Austin Discovery School

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"The Hoot" :: Weekly Newsletter » Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Thursday, November 8th, 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 10  PTO Movie Night
Nov 13  PTO 2nd Helping Tuesday @ MOD Pizza

Nov 16  Progress reports sent home
Nov 19-23  Thanksgiving Break
ADS' compost system relies on the fallen leaves of trees, and we are running low!  Please consider donating your leaves this fall to our school!  Leaves should be brought in compostable or recylable paper bags, and left in front of the EcoWellness classrooms in the gardens. There is no way that you could bring too many.  If you have a thousand, we will take a thousand.  If you have a million, we will take a million. Thank you in advance! For more compost information, contact Tim Ornes at
I am so excited to announce that I will be leading a Mindfulness for Parenting Workshop on Dec 11th, 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the ADS Library.  Please send me a text or an email if you would like to join.  There is no charge for this workshop!  

All the best,
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 ADS PTO

ADS PTO is throwing a FREE movie night on the ADS Campus this weekend.  5-8pm on Saturday, Nov 10.  Come early from 5-6pm for a free arts & crafts activity!  We will also have ADS merch for sale as well as a button making station ($1) and tie-dye ADS T-shirts ($20).

Concessions will be available for sale including hot dogs (veggie & regular), popcorn, fresh baked goods, HOT Fresh Chocolate Chip Cookies, hot cocoa, coffee, etc.

BRING A BIG BOWL for Family Style Fresh Popcorn ($1/scoop).  Bring your own cup for cocoa/coffee to help us reduce waste.

Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving will be shown as a pre-show starting at 5:45pm and Wall-E will start around 6:15pm.

Bring a blanket or chairs and come join us for a night of fun, community and a great movie!  

**We are still looking for a few parent volunteers to help if you can from 5-6pm!  Email  Thank you!

Second Helping Tuesday - Nov 13 
MOD Pizza - Mueller Location
All Day
Come out and support ADS by mentioning us when you eat!  MOD Pizza will donate a portion of your meal cost back to ADS.


Are you a CPA? Would you be willing to help the ADS PTO with a project?  If so, please contact  Thank you!

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!!!
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: kindergarten
Tuesday 11/13: 1st & 2nd grades
Wednesday 11/14: 3rd & 4th grades
Thursday 11/15: 5th grade
Friday 11/16: Middle School guitar class
Have you noticed our new Salamander Mural?

Roger Peet from The Center for Biological Diversity in Portland, OR is creating a mural for our campus!  Check out his work by the front door of the main office and at and feel free to stop by any day to watch the painting in action!

The mural unveiling will be on Wednesday, 11/14 at 12:30 pm.  This spectacular event will include many scientists speaking about the Austin Blind and Jollyville Plateau salamanders and will include local press, including the City of Austin channel documenting it for their promotional and educational materials.  Please plan to attend!  

The speakers at the mural unveiling are coming from TX Parks & Wildlife Division, US Fish & Wildlife Service, The Center for Biological Diversity, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, and the Austin Watershed Department. Read the Press Release!

Kindergarten - 2nd grade students will be able to participate in many hands-on science activities from 11:30-12:30 before the unveiling.  These will be led by local scientists but we need some extra helping hands at each table.  Please go to to volunteer.  

Here's a video from the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
From Leigh Moss, Head of School

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.

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 Science Fair Updates
  • By the time your student comes back from the Thanksgiving Break they should be done writing their project question, and if doing an experiment their hypothesis and detailed procedures.  When writing their procedures I tell them I ought to be able to hand their procedures to anyone on campus and they should be able to do their experiment without any questions.
  • Many of their teachers have set a due date for these items, look for correspondence and your child's science notebook to come home before break
  • If your child is doing an experiment, the Thanksgiving Break is a GREAT time to get it started, or even to complete it!

A Little Owl Told Kelly McRee

I had the pleasure this week of interviewing Amanda Siepiola, one of our amazing 5th grade teachers teaching ELA and Social Studies.  She co-teaches with Tori Keller in the Cottonwood treehouse. This is Amanda’s first year at ADS.

Describe your favorite vacation. My first trip to the Yucatan included everything I love--learning new things, experiencing another culture, history, the beach, pools, and reading. This wasn’t necessarily a vacation, but I spent 6 months in Helsinki, Finland while conducting education research, and that was a trip of a lifetime. 

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?  My dad always says, “Enjoy the journey.”

What brings you the most joy? Lately, I’ve felt the most joy hiking on trails around Austin with my dog, Salmiakki. I love watching her have the time of her life, sprinting and leaping around the trails and through the creek at Turkey Creek Trail and Bull Creek.

What is your favorite meal or the best meal you have ever had? One time I had the privilege of eating at Jose Andres’ restaurant featuring molecular gastronomy creations in Washington, DC called minibar.

What do you do to take care of yourself?  I hike with Salmiakki or head to any body of water to swim, float, and read. Puttering around my house is also a favorite activity when I need ‘me’ time.

Tell us about your favorite pet or animal. Salmiakki, my french bulldog, is my favorite pet. Her name means “salty licorice” in Finnish and she’s got a huge doggy-ality. She’s also super expressive, telling me when she wants to go out, when she needs help getting a toy, or when she needs a walk.

What are you reading now? I’m reading My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard, The Tempest by Shakespeare, The Long Home by Christian Wiman, and the The New Yorker every week. My favorite book of all time is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

What is your secret talent that no one knows about? I don’t have any secret talents, but I could play basketball back in my day and I’m an excellent ice skater, thanks to my childhood spent as a figure skater. Also, I’m currently unstoppable at the game 7 Wonders Duel.

What is your favorite family tradition or ritual? When I head home to upstate New York, I most look forward to sharing a Utica Club with my dad and brother, and playing basketball in our driveway on our childhood hoop.

What is your favorite podcast or what podcast are you currently listening to right now? I’m a regular listener of On Being with Krista Tippett, NPR’s Hidden Brain, and the Liturgists Podcast. I’ve just begin listening to Slow Burn. 

Social/Emotional Program Mindfulness, by Kelly McRee

Dear Beloved Parents,

We teach our students strategies in the classroom and in Restore on how to calm, take a pause, and breathe before deciding what to do next.  This can also transform your parenting! It allows you the chance to make sure that you are responding from your best self to your child.  It's simple, and so, so, powerful. Let’s breathe together as life is busy and non-relenting -  a little pause and space can make all the difference. Here’s to a better weekend and week.

With joy and love,


Are you using this essential parenting tool?  By our friends at

I can't promise that you won't get stressed or overloaded—modern life makes that all too likely. And your child will definitely act childish—that's in her job description. But there IS a tool for those tough moments, that can keep you from doing and saying things that you'll be sorry about later.

This tool is your PAUSE Button. Once you pause, you can make the choice to shift gears. The more you practice, the better you get at it.

Here's how. Sometime this week, you will feel annoyance, irritation, resentment, anger, or even rage in reaction to your child’s behavior. You will feel an urgent need to set your child straight. Unless someone is in physical danger, ignore that urge—that’s a sign that you’re in “fight” mode. Your intervention will be more successful if you calm down first.

So as soon as you notice that you’re getting irritated, turn away from your child and shift into Step 1. (You might want to post these five steps on your refrigerator so you have them handy.)

Step 1: Use your Pause Button: Stop, Drop, and Breathe

Stop. Just stop. Stop everything you’re doing. Close your mouth.

Drop your agenda. Just for now, let it go. Step away from the fight.

Breathe. Take three deep breaths to calm yourself, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you need more breaths, take ten. Becoming conscious of your breath stops your slide down the slippery slope toward losing it and lets you choose how to respond.

Step 2: Choose Love

The hardest part of calming down is choosing to calm down. When we’re in the grip of anger, we want to lash out, not calm down. Make a conscious choice to let the anger go.

Step 3: Change Your Mind

Interrupt the rush of "emergency" neurotransmitters by consciously using a mental antidote—an image or thought (some people call this a mantra)—that will make you feel more calm and emotionally generous. You might try "He's acting like a child because he IS a child" or "He's showing me he needs my help" or "It's not an emergency." (Not the mantra type? You don't have to start “ohmming” in traffic. Just find a thought to interrupt that anxiety loop by reassuring your worried mind.)

Step 4: Calm Your Body

Notice the sensations in your body and breathe into the tight places. Shift those sensations by meeting them with compassion—try hugging yourself. Move your body to release the contraction—shake out your hands, splash water on your face.

Step 5: Once you’re calm

Go back to your child. Initiate a Do-Over. Set whatever limit is necessary or talk about what happened. "I'm sorry I raised my voice. I was pretty frustrated. Here's what I meant to say. I'm worried we'll be late if we don't leave in five minutes. I need you to put your shoes on now. I'll help you. Let's work together."

That's it. Five simple steps that keep you from doing and saying things that you'll be sorry about later. Simple, but not easy, especially in the beginning. But every time you use your Pause button and Choose Love, you're rewiring your brain, so it gets easier. Before you know it, you won't remember the last time you raised your voice. Gradually, your child will learn from your role-modeling.

Simple. Less drama. More love.