Austin Discovery School

Austin Family Reader's Poll Favorite 2018
"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thursday, October 4, 2018



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

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

Dates to Remember

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
We are rolling out our more secure WiFi network. We have finally replaced the older SSID we had for several years with new and improved access. The community SSID is: 

Name: ADSGuest
Password: ADS2018!
From the SEL team
Dear beloved families, please donate to our food pantry in Restore!  We are desperate for snacks for students who are needing a little extra food.  We love popcorn, granola bars, fruit, cheese sticks, peanut butter pretzels, and any other food donations you are willing to share. Thanks so much for your support and help!
From the Front Office 
The Sneaky Cheetah, Flossing Ferret, and LaLa Lizard classrooms all have a few cases of lice.  Beware and be vigilant!  The only way to get rid of lice is to physically remove each and every adult and nit.  No product will do it for you.

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!  
Our fall conference time is here!  Our conference window opens on October 8th and will continue until Thanksgiving break.  Your student's teacher will contact you to schedule a time for your conference.  During the conference, teachers will review beginning-of-year assessment data and provide you with important information about your student's goals and progress.  Please plan to attend!
Library News
The Texas Teen Book Festival is on Saturday at St. Edward's University.

The Essentials team is busily organizing our annual Fall Into the Arts celebration for November 12-16.  If you are involved in the arts field in any way (artist, musician, architect, designer, creator, etc.) and would be interested in speaking to a class or group of classes that week about your craft, please reach out to Elizabeth at
From ADS Aftercare
Register now for the Day Camp on October 8 (professional development day for staff - no school for students!).  Camp is from 7:30 am - 6 pm.  

The cost is $50/day.  Families with 2 or more kids get a 10% discount. The registration link is 
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 Tuesday, Oct 9 and continue after school every day.  Buy your tickets early for a discount!

The PTO is collecting used small and medium sized toys to be given out as prizes at Fall Fest. With the rainy weather and the change in seasons, it’s the perfect time to declutter. Please consider donating your like-new, clean and useable unwanted toys to Fall Fest! Items can be dropped off in the front office in the big red bucket by dismissal on Tuesday, Oct 9. Thank you!
From Leigh Moss, Head of School
Thanks so much to all of you who reached out in response to my message to our community last week! We are all in this together, and together we can make it.  Here's how all of you can help:

1. Recruit new students to our school! 
2. Participate in our annual giving campaign.
 Find out more by taking the Coin Up tour.
3. Find out if your employer will match your volunteer hours or donation.
4. Ensure that your children are on time and present at school as much as possible.  

Coin Up

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 is 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.

A little owl told me….by Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Sherin Burns, one of our amazing first/second grade teachers in the Cypress Treehouse.  Sherin is co-teaching with Julie Miller. She teaches ELA and Social Studies.

Describe your favorite vacation. A backpacking trip through Europe...especially Prague.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? You can only control what you do and how you feel; you can’t control anyone else.

What brings you the most joy? My children, husband, and animals.

What is your favorite meal or the best meal you have ever had? I love food in general, so this is a hard one for me.  Food from all over the world intrigues me.

What do you do to take care of yourself?  I lift weights.

Tell us about your favorite pet or animal. I rescue, so there are many that stand out.  My dogs Emma, Axel, Kiddo, and Bianca come to mind immediately.

What are you reading now? Recently, I’m reading Conscious Discipline and am learning so much.  Two books that have really touched me are The Woman at Ottawi Crossing, which parallels a woman’s cancer journey with the development of the atomic bomb, and Jane Eyre, which spoke to my feminist sensibilities and love for literary theory.

What is your secret talent that no one knows about? My secret talent really developed after I lost my 18-year-old daughter to a car accident in 2015...pretending that I’m ok.

What is your favorite family tradition or ritual?’s part of my German heritage where the children scrub their shoes the night before December 5th to show Santa’s brother, Niklaus, that they are hard workers.

What is your favorite podcast?  Group Therapy


Social/Emotional Program Mindfulness, by Kelly McRee


Dear Beloved Parents,

Just a reminder about how much you are doing right each and every day! Parenting is hard, so please remember that self care is essential to be able to be at your best each and every day!  I see you around campus and y’all are doing a great job!!

With love, Kelly

The Five Most Important Things We Know About Raising Great Kids! By Dr. Laura Markham

All of us want to raise children who become self-disciplined -- and happy -- adults. The only question is how best to do that. Luckily, we know a lot of the answers. Research studies have been following children from babyhood to adulthood for decades, so we actually know much of what works to raise great kids.

Here are five of the most important things we know.

1. Children need a secure attachment with at least one loving adult.

Parents facilitate this secure attachment in the first year by listening to their unique baby and responding to her needs. They continue to nurture secure attachment by accepting the full range of who their child is -- including all that messy neediness and anger -- into the toddler years and throughout childhood and the teen years. Parents who are unable to tolerate their child's neediness, or who control (rather than accepting the child as he is), are intrusive (rather than taking the child's cues), or otherwise react out of their own needs rather than responding to their child's needs are less likely to raise a securely attached child.

This close relationship is what motivates kids to cooperate and to accept their parents' rules and role-modeling. Without that bond, parents lose their influence as soon as children begin interacting with peers, because kids are looking to satisfy those unrequited needs via their peers.

Do you have to "attachment parent" to raise a securely attached child? No. Estimates are that before parents in the US began using what we think of as attachment practices (baby-wearing, co-sleeping, nursing), about 60% of toddlers were still securely attached. It's the parent's emotional responsiveness that determines security of attachment. Of course, many parents say that attachment practices increase their responsiveness, which the research is beginning to confirm, at least for baby-wearing.

2. Children learn self-discipline from limits with empathy.

Kids who are raised without limits don't get many opportunities to practice self-discipline, so they don't necessarily learn to be considerate of others or to manage themselves through unpleasant tasks -- which is why permissive parenting can raise undisciplined kids.

BUT -- and this is a big BUT -- if the limits are imposed in a way that provokes resistance ("Don't you sass me, young lady!"), the child still doesn't learn self discipline, because he doesn't internally accept the limit. So when a limit is perceived as harsh or unfair, kids don't actually learn self-discipline, which is why authoritarian parenting raises kids who ultimately can't manage themselves without outside discipline (and are more susceptible to peer pressure). All punishment undermines self-discipline. (Did you really think he was sitting on the naughty step taking responsibility and considering how to be a better kid? He was reviewing why he was justified in his behavior and plotting revenge, like any normal human!) (For more on the drawbacks of strict parenting.)

When limits are imposed with empathy:

"I see you're mad! Shoes are not for throwing, no matter how mad you are...Tell me in words!" may not like the limit, but they don't get stuck in resistance. They feel understood, supported, connected. That connection makes them willing to live with the limit, especially if parents also accept their upset about the limit. She builds more self-discipline every time she stops herself from going after what she wants because there's something she wants even more -- a good relationship with you. What's more, she learns that she can't always get her way, but she gets something better: someone who loves her exactly as she is. This unconditional positive regard becomes the core of unshakable positive self esteem and stable internal happiness.

3. The skill of self-soothing is essential for children to learn to manage their anxiety, emotions and behavior. Children learn to self-soothe by being soothed by parents.

That's because the neural pathways that release soothing biochemicals are formed when the baby is soothed by the parent. Leaving little ones alone with their big emotions does NOT teach them to self-soothe; it makes it harder for them to calm themselves throughout their lives. Children who are explosive, anxious, or "dramatic" need extra support in the form of parental calming (as well as safe opportunities to show us their emotions, see #4 below).

4. Children can only manage their behavior when they can manage their emotions, and they learn to manage their emotions by having parents who emotion-coach.

Emotion-coaching means the parent notices the child's emotions and sees them as an opportunity for intimacy or teaching. The parent acknowledges the child's perspective and empathizes. Once the child has had a chance to express the emotion, the parent might support the child to problem-solve.

Why is emotion-coaching so important? Because the parent helps the child feel safe enough to feel the emotions, so they can be experienced and begin to dissipate. The child learns that emotions aren't dangerous and can be managed.

Kids who are uncooperative, angry or fearful are signaling that they need us to "witness" their feelings by letting them be upset in our loving presence. Children who know their feelings are "allowed" don't store them up, so they're better able to manage their emotions and behavior.

So if you're connecting with your child, and setting limits with plenty of empathy, and your child is still acting out, she's signaling you that she needs help with her emotions.

5. Children learn what they live.

This is simple. If we're considerate and respectful to them, they become respectful, considerate people. Kids who are rude and disrespectful learned it somewhere; if they bring it into the house and we politely remind them that we don't relate that way, they don't adopt that style. If we yell at them, they learn to yell, and they'll be yelling back at us by the time they're eight. Ultimately, what your children experience as they grow up with you will depend on who you are, and that will be more important than any parenting philosophy.

Easy? No. This kind of parenting requires you to manage your own emotions. That's the hardest work there is.

But giving your kids a good start in life means you're sending ripples for generations into the future. Not just your children, but their children, and their children, and their children. Imagine all those happy, compassionate, self-disciplined people, all flourishing and making the world a better place, because of you. They're all waving to you from the future, saying Thank You.

Dear Austin Discovery School Community,

Austin Discovery School (ADS) is a unique educational institution, and for the past thirteen years it has served students and their families by providing trend-setting teaching strategies that focus on project-based experiences, outdoor education, and social-emotional learning. ADS is a publicly-funded charter school, meaning that the State of Texas provides primary funding for the school, and we operate within the framework defined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Texas public schools are guided by a Board of Directors responsible for providing strategic direction and oversight of the school, including fiscal and legal responsibilities. The ADS Board is comprised of a mix of parents and community leaders that work regularly with the administration managing the school, a task which is often challenging.

As you’ve heard from Leigh Moss, our Head of School, this year has presented us with major challenges. Funding from the TEA is directly connected to our school’s enrollment. For each student attending ADS, the State provides on average around $8000/year/student. That number varies depending on attendance and any special needs that may exist. This year almost 10% of the students who intended to come to ADS ultimately did not enroll with us, creating a significant budget shortfall. Our waiting list of additional students was not enough to fill this gap, so we were forced to adjust the budget to cover the school’s operating expenses. Regrettably, that has included consolidating some of our under-enrolled classes and releasing teachers. As a Board, one of our fundamental responsibilities is maintaining a viable budget for the school.

We wanted to reach out directly to the ADS community and communicate our shared concern and desire for the continued success of ADS. One of the most appreciated traits of ADS is the close-knit community that binds the whole school. The power of our teachers, staff, students, and families shows in the number of awards and grants ADS has received—these are overwhelming triumphs that are part of the ADS experience. Positive engagement from the entire ADS community will have a fantastic effect. We are sending this letter because now, more than ever, we need to pull together to make the school succeed and flourish. Help us spread the word about ADS to increase our enrollment. Pitch in any way you can to improve the school, whether it’s financially or with your time. Participate in the PTO. Come to a Board meeting. Share your thoughts, ideas, and talents. Get involved. Every little bit makes a difference, and we will emerge from this a stronger community. Thank you all for your caring support, and we welcome your feedback.

ADS Board of Directors

Marcus Gary, Chair
Angela Wolf, Vice-chair
Elizabeth O’Connor, Secretary
Matt Avalos, Treasurer
Yesenia Rodriguez
Steven Ogle
Samantha MacCallon