Sitting at Marian King’s Lake Highlands Estates dining room table, thick folders, stacks of books and scribbled notes abound. It’s just a glimpse of the devotion she and three other retired RISD teachers have poured into creating a book that outlines the district’s history, something she calls “a real labor of love. We initially went to look through the district’s archives, but they just weren’t there — we had to start from scratch.” So she, Sarah Scott, Dot Biggs and Joann Zastoupil spent the next three years digging through PTA storage closets, combing file cabinets and interviewing former teachers. Along the way, some colorful bits of history were unearthed. Such as how, in 1900, the Richardson High School principal began each day by firing up a wood stove so that the four-room schoolhouse would stay warm enough for the students. Neighborhood lore has it that the building burned down. So in 1914, the school reopened in a red brick building, which is today’s district headquarters. And in fact, that inspired the book’s title: “A Red Brick School House: Where RISD History Began.” The women who compiled the 361 pages of history won’t see a penny of profit. The payoff for them, King says, is knowing they carried out the dream of Bill Passmore, a man who served the district in several administrative roles before passing away a couple years ago. “He was sort of Mr. Education for RISD,” King says. “As a district, he always felt our history was so important because it helps us have a clearer vision of where we’re going. He preached it hard and heavy.” The fact that he didn’t see his dream come to fruition is bittersweet, she says. “The last months of his life, he knew the book was going to happen. If he were still here, he’d be proud.”
‘A Red Brick School House: Where RISD History Began’ is $25 per copy. Proceeds benefit the Richardson Retired Teacher Association and scholarships for RISD high school seniors. To get your copy, call Marian King at 214.349.2213.