Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 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 13-17 - Fall Into the Arts
Nov 20-24 - Thanksgiving Break
Dec 7 - Picture Retake Day
Hoot Outs in our community this week go to:
  • The PTO, Taylor, Tim, and the many helping hands who helped tame and organize the lost and found!  BIG THANKS!!!
  • Middle School Advisory teachers and students, for refinishing our picnic tables: They look great! - ADS Administrators
  • The amazing parents, teachers, and students who helped create our loud, proud, and pattern-filled K-2 mural, THANK YOU! - Ms. Amelia
  • The parents who fed ADS staff this past Wednesday!  It was great!
  • All the families who donated to the ADS dry food drive! We truly appreciate your support. - Cristina
  • The Radioactive Rattlesnakes and Rainbow Bumblebees, for helping coordinate, sort, bag, decorate, and deliver the bags of food for the ADS food drive. You all are awesome! - Cristina
  • A huge hoot out to all the essential teachers for all of their hard work and showcase of the arts at ADS:  Amelia, Tim, Thora, John, Wilson, Jessica, Andre, Alejandro, Elizabeth
  • The amazing Jon Watson, for being willing to build thespians by holding play practice on Sunday for three hours!
  • The amazing Tim Patterson and all of MS science students, for their Pop Up Cellular Science Gallery!  Such creative and amazing cell projects!
  • The amazing Sabina Kozak and her students, for their Digital Art Galleries inspired by From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and the Metropolitan Museum of Art!
ADS Middle School students write and publish The Hoot News each week; here is a link to the third edition.

Hope you enjoy! Hoot News Broadcasting Team!
Amelia with our new mural, created during Fall Into The Arts!
From the Front Office

We will continue to need donations of copy paper! Thanks for your support!

There have been cases of lice in the Bombastic Bobcats' and the Daring Dragonflies' classrooms.

Picture Retake Day will be Dec 7. If your child was absent for Picture Day, please ensure that they are present on Dec 7 so they will be included in the yearbook.  If your child had pictures taken and you want them retaken, please e-mail Deborah at
Parents, the sandbox is NOT open after school. Please do not let your children play in the sandbox after 3:05. THANK YOU!
From our Ecowellness teachers

ADS community, please consider using a fruit tree for your winter holiday decorating and then donating it to the ADS Ecowellness program to grow our orchard!  Why buy a tree without roots and fruits?? Consider buying a tree that keeps growing beyond the season of giving. You can then gift your soon-to-be-30-feet-tall giant to the Ecowellness program to help expand our orchard. 
From Leigh Moss, Head of School

#GivingTuesday is on the horizon.  At ADS we know so many families who give back to the Austin community at this time of year.  As you know, our goal this year for the 100 Partners in 100 Days campaign is to partner with 100 new families, businesses, or partners.  We are so close to our halfway point with this goal!  

Do you love what ADS has to offer?  Did you get a chance this week to see how Fall into the Arts connected Fine Arts, general education classrooms, and the our whole community together through a love and appreciation for the arts?  Take a minute and show how much you value what we do and set up your
 monthly recurring donation today.

ADS has partnered with I Live Here, I Give Here for #GivingTuesday, so any donation during the month of November will count towards #GivingTuesday AND all participating organizations will receive a bonus at the year's end through the I Live Here, I Give Here stretch fund.  What a great way to add some extra funds for ADS with your donation!!!!!!  
Science Fair update
  • The Thanksgiving week-long break is a great time to help your child get caught up, or ahead, on their project!  
  • Every child should have their problem written in their notebook, as well as a hypothesis if it's an experiment.  
  • They should have their procedures written down. (I tell them to imagine I am giving their procedures to Deborah or Wilson or someone and they will be doing your child's experiment that night.  They need all the info written down because they can't ask any questions.)
  • They should be completing background research into the "science" behind their project.  This will be put into their report as well as help them write their hypothesis and to understand their results.
  • The next afterschool work day is Dec 14, 3 - 4pm.  Please email me by Dec 13 if you would like your child to attend.
News from Ms. Elizabeth, your Librarian
  • The Scholastic Book Fair will be Dec 4-8.  It will be open before school every day and from 3-6 pm on Dec 4-7.  Students will be coming during the day with their classes; check with teachers about days and times. Children can make purchases during the day only if you are comfortable with them bringing money.
  • The Family Night event will be Tuesday, Dec 5 from 3 - 6pm.  There will be lots of door prizes, activities, and snacks!  And I need of lots of parental help!
  • This is our biggest fundraiser of the year.  The library does not receive a budget, so the only way your children get new books to read is through book fairs and the monthly book orders.  We receive 60% of sales from this book fair!
  • Please consider helping for an hour or so.  You can see the volunteer time slots at

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Kacy Weldon, one of our amazing 5th grade teachers!  Kacy teaches Science in the Cottonwood Treehouse. This is her first year at ADS!

What is your favorite classroom ritual or routine that fosters classroom community? Sharing highs and lows is one of my favorites because it really gives me and other classmates a chance to see from that student’s perspective and what is important to them day to day.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Why?  Tough question! There are so many places I want to go. If I had to pick, I would say New Zealand. The landscape and natural environment there look awe-inspiring.

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction? Research! Researching different topics from teaching strategies to places to travel and other cultures. 

Share a happy childhood memory. My family trip to Glacier National Park when I was eleven. We drove the whole way there and back in a 5 person vehicle...with, well, 5 of us! Everyone got along very well, we hiked every day and drove around the park to see some incredible spots. I loved it!

What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else?  How and why is it important to you? Respect. If two people respect each other to the same degree, there is a fundamental connection that can take place. Displaying respect and integrity allows people to be open, honest, positive, and responsible.  

What are you grateful for in your life right now? My family/significant other and the moral support they have provided during my first year of teaching and the learning opportunities that have presented themselves so far this year.

If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do? Eat delicious food, go on a boat ride, and see a movie.

What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature? One time when I was around 16, I was waiting to be picked up from my violin lesson (on the street in a very forest-y neighborhood). It was very quiet and I was just waiting and reflecting on my day/looking around when I heard a loud cracking sound. I looked up just in time to see a giant limb fall from a very tall pine tree. There was no one around and it was completely silent other than this event. I don’t know why, maybe because I was the only one to witness it, but it made an impression.

Who inspires you? My father. He is generous, introspective, kind, hard-working, and hilarious.

What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down?  Outlander 





Social/Emotional Program Mindfulness, by Kelly McRee       


Dear Beloved Parents,

Our entire Social Emotional Learning Team went to professional development on Trauma Informed Practices within schools. We saw an amazing inspirational film called Paper Tigers by ACE Study primer — KPJR Films, which came out with Paper Tigers in 2015 and Resilience in 2016.  I showed the Ted talk about ACEs scores (How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime), which is a 16-minute TED Talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, to our amazing teaching staff.  I took all of this information from the website:  This is from their ACEs Science 101.

What are ACEs and why should we care about them?

ACEs are adverse childhood experiences that harm children’s developing brains so profoundly that the effects show up decades later. They cause much of chronic disease, most mental illness, and are at the root of most violence.

“ACEs” comes from the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, a groundbreaking public health study that discovered that childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence, and being a victim of violence. The ACE Study has published about 70 research papers since 1998. Hundreds of additional research papers based on the ACE Study have also been published.

The 10 ACEs the researchers measured:

— Physical, sexual and verbal abuse

— Physical and emotional neglect

— A family member who is:

  • depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness

  • addicted to alcohol or another substance

  • in prison

— Witnessing a mother being abused

— Losing a parent to separation, divorce, or other reason

Of course, there are many other types of childhood trauma — such as witnessing a sibling being abused, witnessing violence outside the home, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, being bullied by a classmate or teacher – but only 10 types were measured. They provide a useful marker for the severity of trauma experienced. Other types of trauma may have a similar impact.

Why are ACEs significant?

1. The ACE Study revealed five main discoveries:

  • ACEs are common…nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults have at least one.

  • They cause adult onset of chronic disease, such as cancer and heart disease, as well as mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence

  • ACEs don’t occur alone….if you have one, there’s an 87% chance that you have two or more.

  • The more ACEs you have, the greater the risk for chronic disease, mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence. People have an ACE score of 0 to 10. Each type of trauma counts as one, no matter how many times it occurs. You can think of an ACE score as a cholesterol score for childhood trauma. For example, people with an ACE score of 4 are twice as likely to be smokers and seven times more likely to be alcoholic. Having an ACE score of 4 increases the risk of emphysema or chronic bronchitis by nearly 400%, and suicide by 1200%. People with high ACE scores are more likely to be violent, to have more marriages, more broken bones, more drug prescriptions, more depression, and more autoimmune diseases. People with an ACE score of 6 or higher are at risk of their lifespan being shortened by 20 years.

  • ACEs are responsible for a big chunk of workplace absenteeism and for costs in health care, emergency response, mental health, and criminal justice.  The fifth finding from the ACE Study is that childhood adversity contributes to most of our major chronic health, mental health, economic health and social health issues.

What’s particularly startling is that the 17,000 ACE Study participants were mostly white, middle- and upper-middle class, college-educated, and all had jobs and great healthcare (they were all members of Kaiser Permanente).


ACE Study primer — KPJR Films, which came out with Paper Tigers in 2015 and Resilience in 2016, put together this five-minute overview of the ACE Study.

ACE Study video — Three-minute trailer for a four-hour CD of interviews with ACEs researchers produced by the Academy on Violence and Abuse.

How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime (16-minute TED Talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris)

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study – the largest public health study you never heard of – started in an obesity clinic

What is ACEs science?

ACEs science refers to the research on the prevalence and consequences of adverse childhood experiences, and what to do to prevent them. It comprises:

  1. The CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study and subsequent surveys that show that most people in the U.S. have at least one ACE, and that people with four ACEs— including living with an alcoholic parent, racism, bullying, witnessing violence outside the home, physical abuse, and losing a parent to divorce — have a huge risk of adult onset of chronic health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, suicide, and alcoholism.

  2. Brain science (neurobiology of toxic stress) — how toxic stress caused by ACEs damages the function and structure of kids’ developing brains.

  3. Health consequences — how toxic stress caused by ACEs affects short- and long-term health, and can impact every part of the body, leading to autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, as well as heart disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, etc.

  4. Historical and generational trauma (epigenetic consequences of toxic stress) — how toxic stress caused by ACEs can alter how our DNA functions, and how that can be passed on from generation to generation.

  5. Resilience research — how the brain is plastic and the body wants to heal. This research ranges from looking at how the brain of a teen with a high ACE score can be healed with cognitive behavior therapy to how schools can integrate trauma-informed and resilience-building practices that result in an increase in students’ scores, test grades, and graduation rates.

What’s the neurobiology of toxic stress?

Brain science shows that, in the absence of protective factors, toxic stress damages children’s developing brains. Stress is the body’s normal response to challenging events or environments. Positive stress — the first day of school, a big exam, a sports challenge — is part of growing up, and parents or caregivers help children prepare for and learn how to handle positive stress, which is moderate and doesn’t last long. It increases heart rate and the amount of stress hormones in the body, but they return to normal levels quickly.

But when events or the environment are threatening or harmful – we stumble across a bear in the woods – our brains instantly zap into fight, flight, or freeze mode and bypass our thinking brains, which can be way too analytical to save us (Is the bear really mean? Is it more interested in berries or killing me? Should I wait until I see it charge?). With help from caring adults, children also recover from this tolerable stress.

Too much stress – toxic stress – occurs when that raging bear comes home from the bar every night, says pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris. Then a child’s brain and body will produce an overload of stress hormones — such as cortisol and adrenaline — that harm the function and structure of the brain. This can be particularly devastating in children, whose brains are developing at a galloping pace from before they are born to age three. Toxic stress is the kind of stress that can come in response to living for months or years with a screaming alcoholic father, a severely depressed and neglectful mother, or a parent who takes out life’s frustrations by whipping a belt across a child’s body.

Resilience research: If you have a high ACE score, are you doomed?

The good news is that the brain is plastic, and the body wants to heal.

The brain is continually changing in response to the environment. If the toxic stress stops and is replaced by practices that build resilience, the brain can slowly undo many of the stress-induced changes.

There is well documented research on how individuals’ brains and bodies become healthier through mindfulness practices, exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep, and healthy social interactions.

Research on families shows that interventions — such as Nurse-Family PartnershipHealthy Steps, and Child First — can improve the lives of parents and children. Evidence-based parenting practices (Incredible YearsTriple P Parenting, etc.), increase the health of parents and children.

Research on communities and systems is emerging, but early data, especially from schools and juvenile detention centers, is showing promise.

Here’s a good article that weaves the unified science of human development together: Scars That Don’t Fade, from Massachusetts General Hospital’s Proto Magazine.

Who’s using this research?

Many people, organizations, agencies and systems are beginning to implement trauma-informed, resilience-building practices based on ACEs research (some people call this being trauma-responsive).