Austin ISD May PK Newsletter


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Message from the Director

May is teacher appreciation month! The Early Childhood Department would like to thank you for your dedication and service to our youngest learners. We appreciate you, we support you, and we hope you have a successful end of the school year. This year more than ever, you have built strong relationships with parents and caregivers. You have supported and taken care of your students and their families through remote learning, concurrent teaching, and face-to-face learning. You are the heart and soul of Austin ISD, you are the heroes!

I hope you enjoy this newsletter and find the information helpful.

This newsletter highlights upcoming professional learning sessions that many departments across the district will be delivering this summer. Please take a moment to review what sessions will support your growth and learning.

Please stay well and take care of yourselves. I hope you find ways to enjoy your summer.

Wishing you well,


For more resources on anti-racism, take a look at this padlet organized by The University of South Carolina “Anti-Racism Resources for all ages”

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New PK Eligibility Process

This past year has impacted us all in a variety of ways. One of the more positive outcomes is that we have had the opportunity to reflect on practices and procedures of how we operate as a district Early Childhood program.

Traditionally PreK teachers' first engagement with families is in the procedural work of collecting eligibility and enrollment documentation, which can be disorienting and even frustrating.

Developing a positive relationship with caregivers is essential in supporting young children's growth and development. Research confirms that family involvement positively impacts students’ academic experiences. We want to make sure that your first engagement with a family is meaningful, student-centered and focused on building relationships. Now more than ever we need to focus on relationships first, not paperwork.

For PreK Registration, the district is moving to a centralized process that will be managed by the Early Childhood staff at Central Office. Early Childhood staff will verify the PreK eligibility of children and campuses will register them.

To learn more about this new process please click here or on the link below.

Please Read New PK Eligibility Process

Log into AISD account ; Please click on this important document for information regarding the new PK Eligibility centralized process

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What a Year!

This year will always be remembered as the year of the Pandemic. As educators we have learned so much and had to adapt to an ever changing teaching environment. While many of us plan for the upcoming school year, please make sure to take time for yourself. The button below contains suggestions for intentional planning and relaxation.
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Reset: Decompress Your Body and Mind

This was a remarkable school year and you have done an amazing job, hands down. As we step away from our workspace, we'd like to invite you to appreciate and admire the work you have done, the lives you have touched, and the difference you have made in each group setting.

This 10-minute meditation video encourages us to pause and reset, helping us feel more present and better able to enjoy whatever comes next.

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Free Summer School for Emergent Bilingual Students


Summer school is available for eligible emergent bilingual students in Pre-Kinder and Pre-First. Attached is a letter that can be sent to families to encourage participation.

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Ending the Year

The end of a school year can bring both joy and sadness. Below are some suggestion to end the year and send your students off positively.

8 Epic Ideas to End the Year.

Log onto AISD; Click here to access

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At the end of a school year, students have many emotions. Teachers can help process these emotions through read alouds. Consider using one or more of the suggested books to help students discuss and affirm their feelings.
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Spanish Literacy Resources

Click the first button below for additional Spanish resources for all content areas. While the books are separated by grade level, take some time to find books that meet the needs of your students.

Click the second button below to see Ms. Ortiz, a bilingual instructional coach at Padron Elementary school, use the resources.

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Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

A Message from the AISD School Board:

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), celebrates the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage week. Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga from Hawaii introduced a similar bill in the Senate a month later. Both resolutions were passed, and on October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed off on the annual celebration. In 1990, the week-long celebration was extended to a month-long celebration. In 1992, May was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. The selection of the month of May for this month-long celebration commemorates both the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. on May 7, 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Chinese workers were responsible for most of the construction of this project.

Literature Activity: Lotus and Feather

Feather, a wounded crane nursed back to health by a silent and lonely girl named Lotus, helps to save Lotus and the people of her village from floodwaters

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Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month!

A Message from the AISD School Board:

Jewish American Heritage Month recognizes the history of Jewish contributions to American culture. President George W. Bush officially proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month on April 20, 2006. This announcement was made possible by the efforts of the Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish community leaders. Their work resulted in resolutions by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania urging for the proclamation of a month that would recognize the 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture.

Shalom Sesame: Shabbat Shalom, Grover!

This video can be used to spark a discussion about cultural activities in the Jewish community. What is Sabbat? asks Grover. Let's learn together!

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Professional Learning Exchange Days (PLED)

Please be on the lookout in the month of May for information about the 2021- 2022 PLED Learning Exchange information from the professional learning department. Please contact Mark Gurgel with any questions.

The PLED window for SY2021-22 will be June 5, 2021 - March 31, 2022. If you are submitting PL for PLED credit please complete within this window.

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Summer General Sessions

No Small Matter - Documentary

No Small Matter is the first feature documentary to explore the most powerful force for change in America today: early childhood education. Through poignant stories and surprising humor, this film lays out the overwhelming evidence for the importance of the first five years. In this session, we will view this illuminating full-length documentary and discuss our role as educators in the national early childhood landscape.

July 14 from 9:00am - 11:00am

Course #97618


July 21 from 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Course #97619

Critical Connections Considering Family Engagement After Distance Learning

The impact of COVID-19 has shined a light on the critical connections between caregivers and educators. We have always known the home-school relationship was important, but now more than ever we are reminded of its essential significance. In this session we will discuss how cultivating positive, supportive partnerships between educators and families is an ongoing process. This process is grounded in communication, strength-based, and culturally responsive practices to establish meaningful partnerships with families.

July 15 from 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Course #97608


July 22 from 9:00am - 10:00am

Course #97610

DAP - Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Each and every child, birth through age 8, has the right to equitable learning opportunities that fully support their optimal development and learning across all domains and content areas. Children are born eager to learn and delight in exploring their world and making connections. Educators who engage in developmentally appropriate practice foster young children’s joyful learning and maximize the opportunities for each and every child to achieve their full potential. In this course we will explore the three core considerations of DAP: 1) Knowing about child development and learning; 2) Knowing what is individually appropriate; 3) Knowing what is culturally important.

July 15 from 9:00am - 10:00am

Course #97613


July 22 from 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Course #97614

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Summer Science Session

Science Outdoor Learning: Virtual Early Childhood Project Learning Tree

Join us via Zoom for a virtual, hands-on session hosted by AISD's Outdoor Learning Specialist and the Wildflower Center! Participants will receive an e-book copy of the Early Childhood Project Learning Tree Curriculum. Be prepared for indoor and outdoor hands-on activities that can be done in person with students or via at-home learning.


July 27th 9:00am-12:00pm

Course #97579

PK3 Growing up WILD

June 10th 9:00am-12:00pm

Course # 97639

Science Outdoor Learning: Virtual EcoRise: An Introduction to EcoRise

August 7th 9:00-12:00PM

Course # 97641

August 9, 2021 9:00-12:00PM

Course # 97640

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Summer Asynchronous Sessions

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Free PK Online Courses Include:

  • The Power of Language 2.5 Training Hours
  • Meaningful Conversations 1.5 Training Hours
  • Transforming Story Time 3.5 Training Hours
  • Building Word Knowledge 3 Training Hours
  • Foundations of Learning to Read 4 Training Hours
  • Sharing Ideas Through Writing 4 Training Hours
  • Supporting Dual Language Learners Right from the Start 4.5 Training Hours

To get credit for these asynchronous courses please submit your completion certificate into HCP for PLED credit, with principals approval, via the External Credit Request application available in HCP. Click here for a screencast of how to submit the External Credit Request.

The PLED window for SY2021-22 will be June 5, 2021 - March 31, 2022. If you are submitting PLED credit please complete the course within this window.

Cox Campus High Quality Online Professional Learning

Sign up; complete a course; log your hours in HCP for PLED credit! (with principal's approval)

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The Seesaw Pioneer program is a completely free opportunity, available to any educator using Seesaw. Seesaw Pioneers have moved beyond the Seesaw basics and are ready to expand their Seesaw knowledge and educator network.

To get credit for these asynchronous courses please submit your completion certificate into HCP for PLED credit, with principals approval, via the External Credit Request application available in HCP. Click here for a screencast of how to submit the External Credit Request.

The PLED window for SY2021-22 will be June 5, 2021 - March 31, 2022. If you are submitting PLED credit please complete the course within this window.

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About Us

Early Childhood Department:

Ami Cortes-Castillo - Director

Melinda Servantez - Administrative Supervisor

Tammy Hopkins - Administrative Assistant

Brittney Pirtle - Clerk (Registration)

Pre-K Partnerships:

Stephanie Bonnet Kramer - Coordinator

Maria Matts - Parent Support Specialist

Instructional Coaches:

Kyla Morgan

Allyson Morales

JC Sanders

Terie Anderson

Literacy Coaches:

Monica Vallejo

Jessica Martinez

Andrea Clark

Nancy Maquera Lupaca

Head Start Team:

Ashlee Johnson - Administrator

Gena Padilla - ERSEA / Budget Compliance Manager

Amanda Bolding - Education Specialist

Lauren Jackson - Health and Social Services Specialist

John Wright - Early Childhood Coach/ Behavior and Disabilities Specialist

Carmen Gonzalez - Family Advocate

Monica Martinez - Family Advocate

Rachel Salazar - Family Advocate