Roadrunner Rundown – Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2019

Roadrunner Families,
We are sending this week’s newsletter out early to wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day and to remind you that there will be no school on Monday for President’s Day. The holiday serves as an optional spring conference day for our families. On Thursday of next week, we will be hosting a 6th Grade Information Night for families to learn more about our remarkable 6th Grade Leadership Institute. While there are fewer 6th grade programs at other schools these days, our program continues to thrive and does a fantastic job of preparing our students for whatever awaits them in middle school and beyond. There are many benefits of having your Roadrunner at Lee Elementary for their 6th grade year, join us next Thursday evening at 6:30 to learn more.

If you have not already done so, please complete the Parent and Family Survey that you should have received via email. AISD utilizes this survey to gauge how things are going at our school and on behalf of all of our teachers and staff, we’d appreciate it if you took the short amount of time it takes to complete it.

This morning I hosted one of our biggest tours of the year to help incoming families learn more about our school. Because we are open to transfers across all grade levels, we will be closely monitoring grade level numbers. Our fantastic registrar, Stephanie Garza has been working hard to get all of our returning students registered early, so please register your Roadrunner through the AISD Parent Cloud today. Later this semester, I will be hosting a Principal’s Coffee on the projected numbers for the different grade levels and updates on our new campus addition. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Lastly, I want to share one of the Lee Live themed We Are Lee interviews that our contributing writer and Lee parent, Clayton Maxwell has been working on in the lead up to the big night! In this week’s edition, Clayton talks to one of the hardest working people I have ever met, CAC Chairperson and Lee Live organizer, the one and only, Snow White. Enjoy this latest We are Lee and see you at Lee Live!

What do Mardi Gras plus White Denim plus Rio Grande Valley conjunto music plus brass bands plus the indomitable auctioneer TiWanna Kenney have in common? This year, they are all part of Lee Live, the event that makes sure that Lee has the funds to pay for, amongst many things, the math and reading specialists who directly impacted around 108 Lee students just last semester. Read here to get the scoop on Lee Live with Snow White, the fundraising event’s chair.

You are the organizer of the annual Eeyore’s Birthday Party in Pease Park, a legendary Austin event. You also work full time at Dell. You are busy. I know you are a pro at throwing parties, but what made you want to chair this year’s Lee Live?

Lee Live is an event that raises money for critical services and staff members that impact ALL of our students in one way or another. Unfortunately, public education as a whole is still severely underfunded by the state and after reviewing the tough budget cut decisions Austin ISD is having to make, my fear is that our school will also have to make some of those same tough budget decisions unless we raise enough funds to make up the difference. The PTA holds many community-building events throughout the year, but this is our biggest fundraiser that we really count on. The funds allow us have our fabulous math and reading specialists who directly impacted around 108 students just last semester (almost 1/4 of our school) and they are adding more students for spring semester. They also allow us to have a full time Assistant Principal—it is hard to quantify the numerous students Ms. Sileo is impacting because she is seriously like a super hero flying through the halls touching so many aspects of our school. In addition, these funds provide our teachers and staff instructional supplies so they don’t have to use their own money to purchase supplies (which is so rare when you talk to other school teachers), support some of the enrichment programs in our school, professional development opportunities for our teachers, school pictures for kids who cannot afford the fees, and the list goes on and on. Lee Live is really fun and it raises a majority of the funds needed for our current programs and services. I am honored to be chairing this year’s Lee Live to help support the needs of our students and I hope we raise more than ever this year in anticipation of budget cuts from the district that will impact our Lee students.

What are you looking forward to about this year’s event?

There are SO many things I am excited about this year’s event at our new venue Springdale Station. Of course, lots of us are super excited about our headliner band, White Denim, playing this year—we’re so fortunate to have the lead singer of this amazing band as a parent at our school. As opening bands, Dave Junker invited a Conjunto band from the Rio Grande Valley called Conjunto Warriors and a college brass band to go with our Mardi Gras theme, which I am excited about.

Our event is the weekend before Fat Tuesday so Mardi Gras will be in full swing by Lee Live. Last year, people had some great 80’s outfits and I expect we might see some fantastic Mardi Gras attire on the dance floor this year!

I am also excited that the Austin ISD’s Clifton Career Development School’s Culinary Academy will be preparing a delicious New Orleans style dinner buffet for us including King Cakes. If you are not familiar with this school, Clifton is designed for high school students who receive special education services in the district who need moderate modifications to be successful in Career and Technical Education. Clifton provides on-the-job training, internships, and professional certifications during their last 3 years of school. The students are so thoughtful in what they prepare and the food is always amazing at their events.

If you have attended Lee Live in the past, you know how incredible the class projects are the kids create each year for the Live Auction. Our wonderful parent artists led by Susannah Hollinger work tirelessly each year to make sure each grade level project is unique and truly pieces of art. These projects raise so much money for us at Lee Live and such a vital component to our event. Special thanks to Kinder parent and artist, Jack Sanders, for jumping on board his first year at Lee.

While Lee Live will still have many of the traditional aspects of the event such as dinner, dancing and the silent and live auctions, you will see some small changes throughout the event also such as our new auctioneer for the Live Auction. I am overjoyed to have TiWanna A. Kenney (she goes by TK) support us this year, you will know why after you read her credentials. She is the first and only African American woman to earn the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) designation through the National Auctioneers Association (NAA). She is a U.S. Army Veteran with 15 years of financial industry, community relations, non-profit, and event planning experience and also an instructor at McLennan Community College. She serves on several Boards and has received numerous awards and recognition for her work. I have seen her in action and she brings an incredible energy to the Live Auctions!

We have several other surprises planned for this year’s Lee Live but I don’t want to reveal them yet. You will just have to join us on March 2nd to find out! Buy your tickets or sponsorship at

Have a wonderful weekend,

John Hewlett
Principal – Russell Lee Elementary School