Cougar News – 2/24/20

What's happening at Small Middle School

Week of 2/17/20 – 2/21/2020

In the last communication you received from me, I shared the heart-breaking news about the loss of one of our 8th grade students, John Stidolph. Our entire campus has been affected by this loss and though we are all saddened, we are also thankful for our time spent with him.

John was a walking, talking reminder to our entire staff that we have a 3-year plan for all of our students. John was testament to the amount of growth a student can have when he is surrounded by people who love him and want what’s best for him. John reconfirmed for our entire campus that we can never write a student off, even if some of the things he might have said or done were eternally vexing, because the 6th grade student who struggles with all things school-related may very well turn in to the mature, young adult who ended up loving school almost as much as he loved making others laugh. John also confirmed that when home and school are on the same page, good things are bound to happen.

Throughout John’s first two years here on campus, we had several meetings with his parents, David and Rebecca, to discuss John’s behavior and various incidents. At no time ever did his parents come into those meetings with any want other than to help their son, and never once did they blame the school or staff for anything John might have said or done; nor did we of them. They knew their son; they loved their son, faults and all. We knew their son; we loved their son, faults and all. Every meeting with them was all about how do we get the most out of John and how can we, as a team, work together to make sure he matures as a student and as a person.

It worked. The John Stidolph, whom we loved and cared for so deeply, turned into one heckuva fine young man and student. He found joy in his programming and coding classes, loved being a leader in his science classes, enjoyed his lunch bunches, and was a member of our Dungeons and Dragons club for three straight years. His trips to the office (of which there were many in 6th and 7th grade) this year were merely to ask us questions or to share good news about grades, friends, or high scores in Fort Nite. He loved making all of us laugh and understood that practical jokes weren’t funny if somebody got hurt. In fact, one harmless practical joke John perfected was the “2 hats/2 pairs of sunglasses” joke where he would wait for somebody to ask him (typically a teacher or admin) to remove the hat or sunglasses, only to have a 2nd pair hidden under the first pair. Zing! True, once we changed the dress code this year, he had to modify the joke to tipping his hat or making it fall off, but he still got just as much joy as when he was told to remove it.

I always admired that he woke up early to plan this and walked around with 2 hats on just so he could make somebody laugh. He felt comfortable enough in his own skin and with our community to suffer through hat-hair and lack of vision merely for the chance to make us smile.

Well, he did and we still are.

We will be sending information from John’s family in regards to memorial services and such in the next few days. We also have a video camera in my office available for any student who would like to share a story about John for his family. David and Rebecca have been so positive throughout this entire process and want nothing more than for them to be able to continue to celebrate the life of their spectacular son. We value the gift of John they bestowed upon all of us, and will forever be indebted to the both of them for allowing us the honor or working with such a special kid.

Now, please place your phone or computer (or whatever you are using to read this) down and immediately go hug your student. Tell them you love them, then hug them again. Make sure they know they are loved every second by you and by us and that our only want is for them to be happy.

Thank you

Matthew Nelson
Clint Small Middle School
(512) 841-6705
Follow me on Twitter: @smallprincipal-

In memory of John Stidolph

“Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in this time of sorrow” 

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Green Tech

The Green Leaf

Green Academy Newsletter 2.18.20

Hello Community!

Spring is a busy time of the year for all people involved in the outdoors, and the Green Academy is no different. The gardens are being maintained and manicured. Our diligent work is leading to our gardens blooming in extraordinary ways! We are also aiming to complete many new projects in our outdoor learning spaces.

Last semester the Capstone students finished their projects. We installed murals, pollinator gardens, introduced a new flock of chickens, purchased new bee hives, and many other amazing projects. 

We were lucky enough to have been awarded two different grants. Both of which are almost finished being spent and established. One was to expand our urban forest and shade canopy on campus. The second was a partnership with Austin Fire Department to construct a demonstration garden on campus to educate our community on gardening with wildfire prevention in mind. There will be two informational signs manufactured and put in place before the end of this semester.

Due to the structure of the Green Academy, we are always working to find ways to fund our projects and innovations. Austin ISD and Small MS have always been supportive of our program. However, beyond our salaries the district and the school provide little to no funding to our program. 

Student Lab Fees are used to support small projects and replace basic resources. 

For the life of the Academy we have had a biannual plant sale. Our next sale will be on March 12 and 13. We sell student grown native plants, herbs, and vegetables. We will also be selling student created products including goat milk soap and paper embedded with wildflower seeds. The Green Academy Market Days products have been made over the past 2 years.

We are in a constant need of funding. We have 4 educators that have amazing ideas and plans. We are unceasingly searching and applying for grants opportunities. Many other schools are now moving into Environmental education. This is wonderful for the field, but makes it much harder to find a steady source of funds.

Our current plan is to begin a crowdfunding campaign. Austin ISD has partnered with Learning Tree. We are putting together a plan to create a new outdoor learning space. This outdoor learning space will almost double our outdoor seating allotment at Small. The space will be placed in a location that will allow it to be utilized by almost the entire student body. The outdoor space could be used for direct teaching, small group learning, nature observation, or just calm reflection. Research has shown that outdoor education can improve school performance, increase health and child development, and can improve civic attitudes and behaviors. Once our campaign goes live we will notify our wonderful community.

Please remember to support all of our campus programs. Also please visit our Small Gardens blog,, and our Instagram account, @insmallgardens.

Thank you!

Gang Green

GT-Math and Math-interested kiddos!

 The SMMG (Sunday Morning Math Group) session will be held this Sunday, February 23, 12-2pm in the usual location in 4.102 RLM Hall on UT’s campus. After the riddles, we’ll be having two talks–one in the Intermediate Room and one in the Advanced Room. You can check out the topics here, and, as always, there will be free bagels, muffins, juice, coffee, and street parking! 

Library Volunteers

We can always use help in the Library. If you want to volunteer, Sing up here: Sign Up to Volunteer in the Library

CAT Day Moved

Due to some conflicts, CAT day has moved to Friday, March 6th

Cougar Dancers Auditions

Join Small Middle School Ultimate Frisbee Club!

  • After-school twice a week on Mon/Wed/(some Fridays) starting March 2nd through mid-May –  check website for latest info
  • Faculty sponsor – Coach Mullen
  • $60 joining fee for after-school and Saturday league play, disc and shirt extra
  • Go to the website above to register and for additional information on the city-wide youth Spring league and other playing opportunities

6th Grade Transition Camp

Cougar Camp for our Incoming 6th Graders is now accepting Registration. 

Click here to print out the registration form. 

Email Coach Hernandez with any questions:

Idea for CAT Day!

Classes for CAT day are just starting to form. Teachers are coming up with new ideas and this time, we are partnering with Junior Achievement for Central Texas. JA will be here offering some entrepreneurship sessions on CAT Day! When it is time to set up your sessions, consider Think, Design, Pitch!

Join us for a celebration of archaeology! 

Austin Public Archaeology Day is a free event on Saturday, April 25 during the Society for American Archaeology’s Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. Everyone is invited to explore Texas history and heritage through hands-on activities, educational materials, and talks from archaeologists.

Advanced Theatre Info

Annie Jr. After school Rehearsals  are Feb 18,20,25,27th from 3:45-5:00pm
  • Do you want to create the Haunted House for Smalloween?
  • Be a star in the school Musical
  • Perform at UIL One Act Play Contest?
Then, try out for Advanced Theatre next year!
Advanced Theater Auditions are coming, March 4th, 6th, and 9th
Pick up and application outside Room 400 or from your grade level counselor. 

Patton Volleyball

Hello Patton Families!

This year, we were disappointed to hear that our FAVORITE annual Event, AAPER Volleyball Playday, has been cancelled due to construction on the UT Campus. But don’t worry… we are putting together a special event so that our Fifth Grade Class of 2020 can still get the experience of playing volleyball on a school team! We are inviting all current Middle Schoolers who were on our volleyball teams in 5th Grade to join us for a Patton Volleyball Playday! The Playday will take place on Sunday, March 8 from 1-4 PM at Small Middle School. We would love for you to wear your “vintage” shirts if you still have them!

If you want to be involved, Register here. 


Please consider joining our PTA Board.  It really is not that much work for a ton of reward! You help to keep Small being a wonderful place for our children to grow and discover their passion.  Positions require 2-3 hours a month of work at most.


CSMS PTA Board Open Positions

President OPEN (elected)> The President is the leader of the board and members of Small PTA. The President, along with the Executive Board and the School Principal, should set the year’s goals and direction as well as organize the plans for accomplishing those goals. The President presides over every meeting. The President should also be prepared to sign checks and contracts and to serve as the official spokesperson for the PTA.

Treasurer OPEN (elected)> Treasurer: The Treasurer performs all financial activities of the PTA. This includes keeping detailed records of any checks written or deposits made by following the rules and requirements for these activities as dictated by the IRS and the Texas PTA. The Treasurer should also be prepared to present a budget, a financial report, and coordinate the yearly financial reconciliation.

Fundraising OPEN> Work with the Small to Promote, get Sponsorship and Silent Auction items for the the Fun Run and the Small Carnival.  Work with Communications to update all related communication documents for the event and follow through on any related Sponsorship obligations.

Communications/Graphic Designer OPEN> Help the PTA create professional materials that communicate efficiently and effectively to PTA Members and Small Community Stakeholders. Records the history of the PTA with photos & scrapbooks or Photo Albums on the Google Drive. Work with committee members to update the PTA Websites and utilize the appropriate Facebook pages to promote PTA Events.

Parliamentarian OPEN> Maintains order and keeps meetings flowing. Familiar with Meeting protocol and ensures that everyone has a voice in the PTA.

Hospitality/Teacher and Staff Recognition OPEN> Coordinates the Recognition events for Small Teachers and Staff.     

Academy Liason: Dual Language OPEN> Meets regularly (at least Monthly during the Academic year) with the school leaders/teachers of the Small Dual Language Academy to see how the PTA can support the Academy and encourage stakeholder involvement. Reports to the Board any updates and needs from the Academy.

Academy Liaison: Green OPEN> Meets regularly (at least Monthly during the Academic year) with the school leaders/teachers of the Small Dual Language Academy to see how the PTA can support the Academy and encourage stakeholder involvement. Reports to the Board any updates and needs from the Academy.

NEW: Academy Liaison: Tech OPEN> Meets regularly (at least Monthly during the Academic year) with the school leaders/teachers of the Small Dual Language Academy to see how the PTA can support the Academy and encourage stakeholder involvement. Reports to the Board any updates and needs from the Academy.

If you are interested in learning more about these opportunities, email our PTA President at 

Buy a Yearbook!

Have you purchased your yearbook yet? 

The price goes up after winter break, so be sure to get your yearbook today! 

Only $40!

Click here to order online

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Join the PTA and show your support for Small Middle School!

JOIN Small PTA Anytime: Parents help make Small a place for Middle School kids to grow in to young adults.  The PTA is a group of parents and teachers working together to create the excellent academic and experience enriched environment we all enjoy at Small Middle School. Click here to become a member today!

Our Computer Science program is hosting a Women in Tech social event at Bowie at 5:00PM on Thursday, February 20th in room F222.

It is in partnership with UTeach. They wanted us to extend the invitation to 8th grade girls that may be interested in Computer Science.  If you are interested, please come to our first session on 2/20 at 5:00 pm

More Info from Bowie:

Websites for you and parents – the presentation to freshman:


New this year is course videos! There is extensive info on all our courses here:

Future Bulldogs:

Join Us at Camp Bowie Express!

Bowie High School is pleased to invite all incoming Freshmen to participate in Camp Bowie Express on Saturday, May 2 or Saturday, May 9 . Camp Bowie Express will offer, at no cost to the student, an abbreviated version of its transition-to-high-school experience. New freshmen can choose one of 4 sessions (8:30-11:30 or 12:30-3:30 each Saturday) during which they will have the opportunity to tour the campus, learn about some Bowie traditions, hear from current students about how to be successful in high school, meet students from other middle schools, and more! Just use the link below to register! The link can also be used to order the official Class of 2024 t-shirt to be distributed at Camp Bowie Express. 

Please contact Patricia Maney ( ) with questions.


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