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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thursday, November 2, 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

Dates to Remember

Nov 3 - Dia de los Muertos
Nov 3 - PTO Coffee Chat
Nov 4 - PTO Full Moon Festival
Nov 13-17 - Fall Into the Arts
Nov 20-24 - Thanksgiving Break
From ADS Aftercare

Enrollment for Arts & Movement classes for the Spring will start next Thursday, November 9.  Look for the registration link in next week's Thursday newsletter.  The enrichment classes we will offer will be announced on the ADS website tomorrow in the early afternoon.  Most of them will be the same as this semester, but we will also have a few new classes.  Take time this weekend and early next week to discuss options with your children before enrollment starts. Remember to enroll early (by November 17) to get a discount!  

Questions?  Contact
From the Front Office

We are desperately needing donations of copy paper!  Thanks for your support!

All unlabeled lost & found items will be donated next Friday, Nov 10th after school.  PLEASE COME CLAIM YOUR STUFF!

A fifth grader has been diagnosed with an antibiotic-responsive staph infection. All who came in close contact during the contagious period have been notified.  
Hoot Outs in our community this week go to:
  • Deborah, for making attendance miracles happen everyday! - Sabra
  • Elizabeth, for coordinating and planning an awesome author visit/workshop for my ELA class - Sabra
  • Jennifer Taylor-Burton, for the chocolate and kind words - Sabra
  • Elizabeth, for being the best librarian and friend ever for over a decade. - Deborah 

They're here! Your flower bulb orders are in!

Please pick up your bulbs from the front office hallway, just past Deborah's desk. You'll find your original order form in or attached to your bag. If you ordered a "The Works" package, your form will be noted with a "Plus x# of Boxes". Please take the correct number of boxes from the larger box in the hallway.

Please email Melissa at with any questions and thanks so very much.

It is almost time for the ADS Holiday Bazaar!  Donations of craft supplies and/or finished crafts will be gratefully accepted soon!  Look for great ideas to start popping up on the ADS Families Facebook page and feel free to e-mail Alicia Fiedler ( with questions.  
From Leigh Moss, Head of School

Dia de los Muertos will be celebrated at ADS tomorrow - Friday, November 3rd!

For those new to ADS this year, if you are not familiar with this celebration you can find out more here.  Following is what Dia de los Muertos looks like at ADS.


Installations will be set up all around the interior of the campus.  We want LOTS of community involvement and to honor and celebrate loved ones, things, and places that have moved on.  Like the celebrations in Latin America, we would love for this to be a community celebration and a sensory experience.  
7:50 a.m.  Face painting by room parents & teacher’s morning activities:

9 a.m. Grades K-2 ONLY
QUIET PROCESSION BEGINS: Students in grades K-2  will meet outside the Eco building and process through the gardens and campus and end up around the center circle on campus.  (Route will be marked.)  The procession is quiet to allow students to reflect on someone or something that they have said goodbye to- ultimately this is to honor the passing of this person/ thing… THEN we will CELEBRATE them!  Music and Dance!

Grades K-2 will be dismissed to their classrooms after the performance.

11 a.m. Grades 3-8 ONLY
QUIET PROCESSION BEGINS: Students in grades 3-8 will process through the campus and across the street to the gardens and end outside the Eco building.   (Route will be marked.)  Again, the procession is quiet to allow students to reflect on someone or something that they have lost.
Please coordinate with your child's teachers to learn more about how you can volunteer or participate in this event this year.

From the PTO

Tomorrow after school is the last day to buy your discounted wristbands and tickets for the ADS PTO'sFull Moon Festival.  The Full Moon Festival is from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday and you won't want to miss it.  Look for the PTO officers in the pumpkin-less pumpkin patch in the center courtyard at ADS to get your tickets early and save up to $20! 

Also, the PTO is still looking for volunteers to help at the festival.  Please consider donating your time to help make this event a success!  Sign up online or tell us at the ticket booth on Saturday that you are willing to volunteer!
Fall Into the Arts will be celebrated for a second year this Nov 13-17.  Check out the attached flyer for a tentative schedule!
  • If you are an artist, writer, architect, seamstress, designer, etc. please think about presenting and doing a show & tell with your child's class.  Last year we had lots of adults come share and it was greatly appreciated by students and teachers.
  • The middle school students will be staining and refinishing all campus picnic tables that week and could use donations of sandpaper, stains, sealers, paint brushes and drop cloths.  Partial cans are A-OK.  A collection box is outside the library.
  • Thora would like donations of dowels.  Her students will be creating oversize Lincoln Logs.
The ADS Art Program will be supporting the creation of a mural from November 13-17 and we need your help!  In efforts to make our campus more colorful, K-2 students will be designing and painting the mural.  As you can imagine, it’s going to be a fun-filled and messy week in art.  We are seeking volunteers to prime the mural space and assist as students paint the mural. Additionally, we are asking for donations to help us complete this big project.

To donate, drop off any materials from now until November 9 in the Prickly Pear Art Room.
  • Tarp
  • Paint Brushes (all sizes, types)
  • Exterior Primer (new or used buckets)
  • Exterior Paints (new or used buckets) - neons, pastels, brights and any type of paints you have in Pink, Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple, Red, Orange, White, Black
To volunteer, follow the link below to see scheduled needs and add your information in the spreadsheet.
Questions? E-mail Amelia at
News from Ms. Elizabeth, your Librarian
  • This weekend is the Texas Book Festival.  Check out for all the info you need.
  • There will be a planning meeting at 7:50 a.m. on Friday 11/10 for the Scholastic Book Fair.  This is a huge fair and the library receives 60% of the's the major way we get new books in the library.  I need lots of help that week and it really is a lot of fun!
  • There will be another Science Fair work day on 11/9 from 3-4 p.m.  E-mail me by Wednesday to let me know if your child will attend.  These are completely voluntary work sessions during which your child can get a little more one-on-one help than in class.

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Kim Flint, one of our amazing Kindergarten teachers teaching Math and Science.  Kim co-teaches with Chelsea in the Cypress Treehouse.  This is Kim’s first year at ADS.



What is your favorite classroom ritual or routine that fosters classroom community? Brain breaks via Go Noodle.  We have a child in charge of the brain breaks each day and he/she gets to pick which one we do.  It’s always fun and a nice break for us all.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why? Fiji.  I’ve never been and I’d love to go.  Looks beautiful.  There or to see the Northern Lights….so intriguing. of those two places.  :)

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction?  Finishing tasks.  Whether that’s at home or at school.  I really enjoy marking things off my “to do” list so I can play with my daughter and family.   So really-I’m most satisfied when I can just be…..ideally near the ocean.  :)

Share a happy childhood memory.  We used to have a boat near the lake.  I loved going with my family on the boat to ski and swim. Those were some of my happiest times as a child.

What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else? How and why is it important to you?  Trust.

What are you grateful for in your life right now?  My daughter and my husband.

If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do?  Go to the beach and have a beach day with my family.

What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature? I used to hike in the woods with my brother. We used to explore the creeks, create rope swings, and play in a tree house my dad made.  (Back when it was safe to go do those things by yourself as kids.) 

Who inspires you?  My mom.  She is an amazing woman.

What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down?  Homer’s Odyssey.  It’s about a blind cat….I really enjoyed that book.

Social/Emotional Program Mindfulness, by Kelly McRee       

Dear Beloved Families,

This story really caught my attention on NPR this week.  It is so thought-provoking in our age of technology.  Our kids are constantly surrounded by it. It really drives home the point for me how much we must have our children involved in social interactions/relationships.  It is probably now more critical than in any other time in our history.

Alexa, Are You Safe For My Kids?

Michelle Kondrich for NPR

Earlier this month, the toy-giant Mattel announced it had pulled the plug on plans to sell an interactive gadget for children.  The device, called Aristotle, looked similar to a baby monitor with a camera. Critics called it creepy.  Powered by artificial intelligence, Aristotle could get to know your child — at least that was how the device was being pitched.

"Aristotle is designed to comfort, entertain, teach and assist," according to a company releaseissued in January.

It was designed to "displace essential parenting functions, like soothing a crying baby or reading a bedtime story," says Josh Golin, executive director of the advocacy group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "So that the children would form an attachment to it."

But Aristotle went further than that. It wasn't going to just give the child information. It would have been able to collect information from the child in the bedroom — and then upload it to the cloud.  Parents, pediatricians and politicians raised concerns, including those about privacy. What would Mattel do with the information they could collect from children?

About 15,000 people signed petitions asking Mattel to scrap its plans to sell Aristotle. A Mattel spokesperson told NPR in an email that after a review, the company's chief technology officer "decided that it did not fully align with Mattel's new technology strategy."

But the idea of Aristotle is not gone. In fact, AI-powered devices are already in the home, and more are on the way.

When you stop and think about it, the idea behind Aristotle isn't too far from what many families already have: intelligent personal assistants such as Google's Home, Microsoft's Cortana and Amazon's Echo — which is run by its AI system, Alexa. Like Aristotle, these devices use artificial intelligence to try to engage family members in conversations. Their abilities are currently quite limited. For example, Alexa has a hard time understanding young children's questions.  But the devices are designed to improve their skills over time. They can already provide entertainment for children: tell jokes, play 20 questions, keep track of time, play music and answer question after endless question. One family we talked to used Alexa to track the Mars Rover.  "In this way, these devices are great for kids," says Solace Shen, a psychologist at Cornell University who studies how children interact with robots. "Kids are so curious, and they can learn a lot of facts and information from the devices, without parents having to bring out their phones or computers."

But some of the concerns with Aristotle apply to Alexa and Google Home.  In terms of privacy, both Alexa and Google Home are always "listening" to conversations. Once they hear a trigger word — such as "Ok Google" or "Alexa" — the device starts recording the conversation you're having with it. Then it uploads the conversation to the cloud so it can learn better how to understand you and help you. Both Alexa and Google Home allow you to listen to the conversations, and the companies say you can delete them.But what about these devices interacting with our kids?

Both Shen and Rachel Severson, a child psychologist at the University of Montana, have published studies about children's relationships with intelligent technology. They offer these tips to help ensure the little cylinders are a positive addition to your home.

1. Don't be a bossy pants.

One of the big concerns is that people tend to be impolite with the devices, Severson says.

"You can yell at them and scream, 'I don't like that song, skip ahead!' And the devices just respond in the same way as if you're polite," she says.

At first that doesn't seem like a big deal. The devices are just computers, right? Maybe not to your children, Severson says.

"Young kids likely view these devices very differently than adults do," Severson says.

They may attribute human characteristics to the device, thinking that Alexa has feelings and emotions. Some kids may even think there's an actual woman inside the device.

That's exactly what one little boy, age 4, told us about his Alexa — that she was a person who lived in an apartment outside his window. And he loved her.

Given this intimate relationship with the device, Severson says, parents need to be careful how they interact with Alexa and Google Home.

“Children are developing their conceptions of what is appropriate social interaction," Severson says. "So parents need to recognize that your kids — particularly young children — are really paying attention to you as the parent for cues on how to interact with the device and how to interact with others."

So if you want kids to say, "Please and thank you," you probably want to say "Please and thank you" to your virtual assistant as well.

2. Join the conversation.

Don't just watch your child converse with Alexa or Google Home, but also participate, Shen says.

"Parents need to be aware that Alexa is a passive system," she says. "So kids can potentially jump from topic to topic, and the system will just continue to respond in the same way. It will never push back."

In this way, the interaction between a kid and Alexa is lacking in complexity compared to how a kid would talk to a person in real life, she says.

So parents can help enrich the interaction by getting involved. You can ask the child questions about what they just learned, comment on how they're talking to the device or make connections to things in real life that relate to the topic.

And if you're not around when the kid is talking to Alexa, check in afterwards to see how they're using the device. "Ask them what they learned and what kinds of questions they asked," Shen says.

3. Limit the time on the device.

Alexa and Google Home should never take the place of a caregiver, Shen says.

"In reality, we are all busy parents," she says. "And there are times that I even give my child a tablet just so I can get my work done."

But in general, parents should think of these devices in a similar way as tablets: Time on them should be limited.

"These devices offer more engagement and interaction than just passively watching TV," Shen says. "But that interaction is still impoverished compared to talking to a parent or teacher.

"Make sure there is a balance between the time kids are interacting with the systems versus interacting with humans, doing physical activities and getting enough rest," she says.

Because children learn best when they interact with real people, face to face, Shen says. And to learn social skills they need to interact with someone who has a whole array of emotions — whose feelings will get hurt if you're impolite or call them stupid.