Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, April 5, 2018

Thursday, April 5, 2018



Please contact administrators via e-mail to schedule meetings as needed.

Amity Taylor, Assistant Principal
Kelly McRee, Social Emotional Program Director
Leigh Moss, Head of School
Lydie Jessin,Business Manager
Taylor Young, Operations Manage

Dates to Remember

Apr 6 - Yearbook order deadline
Apr 6 - PTO Coffee Chat (8 a.m.)
Apr 7 - Slow Feast from the Field
Apr 10 - STAAR tests (grades 4, 5, 7, 8)
Apr 11 - STAAR tests (grades 5 & 8) 
Apr 20 - Earth Day
May 2 - Last Early Release Wednesday
Hoot Outs this week go to:
  • Parents and students, for donating a plethora of recyclables!
  • Thora and the kindergarteners, for helping create an art garden!
  • Taylor, for his amazing leadership getting our classrooms back together after the floods!
  • The PTO, for putting on the amazing event of the season, Slow Feast in the Field!  Get your tickets ASAP so you can enjoy an amazing meal under the stars supporting ADS!
  • Our amazing teaching staff, which goes over and beyond the call of duty to help our students to be successful!  Make sure you are sending your teacher some love! They work so hard and deserve it! Send them an email, card, or tell them in person how much  their work is valued! 
Buy your Slow Feast tickets RIGHT NOW!  The deadline is today, so don't wait! Visit or
From the Front Office

Staff playground duty starts at 7:30 a.m.  Children dropped off before then are unsupervised, which is UNSAFE. Please do not drop off your child on campus before 7:30 a.m.!  

We really need copy paper in the front office.  Pretty, pretty please!!

STAAR testing begins next week on Tuesday, April 10th for 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th graders.  It continues on Wednesday, April 11th for 5th and 8th graders. To best support your children and our school, please be sure that your child is presenton timewell-restedwell-fed, and ready to do their personal best!  

The ever-popular ADS Talent Show will be May 5th at the Scottish Rite Theatre.  Tryouts will be April 24th in Wilson's classroom.  Look for more information next week, or e-mail Wilson with questions at

May 2nd is the last early release Wednesday for this school year. Starting May 9th, Wednesday school hours will be the same as every other weekday (7:50 a.m. - 3:05 p.m.). 
Yearbooks are still available and on sale!  They are $25.  The order DEADLINE IS TOMORROW!  Don't miss out! They will be 48 colorful pages with an amazing hardcover of original artwork designed by one of our 5th grade students! You will definitely want one!  Order yours today by clicking here.  Our School Yearbook Code: 10851818.
The 3/4 teachers need volunteers on April 14th! They will be building an archway for the main courtyard for our Earth Day celebration. If you have any background in construction or can help in any way, please sign up on
this Google document.
Middle School families, please look for a permission slip for the Health/Wellness lesson coming up on May 3rd.  Please email Jessica at if you have any questions/need a copy of the permission slip.

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Suzanne Perreault, one of our amazing first grade teachers teaching ELA/Social Studies.  You can find Suzanne most days with her classroom community (The Shiny Wolves) in the White Oak tree house co-teaching with Christie Stinson.

What is your favorite classroom ritual or routine that fosters classroom community?  While I do love morning yoga, morning meeting, and closing circle, my very favorite classroom ritual/routine is our class job tree, which rotates weekly.  The students get such pride and joy from fulfilling class jobs such as line leader, recycler, and librarian. It's heart-warming to watch them feel needed and responsible and to observe their awareness that they each make a difference for the better in their classroom community when they do their class jobs well.   

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Why? I would go to Mount Koya in Japan and stay as a guest in one (or maybe try out several different!) of the Buddhist temples there.  They make the most delicious Shingon Ryori (vegetarian temple food) and you can bathe in lovely hot baths and join them for morning chanting and meditation services, and watch the monks tend the rock gardens.  It's also a beautiful little city to walk around. They also make, hands-down, the best incense I've ever used.

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction? I'm a connector.  I love having those sparks of relationship connection with my students and I love watching them make connecting sparks mentally, verbally, and in writing when they are learning something new, or looking at old learning in a new way.

Share a happy childhood memory. From when I was four until I was 11, I lived in a white Cape-Cod style house at the bottom of a hill at the end of a cul-de-sac.  Behind many of the houses was this almost enchanted wooded area, with several creeks and streams and a pond. I would love to pack up a bag of books and coloring items and wander around the woods, and rest against a tree by one of the main creeks and read and/or color.

What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else?  How and why is it important to you? A combination of authenticity and sincerity is what I find important in my relationships with others.  I'm a what-you-see-is-what-you-get type person, and I value that highly in others.

What are you grateful for in your life right now? I am really grateful for the people who I feel like have been most with me (whether professionally, personally, or both) on my journey into teaching.

If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do? While I wish I could say something inspiring such as spend time giving back to the community or taking a road trip or immersing myself in nature, I have so little do-nothing type downtime these days that I honestly would wish for a stay-in-bed-in-my-pajamas day.

What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature? Recently, I went down into a cave at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center and that was pretty awesome.

Who inspires you? People who unabashedly embrace and live out their calling, such as Brené Brown and Pema Chodron, are some of the people who inspire me.

What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down? If I ever find the time again to delve into fiction, I will happily share this information.  Sadly, curriculum and classroom management books, while useful and essential, are also very put-down-able.   

Social/Emotional Mindfulness Program by Kelly McRee



Dear Beloved Parents,

One of the hardest parenting challenges is the defiance!  Here’s some great advice by Dr. Laura Markham with  Please join us next Friday, April 13th for other installment of our book group, The Yes Brain by Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson at 2 p.m. in the Cottonwood Treehouse.

All the best,


Handling Defiance: You're Not the Boss of Me!

Defiance. It's guaranteed to push a parent's buttons. After all, we're supposed to be in charge, right? Defiance rubs our nose in the fact that we can't really control another person, whether he's three or thirteen, unless we use force. And who wants to be that parent?

Because when we overreact to defiance, we escalate the battle.  Since force creates resistance, either openly or in a passive-aggressive form, it's ultimately a losing strategy. (You might win the battle, but you'll lose the war.)

So what can a parent do about defiance?

Cure it at the source! Kids are defiant for a reason. Often, they feel controlled and pushed around, and they need some positive ways to feel powerful and capable in their lives.

Because a defiant child is rejecting the parent as leader, at least at this moment, defiance also indicates that the child feels disconnected from the parent. Maybe the relationship needs some repair work, or maybe she's just very upset at the moment, and since she's in "fight or flight" we look like the enemy.

Punishment will just make the disconnection worse. It will make the child feel more unfairly pushed around. And it won't help her with the upset. So you have to address defiance, but you can't solve it with discipline. You solve defiance with connection.

Your approach will depend on how old your child is. Here's an age-by-age guide.


Toddlers are still figuring out that they can be themselves without saying No to everything. Although we as parents sometimes forget this, even small humans are separate people who have the right to their opinions and need to protect the integrity of their own "selves." That's why they're so fiercely committed to "NO!" and "Do it myself!" Their defiance is best handled by:

  • Let her know you hear: "You say NO bath, I hear you...." (Sometimes, that's enough to get a toddler cooperating happily.)

  • Give her a hug. (Often, toddlers just need to reconnect.)

  • Decide how flexible you are: "Ok, we can just wash your hands and face today" or "And you are so very dirty, we do need a bath, so let's find a way to make it work for you."

  • Kindly insist on your limit if you feel it's essential: "You're crying because you don't want a bath....I am right here....You can cry as much as you need to.....When you're done crying, let's find your doll so she can take a bath with you, I know you like to wash her hair."


Preschoolers know the rules. When they're defiant, they're saying "Mom, Dad, I'm upset but I can't really express it....So I'm going to be as bad as possible to get you to pay attention...I am going to DEFY you!"Their defiance is best handled by:

  • Remind yourself that his defiance is a bid for reconnection, not something that requires discipline.

  • Reconnect through play, if you can. Try being mock-outraged to get your child giggling: "Excuse me...WHAT was that? Did I hear you say NO? You WON'T do what I said? We'll see about that, won't we? En Garde!" After your pillow fight or wrestling match, your preschooler will have giggled out his upset and reconnected with some oxytocin released by all that roughhousing; he'll be ready to do what you ask.

  • If he's too upset to play, listen. "You're saying no, you won't go to soccer practice? Something must be upsetting you about soccer practice....What do you think it will be like if you go?"

  • If his upset persists, set a kind limit and welcome his tears. He might just need to get all those feelings out with a good cry in your warm presence, after which he'll feel reconnected and able to cooperate.

Elementary Schoolers

Elementary Schoolers respond with defiance when they feel that we're unfair. When kids argue all the time, they're saying they don't feel heard or connected. Their defiance is best handled by:

  • Stop, Drop (your agenda) and Breathe. Since your buttons are pushed, you need to get calm before you address the defiance.

  • Remind your child that disrespect is out of bounds: "You know we don't speak to each other that way. You must be very upset."

  • Consider that when kids are defiant it's a relationship problem. You're losing your child somewhere, so he's not willingly following you. Are you being unfair? Are you not listening? Are you losing his respect by having your own tantrums?

  • Reconnect by listening and reflecting: "You're saying No because you don't think it's fair? Hmm....Maybe I'm missing something here. Tell me more."

  • Empathize: Remember that anger won't begin to fade until it feels heard. "Oh, so you feel....You wish...It must feel so hard that...."

  • Look for win/win solutions. "So you want...and I want...How about we...?"

Preteens and Tweens

Preteens and Tweens begin experimenting with defiance because they hear it from peers, and to see where the limits are. Their defiance is best handled by:

  • Stop, Drop (your agenda) and Breathe. Since your buttons are pushed, you need to get calm before you address the defiance.

  • Reinforce your expectation about the standard of respect in your family: "Ouch! You know we don't speak to each other that way."

  • Give your child a chance to correct herself while you reopen communication: "I know you didn't mean to be disrespectful. I do want to hear what you have to say. Can we try a do-over?"

  • Consider your approach. No one likes to be told what to do. And yet research shows that the average parent gives hundreds of orders every day, most in a negative tone. If your preteen is bristling, consider how you can help her step into more responsibility, instead of feeling ordered around.


Teens are defiant when they feel disconnected or have lost respect for us. Their defiance is best handled by:

  • Translate your teen's defiant words. Your child may sound like she never wants to see you again, but underneath her rudeness, she's saying "I'm all alone out here and pretty miserable...I wish you'd find a way to come out in the cold and get me, because I don't know how to find my way back."

  • Stay compassionate. Say "Ouch! That was pretty rude...You must be very upset to speak to me that way....I try to always speak respectfully to you....What's going on, Sweetie?" (If you realize your role modeling of speaking respectfully has been lacking, admit that, apologize, promise to do better, and state your expectation that everyone in the family needs to turn over a new leaf.)

  • Stay compassionate while he expresses his upset: "Wow...I see...I'm so sorry...I didn't realize...Thanks for telling me." Just keep breathing and stay calm. He needs to tell you about all his built-up feelings that have been making him feel so disconnected from you.

  • Find a way to re-connect. Listen. Reflect. Seek to understand. Tell him how much you love him and how much he means to you. Find a common ground. Problem-solve so you both get your needs met. Model the respect you expect.

Whatever your child's age, respect his right to refuse sometimes.

Maybe he's studying for a test or only has five minutes to finish building his castle before bath time. If he cooperates most of the time, and asks respectfully, why isn't it ok for him to ask for special dispensation tonight? The more he feels you'll listen when he makes his request, the less he needs to resort to defiance to express his wishes. Of course, that doesn't mean you don't put your foot down when you need to. But you never need to be mean about it; that just breeds more defiance.

Finally, notice that defiance is an opportunity, not an emergency.

Most of us get so triggered by our child's defiance that we automatically come down like a sledge hammer. After all, we wouldn't have been allowed to act that way when we were young.

But defiance is like a red light on the dashboard of your car; a signal that something is wrong that you need to fix. What's wrong isn't the child, but the relationship, and you fix that by reconnecting, not by attacking.

So the next time your child is defiant, remind yourself that you don't have to attend every power struggle to which you're invited. Try setting a clear limit about the standard of respect in your house, while at the same time reconnecting. Be grateful that your child's defiance gave you a warning about how much distance had crept in between you. Use the opportunity to change the course of your relationship with your child! And maybe, of his life.