Monday, December 16, 2013

Updates from the Principal- Celebrations Included

Dear families and community members,

We'd like to finish this race of 1st semester strong with all of our children here at Spicewood. We appreciate your continuous support as partners in education.


Celebrations from Last Week

Lego Robotics Competition
Spicewood Robotics Club participated in a Lego Robotics Competition on Saturday, December 7. Spicewood had 2 teams and we all had a great time and it was so much fun seeing the team win the 1st place award for Core Values – demonstrating how well and enthusiastically they worked together as a team. A perfect example of PYP values in action! Thanks to parent volunteers, Mr. Ortiz and Mrs. Dielmann along with our students who participated!

Congratulations! We're so proud of you!
Round Rock Library- Art Display
So excited to share that we have ART work on display at the downtown location of the Round Rock Library! Our Kindergartners got inspired by Kandinsky after a lesson from Mrs. Teffer who graciously shared her time and knowledge with us during the October session of Art Volunteers in the Classroom. The exhibition of Kindergarten Kandinsky's will be on display daily through Monday, January, 6, 2014. Address: 216 E Main Ave, Round Rock, TX 78664 Phone:(512) 218-7001





This Week's News


Meet the Faces of Spicewood

Please be sure to take a moment to meet our wonderful staff: Mrs. Mary Ann Corbett (3rd Grade Teacher) & Mrs. Sara Hougham (Counselor)

Mrs. Seiders' Retirement Announcement
Parents and community, Mrs. Seiders has decided to retire at the end of this semester. With that said, her last day at Spicewood will be this Friday, December 20. After multiple attempts by various personnel to convince her to allow us to give her a proper retirement reception, she has been extremely adamant about her wish to not have a reception and our team has agreed to honor her wish. Our doors are open for any parents and community members to stop by her office throughout this week to wish her a happy retirement and show appreciation. There is no doubt that she will continue to be part of Spicewood community even after her retirement. Her commitment and passion she has poured into this school community is truly appreciated and will always be remembered. 

Hope Presbyterian Parking Lot Closure
On December 19th and 20th, Hope Children’s Center will be having their Christmas Programs. The parking lot will be closed for both of these days from 9:00-11:30AM. Parents will be able to access the parking lot after 11:30AM for class parties and dismissal. 

Traffic Around School
Please disregard my last message about not parking on Tin Cup Dr. I was out there with WatchDOGS last week and I plan to stand out there this week to really assess the traffic issue. Many concerns have been brought to my attention; PTA, WatchDOGS and I myself are in continuous discussions to brainstorm ways to make the morning traffic flow better. Please be sure to slow down when you're turning corners and avoid driving past the crossing guards when they're asking you to stop. Tin Cup Dr. is a wide road without a defined middle lane to separate the two sides of the driving lanes. I've seen two almost-head-on-collision accidents just last Friday morning as parents made attempts to drive past around other cars on the wrong side of the street. Please be sure to stay on the right side when you're on Tin cup. 

Student Pick-Up Before Dismissal
We have had several incidents where students were called out of classroom to wait in the front office via parent phone call. Students will not be called out of classroom in advance via phone call to minimize loss of instructional time. Parent(s) must be present in the front office for our office staff to notify students and teacher. 

Read to Succeed- Message from Our Librarian
Would your child like to earn a free ticket to Six Flags? This Friday a reading log will go home in each child's Friday folder. Six Flags has a reading incentive program and they want to encourage kids to Read to Succeed!  To earn a ticket your child will need to read for pleasure a total of six hours (360 minutes). Reading for homework or a class assignment does NOT count. The reading logs can be turned in as soon as six hours has been recorded, but the deadline is Friday, February 14th. The tickets will be passed out in May. Please check with Mrs. Reeb, if you have any questions. 

Art to Remember Update- Message from Art Teachers
Art to Remember products will be delivered either on Tuesday or Wednesday this week- definitely before winter break.

Principals' Pride
We will be celebrating the success of our students as we invite our parents to join us at the Princpals' Pride assemblies.Today we will be celebrating with Kindergarten through 2nd grade students from 8-8:30AM in the cafeteria. On Tuesday, December 17, we will be recognizing 3rd through 5th grade students. We would love to have you with us! 

Class Winter Parties
All class winter parties before the holiday break will occur on Friday, December 20. Please check with your child's teacher for specific plans. 

Report Cards
Parents, you will receive your child(ren)'s second 9-week report card(s) via their Friday folder on January 17. 



MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Monday, December 16
8:00-8:30 AM  Principals' Pride [Kinder-2nd Grades]
Please join us in the cafeteria. 

Tuesday, December 17
8:00-8:30 AM Principals' Pride [3rd-5th Grades]
Please join us in the cafeteria. 

Thursday, December 19- Friday, December 20
9:00-11:30AM  Hope Church Parking Lot Closure

Friday, December 20
Last Day of School before Winter Break
Winter Class Parties

Monday, December 23- Monday, January 6
Winter Break

Tuesday, January 7
Students Return to School

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #23: Sara Hougham

Dear blog readers,

As we wrap up our week, I want you to take just a brief moment to get to know our fabulous counselor, Mrs. Sara Hougham.


Mrs. Hougham was born in Houston, TX and moved to Austin to attend the greatest university ever, UT-Austin. (Hook'em) She fell in love with the city and hopes to never leave! This is her second year at Spicewood. Prior to becoming a Panther family member, she spent 3 years teaching 2nd grade in Pflugerville ISD and 3 years teaching K-5 Gifted and Talented students also in Pflugerville ISD. This is her 3rd year as a school counselor in Round Rock ISD. Mrs. Hougham and her husband share two beautiful dogs- Parker and Riley; one is a golden retriever and the other is a black lab. She grew up in a big family with 3 brothers and 1 sister- 2 engineers and 3 educators (including herself). Her favorite food is chips and salsa. Her favorite color is blue. Her favorite book is Goodnight, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian.

"Our students and staff deeply care about others and work to make the world a little bit better with each kindness!" shared Mrs. Hougham. Her following statement goes out to our students- "You choose your weather and you can always choose sunshine and have a great day!" (I love this!)

Mrs. Hougham is our super hero with a magic cape that brightens our campus. 

We are so very lucky to have Mrs. Hougham as a counselor at Spicewood. She truly deeply cares about our students, staff and families that it shines through her interaction with everyone around her. Her guidance lessons make our students to choose kind over right and to know the difference between a fish problem and a whale problem. :) She has created so many different student groups, which provide opportunities for leadership to our students. Mrs. Hougham is there for students, staff and families that need emotional support. She is simply amazing at what she does! She is such a blessing to all of us.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #22: Mary Ann Corbett

Dear blog audience,

I'm thrilled to introduce to you all, Mrs. Mary Ann Corbett, one of our experienced 3rd grade teachers at Spicewood.


Mrs. Corbett was born in New Jersey and moved to Austin when her husband found a job down here in this awesome city of Austin. Her husband, Mr. Garth Corbett, represents people with disabilities in his profession. They have 2 grown sons together. Interesting and amazing fact about Mrs. Corbett is that she was a lawyer for 11 years prior to find her way to teaching career path. She represented mainly low-income clients and people with disabilities. This is the very reason why you'll never win a debate with her over matters in meetings. :) To find her true passion, she became a teacher in 1999. She taught fifth grade for 7 years in AISD and this is her 8th year here at Spicewood ES. Mrs. Corbett's favorite food is pizza. As she loves reading, she doesn't have one favorite book but she shared that she enjoyed reading the Human Stain by Phillip Roth and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

When asked about her favorite thing about working at Spicewood, "the students, of course!" shared Mrs. Corbett without hesitation. "I really think the IB elevates Spicewood- the learning, the teaching, the collaboration and the community," states Mrs. Corbett. She'd like to tell our students, "treat yourself with love and kindness."

I visited Mrs. Corbett's learning environment yesterday. Students were learning a new math strategy that truly activated their thinking and processing in order to understand the reasoning behind such a strategy. Students were given opportunities to explore, question, share, and advise on each other's thinking process throughout the instruction. Anyone would've been proud of the students in Mrs. Corbett's classroom as they exhibited such enthusiasm over their new learning! Mrs. Corbett did an awesome job of facilitating student discussions and group activities to gauge and assess individual mastery of the concept. You talk about rigor and critical thinking; this is where you'd find it.

Mrs. Corbett meeting the needs of her students at all levels

Reflecting on the strategy the students used

Evidence of student learning
I'm so glad Mrs. Corbett found her way to teaching because her ability to lead our learners into a rich conversation that scaffolds their understanding is simply amazing!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Updates from the Principal

Dear families and community members, 

Last week went by very fast. I can only imagine how fast the next two weeks will fly by. 
We have extremely busy two weeks of school left before everyone goes off on a long winter break. There are quite a few important messages to parents and community that I'm including this week. I always appreciate the time you spend to read my letter! 

Here we go! 


This Week's News


Meet the Faces of Spicewood

Please be sure to take a moment to meet our wonderful staff: Mrs. Janice Vanzura (1st Grade Teacher) & Mrs. Cindy Vechan (Registrar)

Hope Presbyterian Parking Lot Closure
The church will be holding a funeral on Tuesday, December 10 from 2:15-5PM. The parking lot will not be available during dismissal in order to accommodate guests that will be attending the funeral. 

Tin Cup Dr towards Olson Dr in the AM
Parents, this was communicated a couple of months ago and it's a friendly reminder that in the morning during drop-off, no cars should be parked on Tin Cup Dr westbound towards Olson Dr. When a parent parks and leaves the car to walk her/his student, it creates a domino effect of severe traffic. 

Fire-Zone Parking
Parents, we've been gently notified by the fire department regarding parked cars along the side of the Fire-Zone curb side. Please be sure to avoid parking along the fire-zone at all times. 

Clothes Closet Holiday Denim Drive & Class Contest

The Clothes Closet needs your help! We are in constant need of school appropriate (no holes or tears) new or gently used denim jeans in all sizes from children’s size 4 through Adult Large. Please consider picking up some extra jeans while you are out shopping for the holidays! Bring your donations to your classroom between December 2nd & 13th. The class with the most donations will win a Pizza Party in the Spring. The winning class will be announced before the winter break! For more information or to volunteer please contact Liz Green at lgreen69@gmail.com

Science Fair Parent Information Night
There will be a Parent Information Night regarding the upcoming Science Fair this Tuesday at 6:30PM in the library. All 4th and 5th graders MUST enter the science fair with an experiment. K-3rd are highly encouraged to submit individual projects. Order forms for science boards were sent home last Friday via Friday Folders. Electronic copy of the form will become available in the eFolder this Friday as well. Additional information can be found on the PTA website


Love and Logic Parenting Support Meet-Up
Love and Logic is a program many parents utilize and love that helps parents raise responsible kids. There is now a free Love and Logic®-based parenting meet-up group available in and around the Austin community that helps parents
  • Learn about the Love and Logic® curricula
  • Hone their existing parenting skills
  • Practice the parenting tools from Becoming a Love and Logic Parent®
  • Meet other parents in the community interested in parenting
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 11th at 6 pm. More information can be found at www.Meetup.com/Love-and-Logic-Parenting-Community.

Spirit Night Hosted by PTA

Please come out and join us for dinner at Moonies Burger House this Thursday between 5 and 8PM. Our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Reeb will be there part of the night to support the event along with PTA representatives. 


Read to Succeed- Message from Our Librarian
Would your child like to earn a free ticket to Six Flags? This Friday a reading log will go home in each child's Friday folder. Six Flags has a reading incentive program and they want to encourage kids to Read to Succeed!  To earn a ticket your child will need to read for pleasure a total of six hours (360 minutes). Reading for homework or a class assignment does NOT count. The reading logs can be turned in as soon as six hours has been recorded, but the deadline is Friday, February 14th. The tickets will be passed out in May. Please check with Mrs. Reeb, if you have any questions. 


Spicewood Principals' Pride
We will be celebrating the success of our students as we invite our parents to join us at the Princpals' Pride assemblies.On Monday, December 16,  we will be celebrating with Kindergarten through 2nd grade students from 8-8:30AM in the cafeteria. On Tuesday, December 17, we will be recognizing 3rd through 5th grade students. We would love to have you with us! 

Class Winter Parties
All class winter parties before the holiday break will occur on Friday, December 20. Please check with your child's teacher for specific plans. 

Report Cards
Parents, you will receive your child(ren)'s second 9-week report card(s) via their Friday folder on January 17. 



MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Monday, December 2nd - Friday, December 13th
Clothes Closet Holiday Denim Drive & Class Contest

Tuesday, December 10
6:30 PM  Science Fair Parent Info. Night
Please join us in the library for more information. 

Wednesday, December 11
6:00 PM  Love and Logic Parenting Support Meet-Up


Thursday, December 12
5:00-8:00 PM  Spirit Night @ Moonie's Burger House- Hosted by PTA
Please come out and join us for dinner at Moonie's Burger House. Our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Reeb will be there part of the night along with PTA representatives. 

Monday, December 16
8:00-8:30 AM  Principals' Pride [Kinder-2nd Grades]
Please join us in the cafeteria. 

Tuesday, December 17
8:00-8:30 AM Principals' Pride [3rd-5th Grades]
Please join us in the cafeteria. 

Friday, December 20
Last Day of School before Winter Break
Winter Class Parties

Monday, December 23- Monday, January 6
Winter Break

Tuesday, January 7
Students Return to School

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #21: Cindy Vechan

Hey blog readers,

Here comes the second employee of the week that I'd like you to meet- Mrs. Cindy Vechan, our fabulous registrar.

Mrs. Vechan is one of the first few faces you'll encounter when you walk in. 
Mrs. Vechan was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is her 13th year at Spicewood ES, working as the registrar in the front office and 15th year overall! Mrs. Vechan married her husband, Chris Vechan, 35 years ago; they together have 2 sons and a daughter. We all know who her daughter is by now :) - Ms. Lora Vechan who's a 3rd grade teacher at Spicewood. Her oldest son, Eric- a construction project manager, is married to Erin with 3 beautiful daughters. Her second son, Ryan, is in his last year of law school in Houston. Her husband is a geologist and was the reason why the family moved from Midland to Austin in 1990 when he was offered a position at Omni Petroleum.

Amazing fact that I didn't even know about Mrs. Vechan is that she, with a BS in Elementary Education, used to be a 6th grade math and science teacher for 2 years! She decided to stay home to raise her children for awhile then started back to work in 1998 as an aide at Spicewood then became the registrar in 2000.

Her favorite food is desserts. Her favorite color is red. She loves the B is for Betsy series.

Mrs. Vechan shares, "I love being able to enjoy and get to know all of my precious children at Spicewood," since she gets to work at the front office where everyone comes through. She strongly feels that all the friendly families and staff in the Spicewood community are, hands down, the reasons why Spicewood is such a great place to be. She'd like to advise our students to treat others as you would like others to treat you.

Mrs. Vechan is one of the most reliable people that I know, not only with strong work ethic but also with accuracy and thoroughness of performance on all tasks and assignments given to her. I know I can absolutely count on anything she is in charge of. When she brings me things to sign off, I always chuckle and ask her, "so what am I signing my life away for this time?" knowing that I have nothing to worry about because it is Mrs. Vechan that produced whatever would be in my hand. She is such a valuable part of our Spicewood community and I am so very grateful that she is our registrar!




Meet the Faces of Spicewood #20: Janice Vanzura

Dear families and community members,

These last few weeks of school have been extremely busy that I am having to find time on the weekends to keep up with Meet the Faces of Spicewood so I apologize to those who have checked my blog throughout the week to find any updates.

I'd like for you to take some time to get to know one of our fabulous 1st grade teachers, Mrs. Janice Vanzura.


Mrs. Vanzura was born in Burnet, Texas and lived in Lampasas, about 60 miles north of Austin, till she was two years old. Her father passed away unexpectedly in March of 1964 so her mother moved her and her two older brothers to Austin so she could work during the day at the Bell Telephone Company. Interestingly enough, her maiden name is Bell. :)

Even though she wasn't born in Austin, I would have to say she's one of the true Austinites I've ever met. She spent her childhood in South Austin and went to Zilker Elementary School, Porter Jr. High, and Crockett High School! After graduating from Crockett HS, she commuted to what was then known as Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. She lived at home and worked part-time while she went to college at a bank, and then at a daycare to see if working with kids was something she really wanted to do. In between schooling and jobs, she found her one and only and the story goes like this. She and her husband, Lester, grew up within a few miles from each other and she went to Zilker ES with his younger siblings. Although Mrs. Vanzura knew four of his brothers and sisters, she had never met Lester till she was 18 when he returned home from Guam after serving in the Air Force. She claims that it was one of those mushy, "love-at-first-sight" kind of romances and 3 years after they met, they wedded. Ten years later, Reagan came along, who now attends Blinn College in College Station. Three years after that, her second daughter, Blair, was born and she is now a freshman at Round Rock HS. Mr. Vanzura just retired from the Austin Police Department at the end of July after serving as a police officer for 32 years. He loves to play golf and hopes to start volunteering at St. David's Hospital very soon, working with newborns. Until then, he spends part of his morning, bringing tea to Mrs. Vanzura. :)

Okay- back to her career history of how she landed at Spicewood. Before Reagan came along, she took a teaching job in Bastrop and drove from Austin to Bastrop each day, including Saturdays. "I can still remember thinking that first year, that I just couldn't believe I was getting paid to teach! I just loved it so much" shared Mrs. Vanzura. During her first two years of teaching, (and this shows how motivated she is because anyone's first two years of teaching are the craziest and hardiest!) she went to school on Tuesday and Thursday nights and in the summers in order to get her Master's Degree. After teaching in Bastrop for a year, she was offered a position at Langford Elementary School in South Austin. She taught kindergarten there for 12 years until she took a brief break from working to assist family business and to stay home with Reagan. After about a year and a half of staying home, she was asked by the principal that she had worked for at Langford ES to come and work for him at Gullett ES. She had originally planned to work for just a few months from January to May, which later turned into four and a half years! Nine years ago, her family moved into the Spicewood neighborhood and also took a job here as a teacher. Mrs. Vanzura is very grateful that her daughters went to school here at Spicewood. She also loves working in the same neighborhood she lives in because she gets to watch everyone grow up. The first round of students she's taught here at Spicewood will be graduating from high school in 2015.

Mrs. Vanzura loves milk chocolate, hot chocolate, mint chocolate, and chocolate cake, especially from Ann's Kitchen and Cakes. Yes, we can see a pattern here. :) Most of her favorite books are written by Karen Kingsbury. She loves Because of Winn Dixie and the Shack.

Mrs. Vanzura states, "it is so much fun staying in touch with former students and their parents and I truly feel blessed to live in such a loving, caring, community. I guess that's what I love so much about Spicewood - people really care for each other.  When times are tough, people come together and support one another."

If she could offer any advice for the students at Spicewood, she would encourage them to realize the importance of thinking through things before acting and/or talking. She has come to realize that it's a lot more fun to live a life of rejoicing than it is to live a life of regret.

Mrs. Vanzura's 26 years of teaching experiences truly shine and beam through her instruction. As I visited her class this past week, I was able to catch just a glimpse of how great of a teacher she is and what great learning our 1st graders are exposed to on a daily basis. Students were given continuous opportunities to inquire and make connections to prior knowledge in order to build new learning. Mrs. Vanzura has her ways with students in such a loving and caring manner that students respond so willingly.

Students and Mrs. Vanzura in action

Clear evidence of learning all around the classroom

Educated guesses made by students- what do you think you can buy with the amount presented to you?

Students learning about coins- making connections as they go

After she retires from teaching, Mrs. Vanzura hopes to put together a collection of songs she's written, write a few books, hug lots of babies, play with little puppies, write letters to people she loves, and have hot tea and chocolate cake every chance she gets. I sure hope her retirement plan is in the far future; as far as it needs to be!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Updates from the Principal

Dear families and community members, 

Welcome back to school! I hope everyone had a restful and warm Thanksgiving holiday break. The next 3 weeks will be very busy as teachers continue on with valuable instruction and practice of skills learned so far this year, and to close out the second 9-week learning period. It is critical that our students come ready to learn and focus in order to accomplish these things. We very much appreciate the support that parents provide at home. 

We have lots of events coming up so please be sure to read through and mark your calendar! :)


This Week's News

Meet the Faces of Spicewood

Please be sure to take a moment to meet our wonderful staff: Mr. Jerry Ortiz (5th Grade Teacher) & Mrs. Teyan Page (Assistant Principal)

Early Release This Wednesday
Parents, this is a friendly reminder that all students will be dismissed at 12:45PM this Wednesday. Our teachers will be spending the afternoon in training sessions at various locations in the district, engaging in professional development about curriculum and instruction. 

Disabled Parking Spots in the Front
There are 2 disabled parking spots in the front of the school. These parking spots are only for visitors and parents with a handicap parking permit. I understand that it is hectic during drop-off/pick-up and it is easy to pull up our cars for a few minutes; however, I ask that everyone be respectful to those who are in need of the services by not using those two disabled parking spots at all times

Clothes Closet Holiday Denim Drive & Class Contest
The Clothes Closet needs your help! We are in constant need of school appropriate (no holes or tears) new or gently used denim jeans in all sizes from children’s size 4 through Adult Large. Please consider picking up some extra jeans while you are out shopping for the holidays! Bring your donations to your classroom between December 2nd & 13th. The class with the most donations will win a Pizza Party in the Spring. The winning class will be announced before the winter break! For more information or to volunteer please contact Liz Green at lgreen69@gmail.com

Picture Retake Day
We'll have a Picture Retake Day on Wednesday, December 4. Any students that wish to retake their school picture may do so on this day. 

Spirit Night Hosted by PTA
Please come out and join us for dinner at Moonies Burger House. Our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Reeb will be there part of the night to support the event along with PTA representatives. 


Spicewood Principals' Pride
We will be celebrating the success of our students as we invite our parents to join us at the Princpals' Pride assemblies.On Monday, December 16,  we will be celebrating with Kindergarten through 2nd grade students from 8-8:30AM in the cafeteria. On Tuesday, December 17, we will be recognizing 3rd through 5th grade students. We would love to have you with us! 

Class Winter Parties
All class winter parties before the holiday break will occur on Friday, December 20. Please check with your child's teacher for specific plans. 

Report Cards
Parents, you will receive your child(ren)'s second 9-week report card(s) via their Friday folder on January 17. 


MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

Monday, December 2- Friday, December 13
Clothes Closet Holiday Denim Drive & Class Contest
Please bring the donations to the child's classroom. 

Wednesday, December 4
12:45 PM   Early Release
Picture Retake Day
Students will be dismissed at 12:45PM. Please plan accordingly. 

Thursday, December 12
5:00-8:00 PM  Spirit Night @ Moonie's Burger House- Hosted by PTA
Please come out and join us for dinner at Moonie's Burger House. Our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Reeb will be there part of the night along with PTA representatives. 

Monday, December 16
8:00-8:30 AM  Principals' Pride [Kinder-2nd Grades]
Please join us in the cafeteria. 

Tuesday, December 17
8:00-8:30 AM Principals' Pride [3rd-5th Grades]
Please join us in the cafeteria. 

Friday, December 20
Last Day of School before Winter Break
Winter Class Parties

Monday, December 23- Monday, January 6
Winter Break

Tuesday, January 7
Students Return to School

Friday, November 29, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #19: Teyan Page

Dear families and community,

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with the loved ones. I had thoroughly enjoyed my day of cooking and eating with my future in-laws here in Houston. At this time, I would like to introduce our Assistant Principal, Mrs. Teyan Page, to you all this morning. Mrs. Page started this school year with a different last name- Ms. Heard, if you remember.  We all are trying to get used to calling her Mrs. Page at Spicewood these days. :)


Mrs. Page was born in Bryan, TX and was raised in Smithville where most of her extended family members still reside to this day. This is her second year working as an administrator at Spicewood ES. Before landing at Spicewood, she has taught 10 years in various grade levels- 4th, 7th and 8th grade. She also worked as an Academic Dean at Anderson Mill ES and a Compliance Coordinator at Meridian Charter School. Mrs. Page just recently married her husband this past October in Smithville. Mr. Page is a recruiter for the U.S. Army. Her daughter is one of our very own here at Spicewood. On Fridays- college days- many of you may have seen me all decked out in UT Longhorn gears while Mrs. Page is fully decked out in Texas A&M Aggies gears. 5 out of her 6 siblings all attended and graduated from Texas A&M and are hardcore Aggies, Mrs. Page shared. There will always be a silent battle in the front office area every Friday between the two of us. :) Hook'em! Mrs. Page's favorite food is pizza. Her favorite color is green. Her favorite book is the Gift Giver by Jennifer Hawkins.

"I really like the positive atmosphere and the commitment students show to learning and to contributing to their community. It's the diversity that makes Spicewood such a great place to be," shared Mrs. Page.

She'd like to tell our students to "Never stop learning. Work hard, play hard and love yourself!"

Mrs. Page is someone that I can count on; she takes care of most of the discipline, 504 meetings, district and state testing and many more day-to-day operational tasks each and every day. Without her support, I wouldn't be able to do what I do at Spicewood. Big thanks to Mrs. Page!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #18: Jerry Ortiz


Dear my blog readers, 

First and foremost, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Before the day gets carried away with cooking and eating, I wanted to take some time to introduce one of our 5th grade teachers to you, Mr. Gerardo (aka Jerry) Ortiz


Mr. Ortiz was born in Laredo, Texas and moved to Austin with his parents as a young boy. This is his 9th year teaching at Spicewood and 18th year in Round Rock ISD! Before he started working for the district, he has experiences in working as a house parent, a coach and behavior manager at Texas School for the Deaf and a self-employed sign language interpreter in Houston for 5 years. Mr. Ortiz and his wife, Jerilee, have a daughter and a son together. Their daughter, Julia, is a senior at Texas State University. His Son, Jeremy, just returned from a two-week missionary trip in Tanzania Africa. Mr. Ortiz's favorite food is molé, Chinese food and shrimp. He likes any color that is blue-ish. His favorite books are Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls and Cat In the Hat by Dr. Seuss.

Mr. Ortiz's favorite thing about working at Spicewood is the kids and parents. "We are lucky to have fabulous people who are so open-minded and so hard working. I love the diversity," shared Mr. Ortiz. When asked to comment on what makes Spicewood such a great place, he proceeded and stated, "since I've been here, we have been student centered first. We all care."  He would like to challenge our students to "stay in truth and love life."

Mr. Ortiz is exceptional in presenting the content knowledge to our students in such a manner that our students can make connections to their own community (their class) and lives. I've joined his class several times at their request to "mediate" when students had petitioned against an Act that Mr. Ortiz has imposed on them. I've witnessed rich discussions that thrived within as they made connections to how American people might have felt in 1765 when British Parliament imposed a direct tax to pay for the British troops stationed in North America at the time. This past Monday, I was invited to join Mr. Ortiz's class again. This time Mr. Ortiz shared with me that, after learning about many different aspects of government, students generated and voted on important positions to run the class fairly with integrity and justice; he asked me to do the honor of swearing in those students into their official positions- president, vice president, queen, speaker of the house, judge, CSI/FBI director, etc.



The Queen knighted the officials in at the end of the ceremony. 
Mr. Ortiz has established and implemented such a creative and student-run learning environment. It is evident that students feel the ownership of how the class is run and of their own learning. It is always an honor to partake in his class learning activity as a principal. I love, love, love it!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Updates from the Principal- Celebrations Included

Dear families and community, 

Greetings! I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving! We have a short week this week with only 2 days in school.  Stay warm and safe!

Celebrations from Last Week


5th Grade Musical Performance: Dogs vs. Cats vs. Us
Thanks to all the parents and community members that came out to share our musical moment with our 5th graders last Tuesday evening! I'd like to thank Mr. Steinburg who wrote the entire musical to make this event possible. Thanks to Mrs. Power, our other music teacher and all of the 5th grade teachers who spent many hours with our 5th graders encouraging them to do their best. Students did an amazing job! I recorded my favorite song from the musical- Let's Just Make a Mess, of course, written and composed by Mr. Steinburg. Please enjoy a short 2.5-minute long video clip from the performance. 

Roots and Shoots
Mrs. Jacbos (2nd Grade teacher) and Ms. Williams (4th Grade teacher) led a small group of students who are part of the Roots and Shoots club to Shoal Creek at the Northwest Park in Austin to conduct a clean-up on Saturday, November 16. The club has adopted a part of the creek to head up the clean-up four times a year. If your child is interested in joining the club, please have them speak to Mrs. Jacobs or Ms. Williams in school. We're so proud of the work that our students and teachers are doing to help our community. 


Thank you for your exemplary behaviors in supporting the community! We're so proud of you! 

This Week's News

Meet the Faces of Spicewood

Please be sure to take a moment to meet our wonderful staff: Please check my blog during the Thanksgiving break; there will be two employees featured. 

Atrium Needs Support!- A Plant Specialist In Need
We’re looking for someone with extensive plant knowledge and experience who would be willing to donate their time to design some educational plantings for the Spicewood atrium.  This is part of the atrium refurbishing that was approved by the PTA so we do have a budget to work with.  Please email Lana@TopNotchRenovations by November 30 if you’re interested.

Picture Retake Day
We'll have a Picture Retake Day on Wednesday, December 4. Any students that wish to retake their school picture may do so on this day. 



MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Wednesday, November 27- Friday, November 29
Thanksgiving Holiday
School is closed for students and staff. 

Wednesday, December 4
12:45 PM   Early Release

Picture Retake Day
Students will be dismissed at 12:45PM. Please plan accordingly. 

Thursday, December 12
5:00-8:00 PM  Spirit Night @ Moonie's Burger House- Hosted by PTA
Please come out and join us for dinner at Moonie's Burger House. Our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Reeb will be there part of the night along with PTA representatives. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Updates from the Principal- Celebrations from Last Week Included!

Dear families and community, 

I'm so very excited to start the newsletter with lots and lots of celebrations from last week. I am once again reminded of how lucky Spicewood is to have such constant support from parents and community members. 

Thank you for all that you do from the bottom of my heart. 


Celebrations from Last Week


Veterans Day Assembly
 Second grade celebrated Veteran's Day with an assembly in the library last Monday.  Second graders were treated to a glimpse of a wide variety of mementos from all branches of the service.  The second grade teachers shared their personal connections to Veteran's Day with the students.  Lt. Col. Coplen spoke to the students about the sacrifices made by his family while he was serving overseas. Students are taking action by creating cards.  These cards will be sent to members of the military via the Red Cross and will be distributed during the holiday season. 
Second Graders honoring the veteran in presence

Annual Silent Auction
Spicewood community had an amazing night of Silent Auction this past Friday at Balcones Country Club. A number of parents, staff and community members came out, enjoyed good people and good food, won lots of goodies and raised a significant amount of money for our children at Spicewood. Preliminary number for auction income are over 65K! 

I want to recognize specific individuals that have made this event possible. 

Sandy Parent & Robyn Steinhauser - Auction Co-Chairs 
Solicitations - Sandy Parent, along with her amazing team, were responsible for bringing in over 700 items!
Item QA & Processing -  Kirsty Pilon spent countless hours in the auction database, processing the 700 items mentioned above.
Merchandise Display - Tracy Defendorf worked to creatively display the auction items.
Decorations Chair - Kandie Crider and her team transformed the club into a magical setting, transporting us back to the "Roaring 20's"
Lori Poppe - Managed the "back-end" processes of the evening, as well as the post event audit and distribution of winnings.

And last, but not least, Chris Mitchell, the event emcee and Jimbo Cotton, auctioneer.  Their enthusiasm for the event is contagious!  They encourage our Spicewood Community to bid with enthusiasm, and make the event a joy for all who attend! 

We have many more parents who have volunteered their time; please visit our PTA website for further recognition.
Please enjoy the pictures below from the exciting night of fun! 






Chess Tournament
This past Saturday, Spicewood Chess Club hosted a Chess Tournament with many children from around the area. Many thanks to parent volunteers that have made this possible; we had 60 parent volunteers that came out and helped! I want to recognize Mr. McMullen who headed up and organized the event to provide a great learning opportunity for our students and others.
Spicewood team finished as below out of trophy contention in K-12:
1st in Parent/Child
1st in K-5/6
2nd in K-1
2nd in K-3 

CONGRATULATIONS! We're so proud of you! 

This Week's News

Meet the Faces of Spicewood

Please be sure to take a moment to meet our wonderful staff: Ms. Jo Williams (4th Grade Teacher) & Mrs. Della Robinson (5th Grade Teacher)

Disabled Parking Spots in the Front

There are 2 disabled parking spots in the front of the school. These parking spots are only for visitors and parents with a handicap parking permit. I understand that it is hectic during drop-off/pick-up and it is easy to pull up our cars for a few minutes; however, I ask that everyone be respectful to those who are in need of the services by not using those two disabled parking spots at all times

Pick-Up by Bike Racks
Parents, if you're asking your child(ren) to meet you by the bike rack, please make sure students are supervised at all times. We're concerned that students are now climbing the trees and being unsafe. Ms. Martinez will continue to supervise the area but we need your help as well.

Atrium Needs Support!- A Plant Specialist In Need

We’re looking for someone with extensive plant knowledge and experience who would be willing to donate their time to design some educational plantings for the Spicewood atrium.  This is part of the atrium refurbishing that was approved by the PTA so we do have a budget to work with.  Please email Lana@TopNotchRenovations by November 30 if you’re interested.

Teaching Thinking Skills- Numberless Problems

Parents, I want to share a shift in instructional paradigm in mathematics that our district has trained our staff on. In the past, we as educators taught our students to find key words and key numbers in word problems as the first step to take, which inevitably encouraged our learners to focus on the numbers and simple operations in the problems. Now we're focusing on thinking and processing skills along with the key words. An example of a numberless math problem is as followed: Maricella bought some tickets at a carnival. She kept some for herself. She gave the same amount to each of her sisters. How many tickets did each sister get? Students are asked to ponder the information given without the numbers and describe relationships presented in the problem such as, "we need to know how many Maricella bought." Then teacher introduces some numbers within the problem as followed:  Maricella bought 75 tickets at the carnival. She kept some and she gave the same amount to each of her two sisters. Our students will process and think about missing information and what operations we will need to use. You might hear students making observations such as "We can't find out how many sisters received without knowing how many she kept for herself, etc" Then teacher reveals the rest of the problem: Maricella bought 75 tickets at the carnival. She kept 35 tickets for herself. Her two sisters equally shared the rest. How many tickets does each sister get? Numberless problems challenge our learners to focus on thinking and processing rather than simple algorithm. 

5th Grade Musical Performance: Dogs vs. Cats vs. Us

The 5th graders will perform a brand new original musical; Dogs Versus Cats Versus Us on Tuesday, November 19th at 6:30PM.  You are invited to this premiere event in our cafeteria.  Please make plans to attend and support all their hard work. This performance will be approximately 30-40 minutes long. 

Picture Retake Day
We'll have a Picture Retake Day on Wednesday, December 4. Any students that wish to retake their school picture may do so on this day. 



MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Tuesday, November 19
6:30-7:00 PM   5th Grade Choir Concert
Please join us in the cafeteria as our 5th grade will perform an awesome musical to families and community. 

Thursday, November 21
5:30-8:30PM A Night of Pastabilities- Westwood HS Silent Auction
Westwood HS Class of 2015 would like to cordinally invite the community to "A Night of Pastabilities." It is a spaghetti dinner and silent auction to help fund the Westwood Jr/Sr Prom. For more information, please visit Westwood HS website

Wednesday, November 27- Friday, November 29
Thanksgiving Holiday
School is closed for students and staff. 

Wednesday, December 4
12:45 PM   Early Release

Picture Retake Day
Students will be dismissed at 12:45PM. Please plan accordingly.