Rison-Dallas Community

Rison-Dallas Faculty and Staff
Rison School
Rison School

Here is a floor plan and office/classroom assignment layout for Rison School for the 1957-1958 school year. Please click on the small image below to see the full-size drawing:
Rison School Floor Plan 1957 - 1958 (Click for Full-size Image)
As you look at the floor plan, do you remember who taught in those classrooms during the years when you roamed these hallways? Were those happy years? Do you know the missing names on the room assignments?

Rison School Door Handle
This door handle was on the door to the girls bathroom (was it a bathroom or rest room?) and was obtained by Lowell "Bud" Franklin.

Please - share your memories by sending us a message using the email link at the bottom of this page.

When thinking about the faculty and staff of Rison School, we remember that, other than the custodians, there was no staff except for Mr. Cecil V. Fain who was also a member of the faculty. Actually, Mr. Fain wore many hats: principal, teacher, coach, Scout leader, advisor/counselor, organizer, and anything else that needed to be done both within the school and within the Dallas community.

Mr. Fain relied heavily upon high school students to do much of the office administrative chores. It's amazing that all the work got done because the "volunteers" were constantly changing because the volunteers' availability was for only short periods of time and depended upon their classroom requirements.

Most faculty members served in more than one capacity. They might have been a sports coach, a drama coach, an operetta director, a class sponsor, a fund drive leader, a representative to the PTA, and anything else that might have been needed.

The custodians were more than "just custodians." They were our friends and, in many cases, our advisors. Each had endless patience and would take the time to let each of us know how special we were. Did you ever visit the custodians' "office," which was down in the basement, where the big furnace was housed?

Do you remember the folks in these pictures and do you remember how each affected your life? Take a few minutes to reflect on the time that you might have spent with some of them. Were you inspired?

We celebrate our faculty and staff. In part, we are who we are because of their influence.

Happy reminiscing!

We thought that you'd like to see a listing of all known faculty members who taught at Rison; also listed are its four principals and two nurses. It's hard to imagine that, over time, there were 79 dedicated people guiding innumerable young minds.

If you remember someone else whose name should be on this list, please email us at risondallas@comcast.net.

Newell Bailey
Zada Barker
James Blackburn
Thomas Bowers
J.R. Brady
Ann Burleson
Mayme Burt
Elizabeth Carmichael
Mrs. Carr
Katherine Certain
Mattie Belle Chaney
Virginia Coles
Homer Crim
Winnie Ruth Curry
Joy Fanning Daniel
Ms. Buell Davis
Grace Drake
Roscoe Duncan
Ruth Esslinger
Cecil V. Fain
Louise Fain
W.P. Fanning
Fayna Jett Frazier
Mrs. Fulton
Alma Englebert Goodson  
Houston Goodson
Ruth Graves
Alice Gryska
Velma Hanvey
Corrine Harris
Ms. Tate Hayden
Elizabeth Ann Heflin
Evelyn Hayden Hodge
Helen Mathison Hooker
Violet Ikard
P.R. Ivy
Clarence O. Jones
Jimmy Jones
Eleanor Simmons Kerns  
H.C. Kennamer
Fred Knight
Rebecca Larkin
Mrs. Paul Lawler
Sarah Leech
George Lilly
Mattie Lowe
Mrs. D.A. Mellette
W.E. Mellette
Viola Miller
Miss Cecil Mitchell
Nancilee Mitchell
Elizabeth Monroe
H.E. (Hub) Myhand
Martha Myhand
W.P. Nicholson
Mrs. W.P. Nicholson
Susie Allen Pearson
Louise Watkins Perry
Grace Pickard
Lillian Pullen
Ray Randolph
Mary Rankin
Bill Rice
O.E. Richardson
Ruth Englebert Richardson
Stella Sibley
Mr. Sims
Carter Smith
Ruby Smithey
Mamie O. Steger
Elizabeth Striplin
Pearl Syler
Frances Taylor
J.W. Taylor
Ruby Taylor
Robert (Luke) Tucker
Thelmer Vaughn
Hazel Turney Ward
Lillian Wheelis
Edith Womack
(The following photographs are from the 1922-23 Rison Yearbook)
Zada Barker Viola Miller Violet Ikard
Mayme Burt Lillian Wheelis Virginia Coles
W. E. Mellette Sarah Leech Rebecca Larkin
Stella Sibley Katherine Certain Elizabeth Striplin
J. W. Taylor
(The following photographs are from the 1930 The Oaks Yearbook)
Rison Faculty 1930 Rison Faculty 1930 Mr. Wallace
Rison Faculty 1930

(The following photographs are from the 1932 Pilot Yearbook)
Cecil Fain, Principal at Rison, 1932

Rison Faculty 1932, Page 1

Rison Faculty 1932, Page 2

Here is a photo of Miss Elizabeth Monroe around 1935-1936
Elizabeth Monroe


Here is a photo of Mrs. Fayna Jett Frazier from 1938
Mrs. Fayna Jett Frazier

Here is a photo of some Rison School Faculty Members from 1940 to 1946:
O.E. Richardson, Newell Bailey, Jimmy Jones
From Left to Right: O.E. Richardson, Newell Bailey, Jimmy Jones

Here is a photograph of Mrs. Perry in the school year 1942-1943:
Mrs. Perry from the 1942 -1943 Yearbook

Roscoe Duncan in Birmingham, Alabama at a 1949 Teacher's Conference Roscoe Duncan (a teacher at Rison from 1948-1950) in Birmingham, Alabama at a Teacher's Conference.
(Click here for Mr Duncan's Rison Memories.)
(The following photographs are from Wanda Renegar Wilson's copy of the 1953 Pilot Yearbook)
Fain, Monroe, and Myhand

Graves, Randolf, and Harris

Blackburn, Kennamer, and Hanvey

Mitchell, Pullen, and Mellette

Ward, Pearson, and Taylor

Womack, Esslinger, and Kennamer

1953 Custodians M. L. Beshears and F. W. Williamson

Mr. Wallace's picture has been added to the 1930 Faculty and Staff above.

Martin Routt (Sara Routt Starr's father and Bill Starr's grandfather) was a janitor for several years.
Martin Routt 1958

Mrs. Fulton
Mrs. Fulton
Ms. Carr
Ms. Carr
Darla Gentry and Ms. Carr
Darla Gentry and Ms. Carr 1958-59

The following article concerning the retirement of Miss Elizabeth Monroe, a long-time teacher at Rison School and Lee High School, appeared in the Huntsville Times on May 6, 1962. The text of the article is provided below.
Elizabeth Monroe Retirement
Excerpts from The Huntsville Times article stated:

"Thursday was a very special day for Miss Elizabeth Monroe, eighth grade teacher at Lee High School. It marked a highpoint in her life that will not be easy to forget.

Lee High students, out of respect for the eighth grade teacher, presented a silver tray to Miss Monroe in appreciation for her services at the school. This is her last year to teach before retirement.

The ceremony had been planned and executed secretly and the guest of honor knew nothing about what was under way until she found herself in the middle of all the activities.

'When a big event comes,' Miss Monroe said, 'it sometimes knocks you off the props. I'm sure I failed to express in words my deep gratitude.'

When Miss Monroe suddenly realized what was at hand, she said she had made up her mind to quote the 'masters' of poetry - Browning, Tennyson - when she was called upon to accept the gift.

'You know,' she said, 'I couldn't recall a line of poetry from the masters. And there was only one poem that came to mind.'

That one poem was one she, herself, wrote, 'for someone a long time ago when I was in love.'

It went like this:

   When the rosy dawn is breaking,
   When I climb life’s hills anew,
   When the task of cause I’m facing,
   ‘Tis you that guides me though.
   When the shades of eve are falling,
   When the world is lulled to rest,
   When for friends the heart is calling,
   ‘Tis you I love the best.’

It was this poem Miss Monroe quoted to the student body, she said, 'I wrote it for someone once,' she said, 'and when I found myself the center of attraction at Lee that morning, it was the only poem that came to mind and I felt I should dedicate it again, to those people here.'

With 51 years of teaching experience behind her, Miss Monroe has some ideas of her own about today's schools and today's students.

'Children are smarter than they pretend, ' she said. 'and the reason we have problems in the schoolroom is because the children are yearning for the things we haven't given them, the things we're not giving them.'

Miss Monroe has tried, she said to 'teach the truth."

The following article concerning the retirement of Ruth Esslinger, First Grade Teacher at Rison School, appeared in the Huntsville Times on June 6, 1972. The text of the article is provided below.
Ruth Esslinger Retirement Article, Huntsville Times June 6, 1972
"I'm one of the richest people in the world," said Miss Ruth Esslinger, a first-grade teacher who is retiring after teaching in Huntsville for 49 years.

"Yes, I'm very rich in lovely experiences - experiences that parents and children have given me all my life. And now that I am retiring, I shall hold those memories forever."

Looking back on almost five decades of teaching, Miss Esslinger, who has been the first contact with formal education for hundreds of youngsters, holds one firm conviction – no matter how sophisticated modern teaching methods become, nothing will replace the teacher for first graders.

"I've never had any desire to teach any grade other than first," she said. The children you meet in that grade are most lovable and most challenging to teach.

"And I've loved every one of them," she said. That's a lot of loving because in recent years Miss Esslinger has taught children whose mothers and fathers also were her students.

Miss Esslinger, niece of the late S. R. Butler, was educated at Florence State University and has never taught anywhere but in Huntsville. She began at Rison School and stayed there for many years. When Chapman opened about 11 years ago, she moved there.

"I have served under 10 superintendents from Mr. Butler to Mr. Burkett and I've loved each one of them," said Miss. Esslinger.

"But educational techniques have changed a lot since I started teaching. At first, we suffered in the educational field, because books were not adapted to adequately teach the first grade.

"Then came the era of progressive education. Part of its was good, and part of it would never work with first graders. I realized that at the time. For awhile, people thought you were a fool if you didn't teach with the methods of the progressive trends, but five years later, everyone thought you were a fool if you did teach that way.

"And now we have tried a new technique called team teaching. It has some advantages, but it will not work with first graders, either. In my opinion, a first-grade pupil needs a contained classroom where he can grow close to the teacher, forming a sort of parent image toward her."

"You see, there is just no easy way to teach children. These filmstrips, radios, and televisions are fine for enrichment purposes, but they cannot replace the teacher and her personal efforts to teach."

She said that teaching is getting tougher every year.

"Parents are asking more of the teachers. They want us to do the things which they should do at home. For instance, one mother called me up several years ago and told me how happy she was that her child was in my room. She had heard that I taught beautiful table manners!"

"In my opinion, a child is born into a family and stays in that family for six years with little or no intimate contact with other individuals. Thus, the parents have the responsibility to prepare the child for his first encounter with school."

"But in recent years, it seems that parents place the burden of such rearing on the schools. They expect us to prepare the child after he gets here."

"However, I must say that I have never had any trouble with the parents of my students. And everyone has been so very nice to me, especially during the last few weeks."

As Miss Esslinger sat on an old-fashioned couch in the living room of her home at 424 Randolph St., she talked about the many funny things that had happened to her during her career.

Pausing, she said, "You know what the most important thing to being a successful teacher is-having a good sense of humor.

"Everyone needs to laugh about life; otherwise, you can't be happy or make anyone else happy."

She also said that a person needs to be understanding, kind, honest and very sympathetic to be a good teacher.

"One thing to remember is never hurt the feelings of a child. Discipline them; but don't ever make them feel small.

"I'm not saddened with the prospect of retiring; "1 have things I want to do that I can't do and teach. I want to meet my neighbors and take some trips.

"Furthermore, I won't ever be lonely - I love people too much and I'm an avid reader. Plus, there is always the outdoors and the lake for me to enjoy."


Rison-Dallas Community