Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thursday, September 20, 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

Oct 4  Science Fair info sessions
Oct 5  PTO Coffee Chat, 8am
Oct 8  NO SCHOOL, staff development day
Oct 9  2nd Helping Tuesday at Phil’s Ice House and Amy’s Ice Cream (Burnet Road Location Only)
Oct 13  Fall Fest, 2-6pm
From Taylor Young, Operations Manager
Hello ADS Community! We are rolling out our more secure WiFi network. We are finally replacing the older SSID we have had for several years with new and improved access. What this means for you is that by Monday, Sep 24th, you will no longer have the option to sign into "ADS" for your WiFi needs. Instead, we are replacing it with a better and safer option. The community SSID is: 

Name: ADSGuest
Password: ADS!
From the ADS PTO
We are currently recruiting volunteers for our FallFest on Saturday, Oct 13.  We need volunteers to help make this FallFest a success!  Please sign up at the link below.  There is also a need for baked goods, pies, caramel apples, etc --- all things you can do in advance if you are out of town and can't volunteer in person!  Sign up with this link: 

Pre-Sale Ticket Packages for the FallFest will start in the courtyard on Monday, Oct 8 and continue after school every day.  Buy your tickets early for a discount!
If you are interested in substitute teaching at ADS this year, we want you!  Please e-mail Amity Taylor
Enrichment Fee
Have you paid your child's $50 enrichment fee for this year?  Every contribution helps provide essential materials for classrooms, supports enrichment and project-based learning throughout the school, covers insurance for student laptops, and provides for consumable supplies for our essentials classes (art, music, PE, library, and ecowellness).   Please remit check or cash to the front office ASAP!  
ADS in the Austin Chronicle! 
Check it out at The paper version will be available around town tomorrow!  A very special thank you to John Slavin, ADS elementary music teacher, for making the connection for our beloved school, and to David Brendan Hall, Chronicle photographer, for coming out and photographing our community at work at our Garden Work Day last weekend. 
From ADS Aftercare
There will be an ADS Aftercare camp on campus Oct 8; there is NO SCHOOL that day! Watch for a registration form next week or e-mail Jennette Everett:
Hoot Outs this week go to...
  • All the amazing families who came out for our Garden Work Days last weekend.  We really appreciate that you gave up some of your weekend to work together on our beloved campus. Thank you so much for your support creating our amazing habitat!
  • Special shout-outs to Trevor Kemp, for heavy equipment pond digging and Jory Hanus, for skidsteer mulch moving, during our Garden Work Days.  We are so, so grateful. - Thora
  • Our amazing Eco Wellness gurus, Thora Gray and Tim Ornes!  They have created a program that brought students/families out to work in the garden over the weekend!
  • Jason Ellis, of Lost Pines Yaupon Tea, for fuling us during the garden work day!!! - Thora
  • Curious Kitten parents, for SNACKS! Thank you so much! - ADS staff
Thank you, Trevor!  Check out our pond after last weekend's work day and today's rain!!
From Leigh Moss, Head of School

What if you could simply donate your spare change from everyday purchases to support our amazing school? Well now you can, because there’s an app for that ADS has partnered with a revolutionary mobile donation app called Coin Up. This short video
explains why we think Coin Up so awesome.

Join other ADS families who have already made a monthly impact through Coin Up in 3 Easy Steps:

1. Download the (free) Coin Up App from the Apple Store or Register at
2. Select ADSI Austin Discovery School as your charity
3. Link your bank card & set a monthly limit

Coin Up rounds up each transaction to the nearest dollar and donates the “spare change” directly to our charity. Your information is secure and encrypted with bank-approved technology. And, you’re always in control of your Coin Up donations by setting your monthly limit.

Imagine hundreds of friends like you donating even $10 a month in spare change from credit/debit card purchases. Together we can make real CHANGE for ADS!  
Download the Coin Up app today! Or find Coin Up on the web at

ADS Families - The Importance of YOU

A few weeks ago, I sent a few whole-school emails that now I have reason to believe did not make it to our entire community.  As I work through this communication error, I wanted to take the time to share some of that important information that was included in these mailings:

1.  My first monthly newsletter - the first of 10 - that I will be sending on the First Friday of each month.  Here's the link to that first newsletter in case you missed it a couple of weeks ago.  
Head of School Monthly Newsletter 1 - 9/7/18

2. An important message about 2 scheduled presentations for Back to School Night.  The presentation can be found in the News section on the main landing page of the ADS website.  I am currently working on an alternate time to schedule these presentations.  Stay tuned for a new time / date.
Library News

SCIENCE FAIR: Science Fair has begun for all 3rd-5th grade students (and 6th graders who decide to participate)!  Students have all learned about the rules and deadlines and have started their science journals.  They all have a sheet for parents to read and to sign---ask them about it!

What is Science Fair?  It is an experiment or exhibit that students choose, design, research, and present to a judge here at ADS.  This will be the 8th year ADS has participated.  Most of the project will be done at home, with some classroom time and all library time from now until January focused on supporting their projects through research and mini-lessons.

You should be checking this weekly column as well as the Science Fair webpage ( for updates and due dates.  There will be parent information sessions in the library on Thursday October 4th from 7:30-8:00 am and 3:15-3:45 pm.  The presentation will also be posted on the Science Fair website if you can't come in person. 

TTBF:  The Texas Teen Book Festival is on October 6th at St. Edward's University.  It is truly an amazing addition to the Texas Book Festival weekend and I highly encourage you to take your middle grade and YA readers to this event.  The keynote speaker this year is Nic Stone!  Here are some highlights: Marissa Meyer, Mary E. Pearson, Neal Shusterman, David Levithan, Ngozi Ukazu, and Patrick Ness.
A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee


I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Angela Adams, middle school Science teacher and advisor to the Foxy Flamingos in the Mesquite treehouse. This is Angela’s first year at ADS.  Angela’s children go to ADS this year as well. Her son Wyatt is one of Sabrina & Ruthie’s Cotton Candy Cows and her daughter Machaela is an eighth grader.

Describe your favorite vacation. Walt Disney World in Florida

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? Don’t give up your power to someone else to make them happy.

What brings you the most joy? My family

What is your favorite meal or the best meal you have ever had? I love pasta!

What do you do to take care of yourself? Talk with my family

Tell us about your favorite pet or animal.  I love pug dogs!

What are you reading now? Nora Roberts' Year One

What is your secret talent that no one knows about? I love singing.

What is your favorite family tradition or ritual?  On Christmas Eve I get my kids one gift to open and it’s always new pajamas. Then we have them for Christmas morning.

What is your favorite podcast?  I don’t listen to podcasts.

Social/Emotional Program Mindfulness, by Kelly McRee


I was reading an article in the New York Times about yelling as a parenting strategy and the article was talking about the huge increase in parents not spanking their children but maybe using yelling as a replacement strategy. I absolutely know I have been guilty over the years and feel shame when I resort to this strategy. I absolutely agree that yelling shows our children a parent who is disregulated and not in control.  Our children need us in our most regulated state and using connection strategies that really work! Yelling will never change behavior but will erode the relationship between you and your child. Dr. Laura Markham is a great resource to help you on a path of changing this dynamic.  We are all human - here are some strategies from her website.

The Ten Step Plan to Stop Yelling as a Parenting Strategy

When we're angry at our children, most of us burst out with comments we would never say if we were calm.  Later, we're remorseful. We apologize. But if we keep doing it, kids react to our yelling by putting another brick in the wall between us, and dismantling that wall isn't easy.  

Or, we justify having yelled: "There's just no other way to get through to that kid." (That reinforces the wall.)

Wouldn't it be amazing to simply stop yelling, even when you're angry? It's completely possible. No matter how much you yell, no matter how your child acts.

Hard work?  The hardest there is. But the results are priceless. You and your child will be much closer, which means he'll want to behave better.  And watching you manage your emotions will help him learn to regulate his own emotions better.

The key is supporting yourself so you're less likely to lose it. Here's your ten point plan.

1. Take a public vow of Yellibacy.  Make a sticker reward chart for "Respectful Voice" and put it on the fridge. Your child decides whether you get a sticker each day.  Obviously, yelling is not a respectful voice. Notice you can still guide your child -- just respectfully.

Are you against sticker charts?  Me too, for kids, because they often teach the wrong lessons. But I'm not worried about teaching the parent the wrong lesson. :-) You're embarking on a tough mission. You need an accountability partner, and who better than your child?

2. Make sure you aren't running on empty. You can't act much nicer than you feel. If you're running on empty, how can you regulate your emotions? How can you be emotionally generous to your child? Find sustainable ways to keep your nature sunny, so you can give your child the best of yourself.  That keeps you ready to rise to the occasion when your child pushes your buttons. (Besides, you deserve to feel sunny, too! Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.)

3. Set limits with your child before things get out of control while you can still be empathic and keep your sense of humor. Notice that by the time you're losing it, not yelling is only possible if you bite your tongue so hard you give yourself a piercing.  You’re only human, so of course you’ll yell once you get pushed over the edge. It’s your responsibility to stay away from the edge!

4. Remember that children will act like children.  That’s their job. How will they know where the limits are unless they test them? How will they let you know they need your help with their tangled-up feelings if they don't "act out" those feelings they can't express in words?  Your job is to set the limits with empathy and kindness, and stay connected while they express their upsets, so they WANT to follow your lead and internalize your limits.

5. Stop yelling and start connecting.  You're yelling because you want to change your child's behavior, right?  That's not actually the best way to change her behavior long-term. Instead, try empathy. You can still set limits as necessary.  But take the time to see things from your child's point of view. Empathize with her, and help her meet whatever needs she was trying to meet in a better way, whether that's:

  • Mastery: "You're screaming because you wanted to do it yourself? Here, let's pull over the chair for you to climb up, and you can do it yourself."

  • Connection: "I hear that whiny voice...this is a tired time of day, isn't it? Come, let's put you in the carrier so you can watch over my shoulder while I make dinner and stay very close."

If you address the need or emotion behind the behavior, you change the behavior. Without raising your voice.

6. Teach emotional regulation.  Kids learn emotional regulation from our staying calm and empathic in the face of their upsets. When we say "You are so mad! Tell me in words! No hitting..." to our toddler, he learns that being angry is ok, there's even a word for it, and you as the parent understand how he feels. That helps him control his impulse to hit. If, instead, we tell him that he's a bad boy, he may try to squelch his anger, but that only works temporarily, so his anger will burst out uncontrolled at another time.  

7. Play instead.  Kids respond to the "tone" of our energy. When we have an edge in our voice, they feel frightened, and move into "fight or flight" which means they start raising their own voices, arguing, or melting down. If, instead, you can respond to minor infractions with a sense of humor and playfulness, kids tend to relax and cooperate. So instead of "I told you to go take your bath right now!"  try "I am the robot of the bath...I have come to carry you off to the bathroom" with a mechanical voice and lumbering gait that gets your child squealing with laughter and running ahead of you toward the bath.

8. Notice what triggers you.  When we yell, it's because we're triggered. The best way to avoid getting triggered is to talk about your own childhood with someone you trust. How did your parents handle it when you got angry or upset?  Did you get yelled at? How did it make you feel? Surface those feelings and breathe your way through them and let them go. You're deactivating your triggers.

9. When you find yourself yelling, or in the middle of losing your temper,  just Stop. Even if you're in the middle of a sentence. As soon as you notice your voice is raised, shut your mouth. Walk away. Breathe. You're not losing face. You're modeling responsible anger management.

10. Teach only love.  If you're angry, don't try to teach your child "a lesson." You won't be teaching the lesson you're aiming for. Instead, just stop.  Breathe. Say a little mantra, like "Kids need love most when they deserve it least."  Wait until you're calm. You'll intervene so much more effectively then.

If you're still yelling, why not take a vow of yellibacy?  Try it for a week. Give yourself whatever support you need to be successful. I'm betting you'll see a wonderful change in your family, one that will keep you going long after your experiment ends. In a year, you won't remember the last time you yelled.  Miraculous? Yes. But this is something you can do. Which doesn't make it less of a miracle.