May 2023 PTA Meeting Minutes

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Association Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, May 2, 2023 from 7-8pm on Zoom 


  •  Welcome – Chris Campbell PBES PTA VP of Communications & Emma Cheuse, PBES PTA President
  • Interpreters:
    • Luis Mejia (, Spanish Interpreter
    • Tebeje Abebech (, Amharic Interpreter
  • Upcoming Dates and Announcements – Refer to MCPS 2022-2023 Calendar


  • TPES Key dates and updates/announcements:
  • May 3, Bike to School Day
  • May 11, 7pm: Parent Meeting (Behavior Support), via Zoom
  • May 18, 7pm: TPES Art Showcase. Celebrate your child’s artwork.
  • May 24: TPES assembly in honor of Asian/ Pacific American Heritage Month at TPES 
  • GoFundMe fundraiser created for Ms. Joines and her two young daughters as they grieve the loss of her husband, Mr. Nick Joines.
  • Actively recruiting for PTA leadership positions for the 2023-2024 school year and have a number of open positions given term limits and parents who are graduating to PBES. Please email if interested in stepping up. We need you!
Positions 2023-24 2022-2023
President Kaitlin Caruso Margaret McDonnell
Executive Vice President Need – max term limit Joyce McDonough
Treasurer Need – max term limit Stephen Tippett
Executive Secretary Need – max term limit Dianne Kirsch
Membership Secretary Justine Lassman Justine Lassman
Vice President Communications Need Kaitlin Caruso
Vice President Membership Mercedes Castilo Estelle Jean
Vice President Fundraising Diana Hickey van Houwlingen Diana Hickey van Houwelingen 
Vice President Equity Jon Frederick Jon Frederick
MCCPTA Delegate Need-  Rebecca Shaeffer


  • PBES Principal Mrs. Oberdorf will provide an update on ELA Enrichment and classroom assignments for 2023-24. Please feel free to contact her with any questions at:
    • Planning for a time of articulation re rising 3rd graders
    • Work closely with Dr. Gadsden, ELD, special ed, and administration all get together to plan class assignments for next year. 
    • Parent input forms will be coming out next week to help teachers will class assignments for 3rd grade
    • Discussing enrichment opportunities – but uncertain what ELA curriculum will be – stay with Benchmark or transition to a new program.
    • District will screen all 3rd graders for enrichment opportunities in 4th grade + PBES has some discretion to add students based on their own ELA assessments


  • TPES Principal Dr. Gadsden – will provide information on class assignment process. Please     feel free to contact her with any questions at:
    • Dr. Gadsden has a slideshow to help parents understand process for making class assignments at TPES
    • For K start with race and the parent identified gender of child so we have balanced classes; also gather data from kindergarten orientation
    • Close to 200 incoming K which may be another 1-2 K teachers
    • Will not honor requests to “keep with” unless they are twins bc it is required by law
    • Requests to keep students “separate from” are always honored
    • For Grades 1 & 2 use DIBELS assessments and MAP growth scores and teacher recs (twins will not necessarily be kept together for math unless works)
    • Will not honor requests for teacher classrooms; if you request a teacher by name your child will not have that teacher to avoid the appearance of favoritism.


  • PBES PTA Bylaws vote (Introduced by PBES PTA Exec VP Sara Lewis). Changing article 8, section 2 (was emailed out a few months ago), changing article 10 section 3 as well (shown on screen share again today). Moved for passage -PASSED.


  • TPES PTA Budget Amendment vote (Introduced by Margaret) The TPES Executive Board proposes spending up to $10,000 to purchase the math DreamBox subscription for every current K-2 student (from June 2023-June 2024) to provide supplemental math practice and enrichment to address learning loss. Moved for passage – PASSED.


Due to the pandemic and thanks to the generosity of our membership, the TPES PTA has built a steady surplus of cash from not spending on as many in-person programs. We have been in close communication with school leadership and have determined the greatest need and highest impact gift that our PTA can make at this time is to provide supplementary math support. As many of you know, our PTA has been focused on addressing learning loss due to the pandemic, and math has been hardest hit. DreamBox is an adaptive math program that can be used at home and in classrooms. Dr. Gadsden’s colleagues at peer schools have used the program with great success. TPES plans to use the program as one of its math centers within the classroom, and now that MCPS provides free access to Chromebooks and hotspots at home, families can use the program at home. 

Since our current 2nd grade families are the ones who have contributed to our PTA these past three years during the pandemic, we’d like to ensure that they are included in this program, so at minimum, your second grader will have a subscription to DreamBox they can use at home for the next year, even in third grade. 


  • Treasurer’s Reports

Stephen Tippett, TPES PTA Treasurer Budget Report 

  • Fundraising just over $9K
  • Tix prices from DC United Game raised a few hundred $
  • No big expenses coming up, only smaller scale expenses

Kate Bauer, PBES PTA Treasurer Budget Report  (out tonight)


  • Introduction of Promotion Panels for rising 3G and rising 6G (Chris Campbell, PBES PTA VP Communications) – 
    • Welcome to Future Panther Families (facilitated by Emma Cheuse, PBES PTA President); Welcome from PBES Principal Mrs. Oberdorf
    • Hear from current PBES Parents Ingrid Gardiner (PBES NAACP Representative and Parent), Julie LeSuer (PBES Parent), Joyce McDonough (PBES PTA Secretary and TPES Executive Vice President), and Chris Campbell (PBES PTA Communications VP) about the transition from TPES to PBES.
    • Q&A: If you have additional questions, please contact Mrs. Oberdorf, chritine at PBES or the PTA at:, or visit:
    • Ms. Oberdorff – June 6th 2G will visit PBES, tour the building, spend time in the classroom with current 3G learning about the grade.
    • Learning, Caring, Thriving and Embracing are the four core values
    • Working with Dr. Gadsden to help the transition from 2G to 3G
    • Panelists provided guidance, advice to rising 3G parents
      • Massive playground and swim classes were highlights
      • For swimming -students attend swim classes during PE and they are free; occur during 2 separate 3 week periods. PTA funds swim suits/provides assistance for supplies as needed. Reach out to school or PTA if you have questions about needs.
      • PB Jelly the Panther mascot is a big highlight
      • Going from being the big kid to the little kid was not such a difficult adjustment
      • As a walking family, you do not need to be at the school in person at dismissal – could have the children meet you at TPES for a younger sibling or elsewhere 
      • Each grade divided into two pods for lunch and recess (pod A and pod B) which makes the school feel smaller re playground and lunch, etc. Not much overlap between the two pods. Downside is if your buddy is not in the same pod you might not have much overlap. However, you can request a pod share at the beginning of the year. No academic distinction between the two pods.
      • Some kids may fear that they won’t know anyone at this new building – need to be reminded that they will know everyone in their grade and lots of kids in the older grades too
      • Increased independence – kids have agency to use their planner for homework etc.
      • Kind teachers; kind front desk staff
      • Specials for art music media STEM, PE; counselors also visit classrooms re social and emotional curriculum
      • 3G enrichment is provided in classroom for ELA and math re small group instruction. This changes in 4th grade.
      • KA (Kid’s Adventure) offers before and after care; Little Scholars also has programs as does Forest Explorers, and the TP Rec Dept.
      • Lots of cultural and social opportunities:
      • Geobowl at PBES teaches geography and is really fun
      • What’s different – a lot more focus on getting your children to be more independent -they are responsible for their homework and there is more of it; more projects that they will be working on. More writing assignments. 
      • Ride the waves of that first month or month and a half of the adjustment to homework interfering with socialization or losing homework or doing really well on an assignment, etc. Some days they want you to walk to school and sometimes they don’t – just ride the waves 🙂
      • Friday 8/25 tentative open house for PBES


  • Final joint TPES/PBES PTA meeting of the year – Tues. June 6, at 7pm on Zoom. 

List of Upcoming Dates and Announcements

Reminder on Upcoming Dates/events: 

  • April 24-May 12: PE Swim Session 2. 
  • Artist in Residence Working with 5th Graders:
  • 5th grade English Language Arts (ELA) classes are excited to host an Artist in Residence for the month of May.  The artist is a professional playwright who will work with each ELA class to conceptualize, write, and perform an original play.  Performances will be script-in-hand without props or stagecraft, but each play will be original to each class.  Each ELA class and Media class will host one  session per week from May 1st through May 19th.  In-school performances will follow on May 31 and June 1.  
  • May 3: Bike and Wheels to School Day at PBES
  • May 8-12: Teacher Appreciation Week at TPES and PBES
  • May 10: MCPS Program – Popular Culture and Hate: Understanding what Your Student is Exposed to in Society today – (English) May 10, 2023, Registration Link
  • May 26: Field Day at PBES
  • May 31: Cultural Heritage Night at PBES
  • May 31, 7pm: Cultura Popular y Odio: Entendiento a lo que esta expuesto su estudiante en la sociedad actual (Espanol/ Spanish) Registration Link 
  • June 6, 7pm on Zoom – Last joint PTA meeting of the school year.  Agenda TBD – but will include a Vote on the PTA Officers for next year – so please save the date.
  • June____ at : _____: Fifth Grade Families – save the date for the PBES Promotion Ceremony.

To request topics for future PTA agendas, please reach out to or

Announcements and Opportunities:

  • To request topics for future PTA agendas, please reach out to or
  • Snack donations for both TPES and PBES to be distributed to teachers and counselors to ensure all kids have access. Nut-free, healthy options requested. Delivery options: please drop off at the main office between 8:30 am-4:30 pm, or order for direct delivery to the school.
  • School Meals Applications due ASAP – free federal meals have ended. All families must either complete the application for Free or Reduced School meals from MCPS or deposit funds to pay for your child’s meals at school.

Deposit funds in your child’s “MySchoolBucks” account – link 

Apply for Free and Reduced Meals at School – link

No child will be turned away – PBES and TPES will ensure every child who requests food receives it, but applications are needed so no debt is accrued. The PTA equity teams are also seeking to support families during this time – please donate to the PBES PTA and TPES PTA and to Tommy’s Pantry to help fill gaps and ensure food access for all in our community. 


Reminder for all volunteers: MCPS Volunteer Training and support guide – please complete this before you are scheduled to volunteer:


We need your help and support:

Become a PTA member, donate, become a sponsor, sign up to volunteer:

Takoma Park Elementary School PTA:

Piney Branch Elementary School PTA:


PBES Website:

Find out the latest from the Panther Tracks Newsletter for PBES. Sign up for the PTA listserv or send an email to to start posting and receiving messages.

TPES Website: