Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thursday, January 18, 2018



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

Jan 25 - Middle School info session
Jan 26 - Science Fair 
Jan 26 - Middle School Dance
From the Front Office

There have been cases of flu and strep throat at ADS - flu is spreading throughout Texas, so be alert! There are also cases of lice in the Fierce Foxes' and Darling Dolphins' classrooms.

Claim your lost and found items.  The PTO recently spent a great deal of time and effort cleaning up the lost and found collection by the cafeteria's patio door, and we'd like to see it all GO HOME.  If your child's found items are labeled, we return them! Unlabeled, unclaimed items become up for grabs before someone lugs it all to a charity.  It's not a shopping opportunity yet; please come GET YOUR STUFF!
Science Fair Update from Ms. Elizabeth
  • Check out the huge amount of updates on the Science Fair webpage.  Really.  Follow the link now.
  • If you are interested in judging, I NEED YOU!  You do not need to be a scientist to judge our fair, you just need an interest in kids and hearing about their projects.  You will receive training from 8-9 a.m.on 1/26 and then judge from 9-10:30 a.m., then meet with the other judges to pick who will go to Regionals from 10:30-noon.  If interested, email me at I can honestly say that our judges truly enjoy judging and have a great time!
Library News from Ms. Elizabeth
  • Bluebonnet voting for eligible 3rd-6th grade students will be Monday 1/29 at 8am in the library.  After voting they participate in my long-standing and popular tradition of eating food referenced in the books.
  • Please think about providing food or helping with the serving.  I think there will be close to 80 kids voting so that's a lot of food and a lot of help needed!  It's easy to sign up at you just provide your name and email but don't have to create an account or anything.
Hoot Outs this week go to:
  • Fierce Fox parents, for the amazing spread after school yesterday.  It was AWESOME! - ADS staff
  • The many parents who have generously donated paper, tape, scissors, coffee, and other supplies!  We love you!
  • All the families turning in their boxtops & participating in our contests. Every little bit counts, we are already more than halfway to our goal of $500! - Melissa Good
ADS Operations Wish List!

The ADS Operations department would absolutely love to do some spring cleaning with the following donations:

2 Ryobi lithium batteries (model: OnePlus 18volt)
a gently-used leaf blower (electric is preferable)
new or used reciprocating saw
any other new or used tools
From the PTO

Calling all 6th-8th graders!!

Join us for the "Stranger Things" Middle School Dance
Jan 26th,  6 - 9 p.m. on the ADS Campus
Dinner and Snack Items for Sale
You can drop your kids off for the evening!

And coming up......

Elementary (K - 5) School Dance
February 9th, 6 - 9 p.m. on the ADS Campus
Children must be accompanied by adults
More details to come!

It's like a potluck for your ears!!
February 23rd, 6 - 9 p.m.
Paired with a Parent's Night Out at ADS
Stay tuned for more information next week!
(This is an adults only event, so drop your kids at Parent's Night Out!)

Slow Feast
April 7th in the ADS Courtyard
More Information to Come Soon!

BOX TOPS, Y'all!!!!
Don't forget to bring in your box tops!!  Remember that the person whose friend or relative sends a box top from the farthest location wins a prize!  And the class with the most participants wins a class celebration!!!

Appreciation Grams!!
Coming this Valentine's Week - send a note of love or appreciation to your friends, your students, your teachers, or whomever you wish!

The PTO will sell Appreciation Grams for $1 each at various times the week before and up until Valentine's Day, so share the love!  More details and dates next week!!
From Leigh Moss, Head of School

100 Partners in 100 Days Update

As we approach the close of first annual 100 in 100 campaign, if you haven't donated already, please consider a monthly donation to ADS to help support the amazing programming we have here!  

We have reached our halfway goal of 50 partners and now have a real chance in these next few weeks to really work hard to meet our goal of 100 partners.

If you're wondering how, you can go to the ADS webpage and click on the Support ADS tab and Donate Now or, 

Help us reach our goal by Feb. 2 and support the school you love!

ADS Workday and Stage Installation Scheduled

Coming up on Saturday, February 24th from 9-12, ADS will host a volunteer workday.  Last year the Middle School secured a grant to build a small stage in the outdoor center courtyard.  The stage has been designed, supplies are ordered, and materials are on their way!  If you have experience with building, please consider coming to help us out!  Contact Taylor Young if you'd like to help us out!

On this same day, I will be hosting tutorials for the upcoming Amplify Austin Fundraiser platform.  This is a great way for those who are active on Social Media to set their own goal to help raise funds for Amplify Austin Day (6pm on March 1 - 6pm on March 2)  If you're interested in learning how to set up a page and are willing to teach others how to do the same, please consider coming out to learn how during the workday on Feb. 24 from 9-12.

ADS Middle School Information Session

If you have a current 5th grade or Middle School student, come hear more about what the Middle School has in store for next year!  Learn more about:
  • Middle school schedules and advisory class,
  • Electives (Art, Music, and Theater)
  • Enrichment classes like the student-led HOOT News, Science Fair, and Student Council (Parliament)
  • Student web-based portfolios
  • Grading 
  • Expectations for community work
  • Academic rigor balanced with social/emotional support
Teachers and administrators will discuss these topics, but also expect to hear testimonials from past and current ADS middle school families and students.  Our Middle School program may be small, but what we have to offer is tremendous.  Come learn more on Thursday, Jan 25th (4-5 p.m.) in the ADS library.  The session will be recorded and posted to the Middle School Facebook page for those who cannot attend.
A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Angela DeLaney, one of our amazing 3rd and 4th grade ELA and Social Studies teachers..  Angela is co-teaching with Bettany in the White Oak treehouse. This is Angela’s first year at Austin Discovery School.


What is your favorite classroom ritual or routine that fosters classroom community?  I enjoy leading a circle called Clouds and Rainbows/Sunshine. Every student shares one thing that was challenging for them, something they are struggling with, or something that is worrying them. Then they share something they are happy about, excited about, or looking forward to. Student have the opportunity to use silent hand gestures to show they are making connections or that they love what the other person is sharing.  

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Why? I've only left the country once, and that was to southern Europe last summer. I'd really like to go to northern Europe next - especially England, Ireland, and Holland. Seems like they would be beautiful, with nice people, interesting accents, and delicious food!!  

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction? I think being a mom to my 8lb, 6.5 year old, yorkie - Elijah "Eli" Sullivan DeLaney. I enjoy taking him for hikes and to the dog park. I love his cuddles and his kisses. When I take him to the groomers or make him a special dinner, I feel like I've done a good job taking care of my pup.   

Share a happy childhood memory. We didn't have much growing up, but every summer we would get to spend one night in a hotel. We usually spent the night at a hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio or on the beach in Port Aransas.  

What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else?  How and why is it important to you? I believe it is very important to be collaborative when in a working relationship - truly valuing the give and take. It is important for me that my partner values my ideas and opinions. I enjoy gaining insight and perspective from my colleagues as well.  It is hard to work with someone else when they do not want to work with you in return.

What are you grateful for in your life right now? I am grateful to have a home! After moving back from Hawaii, I spent two full months living out of my suitcase and bouncing from place to place. I recently rented a triplex with a small yard for my pup! I am very happy to feel settled again.  

If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do? I would sleep in, make a big breakfast, and slowly drink a pot of coffee!  

What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature? My favorite place in nature in Austin is Bull Creek. I love taking Eli out there to run and swim. He knows all the trails by heart.  

Who inspires you? My social work hero is Brene Brown. She is a professor in Houston, a shame researcher, and an author. Her books have inspired me so much I even got a tattoo of one of her quotes!  

What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down? I just started reading Wild. It was very good, but I did put it down and accidentally left it on a plane. Oops!  

Social/Emotional Mindfulness Program by Kelly McRee


Dear Beloved Parents,

I got my new book in the mail last weekend!   I have been so excited to read The Yes Brain:  How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child by Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson ever since Tina was hear to speak in November. Please, please email me at if you are interested in joining our book group or even text me at 512-791-5563 so I can set up our times to meet!

In the meantime, read this article from Dr. Dan Siegel for a preview of the Yes Brain!

The ‘Yes-Brain’ Approach to Parenting and LifeTeach your kids these powerful skills, so they can dynamically engage their world.

By Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Contributor  |Nov. 29, 2017, at 10:36 a.m. US News and World Report

Did you know that your brain has two fundamental states that shape how you experience life in the moment?

In my educational workshops and presentations, I invite participants to learn about these two states directly. To do so, I have them close their eyes and simply become aware of the sensations that emerge when I say the word “no” harshly several times, and then I pause before calmly repeating the word “yes.”

What I call the “No-Brain” state is described by many as involving a sensation of tightness, constriction, anger, fear, sadness and a feeling of shutting down, along with heaviness in the chest and an urge to run away. This pattern is part of what can be called a reactive state, which researchers have found is created during conditions of threat.

Two branches of our autonomic nervous system – which regulates certain processes, like ourblood pressure – can be activated as we react to a threat. One is an accelerating sympathetic branch that gets us ready to fight, flee or freeze as our bodies prepare for the potential harm. The other is a parasympathetic branch, which essentially puts on the brakes; this branch can also become activated if we feel completely helpless, having us collapse or faint in response to the overwhelming threat. With either of these activating or deactivating states, we are now reactive and no longer receptive to what is going on around us or inside us. This No-Brain reactivity shuts off our connections to others and ourselves.

In contrast, what I call the “Yes-Brain” state balances our autonomic system. So instead of being in a reactive state, we now become receptive to our inner world and our interactions with those around us in a more balanced way. This receptive state turns on what researcher Stephen Porges has called the “social engagement system,” supporting an open, curious, connecting stance. That’s reflected in the feelings of being calm, seen, safe and activated that people describe when they finally hear the word “yes” in the experiential exercise I do.

When we learn to parent using a Yes-Brain strategy, we are offering structure and discipline along with sharing the wisdom needed to reinforce a child’s ability to live in this receptive state. Yes-Brain parenting is not about being permissive. It’s about knowing how to skillfully create structure and learning in your child’s life so that the child comes to their inner and outer experiences with a sense of robustness and optimism.

There are four components to this approach, each of which builds on the Yes-Brain’s state of integration in the nervous system. Integration is the linking of differentiated parts of something – such as a brain or a relationship – so that that system is well regulated. The ways we regulate our attention, emotion, mood, thought, memory, behavior and morality are each determined by the brain’s integrative regions, where areas link differentiated circuits. “Executive functions” that are part of emotional, cognitive and social skills come from this set of integrative regulatory capacities.

Our children can learn the four foundations of a Yes-Brain way of living by how we communicate with them. In our book on this topic – “The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child” – my co-author, Tina Payne Bryson, and I use a phrase that helps remind parents how this happens: “Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connection grows.” In this way, parents can help foster the growth of integration in their child’s brain in how they communicate with their child and help the child focus his or her attention.

When that pattern of communication is integrative in our relationships, the child’s brain is activated to grow in an integrative way (differentiating and linking) so that regulatory capacities, which support executive functioning, can grow well. For example, if a parent has expectations that a child will be outgoing and love sports, but instead the child is more reflective and prefers quiet time, drawing or playing music, being able to see the child for who he or she really is would be embracing differentiation. Linking to the child’s interests in the expressive arts would be a way of then providing integrative communication that honors these differences and establishes compassionate care and connections that research shows allow a child to thrive and feel secure.

Here are the four foundations of a Yes-Brain approach (for acronym lovers like me, this spells the French cheese BRIE):

1. Balance. Our inner experience of feelings is what gives life vitality, meaning and fullness. Yet feelings can sometimes become chaotic and out of control, or rigid, imprisoning us in a rut of our mind’s own making. By helping kids learn about the nature of their emotional livesand how any of us can become lost in these non-integrative states of rigidity or chaos, we can teach them how to ride the waves of these inner feelings and not become reactive when experiencing them fully. As Louisa May Alcott writes in “Little Women,” “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

2. Resilience. Sometimes, though, the ship of your life does indeed get tossed around in chaotic waves or stuck on a rigid shore. When we’ve entered the No-Brain state of reactivity – especially if this happens repeatedly and becomes a habit of our mind – we can become out of balance. We are no longer receptive to learning from others or even openly aware of what is happening inside of us.

Learning to detect when we’ve left the Yes-Brain state of receptivity and then altering our state to reenter this open, connecting way of being is a key part of being resilient. Facing challenges fully means monitoring our inner state and then modifying it to bring us back into balance.

3. Insight. Research reveals that children, adolescents and adults who are aware of their inner life of sensations, images, feelings and thoughts have better executive functioning and regulation and are even more compassionate and caring toward others.

Insight can be taught by building what I call mindsight skills – the capacities to sense the inner subjective lives of oneself and others, and then integrate these in your life. One aspect of mindsight is called mental time travel, the ways we link our past, present and future. Knowing the past means learning from our prior experiences. Being in the present involves having a receptive awareness to what is happening in the moment. When we anticipate and plan for the future, we’re able to become active authors of our own unfolding life story.

The research is clear: What we do as parents can shape our children’s capacities for insightful living.

4. Empathy. This fourth foundation of living with a Yes-Brain approach to life can also be taught to children by their parents. Empathy has at least five facets:

  • Empathic resonance is how we tune into the emotional state of another and feel, to some degree, their feelings. That’s how we resonate with someone else, and how we join with others, but do not become the other – we remain differentiated even as we are linked.

  • Empathic understanding is how we make sense of another’s inner thoughts and feelings.

  • Perspective-taking is how we try to see from another’s point of view.

  • Empathic joy is how we feel the joy, happiness and thrill in another’s success and well-being.

  • Empathic concern is how we feel another’s suffering and consider how we might be able to compassionately help reduce that person’s pain.

By taking a Yes-Brain approach, a parent, teacher or anyone helping children and adolescents grow can support them in cultivating these learnable integrative skills of balance, resilience, insight and empathy. We can hone these same skills as adults as well. These skills are fun to acquire and fundamental to living a life of courage, curiosity and well-being. Let’s say yes to life, and enjoy the journey!