open the school for this special luncheon. It truly was an example of students, staff, parents and community coming together to make a difference in each other’s lives.  This experience was eye-opening in the sense that it was evident our students have a strong sense of community and are more than willing to help each other out. What a wonderful way to demonstrate “Perseverance” in the world we live in. Excellent job Risley students!

 Counseling Corner

Ms. Michelle Montoya

This time of year I would just like to express my sincere gratitude to the parents and guardians of Risley International Academy. I truly feel blessed that you have entrusted me to be a part of the lives of your children. Our school is on a mission of improvement, making growth each day, and you are a huge part of our success. Please feel free to call or come into the counseling office to inquire about your child's academic performance, behavior, attendance, or address any other concerns you have concerning your child. Thank you again and have a wonderful holiday season.


From the Assistant Principal’s Desk…

Mrs. Amy Hausman


As the cold weather begins, I want to remind you and parents that the only hoodies or sweatshirts allowed in classrooms are those that have the Risley logo (past or present) or are solid white, black or red.  Those are our school colors and this is part of our dress code.  Students who do not adhere to it will be given lunch detention and if infractions continue to occur, parents will be asked to come in to discuss the matter.  So, please, follow our school expectations.

Our boys' basketball team has been doing fabulous!  So far we are undefeated but are coming up on some tough teams, so show your Risley Pride and join us for the next few home games.  Remember, however, to make sure you are picked up by your parents immediately after the game.

We have had a great first nine weeks!  I am pleased to see that many of our students are doing as expected with little to no redirection. It was exciting to see so many students receive awards this first quarter.  Keep it up---and if you did into get one, make it a goal to receive next awards assembly.   As we begin our second quarter, continue to strive for excellence in your classrooms.  Engage in your learning, turn in your assignments and utilize the help available from your teachers and 21st Century!

"If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you.  If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you!"


 Featured Teachers


Mrs. Alexandria Sanchez

Mrs. Sanchez was born in Pueblo and attended the old and new Fountain Elementary, the old Risley Middle School, and later on East. She got her Bachelor of science Degree from USC, which is now CSU Pueblo. Her major is in Social Science and a minor in Spanish. She has a master in Education from Lesley University with a major in technology in education. She truly believes that the knowledge and skills are provided through a free public education are very valuable building blocks for the future, so she wanted to be a teacher to help students build a solid foundation for their own successful futures. She has been teaching for 13 years. She's been married to her husband for 32 years. Her husband is a licensed contractor, and they have two grown children together. Their son James graduated with a gold cord and got a bachelor of arts at CU Boulder, he is married to Jarah and has three kids and one on the way. Her grandchildren are Madelynne-6, Ashlynne-5, Caleb James-1 and Brooklynne is due in December. Her daughter, Amber, graduated with a silver cord, she got her bachelor of arts degree at CU Boulder, and is working on her masters degree in California. Mrs. Sanchez has four younger sisters, eight nephews, and one niece. Her mother passed away last October. An interesting fact she shared with us was, when she was born, she lived on 8th street, so she lived on 8th street first, later she and her husband got married in 1981 in a hall on Ogden and 8th street, in 1984 she bought her first house on 8th street and lived there for 8 years. Her lucky number may be 8! Her hobbies are spending time with family, babysitting, going to church, reading, yard work, landscaping, camping, shopping, going to the movies, and traveling. She has been to Hawaii, Florida, California, all the Southwest states, Wyoming, South Dakota, Cancun-Mexico, Grand Cayman; Vancouver, British Columbia - Canada, Israel, Italy, France and Spain. Her favorite things about Risley this year are shaking hands before class, the social contracts, and good things. She is very much excited for the new library and skate park that are coming soon to the East Side!


Mrs.  Kaci Awasthi

Ms. Awasthi was born in Fort Collins and went to Woodland Park Middle and High Schools. She moved to Pueblo because her husband went to CSU-P.  They stayed because they loved Pueblo. She went to Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington for her Bachelors and Regis University for her Masters degree. She wanted to be a teacher because she enjoyed working with kids. This is her fourth year in teaching. Her family consists of her and her husband, 26 nieces and nephews and one cat named Dude. On her own time she likes writing, taking walks with her husband, and doing yoga. Other places she has visited are both Yamagata, Japan and Dhangadhi, Nepal for teaching. The kids at Risley are her favorite thing. When asked if she has a motivational message for our students she replied, “Always be true to yourself. We all have special skills and talents, and we are all here for a reason. Be true to who you are.” you are.”



Mrs. Diana Quintana

Mrs. Quintana was born and raised in Pueblo.  She went to the old Risley Middle School and graduated from East High. For college she went to CSU-P and majored in Spanish and minored in elementary education. She has a masters in Literacy from ASU-Alamosa. The main reason she wanted to be a teacher is she loves working with kids. She is married, has one son, and a three year old granddaughter. Her favorite hobbies are to read and spend time with family. In her travels she hasn't gone very far but she has been to New Mexico, Utah, and Massachusetts. Her favorite things about Risley are the students and how the school is changing.  She is looking forward to Risley becoming an IB school and she hopes that Risley will become the school it can be. Her message to the students is, “Never give up on your dreams.  No matter how long it takes, it will happen.”

Mr. Matt Kouba

Mr. Kouba was born at St. Mary Corwin Hospital, in Pueblo  on June 6, 1976.  He went to Pitts Middle School and Central High School.  He went to Colorado State University-Pueblo on a full-ride scholarship for piano. His minor was in Psychology. Then he attended Adam’s State University for a Master’s degree in Literacy, Language, and Culture. Later he went to University of Colorado-Colorado Springs to get his Type D Principal’s License. He became a teacher because he comes from a family of teachers. His family loved education as a career. All of them have now retired. He also enjoys teaching music at the middle school level because elementary is too basic, and high school demands a lot of time. He began his teaching career here at Risley in 2001. This is his 13th year of teaching band and choir at Risley. 

When asked if he’s married, Mr. Kouba replied, “I married my wife, she’s a stone-cold fox, in 1999. She was an 8th grade Language Arts teacher for 10 years, and a High School Principal for 2 years.”  He and his wife have two beautiful daughters named Dawsen and Lilly. They are five and two. He went on to say, “My wife and I both come from Christian homes, and are striving to build a Christian home of our own.” 

 He has many hobbies outside of school. He plays music professionally in three bands in Pueblo. He plays two or three times per week.  He also really enjoys fly fishing and belongs to a fishing club called the Southern Colorado Liars Association, and they go fly fishing several times a month.  His other life-long hobby is hotrods. He has built hotrods, drag racing cars, trucks, and muscle cars for about 20 years. He currently has a 67’Camaro, 76’ Nova SS, 78’ Chevy truck, and a 32’ Ford Coupe. He’s traveled to many states outside of Pueblo and enjoys long road trips with his family. They drive to California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas frequently  and they like to drive on Historic Route 66.

 Mr. Kouba’s favorite thing about our school is our students. He gets to teach 150 kids per day. He concluded his interview by stating, “Each student is a unique individual with different strengths and characteristics. Our students have a great sense of pride in themselves, their school, and their community. I also believe our students take a lot of pride in their music and sports programs. I am always very proud to take our Risley Music Students out into the community and perform for various events. I hope to continue growing our music program in both number of students and quality. I believe that our Risley students need to have something to be a part of, and music is a positive place to belong.”