Cougar News

Week of 9/7/20 - 9/11/20

Letter from Principal Nelson

Cougar Nation-

How great was it to get a chance to speak with over 500 of you this week via the comfort of your homes, offices, patios, cars, and waiting rooms. That’s one thing I do love about connecting online; more opportunities for involvement. Whereas once before if we held a parent Q & A at 1:00 p.m. on campus, we’d be looking at only a handful of you (a handful is roughly half a dozen) in attendance. With Zoom and the ability to reach out to you wherever you are, we had over 100 parents/guardians listening in. That’s what I call a vast improvement and something we will continue to do even after we all return to brick and mortar. We want to thank those of you for attending and promise that all information shared and discussed is or will be available on our website or linked in this newsletter.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Fall Athletics (volleyball and football) will not begin practicing on campus until Travis County is in Stage 2. We spent a lot of time coming to this decision and made sure to speak with as many stakeholders as possible before we did. Thank you to all for filling out the Google Form and letting us know your family’s preference. After meeting with our coaches and the athletic departments of 18 other middle schools, pouring over the safety protocols, and requesting from AISD that all students be given a fair chance to participate only to be told no transportation would be available, we have decided to wait with 12 AISD middle schools until Stage 2.
  • All classes will be utilizing BLEND as their LMS (learning management system) platform. No more Google or Blackboard or’s all about BLEND. Too many LMSs is difficult to keep track of and navigate, so we are proud to state that all grades and all classes will be using BLEND.
  • Student attendance for Remote Learning is required and will be taken via Zoom and/or through asynchronous assignments. The best way to make sure your student gets credit for being in a class is by being in the class during the synchronized learning session (9, 10, 1, and 2) each day. Once there and seen by the teacher, they get RS (remote synchronous) credit for attendance. If for some reason your student cannot make it (dentist, internet down, assisting with siblings) then your student has until midnight of the class day to log into BLEND and complete an assignment. Then, your student will be given RA (remote asynchronous) credit. Best not to leave things to chance is to make sure they are there for all scheduled periods.
  • BLEND is the launchpad for all classroom communication: emails, announcements, zoom info, etc… Train your student to log into their portal then head straight to BLEND.
  • The first week of school students will meet in PRIDE (advisory) each day from 8:30 a.m. until their first class at 9:00 a.m. We need to set the tone, make sure they know what to expect, and start the socialization process as quickly as can be so PRIDE will be a must these first 4 days. Here is the 1st week schedule: first week 9/08-9/11
  • Prepare for the following on the first day: Zoom outages, internet down, students being logged off accidentally, teachers being logged off accidentally. If you or your student has an issue with the internet and can’t get back on, simply email the teacher to explain and try your best to get back on before your next class. If Zoom is not working for you or for our teachers due to the act that 85,000 students and staff will be on simultaneously, simply go to BLEND and begin working asynchronously. Prepare your students for this and have a plan so there is minimal frustration.

There are many links in this S’MORE to help you troubleshoot almost any obstacle or hindrance during the first few days, however there’s a good chance we haven’t touched on everything. This is why we invite you to email us with questions and concerns. We want to make this as smooth a transition as possible and hope our lessons are all user friendly, while at the same time engaging and rigorous.

Best of luck to you all and know that we are pulling for you and yours during these next few days.

Matthew Nelson


Small Middle School

(512) 841-6705


Things to do this weekend for first day success!

Still need to pick up your Chromebook or hotspot?

Chromebook: You can swing by Small tomorrow (Saturday 9/5) from 10 am to 2 pm to pick up your chromebook. There should be staff out front ready to help you.

Hotspot: If you have been notified that the hotspot you ordered is at Small please come by tomorrow (Satureday 9/5) from 10 am to 2 pm. If you have not been notified, we have not received your hotspot yet. You may have to get it next week.

Distance Learning Attendance

Attendance will be taken very differently this year, but is still so important. Please take a moment to watch the Attendance video below to learn more.

If you have any questions, contact our new attendance clerk Bettina Schmitz at 512-841-6702

Attendance Video - English

Attendance Video - Spanish

We need volunteers to join our CAC Committee

What is the Campus Advisory Council (CAC)?
The Campus Advisory Council is a committee of parents, students, business and community representatives, teachers, principals, and other campus staff. The formation of CACs is required by state law (Texas Education Code, §11.251). Specific functions of CACs include providing review and comment on:

  • Campus Educational Program
  • Campus Performance
  • Campus Improvement Plan
  • Campus Staff Development Plan
  • Campus-Level Waiver Requests to the State
  • Campus Budget

What is the mission of the CAC?
The mission of the CAC is to promote excellence in education for all students through broad-based representation. CACs provide valuable input to principals, who ultimately have decision-making responsibility for their campuses.

What if I’m interested in serving on the Small Campus Advisory Council?
Click here to complete a membership application. All applications will be considered by the CAC Membership Subcommittee and applicants will be notified of their status. AISD recognizes and supports the concept of balanced representation in regard to filling vacancies on district advisory bodies. To this end, every effort is made to appoint members who represent the diversity of our community.

Parent Information Meetings

Thank you to everyone who joined us on the parent meetings last week. If you missed the new parent meeting, you can watch the videos below.

New Parent Camp: Missed the Meeting?

Parent Quick Reference Guide

Band Instrument/supply pick up for some students

Where: Small MS Bus Ramp Curbside

*Please show your name and instrument on a piece of paper and show through your car window.

Beginning Band instrument Large pick up:

Thursday, Sept 10 6:00PM: 6th grade Euphonium & Horn

Thursday, Sept 10 6:30PM: 6th grade Tuba

Orchestra Instrument and Book Pick Up- Friday, September 11th

Small MS Bus Ramp Curbside

Please write your name & instrument on paper and display it in your car's passenger window.

Beginning Orchestra Instrument Pick Up (These students will be contacted by Ms. Miller):

5:30-6:15 pm

Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra Music Book Pick Up:

6:30-7:15 pm

Carrie Miller

Clint Small MS, Orchestra Director



Schedules are set to be released sometime today in the parent cloud. Log into your cloud and click on the Parent Self Serve and take a look at the report card tab.

UPDATE: As of 7:17pm on 9/4 we are waiting for the district to push them to the parent cloud. Small has submitted them to the district (yesterday) We are just in a queue waiting for the district to push out each school. We have double checked on our end that everything has been submitted correctly. It is just a waiting game at this point.

Not sure what those Acronyms on your students schedule stand for? Here is a cheat sheet!

  • PLTW GA/MD = Green Architecture & Medical Detectives
  • PLTW DM/AR = Design and Modeling & Automation and Robotics
  • PLTW FS/EE = STEM Exploratory
  • PLTW ME/ST = Magic of Electrons & Science of Technology
  • TOUCH SYS = Keyboarding
  • ENVIRON SCI IND = Capstone
  • PLTW CSIM = Computer Science
  • APP 8 or APP 7 = APP Creators
  • STEM EXPLORTY 7 = Cougar Campus and the Community
  • STEM EXPLORTY 8 = Farm to Table
  • TH MS 3 = Theater Production
  • Screen Script = Intermediate Theater
  • PE/Functional Fitness = These make one yearlong course for 6th grade that is required
  • 6th & 7th grade students who were in reading and double blocked math at Small last year will continue in these courses
  • Incoming 6th grade students placed in reading and math elective were placed based on 4th grade scores

Speaking of Acronyms

You might have noticed at the bottom of each newsletter there is an option to give feedback. One of our incoming 6th grade parents took advantage of that and dropped us a note. They requested an Acronym Cheat Sheet. They said that there is a lot of terminology that is new to them and could we please explain it. We thought that was a great idea, so we put one together.

Click the button below to go check it out. If you don't see an acronym you have been wondering about on the list, feel free to email and we will add it!

Missing Vaccination Record

Dear 7th Grade Parents,

We have over 300 seventh grade students that our records indicate are missing one or more required vaccination. Seventh graders are required to have the Tdap and MCV (meningitis) vaccine before enrolling in school. If you have not already, please email or fax in your child’s current vaccination record. Your child might be up to date on all their shots especially if they go in for checkups yearly, but we just are missing records. Please get these to me as soon as possible so that your child will not be excluded from school. Records can be emailed to me at (This email link has been fixed) or faxed directly to me at 512-841-6745. A picture of a current vaccination card emailed to me will work. Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing everyone soon.


Becky Jenschke

Small Middle School Health Room

Key Calendar and Daily Schedule information

It is a good idea to bookmark these in your browser to refer back to

Have you Registered 20-21?

We still have some students that have not registered for this school year. Every year parents must register their students so that we can have the most current contact information.

This is also where you give permission for things like going to the nurse and/or having a picture in the yearbook etc. We need to have the most current information in our records. If you have not registered yet, Please click the link for the instructions below.

Not sure if you registered?

  • Click here to learn how you can see if you did or did not.

Curbside Meals

Meals are still available at 70+ curbside and bus stop locations throughout Austin. Find sites, times and more info at


Las comidas aún están disponibles en más de 70 ubicaciones, en banquetas o paradas de autobús en todo Austin. Encuentre sitios, horarios y más información en

#AISDProud #WeAreAISD #SomosAISD Austin ISD Food Services

New AISD App for your phone

We are excited to tell you about the new app from AISD. Eventually it will be the one stop shop for all things from the district and Small Middle School. You can follow our school so when we have important information to share, we can send out an alert and you will always be in the know. Download the app today, then find Small and any other school your kids may go to and click the follow button. It is still in it's beginning phase, but has huge potential and I envision us using it alot.

To follow Small (or any other School) follow these steps:

Open the app, and click the 3 lines for the menu (bottom right). Choose School Directory, Scroll to Small Middle School, Click on Small, then put a check mark right under Principal where it says follow.



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Gifted and Talented

Christie Manners

To nominate your student for the 20-21 year for Gifted and Talented. Please click on the following link to complete the form and give permission for your child to enter the candidacy process.

GT Nomination Google Form - English

GT Nomination Google Form - Spanish (coming soon!)

If you do not have online access, paper forms available in English and Spanish are available in the front office. Please use the online link above if at all possible.

Click here for the GT Newsletter

Calling all graphic artists!

GT / Advanced Academics at Small is looking for a logo! A logo will help parents and students quickly locate relevant information on the Cougar News and in other online and print resources. Let's make it a contest! The winner receives a prize!

Contest Rules:

  • Entrant must be part of the Small Community, student, parent, staff, or faculty.
  • Design should be in color, and should also read well in black and white.
  • Design must be in .jpeg format.
  • Design must include the words GATE Small Advanced Academics, although not necessarily in that order, except Advanced Academics because Academics Advanced doesn't make sense.
  • Design may use elements copied from other sources, BUT may NOT include copyrighted images. Google "How to see if an image is copyrighted"

Submit design to your campus GT Advocate by Sept 8, 2020.

A committee of CSMS teachers and admin will select the winner. The committee's decision is final.

Looking for something extra for your kids to do?

This program is not associated with Small Middle School, but looks like it might be fun.
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Green Academy Blog

Did you know the Green Academy has a blog? Check it out!