TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: December 2020


Takoma Park Elementary School(TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES)

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, December 1, 2020,


Location: Zoom


Social Emotional Health & Wellness

Mark your calendars for our next meeting, Tuesday, Jan 5, 7-8pm.

All PTA meetings will be via Zoom (details below) until further notice.


7:00    Welcome

  • TPES Dolphin Drive met its fundraising goal!
  • Big thanks to Kelly Young for all of her work on the Dolphin Drive and to Chris Campbell for behind-the-scenes work to get website up and running with all the right information.

7:05     Upcoming Dates and Announcements from the MCPS Calendar

         Gabe Seiden, PBES VP Communications

Dec 24 – Jan 3: Winter Break – NO SCHOOL  (schools & offices CLOSED)

Tues, Jan 5: TPES/PBES PTA meeting via Zoom @ 7pm

Mon, Jan 18: Professional Day for Teachers & Staff (NO SCHOOL for students)

Fri, Jan 29: Professional Day for Teachers & Staff (NO SCHOOL for students)


7:10     Practices to Promote Social-Emotional Health & Wellness  

                  Max Althofer, TPES Counselor

Erin Coco, PBES Counselor

  • MCPS recognized it needs a more centralized effort to provide support to students and families during the Pandemic. Now there is a pool of social-emotional learning (SEL) resources available by the county instead of relying on each counselor to provide curriculum.
  • SEL time is woven into grade level curriculum and classroom practices now
  • Uses CASEL curriculum – focused on self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. Resources and lessons for students are differentiated by grade level.
  • October was personal body safety and cyber civility lessons at PBES. TPES did personal body safety in November.
  • Typically Mr. Althofer would go into each Kindergarten class weekly but that hasn’t been possible during virtual learning. Coco gets to visit PBES classes once a month virtually during homeroom time.
  • In addition to classroom visits, counselors do individual counseling sessions for students, help students and their families get resources they need, help to create Section 504 plans for students with disabilities who don’t qualify for special education services and many other tasks as needed to be responsive to what is going on (e.g., student engagement during virtual learning).
  • TPES and PBES have 1.5 counselors each, which is not sufficient to meet the recommended national ratio of 250 students per counselor.
  • PBES now has an Equity Hub program in the building, run by Kids Adventures, to provide students who need support outside the home during virtual learning. They are accepting more students.
  • Strategies for parents in supporting social-emotional development at home and strengthening coping skills during the pandemic can be found here:–F0Lh_JXG0YSCXVDl7oRJ3E/edit
  • Small group counseling is not allowed by MCPS while virtual, due to privacy concerns.
  • Email is a great way to reach the counselors for each school.
  • At TPES, Mr Seward covers 2nd grade at TPES, Mr Althofer covers K and 1st. They will move with grades, so next year Mr Althofer will have the 1st and 2nd graders. You can reach Mr Althofer at
  • At PBES, Ms Coco does 3rd and 5th graders. You can reach her at
  • Question about how to avoid video game use with kids.. Answer: teachers are watching for kids who aren’t paying attention and will let parents know.  If not during school time, providing projects for kids that match their interests can help pull them away from screens (e.g., lego project).


7:50     Treasurer’s Reports

Kelley Skelton, TPES Treasurer

  • We did well with the Dolphin Drive and are close to hitting our budget estimate for fundraising income. Can meet the rest with a Readathon or book fair or other activity later in the year.
  • Received $2,500 for a school literacy program.
  • Still managing the budget for the school food cluster support.


Erin  Kelley, PBES Treasurer

  • Account is very healthy with income of over $18,000 and $9,000 spent. Looking at potential adjustments to the budget and will keep membership abreast of any changes needed (some changes could require a vote).



Next meeting will be Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 7:00pm.  The Zoom link will be shared just before the meeting time, as was done today.


You can become a PTA member online:

Takoma Park Elementary

Piney Branch Elementary

TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: November 2020


Takoma Park Elementary School(TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES)

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Monday, November 2, 2020,


Location: Zoom


Antiracism & Social Justice in Our Schools

Mark your calendars for our next meeting, Tuesday, Dec 1, 7-8pm.

All PTA meetings will be via Zoom (details below) until further notice.


7:00    Welcome

7:05     Upcoming Dates and Announcements from the MCPS Calendar

         Chris Campbell, TPES VP Communications

Nov 2-30: TPES Dolphin Drive

Tues, Nov 3: Election Day  (schools & offices CLOSED)

Wed, Nov 4: Professional Day for Teachers & Staff (NO SCHOOL for students)

Mon, Nov 9: Professional Day for Teachers & Staff (NO SCHOOL for students)

Nov. 9-22: PBES virtual Scholastic Book Fair & Readathon

Mon, Nov 9: Professional Day for Teachers (NO SCHOOL for students)

Wed, Nov 11: MP2 Schedule Changes go into effect (to be discussed next)

Mon, Nov 23 thru Wed, Nov 25: Early Release Days (dismissal at 11:30am)

Thurs, Nov 26 thru Friday, Nov 27: Thanksgiving Break (NO SCHOOL)


7:07     MP2 Schedule Changes for MCPS Elementary Schools

Christine Oberdorf, PBES Principal

When board approved schedule, one of the conditions was the district would provide feedback about the schedule. Slight change to Elementary schedule voted on last week. Only impacts Wednesday am.


  • New schedule (starting Wednesday, November 11 1st Wednesday second marking period):
    • 9am class meeting;
    • 9:30-10:15am live instruction ending with guidance for independent work; this time will not include new learning – no new modules from Benchmark or Eureka; opportunity to revisit content, provide enrichment, or vary content
    • Pacing guide for Eureka and Benchmark has been revised based on this new schedule.
    • 10:30-11:30am self-guided work for most students; paraeducator & service provider support available Teacher will outline direction for what students due during that time. Teachers are finalizing their plan and will get us information soon.
    • Teachers will communicate specifically with class about what the schedule will look like.
    • Goal is to reduce screen time, provide students with additional support as needed, and additional planning time for teacher.
  • TPES is moving last special of the day to that later morning time- not at 2:30 but moved to 10:30. It was hard to get kids to come back to that special in the late afternoon.
  • TPES teachers will give them choices as to what to do in the afternoon; kids will be able to choose the activity.
  • Not supposed to be done at 11:30, should be working
  • PBES: Concern: they have 2 blocks of specials in the afternoon to move them both in the morning; there is only one slot in the morning, and not enough teachers to cover both sessions in the morning.
    • 11:30am-1pm lunch and wellness break;
    • afternoon Wednesday schedules remain unchanged;
  • Highlights:
    • Wednesday morning blocks will no longer focus on instruction in Benchmark Literacy and Eureka Math, but include opportunities for students to engage in related content support, review, extension, & enrichment.
    • Teachers will communicate with each student & family about the learning activities that students should complete during each block.
    • Goal is to increase opportunities to reduce screen time, have students receive special education or related services, & provide time for independent or small group work
  • Leadership team is finalizing details this week; please look for more information from your child’s classroom teacher next week


7:10     Equity through the Educational Lens  

                  Emma McClary, TPES 2nd Grade Teacher & Equity Committee member

Kristen Dunlap, PBES 3rd Grade Teacher & Equity Committee member

  • Classroom practices and lessons that focus on racial equality & social justice
  • Guided discussion about what parents can do at home

Ms. Dunlap: all classes in MoCO completed Psychoeducational lessons; PBES had unity day and Unity week; they received special election materials from the county

Emma McClary: all received the same curriculum about all of this

Need to bridge and do social awareness at home


Ms. Dunlap

Spend a lot of time in the classrooms talk about what is going on in the world- 1-1/2 weeks in the morning; lots of things happening

Covid 19,

Dual pandemic: social justice responses to combat racism

Lot of time talking about race, racism, anti-racism, social justice

So that they understand the difference between being a Bystander to being an upstander; being a bystander is watching; upstander- stand up and say what you are feeling. Talked a lot about this. Also tied this into lessons about bullying

Their opinions are valued and matter- created a safe space so that they can share what they are thinking


Spent time on the positive things that they can do to feel better if experiencing stress/anxiety/worry, negative thoughts or feelings

Each class made their own list; they have arsenal of things that they can do if they are feeling strong emotions.

PBES: celebrated Unity day- staying united- a class community, a school community, a TP community- together stand against bullying; united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion

Thinking about what we can do to stand together

Hearing all the voices

Kids communicate differently some words, some pictures.

Making sure we see those that feel invisible


County sent out material on Communicating info re: election to kids

Working with Benchmark reading on communities and government units

How is our election materials relevant in our world right now

Connecting it to things that elementary school students in terms of voting


Discussion: open and honest conversations re: election

How are we feeling about things? Socioemotional part of election lessons are crucial.  Mood Meter

Talking about feelings towards the election

Had ground rules going in

Took time to talk about candidates and racial disparities


Ms. McClary:

All of the lessons re; social justice, equity, election are the same across the schools

There is also a reflective piece on the professional level for the teachers, helps them have them open and honest discussions with the teachers

Teachers: all have unique perspectives that they learn and teach from; all will sometimes make mistakes

Parents at home play bigger roles as teachers

Classroom practices help make sure that equity is included:

Representation in literature

Representation in posters and decorations

Equity sticks and random calling strategies

Building relationships with families

Communicating high expectations for all students

Acknowledge and true appreciation of the differences that we have and appreciate the diversity

Recognizing that everyone has differences and that is ok

Teachable moments including factual conversations when things get said in the classroom

Modeling vulnerability, honesty and empathy

When teaching these lessons, created spaces where students feel valued


How to transfer the ideas from the classroom to the home:

Don’t overthink the conversation at home

Be factual, open and honest

Normalize conversation

Minimize otherness

Students understand feelings- can break things down to feelings if necessary


TPES and PBES each do collaborative planning within the school to help share best practices and ideas with each other!



Sharing our stories:

Every Monday Night TPES/PBES 7 pm is doing a Sharing our Stories with the teachers and families in the school community

Bedtime story- guest family, educator, etc sharing a story: book, interview

Educator giving tips on how to become more involved in the school community

If interested in sharing a story: contact Shana

Next week: Ms. Coco – PBES counselor on how to handle remote learning with the


7:40     NAACP Parent Council Updates

         Sharon Gaskins, TPES NAACP Representative

                  Lauren Van Tol, PBES NAACP Representative

  • Upcoming NAACP initiatives


Parent council: way to allow you to advocate for your child and get involved in their kids’ education

Started in 1990’s by the NAACP Youth council

next meeting Thursday November 12 6:30 pm.


Middle School magnet consortium: Argyle- digital design, Parkland- Aerospace, Loederman- creative arts

Due dates soon

If interested in any of the programs:



1st meeting parents council at TPES on Thursday with Dr. Gadsden

Will collaborate with Piney Branch council

Equity Hubs: kids in K-5 can come and do distance learning in school building 8:30-5:30 for $50/mo with additional aid available

For kids who qualify for FARMS

Expanding across MCPS:

No plan for TP schools to host a hub

Lunch provided, and the day will be built around supporting distance learning and providing children with social emotional connections. Rolling Terrace Elementary and Rock Creek Forest Elementary which are less than 3 miles from Piney Branch are opening soon.

Montgomery county parent council : report on how black and brown students are faring in virtual learning; research conducted by UMD–Securing+Educational+Equity+Report+-+Black+and+Brown+Coalition+10-6-20+.pdf


7:50     Treasurer’s Reports

Kelley Skelton, TPES Treasurer

Meg covering:

TPES continues to be receiver and payor of the food support from the 4 schools

Dolphin appeal in November is fundraiser

Greatest expenses this month- teacher classroom set up funds.


Erin  Kelley, PBES Treasurer

Panther appeal just ended:

Passed our goal

On membership side just over 50% of the goal

Including role over from last year; very robust situation

Expenses: support staff, website, and paypal fees



NEXT PTA MEETING: Tuesday December 1st; new zoom link; will be sent out shortly before the meeting.



TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: October 2020

Takoma Park Elementary School(TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, October 6, 2020, 7:00-8:00pm

Location: Zoom 


Connecting with your School & Community

Mark your calendars for our next meeting, Monday, Nov 2, 7-8pm

All PTA meetings will be via Zoom (details below) until further notice.  


7:00 Welcome

  • Sign language interpretation as well as Spanish interpretation was introduced

7:05 Social Emotional Support for Virtual Learning
Cinthea Neuheisel, PBES Assistant Principal
Key supports the school is putting in place & tips for how parents & caregivers can help at home

  • Sharing what social-emotional support is being provided to students during this time and how parents can help.  
  • We are holding class meetings daily, making them twice as long as MCPS recommended to ensure it is a meaningful time.  Goal is to promote relationships amongst students and to create a community within their class.  Is a staff handbook with resources for teachers for these meetings.
  • MCPS has rolled out psycho-educational lessons to address students’ emotional responses to the virus and the issues around race in our country right now.
  • Continuing to use Second STEM for social skills and conflict resolution curriculum.
  • Have a continuity of care monitoring system to refer students that aren’t engaged or for whom teachers have concerns so can track needs of most vulnerable students.
  • Working hard to produce weekly videos that help to create routines and structure for students during this time, serving to ground them and create a sense of connection.
  • A few tips for parents to do at home:
    • Students need to be flexible during this time.  Resiliency relies on our ability to be cognitively flexible in challenging circumstances.  To do this, students need a good night’s sleep, and to emphasize the importance of “single-tasking.”  This is supported by having a space at home that is as free of distractions as possible.  Encourage students to take breaks when needed (use the coffee cup feature to let their teachers know they need a break) and to have a separate space for breaks and for working.  Having just one monitor also supports single tasking.
    • Practice acceptance and gratitude.

7:15 Upcoming Dates and Announcements from the MCPS Calendar

Gabe Seiden, PBES VP Communications

Thurs, Oct 1 thru Oct 31: “Panther Appeal” PBES PTA Fundraising Month 

Tues, Nov 3: Election Day  (schools & offices CLOSED)

Nov. 9-22: PBES virtual Scholastic Book Fair & Readathon

Mon, Nov 9: Professional Day for Teachers (NO SCHOOL for students)

Nov 11-12: Early Release Days for Students (Parent/Teacher Conferences)


  • Shout out to Tim Anderegg from PBES for all the hard work he is doing for communications.


7:20 Fundraising Updates & Treasurer’s Reports  

Kelly Young, TPES VP Fundraising

Angela Riemer, PBES VP Fundraising

Kelley Skelton, TPES Treasurer

Erin  Kelley, PBES Treasurer


  • The TPES Dolphin Drive will be in the month of November with a goal of $9000.  The PTA is still doing a lot, including providing teachers with money to support and enhance online learning, supporting kindergarten with manipulatives for math learning, providing interpreters when the school is unable to, teacher training  and other administrative expenses. So we do need a successful fundraiser.
  • The PBES Panther Appeal kicked off October 1st.  Thanks to all who have already donated.  PBES PTA continues, like TPES, to do many activities during this time, including providing enrichment services .  We are also doing dine-arounds and will have other opportunities to give in person.  The first dine-around is October 16 at Mansa Kunda West African Restaurant.  We still have great merchandise available and will soon have masks.
  • TPES Treasurer update: We have had a little fundraising income this year, but the Dolphin Drive will be really crucial to providing needed income for this year.  Please do join as a member of the PTA.  There is a form on the website if you’d like to have one of the donated memberships that are available.  We are also including the food bank activity as a separate item with restricted-use funds on the TPES treasurer’s reports.  We spend about $5000 each week and the volunteers are committed to continuing as long as we need to and as long as funds are available.
  • PBES Treasurer update: Doing well from a cash flow standpoint but need success in current fundraising experts to maintain that.


7:25 Building the School & Family Partnership 

  • Links to presentation that was shared:
  • English:
  • Spanish:
  • Amharic:


  • Establishing community norms and best practices
  • Teachers are committed to meeting your child and peers where they are and adjusting instruction as needed, supporting differentiated instruction
  • Parents are encouraged to reach out to your child’s teacher first when you have questions, connect with their classroom parent to build community, access information using online portals and reach out to school administration (Principal or Assistant Principal) if concerns or questions are not addressed by the teacher.
    • Guidance counselors are also a resource.  Each school has two: Ms. Coc and Ms. Johnson at PBES and Mr. Althofer and Mr. Seward at TPES.
    • Spanish and Amharic translations are available by phone on the school’s main line.
  • Students are encouraged to develop a trusting relationship with their teachers, practice taking risks, connect with fellow students and reflect on what learning strategies work best for them.
  • Every classroom has a Classroom parent who is able to share information with fellow parents, plan class activities agreed upon by parents, help organize celebrations and more.
  • If children are struggling with schoolwork and homework and you need help, encourage your child to meet with their teacher.  Teachers can meet them during office hours and by appointment.  Saturday School offers tutoring opportunities virtually in Montgomery County at a reduced rate. Please contact the PTA if you need financial assistance.
    • Also consider support services through the Educational and Equity Hubs held throughout Montgomery County for kids who need a safe, supervised place to do Zoom.  It is $50 per month.  They are also looking for donations if you can do that.
  • Can contact each school’s main office for help with ParentVue
  • For technical help, call 240-740-7020 or for spanish: 240-740-7022
  • You can view assignments and grades in ParentVue or MyMCPS Classroom (as your child)


7:55 Takoma Park Equity Walk

Lucy Neher, SafeRoutes to School Coordinator, City of Takoma Park


  • Tomorrow we are launching a new activity: We Belong Here – the Takoma Park Equity Walk.  You may have seen the stencils around town and wondered what they were about.  There are QR codes at most stations with an arrow pointing to them so that when you go, you can scan the code and get a story map that takes you through the activities in a different way and give prompts for discussion.  All of the stations are connected to equity in some way so there is a safe place to go with kids to talk about issues related to equity.  Each station also has a suggested list of books that links to the library site so you can see if the book is available.  Also a list of resources for parents.  This project started about a year ago with the grant proposal.  Spanish and Amharic versions of the website will be available.
    • These are at the Community Center and Anne Street.  You can do the stations in any order.
  • Lucy also got a grant for a feasibility study for a traffic garden – a safe place for people to learn to ride their bikes.  She has been working on this idea since 2007!
  • She also is getting a fleet of bikes (8-10 of various sizes) for each school to use for learning to ride in P.E.


You can become a PTA member online:

Takoma Park Elementary 

Piney Branch Elementary


TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: September 2020


7:00    Welcome- Executive Committee Introductions

TPES intros

PBES intros


7:05    Setting The Stage For Success At Home – Dr. Gadsden

Have a regular space for your child at home

(Table), floor, beds, where ever comfortable. Encourage not to use blanket to cover up especially if covering head

If you have to fuss at your child- mute your child’s computer and turn camera off if possible.

Plan your escape- plan to back away from your child when in virtual environment

Plan to get a little further away if possible each day

Try to limit your conversation while they are in class

Do not talk to the teacher

Pack your patience. We have to go through this journey together.



7:10     Upcoming Dates and Announcements from the MCPS Calendar

Friday, Sept 4: Early Release Day (half day of instruction)

Mon, Sept 7: No School

Friday, Sept 25: 4-6pm PBES Garden Group Open House

Fri, Oct 2: Early Release Day  (half day of instruction)

Tues, Oct 6: PTA Meeting 7-8pm


7:15    Keeping up with PTA news and opportunities

Chris Campbell & Lauren Greenberg, TPES VP Communications

Lauren Greenberg:

First time you post- it has to go through moderation

If you want to reply to a post on the listserv, it will go to whole list


Chris Campbell: go to PTA website; being updated regularly



Gabe Seiden, PBES VP Communications

Gabe Seiden: Join the PTA, and staying connected

PBES PTA newsletter New here- can sign in, join PTA, join Parent listserv

Can contact PTA board members through the website as well


We also need more translation help



7:20    Family & School Engagement – stay connected during the pandemic

Sarah Lewis, TPES Classroom Parent Coordinator

Need room parents; room parents ask as liason between parents, teachers, and school, working to build community in the classroom to make sure every family is as involved as they would like to be.
Room parent in process to send out 2 different google docs; spreadsheet;

Trying to see if people need help with school supplies, translation


Sarah Davidson, PBES Classroom Parent Coordinator

If you want to be a Room parent at PBES, contact Sarah.



Sara Hoverter & Deepa Sundararaman, PBES Newcomers Group Co-Chairs

  • Families who have just moved to Takoma Park and/or are new to Piney Branch Elementary School (by moving up from TPES) are invited to connect; email Sara Hoverter (


7:25    Parent Share: Virtual Learning Hacks

  • Parents, guardians, & caregivers are invited to share tips, resources, & device recommendations for increasing virtual learning focus & flow at home


7:50    Get Involved! Open volunteer opportunities, big and small:

Health & Wellness committee            Readathon committee

Multicultural Arts Assembly coordinators    Social Services committee

Teacher Appreciation committee        Equity committee

Nominating committee                Translation volunteers


Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 923 5429 3478

Passcode: 973459

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Meeting ID: 923 5429 3478


You can become a PTA member online:

Takoma Park Elementary

Piney Branch Elementary


TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: July 2020

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)

PTA Meeting

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Location: Playground

PTA Elections

We wrapped up 2019-2020 with a discussion of the summer budget, and selected our PTA leaders for next year. Please connect with us to lend your time to health & wellness, fundraising, teacher appreciation. While we anticipate an unconventional school year ahead, your involvement and support continues to be important for our childrens’ success!

Future PTA Meetings

All future PTA meetings will be held virtually until further notice. Once the school year begins, we will meet the first Tuesday of each month via Zoom. Please find our Zoom login info below.

7:00    Welcome / Events and Announcements

NOW is the time to enroll your rising Kindergartener for the 2020-2021 school year!

Here are 3 options for registering your child:

  1. ONLINE — Follow this link:
  2. OVER THE PHONE. –  Call 240-740-5999 to register
  3. BY MAIL–  Call 240-740-5999 to request forms to be mailed to your home.


¿Tiene un niño que tiene 5 años y que estará en el jardín de infantes el próximo año? ¿O tiene un amigo o vecino cuyo hijo está en edad escolar y asistirá al jardín de infantes en el otoño?

AHORA es el momento de inscribirse para el año escolar 2020-2021. Aquí hay 3 opciones para registrar a su hijo:

  1. EN LÍNEA: siga este enlace:
  2. SOBRE EL TELEFONO. – Llame al 240-740-5999 para registrarse
  3. POR CORREO: llame al 240-740-5999


7:05    Treasurer’s Report / Summer Budget/ School Year Budget

Kelley Skelton, Treasurer


  • Need to add 2 items to our budget from last year. Also received a $2000 grant from Dollar General (thanks Tracee Matthias) that was used to support kids while at home during this pandemic.  Motion to add 2 items to budget was approved unanimously.
  • The only item from last year that we didn’t do in full was Readathon.
  • Fundraising for food support with the Middle School cluster (TPMS and its 3 feeder elementary schools) has been going really well (raised $103k so far). All funds run through TPES.  Expenses so far are under School Programs Expenses item and have been $89k so far.
  • We had a surplus budget year last year of $18,000.
  • No comments on budget report from last year.
  • Next year taking a very conservative approach to budget given the uncertainty around what will happen. In-person fundraisers may not happen.  We are projecting a much lower income level this year but are not decreasing projected expenditures.  We will utilize the surplus from prior years to make up this difference.
  • Question was asked if the surplus was including food support funds. There are restricted surplus funds for the food support program but we also have surplus funds to draw upon that are not part of the food support effort.
  • Staff support includes classroom setup funds for teachers, as well as equity and inclusion activities, staff appreciation, and playground supplies (in case we come back). We did take out a few items.
  • Motion to adopt the 2020-21 budget was approved unanimously.



7:15     Supply Kits

Sasha Johnson, Becca Albertus

Deadline to order is 8/1. Link:

School Code: TAK008 (3 letters/3 numbers)


  • We work with an outside company that packages school supplies that are needed by grade. This year, since we don’t know if we will be at school, supplies will be delivered directly to homes.
  • PTA does earn a small profit from the kits.
  • Cost for supplies is $26 for K, $29 for 1st and $45 for 2nd. Cost is based on the supplies on the list provided by the school.  There is a shipping fee.
  • Supplies will be delivered to your home by Aug. 22, order by Aug 1.
  • There is an option to buy kits for students in need. Those are typically given to Mr. Althofer to distribute.  If you order one to be delivered to your house, you can contact Becca ( for help getting it to the school.


7:20    Committee Recruitment 

Committee Chairs – please contact chairs if you would like to participate in these committees in any way.

Health & Wellness – Amanda Berhaupt-Glickstein:

  • The H&W Committee is responsible for things like the yoga club, and purchasing of sensory equipment for teachers and hallways. Would like to get more involved with gardening next year.

Cultural Arts – Malawi Welles:

Staff Appreciation – Allison Belemvire:

Fundraising- Kelly Young:

Equity – Chai Shenoy:

After School Clubs – Virginia Davis:


7:25     2020-2021 Elections

Executive Committee Proposed Slate:

President – Meghan McDonald

Executive VP – Caleb Gibson

Treasurer – Kelley Skelton

Co – VP Communications – Lauren Greenberg & Chris Campbell

VP Membership – Samer Sadek

VP Fundraising – Kelly Young

VP Equity – Chai Shenoy

Membership Secretary- Becca Jones-Albertus

Executive Secretary – Allison Belemvire

MCCPTA Delegate – Joyce McDonough


  • No other nominees offered.
  • Motion to adopt the 2020-2021 executive committee slate was unanimously approved.


7:40    Adjourn


PTA  Meetings Dates 2020-2021

August 4 / September 1 / October 6 / November 3 / December 1 /January 5 / February 2 / March 2 / April 6 /May 4 / June 1

Meeting ID: 827 5571 6748

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Spanish Interpretation:

Meeting ID: 854 5261 0722  Dial:301-715-8592 Enter ID: 854 526 10722# US


TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: March 2020

7:00 Upcoming Events & Announcements

Feb 28 – March 26: TPES Readathon

  • Your children should have gotten a Readathon calendar and are hopefully recording their minutes. We strongly encourage children to keep their calendars in their Dolphin folders as minutes are counted on Fridays.  If you lose your calendar, there is a link on the PTA website.
  • Still in need of volunteers for Friday mornings and afternoon or over the weekend. Please Sign up here
  • We do Spirit Days every Friday to celebrate Reading. This Friday is book character day.  There will be reminder emails and flyers.


March 6: PBES ESOL Book Club 6:30-7:30pm (pizza provided)

  • 10 students and their parents will come and discuss with Ms. Karen and the librarian. There will be one more book club this school year and hope to have another over the summer.  This is supported by the TP Library and Takoma Foundation, PBES PTA and Friends of the TP Library, who provide the book and the pizza after.
  • We could use help with funding and also spreading the word about the next book club.
  • We are looking for ideas for other services or events that we could support with PBES ESOL staff. Contact Gina Lambright:


March 12: PBES Spring Photos

March 15: PBES rebuild meeting with Mayor Stewart @Community Ctr, 4pm-5pm

  • More information in a section below


March 16-17: PBES GeoBowl

March 24: TKPK5K Fundraiser at Mark’s Kitchen (15% of sales)


March 26: PBES International Night at the TP Middle School

  • Would love to have donated supplies (e.g., free samples or trays of food) for the event. Contact Sarah Goupell: to volunteer.


March 27: Early Release for all Students

1:30 – 3:30; Garden Pop-Up Art Event at PBES

  • PB hoping to have an outdoor garden once the weather is better. Until then, will be putting decorations in the lobby.  Would love to have families from both schools involved in setting this up.  The first activity is right after the early dismissal, will make tissue paper flowers and seedlings.  People will be able to take home a succulent or seedling.  There will be a flyer and permission slip going out for PBES in a couple of weeks.
  • Looking for a group of parents to help make this committee more robust and inclusive.
  • School gardens are great for kids, staff in many ways and are really fun.
  • Selling a sustainability item – the uni-tensil (a reusable fork/knife/spoon that is durable) – for $5 to help raise funds for the garden.
  • Email Rachel at or call 617-821-3855 to get involved.


April 1: PBES Talent Show & Early Bird Registration Deadline for TKPK5K

April 6-13: Spring Break (NO SCHOOL)

April 14: TPES / PBES PTA Meeting at PBES, 6:45 – 8:00pm


TPES / PBES Basketball Game will be looking for volunteers.  Information coming soon on both school emails.  The date will be early May.  Email to volunteer.



7:10 Welcome – WHAT does the PTA do & WHO are we?

Multicultural Arts Assemblies Committees at PBES & TPES

Malawi Welles

  • This committee is a great way to get involved and impact what your children see in school. It starts in October going to the Arts Fair in Rockville to see the performances of MCPS approved vendors. It’s a lot of fun.
  • We had Patagonia Winds in December at TPES and we will have Rhythms and Rhymes for Wise Young Minds on March 26. For PBES, will have the Power of Positivity and Rhythms and Rhymes.
  • Please reach out to to get involved. It’s a great opportunity and we have money left for other performances before the end of the year.



7:15 PBES Rebuild Advocacy Update

PTA Presidents Sarah Goupell (PBES) & Meg McDonald (TPES)

  • Sunday, March 15 from 4-5pm at the TP Community Center with Mayor Stewart and others
  • Hoping for a strong contingent of parents from TPES, PBES and parents with even younger children.
  • Purpose of the meeting is to get up to speed on the options for a new building for PBES.Specifically we will be talking about the land where the Adventist Community Hospital was located.  T-shirts will be provided.


7:20 Treasurers’ Reports & Fundraising Updates

Kelley Skelton, Treasurer & Shivani Sutton TPES Book Fair co-coordinator

  • We are doing great. We have about 15% of our funds still to come in this year – through the Readathon.  We have a $16k budget for the Readathon. Looking to ramp up spending on equity initiatives and to support our teachers over the next month.
  • All of the funds we raise at the book fairs go to the school. Raised $14k in Scholastic dollars which will be shared by the Media Center, the classrooms and the specialists in the school.  The PTA provides $12 vouchers to FARMS students (partnering with classroom teachers to identify those kids) to enable them to purchase books at the book fair.  Woods (Reading specialist) also uses her funds to send books home to this population of students over the summer.  This year we had a large number of books under $5.
  • Shivani is looking for a book fair partner for next year.


Amy Gibson Grant, Treasurer (PBES) & Angela Reimer, VP Fundraising (PBES)

  • PBES has done all income generation for the year. Poolapolooza was great for community building but not a great fundraiser so will reevaluate for next year.
  • Extra $2000 we weren’t anticipating came in December. We are in a great financial position for the spring.


7:25 After-School Clubs Updates

Virginia Davis (TPES Clubs) & Annelies Echols (PBES Clubs)

  • Last session of after-school clubs runs March 24 – May 21. Today is the last day to register.
  • We had 2 previous sessions with 100-250 students participating throughout the year, with several dozen students receiving scholarships from PTA to participate.
  • Looking for new volunteers to take over this next year as Virginia and Annelies will be moving on. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Shana at


7:30 SafeRoutes to School Program and the Takoma 5K

Susan Campbell & William Ince, PBES Takoma 5K organizers

Sarah Van Wye & Sasha Johnson, TPES Takoma 5K organizers

Lucy Neher, Safe Routes to School Coordinator for City of Takoma Park

  • Race is Sunday, May 3. It’s the 12th annual race.  Had 1500 people last year.  City does planning with individuals from each of the 5 schools involved.
  • Registration is open: There is a discount if you sign up before April 1.
  • Scholarships are being offered this year, will see information about that coming out soon
  • This is a great opportunity to support wellness and fitness programs at all of the schools. All of the proceeds go to the schools, with at least 50% used for health, wellness and fitness activities.
  • Safe Routes to School is federally funded with measures set out at the beginning of each grant cycle. We have gotten the grant since 2007 and will be applying again this year.  All of the money is programmatic, not for infrastructure.  For example, we looked at building sidewalks in areas near the schools that don’t have them, but that isn’t covered by the grant right now.
  • We work with the kids during the year about safety.
  • Trying to make TP more pedestrian and bike friendly.
  • Looking for feedback on what is wanted for future programming through the online survey that is sent out.
  • Looking to get bikes for each school that can be used during PE to help all kids learn to ride.
  • Do iCan Shine bike camp over the summer for kids with disabilities aged 8-14. It is amazing and wonderful program.  It is open to anyone in the state to attend.  They come for 75 minutes a day for 5 days, and learn how to ride a bike independently.
  • If there is interest in doing a bike helmet sale here (currently done at TPMS), can get very good $6.95 helmets.
  • A lot more students walked and biked to school in 2008 compared to 2016.
  • New equity themed sensory fitness route being built around the schools and park with fitness-based activities and a prompt for kindness and equity-based actions. Working to go through the park too.  Will be stencils on the ground.  Should take 15-30 minutes to do the route.  Would be happy to talk about any ideas you have.
  • Fundraiser at Mark’s Kitchen on April 24. 15% of all proceeds are donated.  Willow Street Yoga also doing 4 donation classes leading up to the race.
  • There are lots of opportunities to volunteer, as well. You can sign up on the website:
  • There will be a Run Club Thursday mornings at TPES through the month of April to help kids prepare for the ¼ mile, 1 mile or 5K race.


Next PTA Meeting: Tuesday, April 14 at PBES.  (The first Tuesday of the month is Spring Break.)

TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: February 2020

PTA Meeting February 4th

Piney Branch Elementary School



Upcoming Events &  Announcements


Feb 7-14: TPES Scholastic Book Fair

Sun, Feb 9: Dine-Out 11am-10pm @ Ellsworth MOD Pizza to benefit PBES PTA

Wed, Feb 12: PBES STEM Night 7-8pm

Mon, Feb 17: Presidents Day – no school

Wed, Feb 19: African American History Night (6-8 pm) @ PBES Cafeteria

Thurs, Feb 20: Parent Input Night with Board of Ed @ Eastern Middle 7-9pm

Fri, Feb 28: Early Release for all Students; Dismissal at 1:20pm


Wed, Mar 2: TPES Readathon until April 2.

Tue, Mar 3: TPES/PBES PTA Meeting @ PBES

Fri, Mar 6: PBES ESOL Book Club 6:30-7:30pm (pizza provided)

Thurs, Mar 12: PBES International Night & PBES Spring Photos

Mon-Tu, Mar 16-17: PBES GeoBowl

Wed, Mar 25: Wellness/Community-Building Night (more details soon!)

Fri, Mar 27: Early Release for all Students; Dismissal at 1:20pm


Advocacy Representative:

Hilary Stevens- Delegate from TPES to the MCC PTA.  This is an organization that brings together every PTA in the county.

  • 13th is the Montgomery County and Maryland PTA Day in Annapolis. Advocate for funding and attention to education more broadly
  • Boundary Analysis – hired a consultant group to look at where students live and where they go to school. Looking at capacity and resources to look at how equity and distance.  This has been a very touchy subject with a tortured history.  Some meetings when very off the rails, people were upset, inaccuracies were rampant, etc.  Those open meetings are now finished.  They are continuing outreach to targeted communities.  There are lots of information available at the BOE website.  This study won’t make recommendations on changing boundaries but instead will be looking at the data and what is happening on the ground.  The data didn’t show accurately how crowded TPES and PBES really is.
  • No matter the analysis- PBES and TPES is still overcrowded. We need to be vocal about this fact and to be vocal about how we need a new school SOON not 8 years from now.
  • Go to the BOE meeting at Eastern Middle and vocalize these concerns
  • Meg the TPES PTA President announced they are working on a meeting in mid-March to meet with city council and others about the build
  • Fred and Chrissy announced that you can reach out to him with more questions and he will send out ways to get involved.
  • The group interested in school safety passed a resolution on gun safety, can raed more on the website
    • On Feb. 9th at Wheaton High there will a town hall on bike and pedestrian safety given recent accidents involving students.


Treasurer’s Report

  • Amy from PBES- if you would like to see numbers there are handouts. We are in a strong financial position, we’ve met all our fundraising goals so far.  The rest of the year is spending the money we made.
  • TPES reports we exceeded the dolphin goals 13,875- 875 OVER our goal! Thank you to all that contributed.  There are handouts out there.  We raised over the goal for literacy and that will carry over for next year staff support.  We


Book Fair/Readathon

Shivani – TPES Book Fair starts on Friday!  Working all next week so come out.  She still needs volunteers- please check out the sign up genius and help out.  The proceeds go back to the school in the form of books and materials for the media center, classrooms etc.  Next year was very successful so let’s keep it up!


Sarah the chair noted its Feb. 28 – March 26th.  Kids read the month of march and record their minutes.  Last year they raised over $17,000 so it’s a very important fundraiser for the school.  Look out for an email!


TPES/PBES Basketball Game – happening in May, we will share the date when its done.  This is a really FUN family event.  It’s a game between TPES and PBES with parents and teachers on each team.  There is always a lot of excitement!  We need volunteers for many things including the doors, refs, half time fun, etc.  Consider it, more information to come.


PBES STEM Night- Matt Goupell reminds us that its next week!  Its double the size of last year, lots of fun groups from the outside.  NASA, the Washington Nationals, there may even be a REAL HUMAN BRAIN!  Whaaaat. There will be 15 PBES teachers leading events.  So much fun stuff coming.  They do need volunteers to help teachers run the events.  Please let him know, you can email him or Sarah Goupell.


The meeting then transitioned to the PEP Program where we all became much more encouraging parents and our kids now do all we ask!




Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES) &

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 6:45-8:00pm

Location: All Purpose Room @ TPES



Takoma Park Elementary and Piney Branch Elementary PTA meeting

Meeting notes:


Welcome – WHAT does the PTA do & WHO are we? 


Equity update – We have a combined equity committee to make sure we are serving all of our communities.  The committee is working on the following: Little Libraries on each campus to ensure accessible culturally relevant text; both PTA Executive Committees will be doing equity training to make sure all decisions are considered through the lens of equity; we also offer after school club scholarships to ensure opportunity for all at both schools; the Young Scholars Program, started at TPES to ensure academic support for those who may not have access to that support, is expanding to PBES; ESOL night very successful at PBES and will be expanding to TPES.  We welcome members and input as equity is a core part of our work as a PTA.


Upcoming dates and announcements

 Nov 1-26: PBES Read-a-thon & Book Fair (Nov. 4-8)

Thurs, Nov 7: TPES Fall Book Fair (4pm to 8pm) + Kindergarten Literacy Night, 7pm

Fri, Nov 8: Early Release for all students; dismissal @ 1:20pm

Mon, Nov 11 & Tuesday Nov 12: Early Release & Parent-Teacher Conferences

Wed,  Nov 27: Early Release for all students; dismissal @ 1:20pm

Thurs & Fri, Nov 28 & 29: No School

Tues,  Dec 3: PTA Meeting – Sweet Treat Exchange –  6:45p-8p


Please join us for the PTA Meeting in December –  there will be a Sweet Treat Exchange!  Fun, easy, we hope to bring us all together.


Treasurer Reports:

TPES: We are doing really well, anything that has happened in November since Dolphin Drive began isn’t in the report, but we are already getting donations.  Please write your email address if you send a check so we can acknowledge you for your taxes.  We are not even at halfway in the year but already almost at halfway with regard to fundraising.  Some of you may have bought Dolphin Gear, that presale allowed us to provide more assets to TPES this year and next.  We will have a stand on Nov. 11 for parent teacher conference- you can get gear then!


PBES: We just ended our fall Panther appeal and we met our goal (applause!).  That was in part because of the Takoma Prom – we learned a lot and had a lot of fun.  We exceeded the fundraising goal for Prom.  Doing well on our goals, meeting them, we are in good financial position but we need to be sure to keep it up.  We will have lots of programs coming soon so those funds will start going out.  We are in good shape and we’ll be putting those funds in action soon!


City County Guests:

Mayor Kate Stewart

Councilmember Peter Kovar (Ward 1)

Councilmember Cindy Dyballa (Ward 2)

Councilmember Kacy Kostiuk (Ward 3)



  • They came to introduce themselves and talk about how we can give involved in the city
  • Mayor Stewart has had kids come through our school system and knows it well! Every year there is an essay contest for fourth graders- “If I Were Mayor for a Day”.  It’s a short essay that is statewide- the Maryland Municipal League gets fourth graders to do this and they pick them- kids get to go to Annapolis with the Governor.  They also choose 2 – 3 in Takoma Park to spend time in the city office, police department, etc.  We hope your kids will do it this year! It will come out in the Spring.
  • Cindy introduced herself, her kids went to Rolling Terrace but knows the school system well.
  • Peter mentioned that even though the school system is through the county they will get questions about locations and school support. The councilmembers fought for Piney Branch to expand and can possibly play a role in advocating for the next step there.
  • Casey noted there is a sheet with their contact information. Most put out weekly emails so feel free to sign up!
  • They meet on Wednesday nights, 7:30 at the community center, feel free to join! Its also covered by TV so you can tune in live and streaming (on the city website).
    • They have committees on a whole range of issues – trees, rec, transportation, climate change and environment, landlord and tenant affairs. Feel free to contact them or the city clerk to learn more.  They would love to hear from us as they often hear from older residents but would love to hear from families as well.
    • They have short term taskforces as well – parking, council compensation, etc. The newsletter we get in the mail has all the committees listed on the inside front.
  • Questions:
    • Duplicative taxes – how do they affect families? We are municipality so we service our own roads, police department, rec- we don’t get reimbursed as much as we should.  Its been frozen at 2012 rates.  Mark Elrich needs a friendly push to get it in his budget.  He didn’t do it last year and we really need him to this year!  Asking residents to write them and ask for them to at least take care of some of it- it would be relatively easy for them to reimburse at 2020 rates and reimburse the roads this year.
    • PBES is an issue they are familiar with and we want to see how they can be involved. The Mayor and councilmembers are discussing how to formalize communications between PTA and City Council so we can strategize on issues such as this.
      • Thursday there are public hearings in MCPS on the fact they took out the funding for expanding PBES and now say they will build a new building a very long time from now.
    • Mayor also encouraged us to look at the new strategic plan on Housing – Takoma Park has reaffirmed housing as a human right. They would love feedback and involvement as they implement the plan.


VP Fundraising

  • TPES – Dolphin drive kicked off – first couple days and they already have $2,000 – goals is $13,000 to support equity, health and wellness, etc. Please consider giving and giving generously.  Web is the best but will also take checks.  Also go to Chipotle (check emails for date!) for an easy and delicious fundraiser.
  • PBES – Our update is a THANK YOU! We wrapped up our Panther Appeal – we met our fundraising goal but its not too late if you want to donate!  We have another fundraiser this month – having our readathon as a fundraiser and also the book fair.  We are offering a variety of ways to give and get involved, it may seem like are asking a lot but its so you can choose which one appeals most to you.  Its very appreciated.


  • Thank you to Gabe Seiden!!! All the websites are from him – we can’t thank him enough.  He is a small business owner so if you need services such as web development feel free to reach out.
  • TPES Communication chair – Yahoo groups is ending. Both PBES and TPES will need to migrate the lists at .io.  You can opt out but you will likely be automatically moved over.  TPESPTA is the group name for TPES.  Right now they are posting for both listservs, but that will likely phase out.  TPES also has a facebook page so be sure to join that.


Rachel, a parent with PBES announced the effort to start a garden for both schools, please sign up!  There is also a facebook page.  The garden will be for kids, for them to do in school but after school and with families as well.  No gardening experience required!  More info will come on the listserv.


Now is time to tame the power struggles with PEP!

TPES/PBES PTA Meeting Minutes: OCTOBER 2019

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES) &

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019, 6:45-8:00pm

Location: All Purpose Room @ TPES


7:00 Welcome – WHAT does the PTA do & WHO are we?

  • Welcome to the first joint meeting of the TPES and PBES PTAs and thanks to both Principals and PTAs for making this happen.  We are working to align school events and schedules to help make things simpler for families with children in both schools
  • PTA is a partnership between parents and teachers, looking to support our children. Looking through the lens of equity to give all kids the opportunity for enrichment.
  • TPES Health and Wellness committee has funds from Safe Routes to School 5K and participates in the planning committee for that race.  The committee met for the first time last week and is excited to start a meditation and yoga club before school (once a month or once a week depending on interest), and to provide flexible seating options for teachers (e.g., yoga balls, wiggle seats).  There is interest in reviving the weekly farm stand and exploring a sensory garden at the school. They are hoping to host a morning coffee opportunity to discuss with teachers. Anyone interested is invited to come to the next meeting, which will be Wednesday, October 23 at 7:30pm at the Girl and the Vine. 
  • The PBES PTA Health and Wellness committee is building on legacy of what’s been done at TPES and PBES around movement and physical activity and trying to do some new things this year.  The new things are looking at community building in the context of wellness (e.g., gallery walk at back to school night), fostering social-emotional learning in the context of our children, coordinating with counselors to have families play more of a role in lunch and recess and to create a peer mediation and counseling program, and working to reclaim the PTA closet to turn it into a place where families are welcome to be at school (e.g., having a coffee pot there).  If you are looking to be in school and be helpful, would love to have you involved. Safe Routes to School is focused on kids getting to school safely. They have their own mission and projects. The 5K is a big event but so is Walk to School day tomorrow and Bike to School day in May. The more participation there is and the more funds raised in the 5K, the more money goes to the schools. The schools got $6000 this year from the 5K.


7:05 Upcoming Events and Announcements

            October 1-October 31: Socktober- donate socks through your child’s classroom

Wed, Oct 2: Walk To School Day

Fri, Oct 4: Early Release for all students; dismissal @ 1:20pm

Wed, Oct 9: No School

Mon, Oct 14: TPES and PBES Open House, 9:30 – 11:00, 2:30 – 3:50

 (Opportunity for parents to come into classrooms and observe)

Wed, Oct 16: ESOL Night @ PBES

Sat, Oct 19: PBES Takoma Prom @ Kaldi’s Social House 6-9pm

Thurs, Oct 24: PBES Fall School Photos

Nov 1-26: PBES Read-a-thon & Book Fair (Nov. 4-8)

Tues, Nov 5: PTA Meeting  – Power Tools for Power Struggles by PEP 6:45p-8p 

Thurs, Nov 7: TPES Fall Book Fair (3:50pm to 8pm) + Kindergarten Literacy Night, 7pm

Mon, Nov 11 & Tuesday Nov 12: Early Release & Parent-Teacher Conferences

Wed,  Nov 27: Early Release for all students; dismissal @ 1:20pm 

Thurs & Fri, Nov 28 & 29: No School

Tues,  Dec 3: PTA Meeting – 6:45p-8p


PTA meetings will be at TPES Nov – Jan and then meetings will go to PBES


7:10 Membership Update

Samer Sadek, VP Membership TPES

Jared Hughes, VP Membership PBES

  • Please become a member to allow us to continue to do all the great work we have been doing.  The more members we have, the more influential we can be with the county, state and national PTA, where many decisions are made.
  • The easiest way to join is on the website (links at the bottom of these notes).  There are many different levels of membership so you can decide what is best for you.  If you have joined, please encourage your neighbors to join. The PBES website has a password protected side now, to give members access to the directory so it is a little more complicated to join; it is a 3 step process.  If you are confused about the process, please reach out to Jared. Membership at PBES is not just open to parents or guardians; businesses can join that want to support the PTA and will get their logo on the website. Grandparents can join too.  
  • Please come to Chipotle on Monday in downtown Silver Spring from 5:00-9:00pm.  33% of all sales will go to PBES PTA.


7:15 Treasurer’s Report (& PBES Budget Vote) 

             Kelley Skelton, Treasurer TPES

Amy Gibson-Grant, PBES

  • PBES PTA had $14,000 to roll over into this year which enabled a strong start to the year.  We have big goals this year to support new programming with a proposed budget of $54,223, but realistic goals.  We are trying to plan conservatively for all expenses. Baseline budget for the year was presented. As the year goes on, if we raise additional money, we can come back to the membership with updates.  The budget was approved.
  • TPES PTA approved budget last meeting but have some updated actuals from Dolphin gear sales (which have new things, including adult options, to be available for parent-teacher conferences). Only $1600 in membership dues so far this year, but do have 26 donated memberships so if you know someone who needs one, please be in touch with Kelley.  The big increase in staff support was due to the Orton-Gilingham training. Please check out the new mural.


7:20 Dolphin Drive
Sasha Johnson, Fundraising Chair TPES

Panther Appeal
Angela Riemer, VP of Fundraising PBES

  • PBES: Today kicks off the Panther Appeal, starting with a letter that went home in folders today.  Thanks to all of the parents who have volunteered so far. The Takoma Prom is on October 19th at Kaldi’s Social House (918 Silver Spring Ave) from 6:00-9:00pm.  The space is donated so we get to keep all the money that we make. There are silent auction items and a DJ, and it js a great opportunity to socialize and get to know each other earlier in the school year.  It’s open to all adults in the community, you can dress up or dress down. Tickets are $15 for 1, $25 for 2. You are welcome to give more than those amounts. How well we do in the Panther Appeal determines how much we can do the rest of the year.
  • TPES: As the Panther Appeal winds down, the Dolphin Drive will start (month of November).  There will be a couple of dine-outs during the month. With the funds raised, the PTA subsidizes after-school clubs and offers scholarships, provides homework support and support to help teachers get classrooms set up, teacher trainings on reading instruction, purchases backpacks, gift cards and clothing for kids who need it (through Mr. Althofer), supports the 2nd grade graduation and more things that enrich the experiences of our students.  We also coordinate child care and provide pizza for these meetings.


7:25 Reading Update: How is the teacher training changing instruction?

Dr. Gadsden and Ms. East

  • This summer the PTA paid for a trainer who trained many of our teachers (all kindergarten teachers but one and many of the other teachers) on a structured literacy program based on Orton-Gillingham principles.  A video was shared of how the training is used in the classroom. The training came together very quickly, thanks to the PTA.
  • The training is standards with a twist.  We can’t abandon what the county says we have to do, so we have to integrate it together with the new concepts.  It was seamless to infuse the concepts into kindergarten but was harder for first and second grades. At the beginning of the year, we used their assessments to gather data on the kindergarteners’ abilities and it was very effective (we always gather data but this year used their tool).
  • The way we are teaching reading as a result is incredible.  The basis is to get kids to hear the sounds first before they read them (i.e., understand which words rhyme and how to blend beginning and ending sounds together to make a word).  It helps kids first get the basics, before there are even letters. This will be done class-wide for kindergarten and used more sparingly with small groups in 1st and 2nd grade, based on what students need.
  • We made good use of the resources you’ve given us, and thank you.  We are looking for opportunities to get the training for the last kindergarten teacher too.
  • Thanks given to the teachers who cut their vacation short to do the training.  


We have some folks concerned about the SchoolStore fundraiser for the school.  It is a passive fundraiser that has been going on for about 10 years. Dr Gadsden needs to know if this is a huge problem or a small problem.  We can not do it if it’s a huge problem, but then teachers don’t get the supplies for their classroom. There are other passive fundraisers but they don’t yield as much as this one.  She will look for input from us about next month.


Ms. Olsen (2nd grade teacher) had her baby a week early).  Unfortunately her class has had 3 subs in 2.5 weeks. The long term sub that was hired  is leaving next week because she got a full-time job. To avoid having the kids have yet another substitute in the short time frame, until Ms. Olsen returns on December 10, her class will be split among the other teachers in 2nd grade.  If you have a concern or question, please feel free to email Dr. Gadsden.


7:40 Social-emotional curriculum updates at PBES

Mrs. Oberdorf

  • She is exploring what to do with Orton-Gillingham and is hoping to implement such training.
  • PBES also does passive fundraising.  It is under the radar, has been going on for a long time.  Some students participate a lot, some do not. Teachers get things for their classroom and last year they got $500 discretionary principal’s fund.
  • We are missing a 0.1 PE teacher and so there is a sub co-teaching with the PE teacher until one is hired (hiring not done by PBES).
  • We invested a lot of money to put Second Step materials in every teacher’s hands for social emotional learning. The county has adopted the Be Well 365 initiative this year, which has a “Be healthy, be kind, be you” motto.  Is helping them think about how all programs fit into place at PBES and how to go forward. The program has 6 essential elements; we fit our activities into these and assessed strengths and weaknesses. We did a Panther Pride rally on the 2nd day of school and plan to do this quarterly.  It is like a town hall meeting for the school where we talked about core values for the school, reviewed expectations for students and, in future quarters, will talk about goal setting. The leadership team and staff thought it was a great event. It is rare that students can all get together in one place because of space restrictions.  
  • We are continuing our emphasis on Restorative Practice and Restorative Circles, and added in the Second Step program (done as weekly lessons in the classroom by classroom teacher with support from paraeducators and reinforced by specialists and counselors for continuity during the day and year).  We celebrated “Start with Hello” as a schoolwide initiative and talked about random acts of kindness. Every Second Step program for each grade has 25 lessons and there is some common language across grades so are some parallels going through the building. Lessons usually run 30-45 minutes per week.  Are seeing great payoff from these materials.
  • We have 1.5 counselors since we have over 650 students, and we have monthly counseling themes.
  • Thank you for your partnership and we’d love to hear any feedback or suggestions.

8:00 Coat and Costume Swap & Adjourn


Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)

PTA Meeting

September 10, 2019. 6:45pm-8:00pm


7:00 Welcome and Introducing Small Things Matter – Meghan McDonald, President 

  • Introducing Small Things Matter – Lana Anderson

They are providing child care very other month at PTA meetings.  They are middle and high school students who work with elementary kids.  They have 2 programs – literacy and crafting. 

Tonight they will read a story, play games and then paint rocks they can take home.



  • Upcoming Dates and Announcements:

Mon, Sept 30: No School 

Tues, Oct 1: PTA Meeting + Coat Drive and Halloween Costume Swap, 7-8pm

Wed, Oct 2: Walk To School Day

Fri, Oct 4: Early Release for all students; TPES dismissal @ 1:20pm

Wed, Oct 9: No School

Tues, Nov 5: PTA Meeting  – Power Tools for Power Struggles by PEP

Thurs, Nov 7: Literacy Night


7:10 Present and vote on the 2019-20 budget Kelley Skelton, Treasurer

  • Ended last year with $27,000, which helped the PTA commit to supporting Orton Gillingham teacher training over the summer and fundraise afterwards.  Fundraising was successful in reaching the $10,000 goal to cover the training.
  • Executive Committee decided to keep about 3 months of operating expenses in the bank as a reserve, which will allow us to make these kind of commitments in the future.
  • Budgeting for this year was done conservatively (higher end estimates for expenditures and lower end for fundraisers).  Expenses and fundraisers for the year were summarized.
  • Please go on the PTA website and become a member, which will let you vote at PTA meetings and will support the PTA budget.  If you need help affording a membership, booster memberships are available. It is on the PTA website on the membership page as the last option.
  • New this year is $4000 for PTA grants for administrators or teachers with great ideas throughout the year.
  • Thanks to Tracee Matthias for writing successful grants to receive $5000 from the National Education Association Grant and Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant for $2000 (awarded a few days ago) to support a Saturday literacy program.
  • We approved a summer of budget of $1700 and only spent $1100 though some expenses may be still trickling in. 

7:20 Before and After School Enrichment  – Shana Sabbath on behalf of Virginia Davis, After School Enrichment committee chair

  • TPES and PBES traditionally organize after school enrichment activities to balance interest of parents and based on what is expected to get sufficient enrollment.  Enrollment is open now, closes Monday, September 16.
  • Scholarship requests needed by this Friday, September 13.  You can reply to emails or reach out to Shana or Virginia if you are interested in a scholarship.
  • Virginia Davis and her counterpart from PBES have collaborated very closely to align their programming to better support families with children at both schools.
  • PTA subsidizes the program, so is more affordable than similar programs elsewhere in the community. 

7:30 Keeping up with PTA news and opportunities  – Lauren Greenberg, VP Communications

  • Lauren is the contact for the PTA website.  Website is maintained by Gabe Seiden, a former TPES parent (now at PBES), who runs a website design and communications firm in Takoma Park ( and has volunteered his services for the PTA. 
  • Ways the PTA will be trying to communicate with families this year: 
  • Please let Lauren know if there is information you’d like on the PTA website, or if you are interested in helping with communications (e.g., writing posts, putting up flyers)

7:40 Lunchroom expectations – Dr. Gadsden

  • When there are 200 children in the room, there have to be rules to avoid unsafe situations.
  • There is an enormous amount of food on the floor during lunch, so we try to keep kids from getting up to keep it safe.  Kids need to raise hand and get a pass to go to the restroom. If all passes are gone, they have to wait for kids to return before they can go.
  • Kids may have a perception that they are being made to be quiet for the entire lunch period, but it isn’t the entire lunch period.  Would be last few minutes of lunch when they are trying to get out the door for recess. They are asked not to yell during lunch.
  • At beginning of the year, they set the tone so that the rest of the year goes well.  They want kids to be safe and happy.
  • Kids usually have “free sit Friday” so they can sit anywhere they want if rest of the week has gone well.
  • If kids are overstimulated by the lunchroom environment, it is an option to sit in the atrium.
  • Children are encouraged to eat healthy foods first.  If that’s a problem for you and your child, let them know and they won’t direct that at your child.
  • There are 3-4 people in the room with the children.  
  • For challenges at lunch, there isn’t one answer that will work for everyone.  They will decide what’s best for the school, but are then happy to adjust for specific families with different needs.
  • Q: How did the first week go?  A: The first week went extremely well.  
  • Q: I understand volunteers are wanted for lunch?  A: We would love volunteers. Only request is that you help and not just sit next to your kid and eat with them.  You can help open thermoses and ketchup packets. If you just come one time, you don’t need volunteer training, but if you want to come more than once, please do the training.  You can come during any lunch and don’t need to prearrange it. We will be glad to have you.
    • Kindergarten parents, please wait until October to volunteer so that the kids get into their routine first.
  • We don’t ever keep anybody back from recess.  But do send classes that have cleaned up and are sitting quietly first, to encourage good behavior.
  • 55:1 is staffing ratio for lunch and recess.  We are happy to have volunteers and that reduces ratios.  No sign up needed for recess volunteering either.


7:50 Get Involved!  Open volunteer opportunities, big and small:

  • Health & Wellness committee: participates in organizing the 5K race and decides how to spend proceeds (which has supported flexible seating in classrooms like yoga balls and wiggle seats, farm stand at TPES).  Things happen based on what committee members are excited about. Meetings will be at the Girl and the Vine. Committee also purchasing a sensory pathway for the school. New ideas for the committee are very welcome.
  • Lunch & Recess volunteers: can just show up to volunteer
  • Cultural Arts Assembly coordinators: puts on monthly assemblies for the school.  If you enjoy putting together events or being engaged with activities for your child, this could be a good committee for you.
  • Social Services committee: work with Mr Althofer to make sure kids have warm coats and backpacks.  Purchased gift cards to support families in need. Is a behind-the-scenes committee that does really important work in our community.
  • Teacher Appreciation committee: thanks staff and teachers for all they do.  Provide dinner on parent-teacher conference nights, a week of teacher appreciation activities in May as well as a token at the holidays.  If you’re interested in coming up with new ideas to show our appreciation to our hard-working staff, please join. 
  • Equity committee: started out to support an after-school homework club for kids who needed an extra boost for their academic work.  Big focus last year was to make this effort sustainable and brought Lunch-n-Learn to have a home base at TPES and PBES. This year a big focus is to align efforts with PBES and create a joint committee that provides seamless support to the community.  First part of the year will be brainstorming next efforts for the year.
  • Readathon committee: this is the largest PTA’s fundraiser and it’s amazing how much excitement for reading is created with the kids through the Readathon.  Are many different ways to volunteer, especially in February and March.
  • Room parent coordinator: would coordinate room parent efforts schoolwide.  Please see Meg McDonald if interested
  • After-school enrichment committee: supports the after-school programming.


Committee chairs are listed here.


And please join the PTA.