Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday, May 17, 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

May 19 - OneFest
May 28 - Memorial Day 
June 1 - Field Day & Parents' Night Out
June 6 - SPARK Night & 8th grade graduation
June 8 - Last Day of School (12:30 dismissal)


Did you know that our students and classrooms help build baskets that we then auction off at OneFest?  We hope you'll bring something to contribute to your building's theme and help make our last event of the year a RAGING success!!

Please bring items to the front office for your building’s themed basket which will then be put together as one big awesome silent auction item for Onefest! Below is a list of each building and their themes:

Cypress: Summer Picnics - Bring your favorite foods/accessories for fun in the sun!
White Oak: Travel Bug - Send your favorite travel must haves for your summer vacation!
Prickly Pear: Weekend Camping/Glamping - Bring your favorite must have for your c/glamping trip!
Cedar Elm: Family Date Night - Send your favorite items to enjoy time with your favorite people!
Cottonwood: Poolside Dreams - How do you celebrate summer fun in the water?
Mesquite: Backyard Fun - When looking for items, think grilling, games, drinks, and more!

We always have such cool things donated and we know with this new twist having themes, this year is going to ROCK!!! 

Middle School Field Trip

Middle School students will be going on a Barton Springs field trip June 1st. Field Trip permission slips have been passed out in advisory - the cost of the field trip is $8. This includes the rental of a bus and Barton Springs Pool admission.

Payment are due by May 25th and can be made in cash at school to Jessica Langford. Kate Griffin is taking electronic payments via Venmo @KatherineGriffin and PayPal

Permission slips will be going out to the students soon. Our transportation will be provided by buses, which is included in the total cost per student. Please sign and return the permission slips by Friday, May 25th.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email Jessica Langford.

5th graders will go on a field trip to the YMCA on June 1st.  Permission slips will be sent home soon.  E-mail Myra Simmons to volunteer to chaperone/transport students! 
Field Day for K-4 students will be June 1st. Here is the link for volunteers to sign up to help on this day full of water and fun in the sun. We also need watermelon, so if you're unable to make it you could help with our refreshments.  Can't wait to see everyone for our end of the year event! 
Hoot Outs this week go to:
  • Our most amazing Thora Gray, for being awarded the Eco Rise Legacy Award!  She received this honor at City Hall as Eco Wellness students were showcasing their grant projects. It was a beautiful and touching ceremony for well deserved hard work! We are lucky to have you, Thora!!
  • All the amazing students who showcased their work at teh sustainability showcase at City Hall - even the Mayor stopped by for pictures and to ask questions!!  Way to go Eco Wellness Warriors!
  • Eli Mosley, for putting up a beautiful section of gutter on the Prickly Pear treehouse and setting up our cistern! - Taylor
  • All the parents who really came through for us when we were totally out of coffee at the beginning of the week!  We feel the love!  - ADS staff
  • The amazing 5th grade students, for their excellent Wax Museum! Huge hoot out to the 5th grade teachers!! 
  • The paper fairies who have kept us from running out of paper! Thank you so much!
  • Radioactive Rattlesnake parents, for lunch yesterday!  Thank you so much! - ADS staff
From the Front Office

We are preparing for 8th grade graduation on June 6th and need your help! If you have an 8th grade student, please send 5-10 pictures of them ranging from when they were a baby to now. Pictures may be brought in person to Sabra or emailed to
Thanks, families!

There have been cases of lice in the Shiny Wolves' and Darling Dolphins' classrooms.

Annual Head of School Survey

The ADS Board of Directors conducts an annual survey to solicit feedback in order to evaluate the performance of the Head of School. Please take a few minutes to answer a brief survey about Leigh Moss, ADS Head of School. The survey will be compiled by software and reported to the board in summary form only. Please complete the survey by May 31.
The primary responsibilities for the Head of School can be categorized into:
• Instructional and Educational leadership,
• Community engagement,
• Public accountability and compliance,
• Fiscal management, and
• Grounds, facilities and safety. 

While the Head of School may delegate many of the above duties to personnel who possess the leadership and capabilities to perform these duties, the following cannot be delegated by the Head of School and will be performed with diligence and transparency: organization of the charter school's central administration, approval of reports or data submissions required by law, and selection of charter school employees. 

Your input in this survey is strictly confidential. A single board member has access to the survey results and shares the report with the board. Comments provided by survey respondents are included in the report to the board anonymously and verbatim. 

Your input is important and the board appreciates your participation!

Click here to complete the survey.
Survey link:

From Ms. Elizabeth, your librarian 
  • Head over to the AISD Performing Arts Center at Mueller on May 19th for the kickoff of the Book People/AISD/Austin Public Library summer reading program!  It's a free day of authors such as: Kate DiCamillo, Max Brailler, and Lauren Tarshis.  Get more info at
  • The popular Book Swap will return to the library on Friday May 25th from 3-4pm!  This is an opportunity for you and your kids to bring in books you no longer want and take books you do.  Kids who receive lunch assistance get one free book!  I NEED VOLUNTEERS TO HELP WITH THIS FROM 2:30-4:15.
  • Get your summer reading and activity books at the Usborne Book Fair on Monday and Tuesday June 4 and 5 from 7:30am-4pm each day!  This is probably my favorite fair of the year because of all the quality activity books and coloring books.  You can also order online at
  • All library books are due on Tuesday May 29th, so help your child remember to bring them in.  Email me at if you'd like to know what your child has checked out.
  • I have created a project through that will provide ADS with materials to document our outside classroom activities.  Right now it is eligible for matching donations (General Motors is matching 2x all gifts!!!!!!!). Check it out at Citizen Science in Action
The LGBTQ & Allies Club will meet every other Thursday from 3-4 p.m. Sixth through eighth grade students are invited to meet with our Middle School Social Worker, Ellen Barg-Walkow Wilder, while adults have the opportunity to have a separate meeting that will focus on education and support. Come to as few or many club meetings as you'd like. Neither you nor your student must identify as LGBTQ to come learn and participate in conversations. 

Thurs, May 17: Healthy relationships
Thurs, May 31: Coming to terms with who you are
Thurs, June 7: Speaking your truth

Feel free to reach out with questions or ideas to Ellen at Thanks for your support!
From Jennette Everett, Aftercare Director

AfterCare Enrollment is now open for the 2018-19 school year.  Sign up early to guarantee your child's spot in the ADS AfterCare program. 
Click here to Enroll!

Full Time Enrollment will be $13/day.  Part Time Enrollment (selecting specific days) will be $14.50/day.  Drop-In Care is also available for sporadic care for $16-20/day.  See Enrollment Form for more information! 


June 8th, 12:30 - 6 p.m.
ADS AfterCare is hosting a Last Day of School Pizza Party for ANY student enrolled at ADS.  Your child does NOT need to have been enrolled in AfterCare for you to take advantage of this awesome party!  Limited Space Available, so sign up now!

It is $25/child and guarantees them pizza for lunch at 12:30 p.m. as well as fun all afternoon with their ADS friends one last time before the summer!  Sign up online on the ADS website under Parents (Click on AfterCare and then Camp Registration): $25 must be paid in advance for your student(s) to participate.   Once you register, you will receive an invoice.  Deadline to sign up is June 7.


June 1st, 6 - 10:30 p.m.
The last Parent's Night Out for the year will be on June 1.  Sign up now to take advantage of this great babysitting service.  It is $20/child ($15/each additional child). 6 - 10:30 p.m.  Sign up on the ADS website under Parents/AfterCare!  Siblings age 4+up welcome.

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee


I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Holly Rutherford, one of our amazing Dyslexia specialists!  You can find Holly most days working with students in her classroom in the Mesquite treehouse.

What is your favorite classroom ritual or routines that foster classroom community? Discussing our strengths and challenges....myself included

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Italy. Why? It was my moms favorite place in the world.

What is it that you do that gives you the most satisfaction? Helping and supporting students with strategies.

Share a happy childhood memory.  Fly fishing and horseback riding in Colorado with my dad's side of the family.

What is the most important quality to you in a relationship with someone else? Compassion

How and why is it important to you? We all need it at one time or another.

What are you grateful for in your life right now?  My husband and my boys.

If you had an unexpected free day and could do anything you wished, what would you do?  Get a massage, take a nap, and go on a movie watching marathon.

What is a favorite memory that you have of time spent in nature?  Snorkeling in Hawaii

Who inspires you?  My mom...she was such a loving, caring, positive impact.

What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down? The Sun is Also a Star

Social/Emotional Program Mindfulness, by Kelly McRee



Dear Beloved Parents,

Here is a great reminder at this time of the year and boy, did I need it as a parent!  It comes from one of our favorites, Dr. Laura Markham from  Life just moves so fast and this blog helps to remind us of how we want to parent.  But also to understand that we are not perfect nor do we need to be to love unconditionally.  Lead with love always, Kelly


Unconditional love is love without requiring anything in return--love no matter what. Love never fails." - Heather Forbes

We all know that children need unconditional love. And most parents DO love their children without reservation. After all, no matter how irritated we get with them, we know that we would throw ourselves in front of a bus to save our child's life.

The problem is that unconditional love isn't just what we feel. It's what the object of our love feels.

Does your child know that she's lovable, exactly as she is? That she isn't expected to be perfect? That her anger, disappointment, frustration and sadness are just part of being human, and that she can count on you to help her learn to manage those feelings so she doesn't have to act on them? That she doesn't have to be, or do, anything in particular to earn our love?

You may be wondering how you teach your child those things. The answer is easy, but oh so difficult. You love her unconditionally. Even -- especially -- when she's driving you crazy.

When you can:

  • Stay lovingly connected to him even as you set limits on his behavior:

        He learns that he's not a bad person, just human.

  • Resist lashing out at him even when you're "justifiably" angry:

He learns from your modeling how to regulate his emotions.

  • Remember to empathize as you set limits, so he WANTS to follow them:

He learns self-discipline.

  • Accept that he's an immature human who naturally makes mistakes:

He learns that mistakes are part of growing, and he can keep trying to improve.

  • Apologize when you mess up (because we all do!):

He learns to clean up his own messes, including emotional ones.

  • Accept him for who he is without comparing him to others, and help him be his best self:

He learns that he's more than enough, exactly as he is. Tall order? Yes. Here are your 5 guiding strategies.

1. Accept Feelings, Limit Behavior.

Empathy is unconditional love in action. Your child feels understood and accepted, even while his actions are contained. Reconnect, empathize, and invite him to trust you with the deeper feelings driving the behavior: “You must be very upset to speak to me like that. What’s going on, Sweetie?”

Listen. Breathe. Teach emotional intelligence while you set limits:

  • "She knocked over your tower and you worked so hard on it, you're mad!"

  • "You're so disappointed that we can't stay and have dessert at the restaurant, huh?"

Remember, empathizing with his anger doesn't mean you endorse his hitting. And acknowledging her strategy for meeting her need doesn't mean you have to meet her need in the way she's asking. For instance, some sweetness from you might meet the same need as that dessert.

And empathy doesn't mean you don't address the behavior. Later, when everyone is calm, reinforce any limits as necessary and talk about other ways to handle the situation: “I know it’s hard to stay calm when your sister knocks over your tower, but you know hitting hurts and sisters are for loving, not hitting. Next time, what could you do instead of hitting her? Let's practice.”

2. Walk in your child's shoes.

Naturally, we assume we're right....which makes our child wrong. But we could see it another way, a way that is actually much closer to reality:  All "misbehavior" from your child is an SOS. Under your child's misbehavior there is always a reason, an upset feeling or unmet need. Address that underlying reason, not the behavior, and you'll see a change in your child -- because you answered her SOS.

  • Maybe he'd be nicer to his sister if he wasn't worried that he's lost his special place in your heart, and what he needs is more connection to you.

  • Maybe she gets so involved in her play that she forgets all about the potty; you've been using one for years but this is all new to her -- and it sure doesn't seem as important as whatever she's involved with at the moment. (Might be time to try one of those potty watches made for kids.)

  • Maybe she'd stop arguing if you acknowledged her upset with empathy, so she didn't have to shout to feel heard. ("I'm so sorry.... I hear how disappointed you are about this.")

  • Maybe he needs your help to learn some better strategies to keep track of things so he doesn't lose them.

When children act out, they're telling us -- in the only way they can at that moment -- that they need our help. When we see things from our child's point of view, misbehavior is suddenly comprehensible, forgivable. The blocks to love melt away, and our love becomes unconditional.

3. Appreciate the child you have, rather than wanting to make her into someone else.

Imagine that your child is a flower, but you don't get to choose what kind. Your job is to nurture that flower with the environment that will help it blossom.

If there's something you wish were different about your child, he or she is likely to sense it. The understanding may not be in words, but in some visceral sense of not being good enough.

Your delight in your child might be the most important factor in his development. Every child needs to be explicitly appreciated for who he is, daily. If you find that hard, take some time to process your grief and resentment about not getting the child you wanted. You're allowed to have those feelings -- but you need to take responsibility to work them through, so you can appreciate the child you have.

Then, remind yourself that when a plant is wilting, you don't yell at it to straighten up. You get busy and provide more fertilizer, more sunshine, a more spacious pot. Your child will only thrive if you see her positively, so she can see herself positively.

4. Use empathy, connection, and repair -- rather than punishing.

All punishment withdraws love from the child. If we hurt the child physically, obviously the child does not feel loved at that moment, no matter what we tell him. Even timeouts and parent-imposed consequences are seen by the child for what they are: intentionally causing emotional pain to force the child to comply. Any time a human feels that another human is intentionally causing them pain, they don't feel loved.

A great deal of research shows that children who are disciplined with love withdrawal techniques, including timeout, misbehave more. The lesson is not lost on the child. We could, at any time, stop loving them altogether. There is no reason to punish, and every reason not to.  

We only punish because we don't know what else to do. But there are thousands of families where children are never punished. Sure, their parents set limits. They spend a lot of time emotion-coaching and connecting. And they insist that their child repair, whether what's broken is an object or a relationship. Those children not only "behave," they seem to develop emotional intelligence and morality earlier than other children.

5. Trust that once your child feels unconditionally loved, she will be able to change her behavior.

What if your child has crossed the line? Be brave. Don't give in to your fear. Don't give up on her. Go get her and bring her back into the embrace of your family. She's disconnected right now, but when you love her unconditionally, you strengthen her belief in her own goodness, and help her grow into your trust.

Because the healing miracle of unconditional love is that there is no line. There is only love.

Heavy lifting? Yes. It does takes daily practice to build this kind of heart muscle. But there's nothing as rewarding. These five habits will bring you and your child closer, her behavior will improve dramatically, and for the rest of her life, she will know that she's more than enough, exactly as she is. That's being well and truly loved. Unconditionally.