The Rising School’s staff members exemplify our promise of high-standard education and effective leadership. Learn more about our team and faculty here.
Rising School Founders
George Rising, Ph.D., Co-Founder, CEO/President, and Principal
For nearly two decades, Dr. Rising has been an educator at some of the finest schools in Arizona, including serving as Principal or Head of School at four Tucson schools. From 1995 through 2002, he was an adjunct professor of history at the University of Arizona. In 2002, he began four years of teaching AP history and AP government at St. Gregory College Preparatory School. In 2006, he moved to BASIS Tucson, where he began as an AP history and AP government teacher. Since 2008, Dr. Rising has been a leader of several Tucson schools. At BASIS Tucson, he served as Academic Director, Upper School Director, and Head of School. During his tenure, BASIS was ranked by Newsweek magazine as the #1 best public high school in the United States. He left BASIS to become the founding principal of the Western Institute for Leadership Development, a charter high school. In 2011, he began developing The Rising School (TRS). In 2012-13, while working on TRS, he served as the Interim Head of School at the International School of Tucson, a private international, language-immersion school.
Dr. Rising holds many educational and professional credentials. He has earned four post-secondary degrees: from the University of California, Berkeley, he received a B.A. in history, and from the University of Arizona, he received an M.A. in history, a Ph.D. in U.S. history, and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. He holds Arizona certifications as a Principal (PreK-12) and in Structured English Immersion. He also is certified as a Critical Friends Group coach. He has passed Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment (AEPA) Exams in the following fields: Principal/Superintendent, Secondary Education, History, Political Science, American Government, U.S. Constitution, and Arizona Constitution. An award-winning scholar and teacher, he has published three books on political history and is an active member of several academic and leadership organizations.
Stephanie Rising, Co-Founder
Stephanie Rising is the owner of Canyon Concepts, a firm specializing in business coaching and marketing for small businesses. Ms. Rising provides business and marketing expertise and extensive business connections from her long career as a Tucson businesswoman and through her service as president of her local chapter of Business Networking International. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Arizona, Ms. Rising has many years of experience in business, management, and marketing. For 10 years, she worked at a multimillion dollar corporation, Northcott, Bellow, and Associates, where she served as director of marketing and general manager. Northcott and its subsidiary, Stratford Management, served a clientele of nonprofit corporations, giving her valuable experience for working with RSI. Since 2006, she has been the owner of Canyon Concepts.
Rising School Governing Board Members:
Gregory J. Berger, J.D., Secretary of the Governing Board
Greg Berger brings years of legal and educational experience to the organization. Mr. Berger is Defense Attorney in the Law Offices of the Pima County Public Defender and Adjunct Professor in the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. He is also a former secondary-school teacher. After growing up in Tucson, he graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in history. He had two tours, totaling nine years, of teaching history at St. Gregory College Preparatory School, one of the best independent schools in Arizona. In between teaching stints, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English in Kyrgyzstan for two years, and then attended the University of Arizona’s College of Law, earning his Juris Doctor degree and passing the Arizona State Bar in 2001. Since 2006, he has worked as a defense attorney and as an adjunct professor of law.
Eileen M. Ratajczak, Treasurer of the Governing Board
Eileen M. Ratajczak, CPA, is the President/CEO of Solid Ground, PLLC, which specializes in accounting for not-for-profit organizations and charter schools. Ms. Ratajczak is experienced in finance and accounting. Prior to founding Solid Ground, she served as Director of Finance at Catalina Foothills District, Director of Budget and Reporting at Pima Community College, CFO at Planned Parenthood, and CFO at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. A Certified Public Accountant since 1998, she holds a BSBA in Accounting from the University of Arizona. She is a member of ASCPA, AASBO, and SASBO.
Kevin M. Stombaugh, Member of the Governing Board
Kevin Stombaugh is Managing Director—Public Finance at Grant Thornton LLP, one of the world’s leading independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Mr. Stombaugh grew up in Phoenix before moving to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona, where he earned a B.S. in Business Administration with a double major in Accounting and Finance. He began his career in finance as a consultant at Ernst & Young, one of the Big Four accounting firms. He then returned to Phoenix to serve as Vice President at Peacock, Hislop, Staley & Given, where for five years he specialized in providing financial advisory and underwriting services to cities, towns, counties, schools, hospitals and special districts throughout Arizona. Since 1998, he has been at Grant Thornton LLP, serving over the years as Manager, Senior Manager, Principal/Partner, and Managing Director—Public Finance. In the latter capacity, he has several responsibilities, including acting as the national practice leader for the public finance department with overall leadership and management of the group. Mr. Stombaugh’s volunteer activities focus on education. He has served on the Governing Board and Finance Committee of the International School of Tucson, mentored students at the University of Arizona, and been a parent/teacher assistant for mathematics and robotics at Sunrise Elementary School.
The Rising School’s educational philosophy has been informed by current educational research and by the experience of several experienced educators, including George Rising, Rosie Garcia, Greg Berger, Whitney Munroe, Mary Wallace, Ron Melnick, Alicia Vaughn, Elena Tutwiler, Monika Mendoza, Katy Heck, Mark Mussari, Tim Warren, Jane Strohm, and Jeremy Clarke.
Business and Finance Advisors
The Rising School has received advice on business and finance from several experienced sources, including: Stephanie Rising of Canyon Concepts; Paul Bellows of Being Good at Doing Good; Ann Hopman, Charter School Financial Partner, Denver Public Schools; Marian C. Abram, attorney, Karp & Weiss; Dante DeWitt, Chief Information Officer, Bank of Montreal; Donna M. Cotlow, Vice President, Sr. Business Development Officer, Wells Fargo; Sean P. Murray, Senior Business Relationship Manager and Vice President, Wells Fargo Bank; Jeremy Sharpe, owner of Jeremy Sharpe Consulting, and Director of Strategic Communications at Rancho Sahuarita Company; Michael Morris of Financial Guidance Services; Lola Kakes of Effortless HR; Cenpatico Behavioral Health; Michelle Martin of Martin Insurance Agency; Mike Gietl of Gietl & Strutz; Chris Fonseca, Branch Manager of Tucson Federal Credit Union; Pam Hopman of the Hopman Group; Steve Kirkpatrick of People’s Mortgage; Chris Hogan of Found Co; Stephanie Rising of Canyon Concepts; Tony Williams of Williams Technical Service; and Terry Barr of PROactive Janitorial.
The Rising School is fortunate to have the following individuals serving in an advisory capacity:
Rosie Garcia (fundraising), Margret Huebner (fundraising, facilities), Richard Huebner (facilities), Debby Kennedy (marketing), Michelle Martin (marketing), Mark Mussari (curriculum), Stephanie Rising (marketing), Bob Rose (facilities), Sandy Rose (marketing, fundraising), and Tim Warren (marketing, curriculum).
Ms. Tammie Rohr, Science
Ms. Cameron Carley, Math
Mr. Rodney Martensen, History
Mr. Craig Blomgren, English
Ms. Carolyn King, Art
Ms. Martha Luz Keyes, Spanish
Ms. Patricia Shafer, Drama
Mr. Tucker Bungard, Physics
Ms. Patricia Kramer, Special Education
Administrators and Staff
Dr. George Rising, Principal
Ms. Melissa Snyder, School Secretary
Mr. Marc Waggoner, Administrator
Mr. Jacob Buntin, Monitor
Call us at 520-730-2657