Principal Kimberly Richardson of Thomas L. Marsalis Elementary has been able to create a scenario that is every principal’s dream. As of the 2022-2023 school year, Richardson has been able to bring in not just one or two, but four former Mustang students to her teaching staff.
“This is the place to be. Principal Richardson has created a legacy here,’’ said teacher Kourtnie Newton.
Richardson’s legacy runs deep in Dallas ISD. A graduate of Carter High School, she has been working with the district for more than 28 years. “Dallas ISD is home to me. My father was an administrator here for 40 years, so I have always been a part of the ‘grow your own’ movement, and when I started my career, it was important for me to come back and serve the community that I grew up in,” she said.
There is a special group of women on campus whose lives have been touched by Richardson, and who wanted to return to their community as she once did for them. Newton and Tischunna Jones are back on campus as teachers, and Kyra Coleman and Megan Hernandez-Greene have returned as teaching assistants.
“We are a reflection of her amazing leadership skills and what she has taught us. And because of what she did for me, I wanted to come back and do the same for someone else,” said Hernandez-Greene.
Richardson started initiatives like the “Character Counts Principles,” where students spent a great deal of time working on six pillars: respect, responsibility, citizenship, trustworthiness, fairness and caring. As students exhibited these traits in the classroom, in common areas and as representatives of the school in extracurricular activities, they were able to earn various privileges.
Until the pandemic struck in 2020, fourth- and fifth-grade students would rise to the challenge to ensure that they secured their biggest reward, a spot on the charter bus that was headed to SeaWorld and Six Flags for a day each spring.
“The expectations are high, but the love and caring are just as high. She doesn’t want something from you that she isn’t modeling herself,” Coleman said.
Home is where you grow, learn and discover and where you are always welcome … and for generations of students, staff and alumni, Dallas ISD is that place – it is home!
“I think the reason all of us came back is because she is home,” Jones said.