Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, March 1, 2018

Thursday, March 1, 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

Mar 1 & 2 - Amplify Austin
Mar 5-16 - Spring Break
Mar 24 - Campus Work Day
Hoot Outs this week go to:
  • Sabrina, Jennifer, Kim M, Morgan and their amazing classrooms of concerned citizens, for their letters to Senator Kirk Watson.  He Skyped with their students to answer their questions, and it was fabulous.
  • Bettany and Angie’s Savvy Sea Lions, for their amazing Black History projects.
  • Elizabeth, Lydie, and Sabra for the amazing Battle of the Books competition and all of our amazing student participants!  Go Nerdy Narwhals!
  • Our amazing theatre teacher Jon and the marvelous middle school performers in MacBeth!  Wow, what a performance!  Kudos to all!Our a
  • Everyone who attended Soundluck.  It was awesome! - ADS PTO
  • Andrea Dalhouse, for TOYS!
  • Zach Griffin and Caroline Halloran, for the recognition they each earned at the Regional Science Fair! Congratulations!! WAY TO GO!
From Jennette Everett, Aftercare Director

It is not too late to sign up for Spring Break Camp!  If you find yourself unexpectedly needing care for even just 1 day next week - the cost is $60/day to "drop-in" to Spring Break Camp.  If you register & pay on/before March 2 - the cost is $50/day or $40/day for the whole week.  Late registration is possible if you contact Jennette via email (  

Jennette Everett
AfterCare Director
Austin Discovery School
From the Front Office

Donations needed! We need coffee, AA and AAA batteries, and copy paper in the front office. Thora and Tim have requested 70 brooms - yes 70, that's 10 per building - as a donation to enable more of our students to help keep our campus clean!  Thanks for your support!

Are you planning to return to ADS next school year? We want to know! Please complete our 
Intent to Return Surveyby March 1st.

From Leigh Moss, Head of School

After Spring Break our Student Services Director, Becky Mien, will not be returning to ADS.  When an administrator leaves, the team follows a succession plan that allows the services provided by the individual to be continued without disruption until a qualified individual is able to join the school team.  

During the remainder of this year, ARDs will be facilitated by current staff who have previous experience preparing for and leading these meetings.   For parent inquiries or concerns, you may contact the Head of School.  Your student's schedule of services and teachers will continue as normal.  

ADS will post the position this week and the interview process for a new Director will begin after Spring Break.  Our hope is to hire a new Director for the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.  Current special education and general education staff, our 504 Coordinator, and the administrative team will all participate in the interview process.  In addition, we are seeking 1-2 special education parent interview panelists to participate in interviews during this process.  If you have availability after school and are interested in becoming part of this process, please email me directly to let me know.
Our Work Day has been rescheduled for March 24th!
We have SO MUCH we want to accomplish:
  • Finish the swing set: cleaning the chain, hanging the new seats, spreading gravel if needed
  • Repair the roof on one of the playhouses 
  • Refinish the bare picnic tables with lacquer.
  • Build a stage in the courtyard area 
  • A few other campus beautification efforts! 
 If you have experience with building, please consider coming to help!  Contact Taylor Young if you'd like to participate!
From the PTO

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

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!!!

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing the amazing duo of the Peace Center, Ryan Knight and Jess Rather.  They are part of the Social Emotional Learning Team here on campus.  You can find them daily at the Peace Center in Building 1.  They would be glad to give you a tour so stop by and say hi!


What is your favorite classroom ritual or routine that fosters classroom community? 
Ryan Knight:  How it works in the Peace Center is getting kids to connect by bonding over common interests.
Jess Rather:  Having buddy lunches in the Peace Center to foster connection and relationships.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Why?
Ryan Knight:  To Japan again.
Jess Rather:  I’m such a disorganized wannabee traveler.  I have a vision of getting to visit  every national park.

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction?
Ryan Knight:  When working with a student that has a conflict or issue, helping them through the process, and they are able to see a different perspective at the end/connect again.
Jess Rather:  When a student goes through the whole conflict resolution process and is able to  work through the process in the Peace Center.

Share a happy childhood memory.
Ryan:  A group of my friends would skip taking the bus in middle school.  We would sing R&B, Beach Boy songs and seek out sugar cane.
Jess:   I grew up two streets from the Zoo and the symphony of the Zoo during different times.  We really missed it when we moved.

What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else? How and why is it important to you?
Ryan:  Trust, empathy, and playful interactions.
Jess:  Yes to all of that

What are you grateful for in your life right now?
Ryan:  Still feel grateful about all of the things that I am doing in my life - I am passionate about my work and music.  I feel lucky.  I feel like Austin is my community/home now.
Jess: This community and a schedule that matches my son’s schedule.  It gives me time to parent.

If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do?
Ryan:  Play and write music all day.
Jess:  I would spend the whole day in my garden:  weeding, planning, and planting.  It would take all day as I have been putting it off.

What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature?
Ryan:  White water rafting with friends and family
Jess:  Every few years, we do a camping road trip that is great for my family.

Who inspires you?
Ryan:  My team.
Jess:  My strong grandmothers.  I had a grandmother who raised me when she finally raised her last child.  I had a grandmother who was a teacher/counselor and brought home students that needed support.

What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down?
Ryan:  Neil Gaiman - no particular book.
Jess:  Harry Potter marathon with my son

Social/Emotional Mindfulness Program by Kelly McRee

Dear Beloved Parents,

We will be starting a parent book club when we come back from spring break.  We will be reading the book, The Yes Brain:  How to Cultivate Curiosity, Courage, and Resilience in your Child by Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Bryson.  We will start the book club with the first two chapters on Friday, March 23rd  at 2 p.m. in the Cottonwood Building.  Please just come to the front building and I will meet you so I can unlock the door.  Please email me to let me know you are coming at

Pick up a copy of the book at your favorite library!  You can also buy it from A

Here is an article from Dr. Tina Payne Bryson from her website:

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Our new book The Yes Brain opens with the above quote as its epigraph. The Alcott line is a great way to think about the job we have as parents as we seek to empower our children to sail their ships through whatever storms they face. We can give our kids experiences that help produce either a “Yes Brain” mindset that allows them to be receptive, open, curious, and creative in the face of life’s problems, or a “No Brain” mindset that leaves them reactive, shut down, rigid, and fragile.

What, specifically, do they need in order to captain their individual ships in a Yes Brain way that leads to happiness and fulfillment? What characteristics, in other words, should parents emphasize the most? As we travel the world speaking about our books The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline, we hear some form of that question all the time. The Yes Brain is our response.

We focus on what we call the four Yes Brain fundamentals: balance, resilience, insight, and empathy. These are the qualities we all need to be successful in life, and if we can promote them in our children, they’ll be well on their way to approaching life from a Yes Brain perspective.

And a great way to promote a Yes Brain in your kids is by reading with them. Each Yes Brain fundamental emerges directly and spontaneously when you dive together into the pages of a book. Here are some quick suggestions to help you be intentional about highlighting the Yes Brain fundamentals.

Balance: Balance is all about emotional regulation. When emotions run high, it takes practice, skills, and maturity to stay calm and make thoughtful choices, even when we’re anxious, angry, or afraid. Managing our emotions and controlling our bodies is an essential part of social and emotional intelligence and having good friendships. As children see characters handle their emotions and impulses well and poorly, they can learn skills to handle emotions. As you read stories together, ask your child these questions to explore and develop balance:

  • How well do you think the character handled those big feelings?

  • What could the character have done differently?

  • What do you do when you have big feelings like that?

  • What calms you down the most when you have that big feeling?

Resilience: One of the most important things we can help develop in our kids, resilience allows us to bend without breaking when life is hard. It’s not about avoiding feeling difficult emotions or trying to escape adversity, but about tolerating and even growing from the times when things don’t go our way. Resilience keeps us from feeling victim to life circumstances or to our internal emotional distress. As you read stories together, ask your child these questions to explore and develop resilience:

  • When the character faced that conflict, how did they handle it?

  • Did you see how even though things were difficult/sad, it didn’t stay that way and things got better?

  • What makes you strong when things are hard?

  • What’s something difficult you went through that made you stronger/smarter/kinder?

Insight: As children observe the feelings and experiences of characters, they learn about themselves. They are given language that helps express what they, themselves, experience and they gain insight into their own behaviors and emotions. As you read stories together, ask your child these questions to explore and develop insight:

  • Have you ever felt that way?

  • What would you do in that situation?

  • How would you decide?

Empathy: Studies show that reading fiction increases our capacity for empathy. As we read about the minds, experiences, and feelings of another, we feel with them. This increases our ability to understand others’ minds and internal experiences so that we can better empathize with them. The more children practice this skill, the more their brains get wired with this capacity. As you read stories together, ask your child these questions to explore and develop empathy:

  • How does the character feel? What are they afraid of? What are they excited about?

  • What does the character expect will happen?

  • What does the character wish would happen?

No matter what book you pick up, reading together can help you raise kids with resilient minds and connected brains. Just the act of physical closeness that occurs when we pull our children close and join together to share the moments that unfold as we read together — laughing, looking at the same pictures, talking about what we wonder about, and sharing the joy that comes from wonderful books — helps create a Yes Brain.

Watch Dr. Daniel J. Siegel discuss the differences between a reactive state and a receptive state, or a Yes Brain state, in this video. Want to learn more about raising children with resilient minds and connected brains? Check out The Yes BrainThe Whole-Brain Child, andNo-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.