TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: November 2021

We were lucky enough to have TWO note-takers during the meeting, so below are the minutes for you to read if you missed the meeting or need to refresh yourself on what was covered.

 Takoma Park Elementary School(TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES)

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, November 2, 2021 from 7-8pm on Zoom

Please mark your calendar for our next PTA meeting on Tues, Dec 7 7-8pm when we’ll hear from Ms Bozel and Mr. Bledsoe, our TPES and PBES reading specialists about our reading curriculum and resources available to students and families

7:00    Welcome & Introduction of Interpreters from Chris Campbell, TPES PTA VP Communications

Upcoming Dates and Announcements from the MCPS School Calendar 2021- 2022

            Upcoming Dates:

— As you may have heard, today the CDC’s advisory committee recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in children aged 5-11. We’re awaiting guidance from MCPS who is partnering with the county’s DHHS and Holy Cross Hospital to offer a number of free vaccination clinics for children at schools and county sites once the vaccine is available. The PTA is in touch with the City of Takoma Park and Small Things Matter about co-hosting a vaccine clinic/ drive at the Takoma Park Recreation Center, hopefully as soon as Sat, Nov 13 but that depends on available supply. More information will be forthcoming.

Most vaccines will come through pediatricians

This first weekend, we think 11/6 and 11/7, MCPS/Holy Cross/DHHS will hold clinics at 12 middle schools 10a-6pm– including Eastern and Silver Spring International

— Nov 4: MCPS closed for Teachers’ Professional Day

— Nov 5: For 5th grade families, last day to enter magnet middle school lottery for Argyle, Parkland and Loiderman  

— Nov 8: Sharing our Stories will be held every Monday from 7:30-8pm on Zoom. Every week, we gather to celebrate the unique culture and traditions of students, teachers, staff, and community members. Anyone interested in participating or volunteering to assist with the program, contact Shana Sabbath or complete google form to participate (will include in chat:; google form: Sharing Our Stories sign-up form). 

— Nov 8-12: PBES book fair. A sign up genius has gone out by email and we still need volunteers to help support the event! You can contact Chrissie Juliano – ( or Sarah Corcoran ( if you have questions. Please sign up to volunteer for set up on Nov 5th, take down on Nov 12th, and during the week as classes come through. 

— Nov 1-24/30: TPES’ Dolphin Drive- fundraising effort with goal of raising $10K to support recovery efforts for students’ academic, social and emotional development, health and overall well-being. Flyers went home in Dolphin folders today and there will be email reminders.

– Nov 1-11: The TPES and PBES PTAs are teaming up with Small Things Matter to collect warm weather clothes- specifically new and gently worn warm jackets, hats, and gloves for families in need in Takoma Park. You can drop off at TPES or PBES 8:30-4:30 M-F and items will be distributed on Thursday, November 11 at TPES and PBES after school from 3:50-4:50pm.  Contact Kaitlin Caruso, TPES PTA Social Services Committee chair with any questions:

— Parent-teacher conferences: keep eyes out for your students’ teachers scheduling parent-teacher conferences in November

— Nov 22, 23, 24 (Early Release Days – School ends at 1:20pm) and Nov 25-26 (MCPS closed for Thanksgiving holiday)

— Dec 7: PTA meeting focused on reading- will be joined by TPES and PBES reading specialists 

Announcements/ opportunities for engagement:

— Updates re PBES PTA positions: PBES PTA President Jaslynn Laurence

Jaslynn will be leaving in March for maternity leave, new PBES PTA president needed

Also needed : Vice president

Special education advocate

Someone to clean fish-tank



— NAACP: Sharon Gaskins, TPES Representative to NAACP

Have had meetings with Dr. Gadsden, also district meetings

Welcome more parents especially if have black/brown children

2 more meetings; second in new year

— PTA is looking for volunteers who speak Spanish or Amharic to assist with   translating and interpreting PTA notices and events.  Please contact

— MCPS schools, including TPES and PBES, are in great need of substitute teachers. Just sent email to listservs with more information about rates, process and contact information.   

— TPES and PBES now allow and are in need of volunteers in school, which helps teachers’ efforts to provide more individual/small group attention and assists with recovery and enrichment efforts. Please see Dr Gadsden and Ms Oberdorff’s notices re volunteer requirements, which include COVID-19 vaccination documentation, a background check (for certain volunteers) and completion of a hour long training around identifying child abuse and neglect.  

link to form:

— MCCPTA: The MCPS Interim Superintendent released her Capital Improvement Plan recommendations a few weeks ago (kicking off a process that will extend through the Spring) and Piney Branch (along with Eastern MS) is once again named for “planning” dollars. For those newer to this process, that doesn’t mean we can assume that those planning dollars are a done deal. Nor does it mean planning towards specific renovations/rebuild would be done. What it does mean is this year’s final CIP might allocate planning dollars for next year (22-23) towards assessment and planning for if PBES building can be renovated or if a rebuild should be programmed on-site or elsewhere. An actual renovation or rebuild would still be years down the line. So, if we want this to happen – we’ll need to work with the community to make it happen. Please stay tuned for how you can take action.

Contact Jaime Koppel with questions:

Or Rebecca Shaeffer for TPES:

To provide input in the search for a permanent MCPS superintendent:

There are three ways to do so:  (1) complete this survey: (2) participate in a forum (there are two left):

(3) send an e-mail to BOE:

Outdoor Lunch Continues with volunteer help! Contact Joyce McDonough at 

–Remember to Say Yes to the Test for Covid random surveillance testing. Starting Monday, Nov 8, unvaccinated students who are considered close contacts in not “high risk situations” may avoid 10-day quarantine only if signed up for random surveillance testing! 

7:15     Presentations from TPES and PBES Math Specialists about Eureka Curriculum, current approaches to math (and how they’re different from how older generations learned math) and what resources are available to best support students’ math recovery, progress and enrichment 


Ms  Samikia East, Math Lead Teacher, School Test Coordinator and Staff Development Teacher, TPES

Ms Soosan Faulk, Math Content Coach, PBES

Eureka Math- aligned to Common core standards

Coherence- concepts shared across grade levels- K through 6

Rigorous- explicit expectations



Tells an unfolding story of mathematics/ Units Number bonds used through 6th grade math getting more complex each year

Lessons are standardized:

Typical lesson:
Fluency practice- e.g. counting, sprints, whiteboard,

Allows students to maintain what they already now (stay sharp), prepare for new skills,

After fluency- application problem- real world problem, solving every day activity that student might be involved in.

Can either be extension of learning, or before the new concept development

Focus on read-draw-write (read the problem, draw a picture, write the number sentence


Concept development: where new learning of day occurs

Progress from Concrete to pictorial to abstract (more upper level representations)


The last part of each lesson is the debrief

Where students talk about the work and reflecting on learning- exit ticket is a daily occurrence

Teacher can use information to directly inform lesson for the next day (does it need to be reinforced, or did the get it)


How can we tell what our kids are learning?
Mid-module and end of module assessments

Created by eureka, offered during each model

There are 4 that are required by MCPS to be given each year to collect district wide- data

Assessments done differently by grade level- K: observational

G1/2: paper and pencil

G3-5 taken online


Don’t share percentages- do standards based grading

Look at 3-4 objectives


Student books:

The spines are different based on the type of book

Blue and yellow books are for use in class- Learn/Practice

Succeed book is the one to be used at home- where the homework is


Within the succeed book- there is a homework helper- resource for parents and students- shows the language that they want students to use when doing their math work


Parents can get more information about Eureka through Great minds website


Need to set up a free parent account, but there are alot of resources in English and Spanish

There are parent tip sheets for every topic

Key concepts- sample problems.


Additional resources:
Zearn (product of eureka; online platform that gives them feedback):


Khan Academy has done some alignment with Eureka:



Have fun with math:


Eureka card games to practice math skills

To play with a deck of cards


Bedtime math: book form, app and webpage; in English and Spanish


We will also be addressing unfinished learning for the next 2 years

Foundational days- specific days to reach back to foundational skills to make sure kids are prepared for new learning

Some content omitted- to allow for time for foundational days

Some content will continue to be infused with foundational skills


Enrichment takes place within Eureka, and is built into every lesson

May modify problems or make them more complex/open ended

Teachers can substitute special tasks


There is a learning curve for teachers and students- this is the first year that this has been used in person

This is time based, not task based

Student not expected to complete everything- spend a certain amount of time, there might be work that is not done

Grades may go down a bit because of the increased rigor of the curriculum



When doing compacted math such as 4/5 or 5/6, does Eureka recommend which lessons to skip to go faster, is this something MCPS as a district decides, or is it at the school level?

A little of both: Eureka does have recommendation have pacing, and often the recommendation that can be omitted is followed by those who are deciding on the compact curriculum


What is the relationship between Eureka and the Performance matters assessments?

Performance matters is the platform that the Eureka questions are put on.


What’s an example of foundational skills that are covered on foundational days?

Different grades are using foundational days differently; targeting what is seen from the students

Looking at skills that may have been missed last year

Or teachers may use foundational day to slow instruction- split one day into 2 if harder concept


Some might be doing enrichment, others reinforcing concepts


Last year, I noticed there was a lot of writing expected in Eureka math. How much work are students expected to show in the read-draw-write model? (Both showing math work and writing complete sentences)

Writing is the ultimate explanation of the understanding.

Need to write on assessments at least on 1 or 2 items how they got the answers, explain how they did it


So just to understand: there is not an expectation to finish the homework and do all of the problems on the pages assigned? Is it okay to spend about 10 minutes and let the student choose which questions to address on the worksheet during that time?

Yes- and parents can look it over to decide which problems are best for your student to answer- they are for practice and reinforcement and get harder through the questions


What has each school identified as math-related goals in school improvement plans (SIP) for this year? Are there any supports we can offer as PTAs to support students and teachers in the context of the SIPs?

Piney Branch :SIP: working on expressive language with students- speaking and writing, specifically multilingual learners, but all the students because all academic language learners.

To give them the opportunity to speak in class and have academic conversations


TPES: working with multilingual learners to put scaffolds in place, also working with ESOL/para educators to pull kids aside who need extra help in math


Through Dolphin drive helping to raise money to help with recovery efforts- much of it is reading but can help in math as well.


Eureka seems really worksheet-based. How is the program structured to engaged students who learn different ways (auditory, hands-on/movement, visual)?

Might see work sheet at home, but not that way in classroom- in class often use whiteboard, centers, manipulatives, small groups



Sometimes I notice that the Peek at the Week doesn’t map onto the Succeed book. Is this the best resource to understand what the homework is?

If you see this- reach out to the teacher- send them an email; it might be an oversight


what is a child is out for a few days, will they be able to catch up?

Peak of the week can help to see what students have missed; homework sheets can give parents directions on how to help child.



Parent Resource page


7:50     Treasurer’s Reports and Membership Vote to Approve Budgets

Kate Bauer, PBES Treasurer & Stephen Tippett, TPES Treasurer

Kate Bauer:

$2845 from booster/membership

$802 Fundraiser/merchandising

$11,425 grant to support classrooms


Expenses: $1,760.67

162.85 paypal fees


Stephen Tippett:

$2445 in membership total current income 3937

(excluding Tommy’s pantry)

Total expenses: 9724.23- main expense teacher classroom support: 5875


Become a PTA member: Takoma Park Elementary
Piney Branch Elementary

TPES PBES November 2, 2021 Meeting Notes


  • Upcoming events overview
  • NAACP Parent Council Representative – Sharon introduced the council and welcomed parental engagement
  • TPES and PBES math specialists Ms East (staff development at TPES) and Mr Faulk (PBES) about the Eureka curriculum, modern approaches to learning math (which are quite different than how many parents learned math), and what resources are available to best support students’ math recovery, progress and enrichment.
  • Answer any questions about the Eureka curriculum
  • What is Eureka math?

o   It’s aligned to common core standard, for K-6, it’s comprehensive, it’s a curriculum that is used across Montgomery County

o   A story of unit – it tells a story through mathematics and gets more complex

o   Emphasize models and strategies

  • Typical lesson

o   Fluency, application, concept development, and student debrief – so students can get the full lesson and concept they are learning

o   Fluency classes – to gain info what the kid knows: counting, white board, etc;

o   Concept development – where learning of the day occurs – to build conceptual understanding

o   Problem set – spend about 10 minutes on it – working on it at their level

  • Parent Resources

o   Books – learn, practice, succeed

o   Greatminds website & other resources


  • What you’ll see this year

o   This is new and it’s a big adjustment; spend 10 minutes on it but not designed for completion

o   Positive reactions from other schools that have been implementing it longer

  • Q&As

o   When doing 4/5 or 5/6 – does Eureka recommend an approach?

  • A little bit of both and Eureka has some recs

o   Relationship between E and performance matters assessment

  • It’s a platform to take test and the items are from Eureka

o   Example of foundational skills/days? Lots of writing in math? How much expected to show in the redraw model?

  • Different days – county id’d skills that need to be backfilled; maybe use to slow down instruction for difficult concept; more differentiated instructions
  • Writing – it’s a process to build up understanding of a problem; the goal is to write a math equation and put it in writing; explain their thinking and how they got their answer

o   Just to understand that its not an expectation to finish the homework and spend 10 minutes on problems.

  • It’s based on each student’s needs

o   Goals/support students/teachers

  • PBES – develop expressive language skills, especially multi-language learners, but all kids; opportunities to build up skills
  • TPES – working with multi-language learners and extra support in math
  • How PTA can support – through Dolphin drive fundraiser and other ways to support from the PTA perspective

o   Eureka is worksheet based – any other ways to engage?

  • It’s not necessary worksheet in the classroom – white board; small groups; other ways- centers, working independently or paired up; hands on work

o   Peak of the week doesn’t match Succeed book? Out from school – how to catch up?

  • Reach out to your teacher directly
  • Absent – Peak of the Week can help… Homework sheets can help at home…


  • Budget report


  • Vaccine announcement –MCPS and Holy Cross – Nov 6 and 7 – possible clinics at Easter and SS.

2021 Winter Coat and Gear Drive

With the cold weather upon us, the TPES PTA and Small Things Matter are collecting new and gently worn warm jackets, hats and gloves for families in need in Takoma Park. These donations will be especially important this year, as many families will choose to continue with outdoor lunch for their children.

Donations can be dropped off from November 1st until November 11th in the collection boxes in the TPES atrium. Donations are also welcome at PBES, the TPSS Co-op and Main Street Pearl. Please make sure that the used clothing is in dignity condition and clean. All sizes are needed!

Coats will be distributed on Thursday, November 11 at TPES and PBES after school from 3:50-4:50 PM and on Tuesday, November 23 at the back of the TPSS Co-op from 4:00-6:00 PM.