Cougar News 8/27/18 – 8/30/18

What is happening at Small Middle School

Week of August 27, 2018 – August 31, 2018

Letter from Principal Nelson

Howdy Cougars!  

It seems like just last week that I was writing all of you and wishing you a restful, well-deserved summer with your student. Now, I’m writing to say thank you for delivering your student to us prepared, positive, and ready to take on the new school year.  

 This first week of school has been all about getting to know your student and creating connections within their Cougar Community.  We’ve spent a lot of time in our PRIDE (advisory) classes with the focus on team building and setting expectations for the year.  Teachers are spending their class time going over systems and procedures and making sure students know what is expected of each student during their time together – maximum effort and a positive attitude.  We are busy building bridges and letting them know from the get go that effort trumps ability and that there is no better teachable moment than a mistake.  We front load these lessons during this week and are most thankful we do so come late October when the honeymoon phase officially ends. 

 We are always working on improving this first week and need to know what is working and what could be removed.  Over the weekend, please speak with your student about what s/he liked most, liked least, and also try to get a general feel as to what they thought the general vibe was.  First impressions are paramount to a successful campaign and we want to make sure we are providing a positive one. 

 Numbers:  This school year Small Middle School is officially the 2nd largest middle school in AISD!  As of COB on Friday we are officially at 1,321 students…79 more students than at this time last year.  We have students from over 43 campuses represented, and more than several joining us from non-AISD schools.  In fact, we have 49 students new to AISD this year and we are beyond excited to have them join our family.  The numbers attest that the surrounding community likes what we are doing and the fact we are the number-one middle school of choice for so many families inspires our teachers and staff every single day.  As I said to our guests at our first Principal’s Coffee of the year, our job is to justify your commute.

 With these large numbers does come a few procedures and systems we must fortify to ensure student safety.  Please read the following guidelines to ensure we are all on the same page:

  • Doors open at 7:00 a.m. for students.  All students will meet in the cafeteria until 7:45.
  • Drop off at the front of school and please pull all the way to the front when doing so.  Also, please avoid blocking the crosswalk.
  • At 7:45, 6th grade students report to the Small gym.
  • At 7:45, 7th grade students report to the Lettie Garza Gym.  8th graders will remain in the cafeteria.
  • The first bell will ring at 8:07 a.m. giving students 8 minutes to make it to their first class of the day.
  • The tardy bell rings at 8:15. If your student arrives after 8:15, h/she needs to immediately report to the office. 
  • During pick up, make sure to have a plan with your student as to where y’all will meet.  Like the a.m., please pull all the way to front of the line in front of the school and watch out for teens crossing the road.
  • Remember to watch out for teens at all times after school.  Oftentimes their eyes are glued to their screen (checking their grades, I reckon) and not on their surroundings.

 We will also be foregoing any campus-wide assemblies this first semester due to faulty bleachers, but should start Pep Rallies and the like during the Spring once AISD has completed the renovation. 

 Schedule Changes:  The master scheduling process involves the course selection that you and your child complete in the spring of the year prior to the next grade level.  This choice sheet allows us to create the number of classes necessary to accommodate for the classes students are requesting.  Space in each class then becomes highly limited and often very difficult to changeSchedule changes are possible only under very special circumstances (i.e. inappropriate placement, lack of prerequisites, an error in enrollment, or a scheduling conflict).  We will not honor changes due to students “changing their minds.” The following process will be required of every student, should they need a schedule change.

 Print a schedule change form or pick one up in the counseling center.

  1. Specify which class you’d like to drop and which you’d like to add.  Obtain signatures from the teacher you are dropping and the teacher whose class you wish to add. (Counselors can help with this.)
  2. Write 3 – 5 sentences stating why you think this schedule change should be considered. (This must be written by the student.)
  3. Obtain your parent’s signature and submit it to your grade level counselor.

 Thank you in advance for adhering to the above policies and working with our counselors.  And thank you again for choosing Small Middle School.  We love working with middle school kids and are always researching best practices as to how to get the most out of their experience.  My door, email, and phone are always available so feel free to drop by, call, or send a message with concerns, questions, or even kudos.  Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter to see what’s happening on campus and to receive our Cougar Quote of the Day (CQOD).

Matthew Nelson
Small Middle School
(512) 841-6505

Important Back to School Info

Welcome Back! 

Here are some links to key information you will need to start your year. Be sure to check out even more on our Back to School Guide. 

Enrichment Fee’s help us enhance the educational experience through field trips and additional materials. Please read the enrichment letter for your students grade level. You will get more information at Back to School night 

Join us for our Back to School night on September 4th.

What to Expect

  • Shuttle buses will be running from Austin Oaks Church starting at 5:00 for easier parking.
  • PTA meeting is at 5:30 – 5:45 in Cafeteria.
  • Be in your students Pride class by 6:00 pm for announcement.
  • Then you go to each classroom on a bell schedule for 7 min with a 5 min passing period between. 1st period – 8th period in numerical order. 


CSMS... The more you know

There is so much going on here at Small Middle School, we will try to give you tips and tricks about our school in this section each week!

Daily Scrolling Marquee

Did you know Small now has a daily marquee that the kids can see from all our common areas – The Gym, Main Office, Library, Cafeteria and Counseling offices all have TV’s tuned to giving kids the info they need for the day and a heads up of what’s coming up. 

If you ever want to see what is going on at Small on a Daily Basis, You can check it out yourself by clicking the Campus Info option on the menu to the right.

Order a kid!

We want to make checking your student out of school early as easy as ordering a pizza!

Quickest way to get your kid: Send your student to school with a note stating what time they are to leave. The student will come to the office before school and receive a pass to leave class at the time stated in the note. Then when you come to school to pick up your kid, they will be waiting in the office for you. DON’T FORGET to bring your Drivers Licence We will need to scan it to release your student.  

Order a kid: New this year we are using a google form to request an early release for your student. Just go to our website main page, click “Early Pick-up request” under the helpful Links section and fill out the form. 

We will see your request and our front office ladies will see and send a pass for the student to meet you in the office. If you give us at least 45 min notice, your student should be waiting for you in the office at the specified time. And again…DON’T FORGET to bring your Drivers Licence We will need to scan it to release your student.  


If you don’t plan ahead, be prepared to
wait as we find your student.



Student Bail Out

Forgot homework? Forgot Lunch? Forgot Instrument?

 In middle school, experts recommend giving your student 1 bail out a year. If they forget something, let them have natural concesquences so they learn to not forget it in the future. 

However, if your student forgets something and you’re are nice enough to bring it to them, we got you! We have set up a “Forgot your Stuff” do it yourself section in the main office.

  1. Put your child’s name on the item (we have sticky notes and sharpies ready for you) 
  2. Fill out the Green “Give to my Student” Form Place the form in the specified box and drop your item on the cart. 
  3. Wave goodbye to the front office staff and have a great day!

What happens behind the scenes… A front office clerk, or a student aid, will take the green form, figure out where the student is and take the note to the student. That student will then come by the office during passing period and pick up the forgotten item. 

If you are dropping off money, please ask a front office staff person for help. We don’t want to just leave money lying around. 

After School Clubs

After School Clubs are starting to form. We will have a list of available clubs in the next newsletter. Clubs don’t typically start until mid September. If your student wants to start a club, they need to find a teacher sponsor. Once a teacher agrees to sponsor a club, I will add it to the club page on our website. 

Football Schedule

Volleyball Schedule

Heads up about Parent Cloud

Parents, please be advised that teachers will not be able to use the electronic grade book to post grades or attendance for the first 2 weeks of school.  For this reason, names of assignments and grades will NOT appear in the parent cloud until the 3rd week of school.  We appreciate your understanding and patience during these 2 weeks. If you have a concern about your child’s academic progress during this time, please email that teacher individually during this time frame.

Great Thinkers Club

  • Does your middle schooler want more academic challenges? 
  • Do they want to meet like-minded people who enjoy a thoughtful conversation? 
  • Do they enjoy playing logic, strategy, and thinking games? 
  • Are they applying to LASA?

 If you answered YES to any of these questions, your child might enjoy the Great Thinkers Club. 

Open to all students at CSMS, this club especially appeals to those kids who love to put on their thinking caps. Meetings are most Thursdays after school in Room 204 until 4:45. Meetings start on Thursday, Sept 13. 

Contact your GT Advocate, Christie Manners, at if you have further questions.

DukeTip Talent Search for 6th and 7th Graders!

Did your 6th or 7th grader score in the 95th percentile on any of last year’s STAAR tests? If so, they are eligible to sign up for the DukeTIP Talent Search. Go to for more information about the test and how to register. After you’ve visited the site, if you still have questions, email your GT Advocate, Christie Manners, at

For 6th Grade, 95%ile is equal to or above: 1849 in Math, 1774 in Reading, OR 4702 in Science.

For 7th Grade, 95%ile is equal to or above: 1884 in Math OR 1784 in Reading.

If you have questions after exploring the DukeTIP website, please email your GT Advocate CSMS has a limited number of scholarships available for students with demonstrated need. Please contact your GT Advocate.


Dual Language T-Shirt Fundraiser

The Dual Language team is fundraising for supplies for our DL Club, field trips, etc. We are selling the coolest “Aztec cougar” logo shirt. 

Orders are due SEPT. 9th

Please order yours today and help our program! By the end of this year, we will have the first Small DL graduates t

o celebrate! Bravisimo!

Wear “la camiseta mas linda de Small” this year! You can even pay on Cash Online! Or turn in form and $ to Mr. Hopkins in room 104. 

Print the order form here

4 thoughts on “Cougar News 8/27/18 – 8/30/18

  1. My 6th grader said they enjoyed the opportunities to get to know new people this week. He felt the school was well organized to allow him to know where he needed to be and when.

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