Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 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 & HR Manager
Taylor Young, Operations Manage

Dates to Remember

Apr 20 - Earth Day
            Parent's Night Out
Apr 24 - Talent Show tryouts
Apr 26 - Poem in Your Pocket Day
May 2 - Last Early Release Wednesday
May 4 - PTO Spirit Night 
May 6 - Talent Show
Hoot Outs this week go to:
  • Bryan Nelson, for hockey sticks!!!
  • Cuddly Dragon parents, for feeding us yesterday!!  - ADS staff
From Jennette Everett, Aftercare Director

Aftercare staff is mostly made up of college students, and they are preparing for and taking finals and need time off. SO AfterCare is looking for subs. If you sub at the school and would be interested in subbing for Aftercare, please get in touch with Jennette.   If you don’t sub at the school and are interested, please still reach out.  We need help for just a few hours in the afternoons.

Also, Parents Night Out is Friday April 20.  Sign up now!!!
From the PTO

The ADS PTO will be hosting a Spirit Night on Friday, May 4th from 3:30 p.m. until closing at Mt. Playmore (13609 North I-35 in Austin).  They are donating 35% back to ADS of anyone who comes and says they are with ADS (this includes entry as well as any food and beverage you may purchase as long as you tell them you are with Austin Discovery School.).  So plan on coming out Friday, May 4th to Mt. Playmore to attend ADS Spirit Night.  Wear an ADS shirt if you can to help fellow ADS families spot you!  For more info about Mt. Playmore, go to
From Leigh Moss, Head of School

Tomorrow is Earth Day! There will be an amazing whole-school celebration and our students will be involved in many activities. It will be a fun and educational event for which many teachers and students have worked diligently for months to prepare and it is sure to be an inspiring day.

In light of events taking place across the country, it is also National School Walkout Day.  While we have not heard about ADS students planning to participate, I do want to take note and honor that some of our students may be planning to participate.  

I know how important is is for families to have conversations with their students about expectations, safety and appropriate methods to express their views.  ADS supports and applauds attention to national school safety. Emotions about the walk-out may be charged, and ADS staff respects the different perspectives of our students and families. If your ADS student is planning on walking out tomorrow, because of the setting of our campus and age of our students, I respectfully require that as on any other school day, an adult designated by each student's parent sign out your child in the front office. Also, it would be very much appreciated if students who do walk-out are present at 10 a.m. for attendance purposes.

From the Front Office

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

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.). 

From Taylor Young, Operations Manager

Thank you to the many hands that gave up weekends to get the stage deck designed and built. We couldn’t have done it without you! [Sorry if I’m missing anyone- you’re still appreciated!] Crew chiefs Eli and Eric; Ashly, Lars, Orrin, A.B., Andrew, Brian, Billy, Stephen, and the students past and present who dug holes and poured concrete. 

This behemoth is an incredible addition to our campus and will be used very often. In fact, tomorrow’s Earth Day celebration has many events that will highlight the stage’s function: Theater performances, dances, music performances, all-school assembly, speeches, and more!

Stay tuned for Phase II!
The ever-popular ADS Talent Show will be May 6th at the Scottish Rite Theatre.  Tryouts will be April 24th in Wilson's classroom.  The sign-up form is at the end of this newsletter, and is also available on paper in the office.  E-mail Wilson with questions at
Middle School families, please look for a permission slip for the Health/Wellness lessoncoming up on May 3rd.  Please email Jessica at if you have any questions/need a copy of the permission slip.
News from Ms. Elizabeth, your librarian

I have created a project through that will provide the school with materials to document our outside classroom activities.  Right now it is eligible for matching donations!  Please take a look at the project and see if it's something you can financially support:

Citizen Science in Action 

Your support would mean so much to our students. In return, you'll get awesome photos of your gift in action and our heartfelt thanks. 

Thank you so much,

P.S. If you know anyone who may want to help my students, please pass this along! 

Next Thursday, April 26 is Poem In Your Pocket Day!   This is a fun day that ADS has celebrated since the beginning.  Here's a link to a little more info:

Basically the idea is that anyone (students, teachers, staff) who wants to participate has an original or copied poem in their pocket.  They can read it out loud or hand it to anyone to read and they can ask anyone else to read the other person's poem.  They can also have a poem in their pocket and decline to read it out loud, but hopefully everyone will read and share.
Check out these literary summer camp activities: and

Check out this free writing workshop opportunity for kids and adults at APL on May 5: The New Fiction Confab 2018 at
It's School Supplies Time for the 2018-2019 School Year!

We are excited to once again be partnering with 1st Day School Supplies for the 2018-2019 school year! Last year was our first with this company, and it was a very successful partnership. 1st Day School Supplies is a family-run company dedicated to reducing stress on families and providing quality supplies at an affordable price. The Meadows family does well by us! ADS families reported that ordering from their website was easy and the customer support was fantastic (although rarely needed). For the ADS Operations Department, this company worked closely with Taylor to make sure the school and families had their needs exceeded.
School Supply kits are delivered directly to the school with your child's name attached and are distributed to their teacher prior to the first day of school. You just order and you're done! Sure beats fighting crowds and going to multiple stores...
In the coming weeks you will receive further information about what is included in your child's kit, how to order, the convenience that 1st Day School Supplies brings to ADS and the benefits of using this company. Look for emails from the school, flyers in your kiddo's backpacks, and signs around campus.
Of course it is by no means required that an ADS family orders their school supplies from this company. It is also not a requirement that the 'name brands' listed in the school supply kits are bought over any other brand. Our goal with partnering with any company is to provide what we see as the easiest way for you to get the supplies ADS teachers request for your child's education.
If you wish to use our partnered supplier, use 
this link through June 15th and we will take care of the rest. Our ADS website also hosts this information as well as the lists if you wish to shop independently. Click here for our website.
  • Middle School (6th-8th Grades) lists do not include the following that your student(s) will need:
    • A Binder, Trapper Keeper, Pencil Bag, or other desired method of organization
    • Writing utensils of your preference (Black/Blue Pen or Pencil only, please)
    • Various other subject-specific needs at the beginning of the year and throughout.
    • 6th and 7th Graders need a 4-function Calculator
    • 8th Graders need a Graphing Calculator (like the Texas Instruments TI-83/TI-83 Plus) to satisfy the state-required TEKS
  • 5th Grade:
    • The 3-inch binder on the list can be replaced with a "Trapper-Keeper" if the student prefers
    • Pencil Bag
    • Daily writing utensils of the students' choosing are not a part of the list
      • Black or Blue pen, or Pencil
Please contact Taylor Young at with any questions, comments, concerns, or corny jokes you may have!

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee


I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Christie Stinson, one of our amazing First Grade teachers teaching Math and Science.  You can find Christie most days in her classroom co-teaching with Suzanne in the White Oak Treehouse.

What is your favorite classroom ritual or routines that foster classroom community? I love the daily morning and closing meeting routines. During every morning meeting, we wish well students who are out and welcome back students returning from an absence. On Wednesdays, the morning meeting share is about things that are wonderful and woeful. Closing meeting ends our day with connection songs. I love the way these routines continuously build and strengthen our bonds as a community.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why? There are so many places I’d love to travel. Scotland and Ireland are always high on my list, but I’d also love to visit Russia and Thailand and Costa Rica and...yep, the list seems nearly endless. There’s so much beauty in the world, and so many ways to experience it.

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction? I’ve been working on a design plan to make my little treeless suburban lot as sustainable as I can, and every micro-step I take toward implementation brings me immense satisfaction.

Share a happy childhood memory. Sitting in my grandfather’s lap or at the table with him sharing a half gallon of rocky road ice cream straight out of the carton and talking about the weather.

What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else?  How and why is it important to you? Integrity - It’s the foundation.

What are you grateful for in your life right now? I’m really grateful for my family - a husband who gets me, the way my son has embraced recent changes, and for the way my daughter continues to astound me every day (and, of course, for furry dog cuddles and waggy tails when I get home every day).

If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do? Sleep in past 5:15 a.m., read on the back porch with a cup of coffee for a few hours while watching the birds, do some planting, enjoy some TV and xBox time, and round it out with some evening reading back on the porch.

What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature?  I used to spend time each summer with my great-grandparents in Georgia. They had a quarter-acre or so garden, and we would sit out shelling peas, collecting blueberries, playing in the corn...We also went fishing on a little boat on the lake and from the dock by the river. My great-grandfather would always bait my hook for me, but he made sure I knew how to clean and filet a fish, while my great-grandmother made sure I could cast a beautiful line and cook an amazing meal with what I caught.

Who inspires you? My mom and dad inspire me everyday for their strength, their fortitude, their kindness, their generosity, and their positivity.

What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down? Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat - I’m a pretty decent cook, but I’m learning a lot about becoming a better one. I enjoy the anecdotal way this book explains the interactions of elements and the science behind why and how they behave. Next on the list is Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City by Eric Toensmeier.

Social/Emotional Mindfulness Program by Kelly McRee



Dear Beloved Parents,

I was just having this conversation with a parent the other day.  Then, lo and behold, this blog from Dr. Laura Markham popped up in my gmail feed.  It is such a timely reminder to give unconditional love to ourselves as parents. It is the hardest and most rewarding job ever!

With unconditional love for all of you,


"The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well” -- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

We all know that children require unconditional love to thrive. But how many of us feel capable of giving it?  We can't, quite simply, give something we don't have inside. Loving our children always starts with loving ourselves.

So if you didn’t have a perfect childhood, if you're more cranky than compassionate, should you just give up on being a good parent?  No. Research shows that we can always grow emotionally, to become more loving to ourselves and others. In fact, the fastest path to stretching our hearts is parenting, because our love for our child motivates us to grow. (You sacrifice and work harder for your child than for your own well-being, right?)

It takes work, but the good news is that as our hearts get bigger, we’re not just better parents. We’re happier people.

Healing your ability to love takes daily attention and commitment, but it's quite do-able. Here's how.

1. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Unconditional love means dropping that list of ways you need to be different before you're good enough in your own eyes.  Perfection is the lowest standard anyone can have. We aren't going for perfect. We're going for love! What your child needs is your full presence and appreciation, not perfection.  Sometimes you'll make mistakes. As long as you can forgive yourself, you'll find a way to repair those little rifts with your child, which will strengthen your relationship and your child's resilience. Start by changing how you talk to yourself. Every time you notice self-criticism, remind yourself that your goal isn’t perfection.  Your goal is loving yourself and others.

2. Unconditional love is like a muscle. It needs a daily workout. Compassion is the heavy lifting of life. You know it takes daily practice to build that kind of muscle. Why should your heart be an exception? Commit to treating yourself and everyone around you with compassion. Every time you notice harshness creeping in, toward yourself, your child, or anyone else, stop and find something to appreciate about that person. No exceptions.  If you could choose compassion in every interaction with everyone, including yourself, you'd be enlightened by the end of the month.

3. Want to wake up jazzed about the day ahead? Commit to radical self-care. We all know that when we can stay connected to our internal fountain of well-being, it overflows onto our children and we're more patient, loving, joyful parents. To love our children unconditionally, we need to keep our own pitchers full so we aren’t running on empty. And yet, most of us live in constant stress, which depletes us.  What if you committed to taking care of yourself and staying centered? First, because life is short, and you deserve it. And second, so you can be the peaceful, patient, encouraging parent your child deserves. I know, that sounds radical. But whose life is it, anyway? And at the end of it, who will have been responsible for how you felt -- and acted -- during it?

4. Are you drinking rat poison? Heal your childhood. When you get triggered with your child, do you ever wonder when those triggers were built into your psyche?  That's right -- during your own childhood. If you want to liberate your heart, you have to heal your old wounds. Maybe you got the message that you were too needy, too angry, too selfish, too lazy, too careless...too childish? Our parents, however well-intentioned, were products of their time, and most of us didn't get the message that we were unconditionally loved, human imperfections and all. It’s time to heal those old triggers.  Letting your childhood family determine your happiness level is like letting the waiter eat your dinner.

5. Heal Your Heart, Heal Your Life: The only way out is through. Sorry, but that means breathing your way through that unfinished business. Every time you get upset, notice the contraction in your body. Breathe into that tightness in your throat, that weight in your chest. Resist taking action -- no lashing out at someone else, no eating to numb yourself out, no turning on a screen to run away. Just notice the emotions moving through your body, without getting caught up in the story line. Once you get through that pain you've been avoiding, you won't need to hang on to any kind of anger.  It may arise -- you're still human! -- but you'll be able to notice it and let it go, rather than acting on it.

6. Love unconditionally even when you're angry. It's easy to love unconditionally when our child is being delightful and we feel good. But how many of us can stay lovingly connected to our child while we set limits on behavior? How many of us can resist the temptation to lash out at our child when we feel justifiably angry? How many of us can love our child through his upsets?  A teachable moment is always when both people are receptive and positive. Anger and punishment are never based in love. Maybe it's time to move your game up a notch and commit to parenting from love, not from anger. Notice I didn't say this would be easy. But every time you manage your anger instead of spilling it onto your child, it gets easier.  Within a few months, you’ll realize you don't lose your temper anymore. And that your relationship with your child has completely transformed as a result.

7. Take the High Road. You know what the high road is. When you’re feeling really good, nothing fazes you. You respond to your child’s foibles with patience, understanding, and a sense of humor. You know what the low road is, too. It’s when you’re stressed, exhausted, resentful. When you insist on having it your way or proving you were right.  When your fuse is so short that you feel justified in having your own little tantrum. When you're in the grip of fight or flight emotions and your child looks like the enemy. Nobody takes the high road all the time. But there are ways to live that help you find yourself on it more and more.

8. What if you've made mistakes as a parent? Join the club. They aren't mistakes if you use them to guide you toward a better way in the future. You don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to fix your child or the situation. All you have to do is stay present and choose love instead of fear. Your child doesn't even need the red cup, or whatever he's crying for; he needs your loving acceptance of him, complete with all his tangled up feelings. His disappointment, rage, and grief? They're all ok, part of a rich emotional life, and they will all pass if you accept them, and him. Just love him through it.

9. Walk In Your Child's Shoes. Unconditional love isn't just what we feel. It's what the object of our love feels: love without strings attached. That means our child doesn't have to be, or do, anything in particular to earn our love. We love her exactly as she is. A tall order, at least when our child is misbehaving. The trick is to commit to seeing things from your child's point of view. Suddenly, misbehavior is comprehensible, forgivable. Compassion comes more easily. The blocks to love melt away, and our love becomes unconditional.

10. Practice Makes Perfect. Research shows that repeated experience actually rewires our brains. Healing our ability to love unconditionally requires daily practice as we catch the curve balls of life. Nothing has to be different for you to love yourself exactly as you are. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But it is entirely possible to be a better parent every day. After all, you have live-in teachers and 24/7 lessons.  Use your mistakes to your advantage. They aren’t mistakes if you learn from them, they’re life lessons in your parenting PhD. That’s why spiritual masters call it a Practice!

At first, it seems impossible. But it's like playing the piano. In the beginning, scales are a challenge. But if you practice, in a year you can play a sonata. Just keep practicing, bringing awareness to every interaction, finding that moment of freedom between the stimulus (your child's behavior) and your own reaction. Noticing is what gives us a choice next time. The miracle of one foot in front of the other, in the right direction, is that one day you look around, and all the scenery is different.  

Repeat daily. Enjoy the journey. Watch your life transform.