Cougar PRIDE Families,
It’s going to be another great week at Casis! It was so much fun last week to see how some of our classes celebrated the 100th Day of School. What a milestone! This week, we are thrilled to welcome Mac Barnett back to Casis for our annual Author Visit event. It will be an exciting day of presentations, book-signings, and a luncheon with the staff. Spring Conferences will also begin this week. Grade Level Teams have sent out information about Conference options and scheduling. As we continue our work together this second semester, there is still much to learn, to do, and to look forward to. We will also continue to focus on student learning growth and enrichment opportunities, as well as on safe and secure practices. Please see important information for the week below.
LATEST SCHOOL NEWS
SPECIAL EDUCATION STAFF NEWS
We are happy to introduce Adriana McFarlane, as our newest Special Education Teacher Assistant. Ms. McFarlane is filling a position that has been available since the Fall Semester and we anticipate that she will start this week. Adriana has prior experience in the medical field, as a Certified Nursing Assistant, and most recently has worked as an Assistant Behavioral Intervention Specialist and a Rehabilitation Technician for adults and young people. We believe that Ms. McFarlane will be a great addition to both our Learning Community and our Special Education Family. Welcome Ms. McFarlane!
MUSIC STAFF NEWS
We’d also like to let our Kindergarten – Second Grade Families know that, Primary Music Teacher, Mariann Bokako, will be on family medical leave for the next couple of months. In her absence, we have secured a long-term Substitute Teacher, in the person of Sarah Mendez-Rivera, AISD Substitute Teacher. Sarah is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and is currently pursuing her Alternative Teaching Certification. We’re so fortunate that Ms. Mendez-Rivera agreed to step into this role for our Kindergarten – Second Grade students. She has done an excellent job so far. So glad that you’re here Ms. Mendez-Rivera!
SCHOOL COUNSELOR APPRECIATION WEEK
This week is ‘National School Counseling Week’ when we appreciate the vital service that School Counselors render to schools and districts all over the world, but particularly here at Casis Elementary. Our stellar Counselor, Veronica Colegio, does an outstanding job everyday with our students, staff, and parents. Counselors have such a tremendous impact on students, as they help to meet the needs of the whole-child, as well as support staff members and families in being the best they can be. In this day and time, when there is such a large focus on societal mental health and wellness, the supportive role of Counselors has been even more necessary and instrumental. Ms. Colegio offers daily support to all of us in such a kind, calm, and heart-felt way. Interactions with Veronica consistently makes us all feel heard and cared about. Please join me in acknowledging the daily contributions that Ms. Veronica Colegio makes to our Learning Community. We appreciate you so much Ms. Colegio!
TEACHER OF PROMISE & TEACHER OF THE YEAR
· Nina Danilovich, Physical Education Teacher, has been selected as our AISD Teacher of Promise. As a first year teacher, Ms. Danilovich has shown outstanding promise as an educator. She worked as one of our P.E. Teacher Assistants last school year and quickly showed great potential in this role. This year, Nina has made some great connections with both students and staff members. Partnering with her Team and managing a large number of students on a fast-paced rotating schedule, Coach Danilovich delivers engaging lessons everyday. Nina Danilovich is just excellent!
· Samantha Sridharan, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, has been selected by her peers as our AISD Teacher of the Year. Ms. Sridharan has been teaching at Casis for over twenty years and puts so much heart into her instruction with students. Samantha is also such a caring member of our learning community, particularly for her Early Childhood Team. Ms. Sridharan also goes above and beyond to make sure that parents are connected with what their children do every day in their Pre-Kindergarten class. She is so very deserving of this recognition. Samantha Sridharan is simply the best!
Both of these educators will be honored in the ‘AISD Salute Awards’ ceremony in May and we couldn’t be more proud of them, as our school representatives. Two other staff members, Jessica Garcia (2nd) and Katie Ornelas (Kindergarten), were also nominated as campus finalists for Teacher of the Year. We recognize and appreciate these excellent teachers as well.
NEWS FROM THE PRINCIPAL
SPRING PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCES
Elementary Parent Conference Day is scheduled to take place on Friday, February 9. At Casis Elementary, these important meetings will be scheduled between Monday, February 5 – Thursday, February 29. Conferences scheduled in the Spring may be traditional (parent-teacher), student-led, or optional, based on the grade level and student progress/performance concerns. No matter the format, Teachers will still share information about student progress/performance for all students. During this window, please know that conferences may be requested by either the Teacher or Parents. Parents can then expect the ‘3rd 9-Weeks Report Cards’ to be available in their Parent Portal by Wednesday, April 3.
NEW ENROLLMENT SYSTEM NOW OPEN
AISD has moved to a new unified enrollment system for families interested in their neighborhood school, transfer schools, application-based programs, or Pre-Kindergarten. The move to this new “Enroll Austin” system is meant to make enrollment more accessible and equitable by providing a more streamlined platform all in one place. Registration will be split into two periods: (1) Priority Registration Period (Nov. 8, 2023 – Feb. 6, 2024) and (2) General Registration Period (April, 2024 – Summer, 2024). Visit www.austinisd.org/enroll to access the enrollment application or go to portal.austinisd.org and find the “Enroll Austin” tile. If families have questions, please go to the Find Your Seat Call Center at (512) 414-SEAT (7328) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the weekday. Want to learn more? Please explore the Enroll Austin FAQs.
LOST & FOUND REMINDER
As the winter months are upon us, we anticipate a higher loss of winter items at school, like coats, gloves, hats, and other layer apparel. Families should be sure that all student items are labeled, labeled, labeled (First & Last Name), so that it is much easier to reunite those items with the students. Students should be encouraged to regularly check the Lost & Found Bins that are located in the front and back of our school. During morning drop-offs or lunch-visits, Parents are encouraged to regularly check for lost items as well. Casis Parents, Michele Karp, Morgan Gaddis and Mary Polan, are our ‘Lost & Found Coordinators’ and we truly appreciate their support and leadership in this area. Thanks in advance to everyone for your cooperation and vigilance.
FAMILY LEARNING AND ENGAGEMENT SESSIONS
AISD’s Special Education, Section 504, and Dyslexia Departments are sponsoring Empower Hour Sessions for families throughout the 2023 – 2024 school year. These one-hour sessions are designed to provide valuable information, resources, and support to families on various topics. Both virtual and in-person sessions are available. We hope that families will avail themselves of these community learning and engagement opportunities.
SEL & EQUITY PRACTICES
In Austin ISD and at Casis Elementary, we believe that Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is at the heart of equity-centered systems and structures. Our goal is to use and grow our social and emotional skills, while creating brave, respectful, collaborative spaces that support all students, staff, families and communities throughout our district and in our learning community. Throughout the school year, we will teach specific skills-building strategies to our students, in order to develop important character traits, like respect, empathy, compassion, and friendships. Mindfulness strategies and principles will also be a common core of this instruction as well. Administration, Teachers, and Support Staff will all be working with students throughout the school year to develop a strong social/emotional foundation, that includes building a lens of fairness and equity for all, no matter the differences among us.
The SEL word for the month of February is Conflict Resolution. Conflict Resolution is when two or more people work together to peacefully solve a problem. Some common steps to solving a problem include (1) naming the problem, (2) thinking of solutions, (3) exploring what might happen with different solutions, and then (4) picking the best solution together.
The Equity word for the month of February is Upstanding. Upstanding means what it sounds like – STANDING UP. An upstander speaks up when they see someone being attacked and bullied. They work to promote justice and fairness everywhere they go. They recognize and interrupt stereotypes in their community and even in their friend group.
Following is a resources sheet for the month of February that will help support these two important concepts, both at school and at home. FEBRUARY RESOURCES SHEET
- February – National African American Heritage Month
- February – Career and Technical Education Month
- Mon., Feb. 5 – Fri., Feb. 9 – School Counselor Appreciation Week
- Tues., Feb. 6 – CAC Meeting at 3:30pm (Community Room)
- Thurs., Feb. 8 – Casis’ Author Visit Day!
- Fri., Feb. 9 – Spring Conference Day (Student Holiday)
- Thurs., Feb. 15 – PTA General Meeting at 6:00pm (Community Room)
- Mon., Feb. 19 – School Holiday (Presidents’ Day)
- Fri., Feb. 23 – Administrative Coffee Chat at 8:00am (Community Room)
- Mon., Feb. 26 – Fri., Mar. 1 – AISD Food Service Workers Appreciation Week
- Wed., Feb. 28 – Prospective Parent Tour at 9am
TRAFFIC SAFETY PROCEDURES
Please adhere to the guidelines in your particular arrival/dismissal area (Front Circle Drive or North Parking Lot). See Arrival & Dismissal Plan here. We continually ask for your patience and cooperation in exercising safe practices in your area.
Additionally, please see the following reminders/updates:
- Walkers should use crosswalks at all times.
- Bikers should park bikes at bike racks and walk bikes through crosswalks.
- Drivers should ALWAYS be aware of our foot and bike traffic.
- Drivers should consider TURNING OFF ENGINES when not moving forward.
- Avoid Parking in the Casis Village, if conducting school business.
- Front Circle Drive & Hillview areavailable for parent parking during the day.
- The North Parking Lot is designated for staff parking only.
- Vehicles using the North Parking Lot during arrival and dismissal (3rd – 5th) should be aware of all walkers who are using the parking lot crosswalks.
- Vehicles cued on Northwood for Circle Drive afternoon pick-up should remain in one moving line to avoid double-parking.
- Vehicles who need to enter the North Parking Lot for morning/afternoon drop-offs/pick-ups of 3rd – 5th graders may safely by-pass the ‘Circle Drive’ vehicles to enter the parking lot.
We ask that everyone exercise extra caution and patience. Adherence will help to maintain safety for all. We truly appreciate everyone’s compliance with the above requests.