Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday, December 14, 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 15 - Parents' Night Out
Dec 19 - Last day of school in 2017
Jan 3 - First day of school in 2018
From Jennette Everett, Aftercare Director

There will be Aftercare as usual next Tuesday, which is the last day of school before Winter Break!  

Please sign up for Parents' Night Out, which is TOMORROW, by emailing me at
Science Fair Update from Ms. Elizabeth

Your child should be done or nearly done with research and experiments and should be starting to finish writing up all required sections of their reports.  January will be all about writing reports to put on the tri-fold poster board.  If you are not sure what should be on their board (it varies based on whether it's an experiment or demonstration) please check out the Science Fair webpage and links, esp. the "Sci Fair packet 2018" link at

In January I will start asking for judges for the Science Fair, which will be Friday, Jan 26 from 8 a.m.-.noon.  It is a lot of fun and you do not need to be a scientist to judge the elementary just need to be interested in talking to kids and hearing about their amazing projects!  Think about it, check your schedules, and email if you are interested:
We will continue to need donations of copy paper in the front office! Also, a donation of a blackout privacy screen for a 17" wide monitor would be greatly appreciated.

There has been a case of staph infection in 5th grade and lice in the Happy Turtle Butterflies class.
Library News from Ms. Elizabeth

Scholastic Book Fair wrap-up

Thank you to all my helpers, especially Ashley Lomme. I couldn't have survived the week without you!

Thanks to your amazing purchases the library will receive $5300 in Scholastic "cash" to be used for new books and materials.  This will allow me to get new books into the hands of our voracious readers both young and old!

Thanks to donations to the All for Books program as well as my use of fair profits I was able to bring in 20 students in need to shop for a free book and bookmark.
Hoot Outs this week go to:
  • Nicole Longnion, for PAPER!
  • Alicia Fielder and the amazing ADS PTO for making this year’s holiday bazaar even better!
  • Noble Padden, for being a very sweet helper for a kindergarten kiddo who needed extra comfort during her vision and hearing tests! - Deborah

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee


I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Ellen Barg-Walkow, our amazing Middle School Social Worker.  You can find Ellen in her office in the Mesquite treehouse. This is Ellen’s first year at ADS.

What is your favorite classroom ritual or routine that fosters classroom community? My favorite classroom ritual is check-ins during morning meeting. It gives students a voice as well as an opportunity to share parts of their personal life with their classmates.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Why?  If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go to Vietnam. I’d love to learn more about the culture, history, eat lots of delicious food, and explore the islands.

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction? Empowering others gives me satisfaction. There is also nothing more satisfying than finishing a book or meeting a goal.

Share a happy childhood memory. When I was growing up, one of my favorite stories to hear was about the time my Uncle Gary smashed his face in his own birthday cake. One time when I was about six years old, my uncle surprised my sisters and me by buying us each our own small cake and we got to smash our faces in the cake and then go swimming. It was such a fun day recreating a story that we loved to hear!

What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else?  How and why is it important to you?  Vulnerability and openness is one of the most important qualities to me in a relationship with someone else. When I am spending time with someone, I want our time together to be authentic. I feel most connected to others when conversation goes beyond surface level -- it makes the relationship feel safe and meaningful to me.

What are you grateful for in your life right now? Right now, I am very grateful for my health. I’m also grateful for my little family, which is comprised of my fiance, Thomas, and our two dogs. I’m grateful for the ability to travel in my free time, wonderful support systems in my community, my education, and independence.

If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do? If I had an unexpected free day in Austin, I would sleep in! I’d probably go on a bike ride or run around town lake, go get lunch somewhere in town (maybe tacos from Veracruz or another similar place that is only open during lunch hours), and go to pottery class. I’d also play with my dogs and watch a movie.

What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature? A few years ago, a group of friends hiked down into the Grand Canyon and went camping for two days. We were the only people in sight and I was filled with awe being in such a remote and gorgeous part of the canyon. We were right on the Colorado River and the stars at night were insanely beautiful.

Who inspires you? My twin, Laura, inspires me every day. She is such a driven and compassionate person. She is very thoughtful in the way she treats others and interacts with the world, has an adventurous spirit, and is the most well-read person I know.

What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down? The latest book I couldn’t put down was Ishmael Beah’s memoir of being a boy soldier in Africa. It’s called A Long Way Gone. Read it!

Social/Emotional Mindfulness Program by Kelly McRee

Dear Beloved Parents,

Apparently, Dr. Laura Markham is thinking about families during this busy holiday season. Here’s part two to our post last week.

Take some time to put her book, Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids:  How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting on your holiday reading list.

Wishing you a wonderful, slow holiday season with lots of connection and love!

All of us want to make our children's faces shine by gifting them with something special, especially at the holidays, no matter what holiday we celebrate. Isn't that what makes dreams come true?

Unfortunately, no. In fact, those material presents are a bit like drugs--the dopamine lift is temporary, followed by a deeper inner craving. That's just the way human biology is designed, to keep us motivated toward our goals. But when this boom and bust cycle is repeated over and over -- especially when it happens quickly, as is usually the case on Christmas morning -- it can become tinged with desperation.

There's also a psychological component. When we focus on presents, it actually fuels the fantasy that material things can give us what we need inside.  But that doesn't work, at least for long. So we're always looking for the next "thing" that might do the trick. That makes it hard to appreciate what we have. And it's what puts kids into a frenzy, so they tear through their presents looking for the next big thing, the answer to their cravings.

The truth is, your child IS enough and has enough. Happiness comes from connection, meaning and contribution, not from things.

But while saying that in words is important, you also have to LIVE it, or your child doesn't believe it. You do that by taking the focus off presents and putting it back on the meaning of your holiday and the love between you and your child. Since children spell love TIME, make it tangible by coming up with special ways to connect. Here are five simple ideas for connection to get you started. (Don't feel like you have to do them all -- choose one!)

1. Give the gift of your time. In one study, children were asked what they liked best about their vacations. It wasn't the fancy vacations or even the time off from school. It was the simple connection time with parents, when the parent was able to relax and enjoy the child without being stressed. Over and over again, children said things like "Lying on the blanket with my Dad, looking at the stars together."

The presents you buy your child will be quickly forgotten. Why not gift your child with the best present she'll ever get -- your focused time? Instead of feeding the dopamine craving cycle, these gifts give children lasting pleasure, from the anticipation to the loving connection to the savoring afterwards. Print out certificates for activities with you and wrap them so your child gets the pleasure of opening a present.

  • Go out to brunch with the parent of your choice.

  • Dad's best foot massage.

  • Paint your room with Mom.

  • Soccer session with Dad.

  • Ice cream date with a parent.

  • Mom's special manicure.

  • Choose the movie for family movie night.

2. Celebrate the light. If you celebrate Hanukkah, make sure you take some time with the lights off to just sit in silence and enjoy the flames.

You can also find that sense of wonder by going for a quiet walk together to look at your neighborhood lights. The fresh air melts away stress so everyone sleeps better, the dark night inspires awe, the novelty and sense of adventure create connection, and the walk gives a nice chance to chat, away from screens. Turn off all cell phones and just enjoy the moment with your family.

3. Instead of taking a photo of your child on a bearded stranger's lap reciting lists of material items he covets, take photos of the two of you together -- making Grandma's present, decorating for the holiday, or baking treats for his class party. Send the photos to Grandma with her present, and also let your child glue the photos onto paper to make a little book about your family holidays. Don't be surprised if your child asks for this book over and over, or reads it to comfort himself.

4. Let your child fall asleep in front of your tree (if you have one) in a sleeping bag -- with you by her side, chatting softly. You might even have a slumber party, one child at a time, and sleep on the couch next to your child. This will probably become your child's favorite holiday memory.

5. Start a blessing bowl, in which you write down things you and other family members are grateful for, from your year. Just toss them in as you think about them. Ask your children to contribute, too. One evening towards the end of the year, make popcorn, snuggle up together, and go through the bowl reading each gratitude item aloud. Talk about them together. Savor that feeling of emotional abundance that makes us feel grateful. Resist the urge to lecture, but share aloud how blessed you feel your family is -- particularly to have each other. This creates long-lasting feelings of gratitude, connection and meaning, which research shows makes kids happier and more grateful even months later.

There's nothing wrong with exchanging presents to express your delight in each other. But this holiday, why not keep the focus on connection and meaning, which fills your child inside in a way that objects can never do? THAT is what makes dreams come true.

Updates from the 183 Mobility Project

Every Month, the 183 South Project team sends us newsletter updates to help keep the community informed. The full text can be found here and through the links below.

Here are a few important highlights for the ADS community:

Construction activity along US 183 continues at a rapid pace, with construction now 33% complete. Significant progress is visible at Springdale/Manor Road as well as other major intersections and throughout the corridor. Current activities range from paving the new main lanes and general-purpose lanes to bridge work, retaining wall construction, earthwork, utility relocations and more.  


Drivers who frequent the frontage road intersection at Springdale/Manor Road have noticed a new and improved commute experience. With the exception of temporary lane reductions, this newly constructed intersection has been restored to its full capacity following extensive work requiring various traffic shifts. Crews are working to complete sidewalks, pavement striping, and eventually landscaping around the intersection. Following completion of the mainlane bridges above Springdale/Manor Road, the brand-new Texas turnarounds will open to traffic. These non-signalized U-turns will further improve circulation throughout the intersection by allowing drivers to complete a turnaround movement without waiting at the traffic signals. 
The phased reconstruction of the Loyola Lane intersection is fully underway, with efforts currently focused on building out the east side of the intersection, where lane reductions are in place. Reconstruction of the westbound lanes was recently finished and traffic has now been shifted so crews can rebuild the eastbound lanes. During this reconstruction work, one of the two left turn lanes on southbound US 183 at Loyola Lane has been closed.

The next phase of work will necessitate a complete temporary closure of Loyola Lane on the west side of US 183 (near the Exxon/7-11 gas station and the Jack in the Box) so that crews can build the new intersection of Loyola Lane and the new US 183 general purpose lanes. Ultimately, a complete temporary closure of the Loyola Lane crossing at US 183 will be necessary so that crews can construct the new Loyola Lane bridge. In its final condition, Loyola Lane will be a bridge over the new 183 Expressway. Loyola Lane will be located at about the same elevation as it is today, while the mainlanes of the future 183 Expressway will pass underneath Loyola Lane. More information on this work will be forthcoming as we get closer.
As you pass over the Colorado River, you will notice many new bridge structures rising up from the ground. Crews have been constructing bridge foundations, columns, caps, beams, and even some bridge deck panels for the roadway superstructure that will ultimately carry traffic across the Colorado River and into and out of downtown Austin.

Those who drive on Airport Boulevard toward the Colorado River may have noticed that a long-term temporary lane reduction has been in place since mid-November. The lane closure is needed to facilitate construction of a new bridge to connect Airport Boulevard with US 183. The lane closure is requiring drivers to merge sooner than they were previously used to. We ask for your patience and courtesy toward other drivers while this closure is in place.

As construction moves forward, there will be additional impacts to the traveling public. To stay up to date, visit our website, follow us on Twitter, and sign up for weekly e-mail alerts.
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