News From Principal Hill

Panther Parents,

Happy Monday! It is difficult to believe that in just one week, we will be welcoming October (and, hopefully some cooler weather as well). With the fall semester well underway, we wanted to be sure and let you know about a few things happening at Zilker Elementary.

District Leveling and Staffing Updates
Each year the district goes through a leveling process where staffing changes are made at campuses that are overstaffed and those that are understaffed. This year at Zilker, our first grade classes exceed the maximum number of students in each classroom that is allowed by Texas law. As a result, we were able to add an additional teacher to this grade level.

Please join me in welcoming our new first grade teacher, Ms. Eileen Vasquez. Ms. Vasquez previously taught second grade at Sanchez Elementary, and before that she was a first grade teacher in Round Rock ISD for four years. We are happy to have her join our wonderful Zilker community.

We have also learned through the leveling process that our special area allocations have increased. As a result, we will have our scheduled traveling special areas teacher at Zilker all day. For example, on A-days, our traveling music teacher will be at Zilker all day, instead of just the first three periods of the day. The three teachers will continue with the regular rotation of music, art, and PE. This new schedule will begin Thursday, September 28th.

We realize many of you have not had the opportunity to meet our traveling teachers. We hope with the additional time on our campus, we will have more opportunities to introduce these amazing teachers to our Zilker families. Until then, we have put together a brief written introduction from each of our traveling special areas teachers.

Michael Stephenson- Physical Education Teacher
My name is Michael Stephenson. This is my second year of teaching elementary school PE but my 7th year total. I am originally from Chicago where I taught middle school and high school. I have coached almost every sport at multiple levels. My wife and I moved down here a little over a year ago for her to pursue her doctorate at University of Texas. I have two daughters that are 3 years old and 3 months old. I love all sports but basketball and football are my favorite. I love being a physical education teacher and getting to play every day!

Laura Wohlfort – Music Teacher
My name is Ms. Wohlfort, and I’m extremely excited to be teaching at Zilker Elementary this year! Here is a little information about myself: I was born and raised in Houston, TX, and I attended Baylor University where I majored in choral music education. I’ve played piano since I was six years old, and I was a percussionist in middle school as well as on drumline in high school. Music has always been a large part of my life. This is my 3rd year as a teacher and my 2nd year in AISD. My main elementary campus is Brooke, but this year I’m traveling to Zilker as well as Travis Heights.

In my free time I enjoy wakeboarding, wake surfing, traveling, making friends, and making music! I look forward to teaching your children!

John Ousley- Art Teacher
I have been teaching students in Austin ISD elementary schools for over 12 years now. I graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2005 with a degree in Art Education. I started teaching because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. I teach Art and enjoy sharing the knowledge I have learned with young students.

I have an art background in drawing, painting, filmmaking, graphic design, ceramics, and print making. The medium of art I enjoy working with most is painting. I have worked to organize fundraiser and art shows for AISD. I was selected 2016-2017 AISD campus “Teacher of the Year” at Brooke Elementary. In addition I work for Gigtown a music app company located in San Diego. I run sound, DJ, and book local Austin musicians for events as my side job. I work with my side employers’ to help with fundraising and events here in Austin. On what free time I have I spend with my wife and 5 year old son. I enjoy outdoor actives here in Austin.

I look forward to working here at Zilker Elementary this year as a part time Art teacher. My door is always open if you have any questions. I am honored to work with the children of this community. I have been a Texan all my life and am glad to be here in Austin Texas. Go Longhorns!

Thank You Garden Helpers
Thank you to all the parents who came out to Zilker on Friday to help weed and tidy up Jabo’s garden in preparation for our garden lessons beginning in October. We are looking forward not only to a bountiful harvest, but also to the many ways our students benefit from having a school garden.

Did you know that research has shown that students experience increased academic achievement when a school garden is integrated into their school curriculum? Studies also show that:
Gardening during childhood exposes children to healthy food, moderate exercise, and positive social interactions and can often lead to a lifetime of gardening.

The school garden serves as a “safe place” for students. Studies show that large numbers of students report “that they feel ‘calm,’ ‘safe,’ ‘happy,’ and ‘relaxed’ in the school garden.

Students involved with school gardens generally take pleasure in learning and show positive attitudes towards education
We know it takes a lot of hard work and effort to bring this experience to our students, and we are grateful for all of the support.

Zilker Fund
The Zilker Fund is a once a year “no hassle fund raiser” by the Zilker PTA. The funds raised through this year’s Zilker Fund will support our initiative to provide more STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) learning opportunities for our Zilker Panthers.

Please consider a simple monthly sustaining gift or a one-time donation to ensure our Zilker students have access to innovative educational experiences and current technology and resources. Your contribution will make a lasting impact on all of our students at Zilker.

 

–  from Alicia Hill, Principal