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

Thursday, December 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

Dates to Remember

Dec 4-8 - Scholastic Book Fair
Dec 7-8 - PTO Holiday Bazaar
Dec 15 - Parents' Night Out
Dec 19 - Last day of school in 2017
ADS Middle School students write and publish The Hoot News each week; here is a link to last week's  edition.

Hope you enjoy! Hoot News Broadcasting Team!
Hoot Outs this week go to:
  • Elizabeth Switek, our amazing librarian extraordinaire! She has been making our library great since the beginning of ADS! Thanks for all your hard work and for hosting the Scholastic Book Fair as well as others.  Please support her and our ADS library by buying some of your holiday gifts at the book fair!

  • The ADS PTO and parent body for our amazing snacks on Wednesdays during training! We were even fed pizza when we had to stay late last week for a mindfulness training.

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. 
We will continue to need donations of copy paper and coffee in the front office! Thank you to the paper and coffee fairies who have already contributed!  Also, a donation of a blackout privacy screen for a 17" wide monitor would be greatlyappreciated.

There has been a case of impetigoin 5th grade.
From Leigh Moss, Head of School

100 Partners in 100 Days

Today marks the 79th day of school and we have so far have 43 school partners who contribute monthly or have made a 1 time donation.  If you want to support ADS and you haven't had the chance to do so yet, this year please help us reach our 100 in 100 goal. 
 Set up my ADS partnership today.

3-8 Grade Benchmark Testing Next Week

Next week ADS students in grades 3-8 will take practice STAAR tests on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  This is an opportunity for students to get familiar with the format of the test and for teachers to gain information about what topics will need extra attention from January to March of the new year.  Please send your student to school with plenty of sleep, extra snacks, and a water bottle.  Results from the practice tests will be available to parents in January.  
News from Ms. Elizabeth, your Librarian

The Scholastic Book Fair is this week!  It will be open until 6 pm today and until 3pm tomorrow, Friday 12/8.  Students will be coming during the day with their class; check with your teacher about day and time. Children can make purchases during the day only if you are comfortable with them bringing money.

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!
From the ADS PTO
Holiday Bazaar - Dec 7-8
We hope to see all of you at the Holiday Bazaar today and tomorrow!  This is an amazing way to shop for many on your list, and your kids will get to shop for those on their list as well!  Don't forget to send a few dollars with your child, as they will be shopping with their classroom.  Check with your teacher for which day your child will visit the bazaar.  Please bring any items you are donating to the bazaar to the front office or to Alicia Fiedler.  If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to email  Happy Holidays everyone!!
ADS Unofficial Campout Coming in February!
Come one, come all, but come fast!  We hope you'll join us this February for the ADS Unofficial Campout, which will be held this year at Palmetto State Park on Feb 2-3.  As usual, the group site can only accommodate a certain number of campers and we are nearly full; please use the link below to get on the waiting list.  This is an annual event for our community, so if you are new and/or want more information on the camp-out, please email  
Each family that attends is responsible for paying $20 to the organizer, which will cover the cost of the campsite reservation and will serve as a donation to ADS.  You will also be responsible for paying park entry fees for each person you bring upon arrival at the park.  We also have a family potluck on Saturday night, so bring a dish to share with the group.
Starting in January we will send updates about the event with maps, specific instructions, and need to know information.  This is always an amazing event, and we hope you'll join us!

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Nicole Kotyk, our amazing 5th/6th grade ELA teacher. Nicole teaches in the Cottonwood Treehouse.   This is her first year at ADS!

What is your favorite classroom ritual or routine that fosters classroom community? I enjoy having a daily question that students answer directly on the board. It is usually an opinion question or a reflection. With this daily ritual students have a task and purpose right away and it serves as a talking point once we all arrive for our meeting.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Why? I want to go to many places, so it is hard to decide. Right now I just want to go to South Carolina to see my parents since it’s been over a year. Then I want to got to Europe to visit art museums and historical sites.

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction?  I get the most satisfaction when I’ve made myself and others feel happy and positive. However, it is something I need to work on at times.

Share a happy childhood memory. I always loved getting to spend the day at my grandparent’s house because I could spend the day reading and drawing and talking with my grandparents. My grandparents also used to own a house in the countryside of Pennsylvania. We would spend some time there fishing, feeding ducks, finding salamanders, etc.

What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else?  How and why is it important to you? The most important quality to me in a relationship is empathy, because we both need to be able to talk, listen, and respect each other. If we can understand when the other is sad or hurt we can support and lift each other up.

What are you grateful for in your life right now? I am grateful to be back in the US, to have a job and place to live, and to be closer to family.

If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do? If I had a free day, I would go to a yoga class, talk to friends and family, and paint. Hopefully the day is free of thinking of a to-do list so I can live in the moment.

What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature? One day I snorkeled for hours in a shallow section off the shore in Honduras. The fish kept swarming around me when I would turn up the sand.  Being underwater feels like being in a different world and I find it both fascinating and terrifying.

Who inspires you? I’m inspired by positive and happy people, coworkers, and friends. I’m inspired daily by artists who create art and pair it with inspirational messages.

What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down? I was reading some Bluebonnet books to get into a fifth grade book mindset, and I really enjoyed My Kind of Courage.

Social/Emotional Mindfulness Program by Kelly McRee

Dear Beloved Parents,

This is a great article just in time for the busy holiday season from Dr. Laura Markham and her blog at  It is such a nice reminder that we can truly create the type of holiday season that we want with our families!  Please take this time to celebrate all of our gifts and then slow down to really connect with one another. Wishing you a wonderful, slow holiday season with lots of connection and love. I’m grateful this holiday season for all of you and the time we get to spend with your children!

Worried that your child seems to get a bit greedy at the holidays? Consider that maybe something deeper is being triggered -- a longing for that happy, perfect life when she'll feel completely enveloped by your love.  We adults have the same fantasy, of course.  It's part of the wonder of the holidays -- that promise of transformational love.

The human mind has a tendency to crave more, more, more.  Kids (like many adults) haven't yet learned how to manage those yearnings and direct them toward what will really fulfill them, which research shows is connection, creativity, gratitude and meaning.

Unfortunately, research shows that having lots of material possessions usually makes us value them less. When we aren't as grateful, we aren't as happy. So material plenty, absent gratitude, usually makes us more unhappy.

But it is possible to fill our children’s deep longings.  Not with excessive presents – which always leave kids feeling unfulfilled -- but with the deeper meaning of the holidays and the magic of love. Here's how.

1. Explain to your child that your December holiday is about “presence” or time together, not about “presents” -- and then keep your promise! When she asks you to do something with her, why not leave the dishes in the sink or your email unanswered for now? Sure you were going to make that homemade present or wreath, but if you can't do it with your child, who cares? (If you do it with your child, it won't look perfect, but you'll treasure it forever. As will she.)

2. Manage Expectations. Ask your child to carefully consider his desires and tell you four gift ideas:

  • A store-bought gift that is within your means (this may take some back and forth discussion).

  • A book he wants to read.

  • A "together" present that you will do with him, like going to the zoo.

  • A "giving" present that he can gift to someone else, like making cookies for the senior citizen home or stuffing stockings for kids in a shelter.

Want more surprise? Let him give you two possible options for each. But discourage long list-making, which just stirs up fantasies that can't possibly be met.

3. Fill your child's heart by celebrating the love in your family.  Every day, do one thing to bring your family together, even if it's just enjoying the twinkling holiday lights together in the dark. Go around the dinner table and share appreciations. Make a paper chain together, writing an appreciation on each link: Dad makes the best pancakes, Michael let me use his truck, Grandma has a beautiful laugh. Or write love notes of appreciation to each other, either anonymous or signed, and hide them around the house where they'll be found. However you do it, let your child experience how giving love creates more love.

4. Model your values by prioritizing family activities that savor the deliciousness of your holiday. Minimize the focus on shopping and busy-ness. Instead, have dinner discussions about your holiday and what it means to you. Read and talk about books on holiday themes. Open holiday cards together at dinner and discuss what you love about the sender. Find acts of kindness that your children can engage in, because when we act kindly toward others, it makes us happy inside. As you walk down the busy sidewalk or stand in line at the store, play a game with your child and beam a blessing of love to everyone you see. Think of each holiday activity -- gift wrapping, baking, decorating -- as a chance to connect and create a little more love in the world.

5. Give your child the experience of abundance in simple ways. You can let your kids revel in that feeling of abundance while still sticking with your values and your budget. If you’re gifting her with a trip to the zoo, print out a photo of her favorite zoo animal and a simple certificate, and wrap it, complete with ribbon. If she loves chap stick, buy four flavors and wrap each one separately.  If you baked and decorated cookies together to take to all the older folks when you visited Aunt Sue, be sure to take photos. Then print out a Commendation for Generosity with his name on it, along with a photo of a happy cookie-eater and your child, and wrap it with a ribbon and a cookie in a baggie. That will probably bring as big a smile to his face as a toy, especially when you regale everyone present with a story about how happy he made the senior citizens.

6. Give your child the gift of playful responses to things that you’d normally get irritated about.  When she resists your instructions, be mock horrified. Scoop her up and throw her around, making a rambunctious game of it. Interpret every "misbehavior" as a request for loving connection.  (If you need to "teach" appropriate behavior, do it AFTER you connect.) This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. You’ll be so pleased by how much more cooperative she is that you might adopt this approach permanently.

7. Minimize stress and fill your own cup so you're in a good mood, living the spirit of the season and spreading love and good cheer. Pare back on your expectations and let go of the comparisons. Your kids don't want a magazine-spread holiday. They want you, in a good mood so your joy is infectious and you're emotionally generous when things go wrong (which they inevitably will). Prioritize getting sleep and taking care of yourself so you can give your child your best--not just what's left.

No matter what they think, kids don't need the latest toy or the latest electronic gadget.  Those are just strategies they think will help them feel good. But you know the secret of how to find that feeling for real and make it last: it has to come from love, meaning, contribution, creativity, or gratitude.

Consider the memories your kids are shaping this December. When they look back, will they describe a parent who communicated the spirit of the season with laughter, warm embraces, gracious patience, joyful presence?

You ARE that parent, inside.  

What kind of support could you give yourself, so that you can EXPRESS that parent, more and more each day?