Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, October 25, 2018

Thursday, October 25, 2018



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

Amity Taylor, Assistant Principal
Deborah FreemanRegistrar & Office Manager
Kelly McRee, Social Emotional Program Director
Leigh Moss, Head of School
Lydie Jessin, Business & HR Manager
Maria MartinezStudent Services Director
Taylor Young, Operations Manager

Dates to Remember

Nov 2  PTO Coffee Chat (8 am) & Dia de los Muertos celebrations
Nov 13  PTO's Helping Tuesday @ MOD Pizza

Nov 19-23  Thanksgiving Break
Hoot Outs this week go to...
  • Our amazing parent body, for donating water during our city's boil notice.
  • Thora, Tim, and everyone that helped to vote for our chance at the $15k garden grant.  Fingers crossed!
  • The ADS Essentials team, for working so hard to prepare for Fall into the Arts!  Stay tuned for more details!
  • Jamie and her amazing elementary art students, for all of the fabulous art work all around the school!
  • Our amazing PTO and officers, for a most magnificent Fall Festival this year, and really all of their hard work on building a community at ADS!
  • The Young family, for the generous pressure washer donation! First grader Maggie and her family are such a wonderful part of our ADS community. We're feeling the love. - Taylor
  • The Nuñez family, for the reel mower donation!  Thank you so much! - Taylor
  • Melissa Bailey, for the amazing metamorphosis of the bridge and garden area in front of building 1! - Leigh (& everyone, really) 
  • United Unicorns families, for giving us the snack love yesterday!  - ADS staff
Kelly Moses, our new 3rd - 8th grade art teacher, would greatly appreciate donations of clean recyclable materials, including paper, cardboard, egg cartons, fabric, yarn, metal cans, plastic containers...just no glass! Drop them off in the front office, please!
Beginning-of-year conferences have begun and will continue until November 16th.  If you have not yet scheduled a time to meet with your child's teachers to discuss progress, please reach out to them!  All ADS employees have an e-mail address with the format 'first initial last name'

From the Front Office 

Bottled Water Thank you for your abundant support with so many bottled water donations!  We have enough for now and will let you know when we need more.  THANKS!

Checking Students Out If you are checking your child out early from school, please come directly to the front office to sign them out, and expect to wait. DO NOT go directly to your child's classroom building, ask someone to open the door for you, and ask teachers where your child is; it is disruptive. Asking children to open the locked doors is an unsafe precedent for our students and community.  We try to serve everyone quickly, but getting students called from classrooms or other various locations is challenging and can take a while. Especially right at the end of the day, we greatly prefer you to wait the extra few minutes and pick up your child at dismissal time, though we will do our best to help you get them early as needed. Thank you for your patience and help.
From Leigh Moss, Head of School

Dia de los Muertos Celebrations

All over campus, many classrooms and grades will be celebrating Dia de los Muertos on Nov 2.  Please check with your students' teachers to learn more about these celebrations!  


ADS is thrilled to partner with Coin Up, a revolutionary mobile donation app that virtually rounds up your credit or debit card transactions to the next dollar, and automatically donates your spare change to ADS every month. You can even set a monthly limit so that your donations never exceed that amount!

Starting in November, we'll have a CoinUp Jar located in the front lobby so if you're not the tech savvy type or if you want to just get rid of all that spare change in your car, you will be able to physically "Coin Up" as well!

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” - Howard Zinn

It may seem impossible for a little spare change to make an impact, but consider this; If 500 people donate $10 of spare change each month – it adds up to $5,000 a month, or $60,000 a year! That’s enough for ADS to do sooo much good.

You can Coin Up in 3 Easy Steps:

1. Download the (free) Coin Up App from the Apple Store OR visit 
2. Select ADSI or Austin Discovery School as your charity 
3. Link your bank card & set a monthly limit  
If you haven't signed up yet because you have an android phone, the good news is that CoinUp can now be found on Google Play.  

Download the Coin Up app today!  

LGBTQ+ and Allies Meetings for Parents

We will be hosting monthly LGBTQ+ and Allies Meetings for Parents, Families, and Caregivers. We will discuss ways to support our students and advocate for positive changes in our community. Meetings will be held at the picnic tables outside of the library on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Please come as often as you’d like! Neither you nor your student need to identify as LGBTQ+ to attend meetings.

Visit the ADS Rainbow Families Facebook page for updates about meetings, share resources, and create connections with adults in our school community!

You may also contact Middle School Social Worker, Ellen Wilder ( or SEL Director/Co-Founder Kelly McRee ( with any questions, feedback, or ideas.

Coming soon: Bi-monthly book club led by Kelly McRee. Stay tuned for details! Thank you!

PTO Movie Night

The ADS PTO is hosting a FREE Community Movie Night on the ADS campus on Saturday, Nov 10,  5 - 8 pm.   We want your help to determine what movie we show!  Click here to place your vote and for more information about the evening!   The movie choice will be announced at Coffee Chat on Friday, Nov 2nd.  THANK YOU!
From Taylor Young, Operations Manager

Thanks so much for your support of our campus beautification efforts!

We would be so grateful for donations of a rugged push mower, a gas or battery-powered blower, and a trimmer/weed eater that can handle tough grass and weeds.  We also really need assorted nuts and bolts, plus drywall and masonry wall anchors. Also, if you or someone you know has experience with small engine repair, we have some lawn equipment that is ill and needs help!
From Ms. Elizabeth, your Librarian

Check out the Texas Book Festival this weekend!  Schedule and all the info you need is at

I will host another optional after-school science fair work session next Thursday 11/1 from 3-4pm.  Please email me by Wednesday afternoon if your child will be attending (  Don't forget that there's lots of Science Fair info at

I am hoping to get an ipad mini and Otter box for use by myself and the EcoWellness teachers so that we can have it out in the gardens and on the trails.  It will be used to document student work as well as involve the students in citizen science activities.  You can read more about this project and make a donation at Donors Choose

A Little Owl Told Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Missy Hance, our amazing 3rd-8th grade music teacher.  This is Missy’s first year at ADS.

Describe your favorite vacation.  Anything involving a beach.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not someone else today.

What brings you the most joy? My dog.

What is your favorite meal or the best meal you have ever had? Osso bucco at Vespaio.

What do you do to take care of yourself?  Spend time with my close friends/cooking.

Tell us about your favorite pet.  She’s a sharpei and super sweet.

What are you reading now? I love The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

What is your secret talent that no one knows about?  I’m a pretty good whistler.

What is your favorite family tradition or ritual?  My dad plays old Christmas records while we decorate the tree and my mom makes a warm spiced drink and it makes the house smell nice.

What is your favorite podcast? Joe Rogan

Social/Emotional Program Mindfulness, by Kelly McRee

Dear Beloved Parents,

Many of you are familiar with  Social Emotional Learning but may not be as familiar with our Restorative Practices.  I did extensive training with University of Texas to become a Restorative Practices Coordinator.  I was in the first cohort to do this statewide and my cohort included Dr. Gayle Lang from TEA. We use Restorative Practices, Conscious Discipline, and research-based social skills such as Second Step and Skillstreaming to teach students in our social skill groups.

I wanted to give a shout out to Amanda Parrott and Nisa Almaraz and their amazing group of Flossing Ferrets for letting me come in to do a restorative circle.  The classroom community did an amazing job of problem solving some of the issues within their classroom family. They talked about unkind words, being physical, exclusion, not allowing grace for others’ differences, and not adhering to their classroom expectations of Universal Respect, Attentive Listening, Appreciations/No put downs, and doing your personal best.  They owned their behavior and shared their struggles! Many adults would have a hard time being this open and honest!

Then we did an amazing round of problem solving using “I” statements to commit to our Flossing Ferret community and school family.

The Flossing Ferrets committed to:  

  • Taking space before acting.  

  • Using kind words/appreciations.

  • Making sure I am doing my part to help my community.

  • Standing up for anyone in the community.

  • Making sure to include all members of the community (no exclusion).

  • Sitting where I won’t be distracted during a teacher lesson.

  • Following classroom expectations and routines.

  • Doing my personal best.  

  • Listening before making a decision.  

  • Practicing Attentive Listening.

  • Doing my classroom job without reminders.

It was my absolute pleasure to spend an hour with the Flossing Ferrets and their fabulous teachers, Amanda and Nisa.  I am so excited to see their classroom transformation!

Lead with love, universal respect, appreciations, and your personal best


Restorative practices and social-emotional learning go hand in hand

Written by Joshua Wachtel

Published: March 27, 2018

It’s been less than a year since teachers and administrators at Charles W. Henry School (K-8) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, began incorporating circles and other restorative practices through the SaferSanerSchools™ program alongside the Second Step Program, which teaches students skills for developing emotional intelligence. CW Henry Principal Fatima Rogers with studentsBut already the culture of the school has shown marked improvement, with office referrals down and teachers helping students resolve conflicts in new ways.

Second Step, a social-emotional learning (SEL) program created by the global nonprofit, Committee for Children, provides a curriculum to teach students skills to recognize and manage emotions and improve relationships. The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) SaferSanerSchools™ program provides professional development and ongoing coaching to help school communities cultivate healthy relationships, improve culture and climate, and resolve problems collaboratively and constructively.

Many schools across the country are implementing both SEL and restorative practices, and they are asking for support to align and integrate their efforts for ease of use and efficiency of implementation. In this project, all partners are learning what it takes to integrate restorative practices and the Second StepProgram to make it easy for adults to implement them together with fidelity. The long term goal is to create implementation resources that can be used in schools across the country.

“When adults provide a restorative environment coupled with SEL skill instruction to help students successfully participate in that framework, everyone in the learning environment has a better experience,” comments Juliet Kandel, Implementation and Partnerships Manager of the Committee for Children.

CW Henry Principal Fatima Rogers has been instrumental to fostering the changes in the school. Presenting at recent conferences about the collaborative effort, Rogers shared that she is now thinking differently about her leadership style. For instance, she has opened herself to hearing staff concerns, especially the needs they have expressed regarding having enough time to implement these two new programs well. Consequently, she has helped arrange teachers' schedules so they get the support they need to learn skills and plan their lessons.

“The most powerful practice that we’re getting good at is circles,” observes Rogers. Some teachers are holding circles every day after recess. “We’re getting so much information in the circles: who had problems, who had a great time, who had no one to play with,” she explains. “We’re solving conflicts that no one knew about.”

IIRP Instructor Shermont Fox has worked extensively throughout the duration of the project with Committee for Children’s Juliet Kandel and the Henry leadership team. He is also observing teachers, providing feedback and coaching them on how to run circles. Fox finds great synergy between Second Step's instructional concepts and restorative processes.

For instance, Second Step provides lessons on what it means to be a friend and how to be empathetic. One day a first grader said in a circle after recess that she didn’t have anyone to play with. The teacher said she was sorry to hear it and asked the class what they could do about it. One student said, “I’ll play with you tomorrow.” Kids are going beyond learning about friendship and empathy – they are putting that knowledge into practice!

“This is so groundbreaking," comments Fox. “We’re aligning restorative practices with Second Step, one of the top-tier SEL programs in the country.” Adds Rogers, “Kids themselves are becoming the problem solvers.”

The collaboration is having an impact on relationships between staff and students. Henry’s School-Based Teacher Leader Farrell Greenhall has taken a lead role in overseeing the implementation of Second Step and restorative practices. She visits a lot of classes. One day a student mouthed off to her for no reason. Rather than respond punitively, she waited until she had time and pulled the student aside. She asked an open question, “Did I do something to offend you?”

It turned out the student was upset about the no-cell phone policy. Greenhall allowed the student to explain why she didn’t like it. “I don’t feel safe without a cell phone,” she argued. “What if there’s a fire?”

Greenhall explained what the procedures would be if something like that happened. The student accepted the explanation and the two have had a good relationship since.

“What we’re seeing at CW Henry is teachers and administrators being given the knowledge, the techniques, the process and the space to practice," adds IIRP Director of Continuing Education Keith Hickman. "Consequently, they are becoming more restorative educators and leaders.”

Second Step’s Juliet Kandel appreciates how restorative practices is enhancing social-emotional learning in the school. “I’ve learned that there is great power in looking at each human interaction and policy in a school and asking, ‘Is it restorative?’” she affirms.

“I am so excited about this collaboration," adds Fox. "We are helping students deal with their social emotional needs, their feelings and each other.”

Kandel concurs: “We get to do authentic work, supporting staff and students at Henry, knowing that, eventually, our work will have a positive impact on thousands of school communities.”