• Happy Thanksgiving from PCMS!

    Posted by Zachary Kleypas on 11/20/2020

    Greetings Pumas,

    Happy Friday & happy start to your Thanksgiving Break!

    I hope you and your family are able to have a restful, rejuvenating, joyful, and most importantly safe holiday. Park Crest will be closed all next week in observance of the holiday.

    With Travis County moving to a Stage 4 status based on current COVID-19 data, please make safe decisions for your family and our community. At this time, we do NOT have any updates or information regarding changes to our operations. Schools are essential businesses; thus, this change alone does not impact our operations. I assure you I will keep you updated if any changes occur. For now, we ask staff, students, and families to simply stay tuned and stay flexible.

    PfISD Statement Regarding Austin Public Health, Nov. 19th:

    Travis County announced today that it has moved into Phase 4 of its COVID-19 pandemic response. The move to Phase 4 is in response to the recent rise in new infections and the county’s positivity incidence rate.

    Included in its response is guidance for schools, which recommends dropping in-person learning capacity to 25%. However, as mandated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), public schools are required to provide on-campus learning to all families who wish to send their student(s) to campus.  

    As a result, Pflugerville ISD does not have the authority to place a cap on the percentage of in-person learners and will continue to provide on-campus learning to families who have selected it as their preferred learning option for the second-nine weeks. All campuses will also continue to follow the District’s Return to Learn Plan designed to keep students and staff as safe as possible during on-campus learning.

    Currently, students/parents/guardians have the opportunity to notify their campus if they wish to move from virtual to on-campus learning or on-campus to virtual learning at the end of every grading period. Families may choose to continue to keep their students in virtual learning for as long as they choose. Students may also move from on-campus learning to virtual learning at ANY time. 

    Families are encouraged to stay connected to the District’s websiteReturn to Learn page, Facebook, and Twitter. As any new developments occur, they will also be shared with parents via email as well as phone and text message, if available.

    Community Connections Series 1, Episode 8:

    Check out this week’s Community Connections: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KZ2RXCTD3A

    THANK YOU – PTO Sweet Treats Tradition:

    We have found that it is hard to uphold some of the many traditions we have at Park Crest during a pandemic. Some things have dropped off intentionally and some even unintentionally. However, one tradition our staff treasure each year is our PTO Sweet Treats event. During this event pies, sweets, treats, and this year gift cards are wheeled around the campus for staff to choose from to take home for the holidays.

    I want to sincerely thank all of the parents and community members who participated. You truly brightened the day of my staff, partially because of the great treat they get to take home to their families, but mainly for the heartfelt support that comes with receiving such a gift. Seeing a teacher light up and smile is second in my book only to that experience of a kiddo. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    PTO Calendar:

    Please feel free to check out the meeting minutes from this weeks PTO meeting: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16wwGiRyuD-IG7w-y2NNjiV-usrM-AF2U_N9qY1ITcAE/edit?usp=sharing

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    Shirt Art Contest

    Calling all student artists! Show your Puma Pride with your original design for the next PCMS PTO shirt and win a $20 Chick-fil-A gift card and shirt with your design! Contest from 11/12/20 - 12/3/20

    Spirit Wear on Sale!

    PCMS PTO is selling Puma swag so get your shirt, mask, towel and ribbon and show your school spirit!  

    Order here:  https://park-crest-pto.square.site

    Basketball concessions & spirit gear!

    PCMS PTO will be selling snacks, drinks, sports towels and spirit ribbons at the basketball games on Wednesdays & Thursdays starting 12/9/20.  Support our players with some Puma gear!

    Save the Date – PCMS Spirit Night:

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    Save the Date – PCMS Theatre:

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    A Short Article Shared by Our Parent Liaison:

    The Misunderstood Middle Schooler

    To address the rampant behavior problems in middle school, we need to better understand teens' moral development.


    To start with, research tells us that kids have deeply ingrained moral instincts that give them a sense of fairness, of right and wrong, good and bad—and they generally prefer the good. For instance, children as young as six months who were shown a puppet show in which one puppet was a “helper” and another was a “hinderer” overwhelmingly chose to play with the helper, demonstrating their ability to make complex social judgments.

    So, what happens to this moral instinct when they reach middle school? Does it just shut down for a while? Not at all. In fact, research on moral development suggests that middle school is a crucial developmental period for these moral instincts to take root and grow. But because of where adolescents are developmentally, we need to practice very specific strategies for translating their moral instincts into moral behavior.

    Why is this?

    The answer can be found in research by human development experts Larry Nucci and Elliot Turiel, who have identified two important domains that play a role in the moral development of children: moral issues and societal conventions.

    Moral issues focus on the effects students’ actions have on the welfare of others (e.g., hitting another child). Societal conventions, on the other hand, focus on norms or rules (e.g., talking in class). Children as young as two-and-a-half years old have demonstrated that they understand the difference between moral issues and societal conventions.

    Nucci and Turiel stress that, when dealing with student misbehavior, teachers need to take both areas into consideration.

    Research suggests that even through adolescence, kids maintain a strong emotional response to moral issues where the direct effects on another person are clear—they still know it’s wrong to hit other people or pick their pockets, for instance.

    Once they hit middle school age, however, they become less bound by societal conventions. This means that when their moral decisions have only indirect effects on other people, they become less likely to do the right thing. For example, even though they wouldn’t actually pick someone else’s pocket, they’re less inclined than younger kids to return money they find on the street. In that case, the indirect nature of the dilemma doesn’t stimulate their moral instincts, and we can’t count on them to adhere to societal conventions like they did when they were younger.

    Think about it this way: Middle school students have just spent the first 11 or 12 years of their lives following the rules. All of a sudden, they wake up to the fact that these rules were set by adults and are somewhat arbitrary. Developmentally, they haven’t yet understood why these rules were developed in the first place: to protect the welfare of other people. They typically won’t make that connection until they’re about 15 or 16. So their behavior often falls in a moral gap between the fidelity to the rules they showed as young kids and the more complex moral reasoning they develop in their later teens.

    So, what can teachers do to help middle school students bridge this gap? Here are some developmentally-appropriate suggestions.

    1) When a student misbehaves, tell him or her whether the misbehavior broke a societal convention or a moral issue—and then talk about it. In other words, if a student breaks a classroom [home] rule, ask him/her to consider how the action impacts the smooth running of the classroom. If the misbehavior is a moral transgression against another student, explore how the action impacts that other student’s welfare. Researchers have found that teachers [parents] who match their discipline to the type of infraction (moral vs. convention) are considered more knowledgeable and effective by their students. Talking about the misbehavior helps students realize the impact of their actions on others and understand why societal conventions are necessary.

    2) Discuss moral transgressions as they occur—and ask how they made students feel. Students more deeply understand the impact their actions have on others when they discuss motives and consequences with each other. It’s also crucial to include students’ emotions in the discussion. Research has shown that children have strong emotional reactions to moral situations because they’re about care and harm to other people rather than adherence to rules. For example, moral transgressions cause children to respond with anger, sadness, or empathy for the victim, while positive moral interactions foster emotions of happiness. The breaking of societal conventions, on the other hand, brings very little emotional response from children. By discussing how they feel—and made other people feel—in moral situations, students become better able to identify and regulate their emotions in future moral dilemmas.

    3) Give students the opportunity to have input on classroom rules. In setting boundaries for middle schoolers, schools often do exactly the opposite of what’s developmentally appropriate: greater teacher control and limited opportunities for students to practice decision-making and choice. Research has demonstrated that the mismatch between students’ need for autonomy at this age and schools’ greater wielding of control causes students to lose motivation and interest in school. Allowing students to craft societal conventions for school helps them understand the need for these conventions and keeps them engaged in the learning process.

    The research is clear: Instead of clamping down on middle school students when they misbehave, we need to engage them in discussion. This is critical to their moral understanding—and research suggests it can even impact their long-term academic success.

    Hopefully, we can turn some of those middle school tears into smiles for students and teachers alike.


    Most sincerely,

    Zack Kleypas
    Park Crest Middle School

    “Keep improving, always, in all ways.”

    Comments (-1)
  • Great Week at PCMS!

    Posted by Zachary Kleypas on 11/13/2020

    Greetings Pumas,

    Happy Friday!

    It is hard to believe we are only one week away from the much needed, well deserved Thanksgiving Holiday.

    A few logistical updates I want to share:

    1. Zoom Authentication: We have still not fully integrated all students into the system. Thus, no changes have occurred. Some students have begun to be added and have received the notification email. Please have them accept it.
    2. Automated Calls about Attendance: PfISD has started the automated calls for absences again. Unfortunately, it appeared the system glitched a bit on the first round. Of coure they did…. It’s 2020. ☹ Thank you for your patience. “What should I as a parent do if I get one of those calls? – simple, just talk to your kiddo about the class period and the “absence” if they are virtual, please make sure they are logging in to canvas during the day and access the materials for that class so the Teacher can see them and mark them present.
    3. Migration to Canvas: As you know, we have migrated to Canvas as we slowly move away from Google Classroom. I will save you the details of the pros and cons, but wanted to take a moment to gather some input. I realize some are thriving and some are not. We are working as a campus to unify our approach to Canvas through a Canvas committee. Your input on things you like and things you don’t would help us make decisions. Please provide your feedback here: https://forms.gle/Rqv8f8dhw2xdNDYa9

    Native American Heritage Month:

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    Please help us celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November! Would you like your kiddo to read some awesome, culturally relevant books about Native American history and heritage? We have just what you need! Have them “visit” the library for tons of resources that have been set aside for the occasion: https://sites.google.com/pfisd.net/pcmslib

    A Word from PTO:

    Spirit Wear on Sale Now!

    PCMS PTO is now selling Puma swag so get your shirt, mask, towel and ribbon and show your school spirit!  Every student or staff who orders a shirt and/or mask by 11/13/20 will be entered in a raffle to win a FREE Andy's Frozen Custard dessert.

    Order here:  https://park-crest-pto.square.site/

    Thanksgiving treats for PCMS staff 

    Let’s show we’re thankful for the PCMS staff! Donations of gift cards, $$ and store-packaged goodies needed for Thanksgiving treats on Friday, 11/20/20:  Sign up here:  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0D49A9A62AABF9C61-pcms

    Shirt Art Contest

    Calling all student artists! Show your Puma Pride with your original design for the next PCMS PTO shirt and win a $20 Chick-fil-A gift card and shirt with your design! Contest from 11/12/20 - 12/3/20

    PCMS Homework “Hotline” (Zoom):

    We start this coming week with our PCMS Homework Hotline and we are super excited (and maybe a bit nervous).

    The zoom information for Tuesday & Thursday is the same and has been shared with all PCMS students in their Google “Class of…” Here it is for your record as well:

    Join Zoom Meeting: https://pfisd-net.zoom.us/j/84923742220

    Meeting ID: 849 2374 2220

    Passcode: PCMSHELP

    Students simply need to log into the zoom anytime between 6-8pm on Tuesday or Thursday and a PCMS teacher and High School student leaders will be there to help!

     Here is how it will work:

    PCMS FREE Tutorial Hotline Logistics


    PCMS Evening Tutorial “Hotline”


    Students often get stuck or struggle with their homework in the early evening. This is a time when teachers and staff are off duty and spending time away from work with their own family. 

    Who (adults)

    A Park Crest teacher to facilitate + High School student leaders to help support and tutor.

    Who (students)

    Any student 6th - 8th is welcome to join!


    Tuesdays & Thursdays, come and go, from 6-8pm.

    Start: 11/17 and 11/19 (initial test run before Thanksgiving) and then every T/Th when we have school.


    A recurring Zoom - link will be shared with students and parents so it is easily accessible. 


    Main room + Breakout Rooms

    Teacher Lead + HS Student Supports (National Honor Society, Ready Set Teach, PALS, Student Council, and AVID) from HHS & PHS

    Community Connections Series 1, Episode 7:

    Check out this week’s Community Connections: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDnecvscJqM

    Who will be next you ask? Well it will be…... Nope, no spoiler alerts! You are going to have to stay tuned! We have a ton of great interviews coming up that you won’t want to miss.

    PTO Calendar:

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    Most sincerely,

    Zack Kleypas
    Park Crest Middle School

    “Keep improving, always, in all ways.”

    Comments (-1)