Austin Discovery School

Austin Family Reader's Poll Favorite 2018
"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, November 1, 2018

Thursday, November 1, 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...
  • I love ADS! - Hudson
  • I appreciate Henry for being a good friend in Stancy’s classroom - Hudson
  • Josy, for all you do for everyone!
  • Ellen, for helping supporting all of our staff and students!  We love you!  - Holly
  • Shimmering Shark parents, for bountiful snacks yesterday!  THANKS! - ADS staff
From Kelly Moses, 3-8 art teacher
In art class, we love trash! In fact, we are currently in a shortage of trash!

Do you have any of these items in your home?
-plastic containers (like food containers)
-anything you think could be used to make art?

Bring them to me in Cottonwood, room 607- I'd love to have them! 
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'

Are you a CPA?

Would you be willing to help the ADS PTO with a project?  If so, please contact  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 the Front Office 

CONGRATULATIONS TO US ALL!  Huge kudos to everyone in our community who helped ADS win the Gardens for Good grant from Nature's Path, especially Thora Gray, who spearheaded the grant application effort for our community.  We won!  
Read all about it here.

Please remember that our school is not the place for candy.  Please support our nutritional guidelines, out students' health and learning experience, and our staff by making sure your children leave candy at home.

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!  

Our Chance to Impact Austin Parks and Recreation Walter E Long Park Development

Walter E Long Metropolitan Park Master Plan Survey 

Take a survey concerning possible enhancements to Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park, which is very near ADS on Decker Lane and includes 3,695 acres of parkland and the 1,165 acre Lake Walter E. Long.  The park also includes approximately 765 acres of preserved habitats and the Travis County Expo Center grounds.   Some of the existing facilities in the park include hike and bike trails, picnic areas, volleyball courts, boat ramps, and fishing piers. A skeet shooting range and model airplane area are also operated by organizations within the park.  

The Master Plan will help determine the long-range vision for the entirety of the park, including areas currently used by other organizations. Potential improvements in the park could include elements such as enhanced trails, additional water-related recreation, fitness opportunities, camping, special event venues, and educational and cultural exhibits.

If you're interested in learning more about the project, you can see the maps and project goals and timeline here.

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!

Changes to the intersection of FM 969 & 183 impact most all of our community.  Recent construction and improvements are starting to make a difference!  Customer feedback has been considered! Click here to read more about what is planned for that intersection and to see arial pictures of it.

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!

From Ms. Elizabeth, your Librarian

Library News Fall Into the Arts
  • Roger Peet from The Center for Biological Diversity in Portland, OR will be here next week starting to create a mural for the Admin/Library building south wall near the beautiful bridge and landscaping that Melissa Bailey is creating.  Check out his work at The mural unveiling will be on Wednesday 11/14 at about 1pm.  Stay tuned to next week's Hoot News for more precise information and plan to attend!
  • Each morning of Fall Into the Arts there will be a public musical concert from 8-8:20 at the stage.  Please make sure your student is on time!  Monday 11/12 will be the kinder performance, Tuesday 11/3 will be the 1st/2nd grade performance, Wednesday 11/14 will be the 3rd/4th grade performance, Thursday 11/15 will be the 5th grade performance, and Friday 11/16 will be the middle school guitar performance.
  • There are quite a few guest artists coming in throughout the week to different classes and grades to present and lead workshops!  
  • Theatre performances and outside art will be taking place throughout the week.
  • We are hoping to have a concert or two,,but are still in the planning stages of that.  If you are interested in playing, please contact John Slavin at or Elizabeth Switek at
Help Austin Discovery School’s Families in Need!

Non-Perishable Food Needed
Please help us support our school community by bringing canned
and non-perishable Thanksgiving food items.
Where: Drop off your food items in

Building 1 or send with your child for a
classroom collection.
When: Monday Nov 12th-Thursday Nov 15th
Items needed: Canned vegetables and fruits, instant
potatoes, stuffing, cake mixes/desserts, rice/noodles,
sugar, flour, pie crust, broth, jello, mac and cheese
Please, no frozen items, perishables or expired items.
Monetary donations are also needed!

Thank you!!!

A Little Owl Told Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Kelly Moses, our amazing Upper Elementary Art teacher.  This is Kelly’s first year at ADS.

Describe your favorite vacation. Roadtripping anywhere!

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? Anything worth doing in life will be challenging.

What brings you the most joy? Spending time with my family, my fiancee, and my dog.

What is your favorite meal or the best meal you have ever had? Anything cooked at home!

What do you do to take care of yourself? My go-to is listening to music in my backyard or going somewhere with my dog.

Tell us about your favorite pet or animal. I have a black lab and she is so smart and loving!

What are you reading now? I haven’t had a lot of time to read anything for myself, but I really love Dave Eggers.

What is your secret talent that no one knows about? I am psychic.

What is your favorite family tradition or ritual?  Every time we go on a trip, we do the “peaks” and “pits” of the trip.

What is your favorite podcast? KEXP

Social/Emotional Program Mindfulness, by Kelly McRee

Dear Beloved Parents,

I took some time to become a mindful educator through  I have gone into various classrooms over the last few years. This year, I am going into Tad and Justine’s Kind Komodo Dragons classroom once a week and possibly a kindergarten classroom and a fifth grade classroom.  They are learning how to be mindful and to use these strategies to calm, focus, and have peace/space. They have learned how to use their mindful bodies to listen to the last sounds of a chime, how to use a soup bowl to practice breathing, and to find their anchor spot so they can focus on their breath.

I am realizing as an educator and a parent how important these strategies are to helping our children.  In talking with a parent I realized what a need this could be in our ADS parent community. I have the discussion guide to the book by Kristin Race, Ph.D. and author of Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today’s Hectic World.

Please let me know if you are interested in a parent workshop on Mindful Parenting and in reading this book.  Send me times that you could be available for meeting for a book club or if you would just like a one evening or couple hour workshop.  You can contact me  

This article is provided by the Gottman Institute:  Mindful Parenting: How to Respond instead of React

What does your stress look like?

Our bodies and brains are wired to react to high stress situations as a safety net. If our brain perceives a threat, it signals the amygdala, the body’s “alarm” system, which tells our body to act without thinking. The amygdala responds to situations with the fight, flight, or freeze response. This is to protect us, but our stress receptors cannot distinguish between real dangers or false dangers. In everyday parenting, our stress response often gets triggered unnecessarily by events that are not actually life threatening. Our bodies are reacting to our kid spilling cereal all over the floor in the same way we would react if we were being chased by a bear.

Depending on your childhood experiences and memories, your stress response may be triggered more easily than another person. When our stress receptors are triggered, we have difficulty thinking clearly and being attentive to people around us. We are unable to be thoughtful in our responses, and have trouble staying focused, and our ability to solve problems is diminished.

Dr. Dan Siegel, a clinical psychologist who studies the brain, explains that during stressful parenting moments we may “lose control” or “flip our lid” and let our emotions control our reactions. When we “fly off the handle,” it happens so quickly and we aren’t thinking about how our children are perceiving us. Our reactions can be very scary to kids. Also, we are modeling that this is how grown ups react to stress. If we choose to be more mindful by pausing before responding, we can teach kids that they, too, can pause and choose to respond instead of react.

What does mindfulness mean in parenting?

Managing our own emotions and behaviors is the key to teaching kids how to manage theirs. It is the reason airlines tell us to put our oxygen masks on before you can put on your child’s mask. You need to be regulated before you can model regulation for your child. Unfortunately, when you’re stressed out, exhausted, and overwhelmed, you can’t be available for your child.

Mindful parenting does not mean being a “perfect parent” and is not something you can fail at. It is not easy and it takes practice, but like many aspects of parenting, some days are good and some are bad and you can always try again. You may forget to be mindful, but the second you realize you are distracted, it is an opportunity to make a different choice – the choice to be present.

Mindful parenting means that you bring your conscious attention to what’s happening, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions. Mindfulness is about letting go of guilt and shame about the past and focusing on right now. It’s about accepting whatever is going on, rather than trying to change it or ignore it.

Being a mindful parent means that you pay attention to what you’re feeling. It does not mean that you will not get angry or upset. Of course you will feel negative emotions, but acting on them mindlessly is what compromises our parenting.

Benefits of mindful parenting
  • You become more aware of your feelings and thoughts

  • You become more aware and responsive of your child’s needs, thoughts, and feelings

  • You become better at regulating your emotions

  • You become less critical of yourself and your child

  • You become better at standing back from situations and avoiding impulsive reactions

  • Your relationship with your child will improve

How to practice mindful parenting

Think about a situation where you got upset or angry at your child – one where you reacted automatically because that is what most of us do when difficult thoughts, feelings, or judgments arise. In stressful situations when our emotions are easily triggered, it’s hard to be the best version of ourselves. You can expect that your child will find those triggers.

In order to make the choice to change your behaviors, you first have to become familiar with your “hot spots” and emotional triggers. Hot spots are certain times of our days when we are more vulnerable and less emotionally available. We may be feeling stressed, tired, overwhelmed or helpless, or we feel preoccupied with work or marriage.

Emotional triggers are feelings or judgments from your own childhood which may arise when your child does a specific action:

  • Your child behaves in a way that clashes with your beliefs. Example: Your kid throwing food in a restaurant or grabbing all the toys in a store, which makes you feel embarrassed or shameful.

  • Your child’s behavior may evoke a childhood memory and response. Example: Your child not being on the academic level you think they should be and you feeling like you failed as a parent because when you got a bad grade, your parents said it wasn’t good enough.

  • Your child’s behavior may evoke a traumatic state or event. Example: If you broke your arm climbing a jungle gym as a kid and you are scared every time your kid goes to the playground.

  • Your child’s behavior activates the lens of fears and desires. Example: if one of my kids wakes up the other kid during the night, no one is sleeping and everyone is crying and I fear I have no adult time and I’ve completely lost the old me now that I’m a parent.

In order to feel a sense of control over your emotions, you first have to be able to recognize and anticipate what types of situations are likely to trigger hot spots and emotional responses in you.

Kristin Race, Ph.D. and author of Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today’s Hectic World states that there are key factors to mindful parents.

Three key factors to mindful parenting

1. Notice your own feelings when you’re in conflict with your child

Think about your most recent argument or a frustrating situation with your child. What feelings are triggered? Are you angry, ashamed, embarrassed? Try to experience your emotion or trigger as a wave – coming and going. Try not to block or stop the emotion. Don’t push it away. Don’t judge or reject it. Don’t try to keep the emotion around. Don’t cling to it. Don’t make it bigger than it already is. You are not your emotion and you don’t have to act on the emotion. Just be there, fully mindful of it. Remind yourself that you don’t need to blame yourself or your child for what happened.

Next, try to see the conflict through your child’s eyes. If you can’t see goodness in your child during a tantrum or argument, think of a time when you felt connected with your child and responded with kindness. Try to remember that version of your child when you are triggered.

As you go throughout your day, make an effort to notice when you start to feel anxious or annoyed. That may be a signal that you are being triggered. Once you figure out your triggers, you can move to the next step.

2. Learn to pause before responding in anger

The most challenging and most important part of mindfulness is being able to find that calm space in the heat of the moment. We practice finding this space by focusing our attention on our body and breath because emotions show themselves as changes in body or breath. When we slow down and focus on our body and breath, there is a physiological change that decreases our reflexive responses and increases the abilities of our prefrontal cortex.

All of this leads to a calmer mind where you can find the space to sit with the emotion. When we are able to pause, we can experience the emotions as sensations in our body without fueling them by focusing on the trigger. In that space, we can remind ourselves to breathe and bring our thoughts back to the present moment, and then choose to respond how we want to and not react because we are out of control.

3. Listen carefully to a child’s viewpoint even when disagreeing with it

Your child is going to act like a child! This means they won’t always be able to manage their feelings. Kids are still learning how to regulate (actually, so are most adults) and have different priorities than you do. Their behavior will push your button at times, and that is okay.

The problem is when adults begin acting like kids, too. If, instead, we can stay mindful – meaning we notice our emotions and let them pass without acting on them – we model emotional regulation, and our children learn from watching us.

Learning to pause before responding takes practice and our ability to control our emotions changes depending on what’s going on each day. That is why self-care is so important. We can’t pour out all of ourselves every day and never take the time to fill back up. Many parents feel guilty for taking care of their own needs. That is not selfish – it’s necessary. Make yourself a priority, because the better you feel, the better you will be able to manage the frustrations that arise.

It is important to learn how to help yourself and how to meet your emotional needs. Examples of self-care can range from things like taking a time-out by hiding in the bathroom when you can’t handle your kids (which I did last night), taking a few minutes of deep breathing, or putting the television so you and your kid get a break to writing in a journal, taking a shower, going for a walk, or talking to your partner or a friend.

And, sometimes, we can’t catch ourselves in time and we do react in ways we regret. In those moments, we can apologize to our kids after we yell at them because we are still learning and parents make mistakes, too.