Austinville Elementary

March 16 - 20 News

Mrs. Penley Selected as Decatur City Schools "Teacher of the Year"

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Mrs. Melissa Penley graduated from Decatur High School in 1990. She attended Spring Hill College to reach her goal and become a teacher. She graduated with an Early Childhood Education degree in 1994.

Mrs. Penley began her teaching career at Woodmeade Elementary in the fall of 1994, and received her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of North Alabama. From 2002-2006, Mrs. Penley worked part time for the Decatur City Schools while also serving as Director of Children’s Ministries at Central United Methodist Church. In 2006, she returned to DCS as the Reading Coach at West Decatur Elementary. She has also worked for the Alabama Reading Initiative as a Regional Support Staff member for Region 1. This meant a temporary two year leave from DCS. Mrs. Penley joined the staff of Austinville this year.

She says, "The faculty and staff have welcomed me with open arms! I am so thankful for the colleagues I now have at Austinville, and the precious students I teach. I am also grateful for all of my former administrators, colleagues, and students along with my supportive family and friends, as I continue to learn and grow as an educator daily."

Mrs. Penley and her husband, Jamie have two sons, William and Harris.

Students Begin Recorders in Music

Fourth and Fifth Grade Honor Roll Egg Hunt

Ms. Hales commended the fourth and fifth grade students for their hard work during the nine weeks. And the rain didn't seem to dampen their spirits as they set about hunting eggs in the library Friday afternoon. Forty-seven students celebrated good grades and participated in the event. Refreshments were enjoyed by all and three lucky young men were awarded prizes for locating the most eggs among the shelves of books.
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Spring Brings the Return of the Eastern Bluebirds

Students in grades 2-5 love watching eastern bluebirds. The project has been part of Austinville's Outdoor Classroom since 2011. A new bluebird nest box was installed in the Outdoor Classroom recently by CSS Audio and Video. They also placed a new camera in the nest box and students have already witnessed the female inside. A tv monitor in the hallway offers students a peek at the birdhouse activity. We look forward to returning from spring break to a nest and some eggs!

Historical Alabama Musical Program

Dr. G and the fourth and fifth grades presented an enjoyable and informative program of music on March 17. Student narrators related significant facts in the history of our state. Musical selections were chosen to represent each period in the state's history. Mrs. Pat Brooks-Parker, third grade teacher, and Mrs. Jeffrey Gilbreath, wife of Dr. G serenaded the audience with special songs and brought rounds of applause. It was a great way to begin Family Reading Night activities.

Family Reading Night

It's just what the name implies: Family Reading Night. And we had lots and lots of families! Teachers were happy to have so many parents sign in during classroom time with their children. Each grade had a different reading activity prepared for students and their parents. What a special way to include them in the skills each child is learning during the day! Five hundred slices of pizza fed the families at the conclusion of their classroom time.

Second Graders Visit Broadway Theater League Production at VBCC

Mrs. Penny Wood visited Austinville students on Tuesday to prepare them for the play "Ivy + Bean" which the students would be attending. Second graders loved their trip to the theater in Huntsville.

Austinville Continues Third Grade Cabbage Project from Bonnie Plants

Third graders were pleasantly surprised this week by a visit from Patrick Prater and Eric Rhoades of Bonnie Plants. The first day of spring is a great time for them to visit since this group brings cabbages for students to plant. Each year, third graders learn the proper steps for caring and harvesting cabbage. Once the full grown cabbage is ready to harvest, students must weigh it and take a picture of it to submit to their teacher. Classroom teachers are then responsible for choosing one winner. The winners' names are then placed in a random drawing for a $1,000 scholarship and statewide recognition.

Students were given a care sheet and their cabbages and a deadline of September 20. We hope some of our Austinville students will participate in this activity. We certainly appreciate Bonnie Plants and Mr. Prater for including Austinville in this activity. For more information about this program, visit

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Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem is Topic of Parenting Meeting

Raising children with healthy self-esteem was the topic of this month's parenting meeting. Guidance counselor, Mrs. Sarah Henderson shared the following tips on how parents can help their child.

  1. Be careful what you say
  2. Be a positive role model
  3. Identify and redirect inaccurate beliefs
  4. Be spontaneous and affectionate
  5. Give positive and accurate feedback
  6. Create a safe, loving home environment
  7. Help kids become involved in constructive experiences
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Fourth & Fifth Graders Enter Photography Contest

Mrs. Bridgett Hayes, 4-H Sponsor has worked diligently this month to make sure every fourth and fifth grade student was given the opportunity to participate in the 4-H Photography Contest. Many students opted to make their photos outside of school, but the school camera was available to those who made theirs during the day.

Photographs could be almost anything and due to many days of bad weather, students learned to work indoors and utilize inanimate objects. Mrs. Beth Young, Austinville's Art teacher even took the opportunity to teach a lesson about still life pictures.

Below you will find just a few of the photographs made by our budding photographers. We wish them well in this upcoming competition.

2014-2015 Yearbook Completed!

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Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night . . .

Well it's not the mail, it's Austinville's yearbook. And in this case it was snow and ice, several days out of school and a child in the hospital. Mrs. Stacy Westbrook, the yearbook editor has had some annoying and stressful times in working on this year's edition. She even carried her laptop to the hospital when her son was there for two nights. We appreciate such dedication. As usual, we can look forward to an amazing yearbook!

Fortunately, an understanding yearbook company granted an extension due to weather. The deadline to pre-order yearbooks was also extended. Students last day to order was March 10. Even though everyone will be anxious to receive their yearbook, they won't be delivered to students until after testing in April.

Student Council Visits Habitat for Humanity

The winter months found student council members busily preparing a housewarming gift for new homeowners through Habitat for Humanity. Their gifts included hand-made potholders and flower and tomato seeds to bring color and vegetable to the homes' new gardens. Sponsors Mrs. Leah Archer and Mrs. Anna McCollum escorted the student council members to visit and tour the Habitat for Humanity Restore while presenting Mindy Thwing with their gifts. All of the members enjoyed touring the store and learning how the program can benefit by the donations of old but useful items.

Harvard Comes to Austinville

Ms. Beth Hales welcomed students from Harvard on Friday. These college students have spent this week in Decatur working for Habitat for Humanity. You might not think this is so unusual except this week was their spring break. After learning the history of Austinville, student council members escorted their Harvard friends to various classrooms to participate in activities. We appreciate the leadership qualities exhibited by these young Harvard students and wish them a safe return back to their studies.
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Student of the Month for Consistency & Dependability

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Student of the Month for School Spirit

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Appreciating Our Own!

Whether a member of our staff for a short time or many years, we appreciate each member for their job responsibilities, the positive smile on their faces, and the love each one possesses for our students and their families. In the following newsletters, we would like to spotlight some of our staff members so you may appreciate their work even more. Each deserves a pat on the back for the job they do at Austinville.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, South America, Ms. Maritza Chase came to the United States in 1996. She began working at Austinville in 2000. She has four grown children; Abraham, Marilin, Dixie, and Roy. She is grandmother to three - Brayan, Oscar, and Johana. Most of the students on Ms. Maritza's hall are acquainted with Jo Jo! She is a frequent visitor to Austinville.

Ms. Maritza participates in many activities during the school year. She loves to help teachers in celebrating Cinco de Mayo by dressing and performing folkdances of Hispanic people. She is also the biggest kid in the building by celebrating Book Character Day and dressing up. Students and teachers love to see what costume she will appear in next! Ms. Maritza works hard at a thankless job. Austinville teachers and students want to say a big THANK YOU for keeping our school so clean.

Mark Your Calendar!


  • 23 - 27 Spring Break
  • 31st - Math Team Competition at Cedar Ridge Middle School


  • 1 - Money Due for Sweet Potatoes - $ 10 for a 10 pound box
  • 3 - Sweet Potatoes Delivered to school at 12:00 pm