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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017



Please contact administrators via e-mail to schedule meetings as needed.

Amity Taylor, Assistant Principal
Becky Mien, Student Services Director
Kelly McRee, Social Emotional Program Director
Leigh Moss, Head of School
Lydie Jessin, Business Manager
Taylor Young, Operations Manage

From Leigh Moss, Head of School

Back to School Night is TONIGHT!

Thursday, September 7 from 4:30-6:30 pm

Join us for an evening to learn more about your child's classroom routines; year-long learning objectives; and ways to volunteer, communicate, and conference.  Classroom schedules for presentations vary, so please see communication from your child's teachers for more details!
Back to School Night will also be a great opportunity to visit your child's Specials / Essentials teacher's classrooms to see what is planned for the year in Art, Music, PE, EcoWellness, and Theater.  

At 5:30 pm and again at 6 pm, please join me and the rest of the administrative team in the Library to hear more about campus improvement, state-wide assessment data from the 2015-2016 school year, and fundraising goals for 2017-2018.

ADS Families Give a Hoot!

Whether your're volunteering in the classroom or as part of a school-wide event, contributing to our annual fund or getting involved with the PTO, ADS families give a hoot about supporting our school and community.  Please take a few minutes to inform us how you want to get involved this year! 

Take the short survey today!
ADS Permablitz 2017 (aka Fall Garden Work Day)

Sept 30 & Oct 1 - 9:00am

The time has come to unite and ready the gardens! This is an opportunity for our school community to come together for two days of earth moving, weed pulling, tree planting, clean up and general garden prep.  We started last year with a foot of clay covering our future annual/perennial gardens.  Needless to say, we have been very busy.  ADS is now home to a food forest that includes over thirty fruit trees and  forty other trees around campus.  The students have also installed grant-worthy rain gardens, planted a pollinator garden, dug out a pond, created straw bale gardens and constructed a chicken coop, and a rabbit hutch!   That was all just in year one!  However, it’s time for the students to grow some food! This is where you come in.  Although, we have made some progress with our ‘student run’ annual garden beds, they are in need of massive microbial makeovers!  We need compost!  And lots of it!  The main objective for this two day event is to compost the heck out of our food forest, annual garden beds, and all of the other green spaces created last year.  We will also be moving thousands of pounds of mulch and leaves all around campus. In addition, heavy machinery and human power will be used to create new garden beds, install fencing, prep future prairies, and complete many other garden-related tasks.  Year two in our new digs is going to be awesome...BUT WE NEED YOU!

Hoot Outs in our community this week go to:
  • Tatiana, from Calla:  Thank you for being responsible!
  • The Peace Center staff:  You guys are the BEST!!
  • The Middle School Staff, for bringing some amazing assemblies to building a strong middle school community!
  • Parents who have been generously feeding ADS staff snacks after school on Wednesday - it is *so* delightful!  Thank you!!!!!!!
  • Ryan Jones, for taking command of the lunch program and doing a great job of getting reminders to order out every week! - Melissa Good
Early Release Wednesdays

Any child who is not signed up for an Arts & Movement Class or Early AfterCare and is left in the care of AfterCare Staff on any upcoming Wednesday will be charged a $25 not-in-aftercare fee.  Please make arrangements to pick up your children at 1:50 pm EVERY Wednesday.

Parents of kids enrolled in Arts & Movement classes:  While you can find your way to the instructor's room if you wish to collect your children, at the end of their class they will be brought to the cafeteria.  So you can easily wait for them there instead of walking all around campus trying to find them.


Jennette Everett
AfterCare Director
Austin Discovery School
News from Ms. Elizabeth, your Librarian
  • Next week I will introduce the Bluebonnet program to 3rd-5th graders.  The Texas Library Association creates the Bluebonnet list every year with 20 new titles--you can find it at  If your 3rd-6th grader reads/listens to five or more titles on this year's list, they are eligible to vote in January for which author will receive the Texas Bluebonnet Award.  This is a prestigious award, voted on by kids only.  We usually have about 80 kids vote and there's a lot of excitement in January...please encourage your child to participate!
  • Battle of the Books is a middle school program in it's 5th year at ADS.  We meet in the library every Monday from 3:15-4:45 and prepare for the Battle of the Books competition on 3/1/18 against other Texas middle schools.  The competition is based on the Texas Library Association's Lone Star list and we read the books, discuss, play games, and EAT.  Lots of fun, high energy, and we'd love your kids!  Books are available in the library.  Send your student to the first meeting on 9/11 and see what they think.
  • Follow me on Twitter @ADSlibrary, keep an eye on my school webpage  and feel free to email me at

Dates to Remember

Sep 7 - Back to School Night
Sep 8 - PTO Skate Party
We are still enrolling for this school year in kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 5th grades! Encourage your friends and neighbors to if they are interested in enrolling!
Interested in substitute teaching at ADS during the coming year? Get the process started now!  ADS needs you!  E-mail Vice Principal Amity Taylor for more

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Meg Burkly, one of our amazing 3rd and 4th grade teachers in the Cedar Elm Treehouse.  This is her first year at ADS, teaching with Kristin Allington in the Bombastic Bobcats!

What is your favorite classroom ritual or routines that foster classroom community? I love morning circle - playing a name game to share what we wrote about in morning journal, singing a song, calendar time - I’m working on adding in the wish well concept now too. 
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Why? 
I would love to go to Bali. I’ve seen amazing pictures of the landscape of Bali and delicious, fresh fruit from several of my yoga teachers that have gone on trainings. It looks like an amazing experience. 

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction? I love the social and emotional aspect of teaching. I love helping kids feel loved and safe at school. 
Share a happy childhood memory. One of my birthdays when I was a young girl, my dad brought me to see Annie on broadway in Boston. I was obsessed with the musical and sat on the edge of my seat singing along to every word. Then we went out for Chinese food in China Town and it was Chinese New Year - confetti all over the streets, dragon dolls parading down the street - it was a magical evening for me. 
What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else?  How and why is it important to you? Trust - when I trust someone, I feel safe around them. Then I can really be myself and excel. When this trust is broken, I feel a guard is up.  
What are you grateful for in your life right now? My two healthy, loving dogs; my amazing new job at ADS :); my wonderful co-teacher, Kristin 
If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do? Go to yoga in the morning, go out to eat lunch afterwards at a yummy vegan restaurant, find a good place somewhere to read a book that I just couldn’t put down, be in nature 
What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature? I hiked part of the 500 mile walk in Spain called el Camino de Santiago with my dad a few years ago. It’s essentially walking 15 miles per day, west across Spain. Some of my favorite memories in nature are of walking with my dad across dusty dirt roads in the middle of nowhere in Spain. 
Who inspires you? People who take care of themselves well - people who love themselves and honor what they need in that moment. One of my yoga teachers is truly an inspiration for me in connecting to that element of self-love and finding what feels good in your own life. 
What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down? I just re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone again….SO GOOD!

Social/Emotional Program Mindfulness, by Kelly McRee       


Here is a great timely article from and Dr. Laura Markham-Enjoy!!  Love your littles and the journey you share together!  It is the hardest work ever and the most profound!

Most parents assume that not punishing means permissive parenting. But resisting the urge to punish doesn't mean we don't set limits! In fact, neither permissive parenting nor authoritarian parenting work to raise self-disciplined kids. The research on this is very clear: the children who develop self-discipline, resilience, and emotional intelligence are raised with empathic limits. Limits give children essential practice in shifting gears between what they want and something they want more--which is to cooperate and contribute. But--and this is essential--the child will only make this choice if the limit is set with empathy, so he feels understood and willing to accept it.

Setting limits with empathy means we:

  • Stay connected while we set limits.

  • Set limits in a way that empathizes with our child's feelings and helps him process them.

  • Resist the urge to make our child suffer or feel bad while we set limits.

Let's consider an example.

Mommy: “Avery, it's time to walk home and make some yummy peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. Would you like to walk or ride in the stroller?”

Avery: “No Mommy, I’m sitting on the swing.”

Mommy: [verbally empathize with her and acknowledge how she must be feeling] “You're having so much fun on the swing. You wish you could stay and swing for a long time. [Setting the limit] AND we need to fill our hungry bellies! Time to go home!”

Avery: “No Mommy, I sit here on the swing.”

Now, we all know this can go on and on and on.  The two and a half year old will get hungrier, and the mom will get more frustrated. At this point, mom could use humor. Few children can resist a game. But she's hungry herself and ready to leave. She decides to set a clear limit and ask her daughter to cooperate. She begins with empathy, or an understanding of her child's feelings.

Mommy: “Avery, you love swinging, don't you?"

Avery: "YES!"

Mommy: "Even though it's lunch time and we're getting hungry, you wish you could stay in the swing, all day, don't you?" [Wish fulfillment]

Avery: "YES!"

Mommy: "I wish you could, too. That would be so much fun, wouldn't it? (Finding a point of agreement.)  AND STILL, now it's lunchtime, so it's time to go home.  You have a choice, you can jump down like a baby kangaroo and hop along with me. Or I will pick you up and you can ride in the stroller." [Mom gives a choice, either of which is palatable to her.  This helps Avery save face and gives her some control.]

If Avery doesn’t select one of these choices:

Mommy: (speaking warmly but firmly) “Avery, I see it's too hard for you to leave the swing yourself.  I will help you down and into the stroller."

Notice Mom doesn't make Avery feel like a bad person because she couldn't "obey."  Mom acknowledges that it was just too hard for her.

Let's assume Avery howls as Mom picks her up.  Conventional wisdom says to wrestle her into the stroller and ignore her crying, so we don't "reward" her crying with attention.  But that breaks our connection with our child.  What's worse, we give her the message that her emotions are bad, and we will only attend to her if we like what she is expressing -- in other words, that our love is conditional.   She's all alone with those big scary feelings.

So should we try to distract our child from her upset? “Wow, Avery, look at that cute doggie right there!”  If she's not very upset, there's no major harm in it.  But the bigger the feeling, the less likely she'll go for the distraction. And really, what message does distraction give her?  Your feelings aren't important? They're dangerous, so we'll pretend they don't exist? (Would you feel loved and understood if you expressed unhappiness and your partner or friend responded by distracting you?) In general, we want to listen to our child, not imply that her emotions are too unimportant or too scary for us to deal with.

Avery: [Begins to howl as we pick her up from the swing.]

Mommy: “You're crying. You don't want to leave the swing. You are so sad and mad that we have to leave.  I'm sorry you can't swing all day, but it is time to go home and eat. Let's sit for a minute on this bench; I will hold you while you cry."

Despite the fact that the other parents at the playground are staring at us, we are not failures because our daughter is crying. In fact, crying is good, and helpful, for a two year old with big feelings.  She needs to express them and show them to us, not to "stuff them."

As she cries, if we can hold her and help her to feel safe (instead of strapping her into the stroller and pushing her home, sobbing), she may even begin to cry about other things -- that big dog that barked at her this morning, or the way Daddy snapped at her when he was in a rush, or how much her knee hurt when she fell yesterday but she didn't cry because she was with Grandma who told her what a brave big girl she was and big girls don't cry.  What a great opportunity to get all this off her chest!  In fact, often kids "pick fights" by resisting our limits, exactly as Avery did with the swing, precisely to get the opportunity to cry like this.  So holding our child while she cries is a tremendous gift.

As she cries, we stay connected by holding her.  We keep the tears coming -- yes, on purpose! -- by empathizing and reassuring her that she is safe: "You are sad, you don't want to go home, I am right here, you are safe."

If she is angry and twists away, we stay nearby and stay connected with our voice: "I'm right here. I won't leave you alone with those big feelings. You're safe. You'll feel better soon."  We breathe deeply to stay calm. We ignore the curious looks from passersby.

Finally, she begins to calm. She is snuggled in our arms. We give her a big hug. "You were crying. You were sad.  Now you feel better. Let's go home and get those yummy sandwiches. Do you want a drink of water before you get in the stroller?"

After a good cry in your loving presence, your child will be free of whatever feelings were making her stick to her position at the expense of getting along with you. She will feel relaxed and cooperative. (When kids are rigid and insist on getting their way, that's often a red flag that they need to cry. Just like with adults! :-))

The first time you do this, your child may cry for a long time. Crying is never a bad thing; she's showing you her pent-up upsets. Or she may think that her crying will convince you to let her swing more.  Obviously, empathizing with her feelings doesn't mean you rescind a limit that's important to you. (If you can, it's best to start setting limits like this at home, when you actually have the time and energy to sit with the meltdown. This preventive maintenance will make your playground meltdowns much shorter or non-existent.)

Before long, your child will climb reluctantly from the swing and into her stroller when you say it's time for lunch. Because you were able to set your limit with empathy, she'll have learned:

  • Disappointment can be weathered. That's the beginning of resilience.

  • Your limits are firm. She may not like them, but you're on her side, so she'll accept them. That's the beginning of self-discipline.

  • Feelings are manageable. That's the beginning of emotional regulation.

  • You really do care about her happiness. That keeps her seeking guidance from you.

Here we thought this was a crisis, but it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for teaching essential life lessons. Think of it as love in action.