February 2024 PTA Meeting Minutes

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)
Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES)
Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)
Tuesday, February 6, 2024 from 7 – 8pm on Zoom 

Meeting Kick-off 

Ingrid Gardiner, PBES PTA President welcome

  • Intro to topics to be discussed
  • Desiree Hernandez will be translating in Spanish, we do not have an Amharic interpreter today. Notes will be shared in English/Spanish/Amharic.
  • Reminder: PBES suggestion/feedback form at this link.  Please give feedback regarding upcoming meetings or other PTA suggestions/ideas

Upcoming Dates & Announcements

TPES ANNOUNCEMENTS:  Read by Clare Dean, TPES PTA Vice President

  • Support a TPES Family During a Time of Crisis: On behalf of a dear kindergarten student at TPES and his family, Ms. Paz has created a GoFundMe page. His mother, 26 year old María, passed suddenly from complications due to her leukemia. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the cause, Ms. María Vicente Chan’s children chaperoned by Ms. Paz returned her to Guatemala for burial. The medical and funeral expenses unfortunately still linger and any further contributions are enormously appreciated. Click here to contribute to the GoFundMe. 
  • Black History Night is on February 29th at PBES! We are looking for six volunteers from TPES to help with set up, food, clean up and the art table. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Gabrielle Williams. We will put her information in the chat. (gabriellefouche@gmail.com). 
  • TPES Read-a-thon is coming soon and NEEDS VOLUNTEERS: February 19-March 15: The Read-a-thon is one of our PTA’s most significant fundraisers, where students will read to raise funds for the PTA. Like in a charity marathon where runners are “sponsored” for every mile they run, students will collect pledges for the time that they read. It’s a lot of fun! The students get very excited to read and set reading goals. Volunteer roles only take a few hours and many can be done from home! Our most important volunteer need right now is on Friday, February 16th for the book giveaway! Even if you can’t commit to a whole time slot, we appreciate even an hour of your time! You can sign up to volunteer on this linked spreadsheet. Please contact Amanda Wagner (helloamandawagner@gmail.com) for more information.
  • Does Your Child Have Extra Pants in Their School Cubby? Please send in labeled pants with your child to stay in their cubby in case a change of clothing is needed. Most children only have shorts from the beginning of the year as their change of clothes. Please label your student’s clothing as it helps get the items returned if misplaced.
  • Lost and Found: Please come check out the lost and found! Most coats are now hanging on a coat rack, while there are three (large and overflowing) boxes of sweatshirts, sweaters, fleeces and lunch boxes. There is another separate box of water bottles and finally, a box of hats, gloves and scarves. Everything is located in the atrium (pictures attached for reference). We ask that if your child has lost something this year, to please come look for it, as there are a significant number of items. Please remember your ID when you come to school so that you may get in.
  • Nurse Seeking Donations of New/Excellent Condition Pants (Sizes 4-10): Please consider sending in an extra pair of pants for the nurse’s office. Not only do bathroom accidents happen, children need to change their pants if they fall in the mud/wet grass, spills in the cafeteria, etc. As a Pre K-2 school, we have lots of change of clothing needs! 
  • Valentine’s Day: When sending valentines in with your child, be sure there is a valentine for every child in the homeroom class. Unfortunately, students without a full set will not be permitted to pass out valentines. This is being done to safeguard the emotional health of our children. Teachers will be sending home class lists soon.
  • Yearbook Ordering is Now Open: If you’d like to order a yearbook for your child, please use this link. Yearbooks cost $22 and will be distributed at the end of the school year. 

PBES ANNOUNCEMENTS: ready by Ingrid Gardiner, PBES PTA President

  • February is Black History Month! TPES/PBES Black History Night Celebration: February 29, 7–8 pm – The Black History Night event will take place on Thursday February 29 from 7 to 8:00 PM at PBES, cosponsored by the TPES and PBES PTAs. Expect live interactive performances, refreshments, and engaging art activities. Students and their families/caregivers are welcome! More details to be provided in the coming weeks.
  • February 19: No school (President’s Day)
  • Cultural Heritage Night, GeoBowl, and Readathon updates will be provided by the committee members after the announcements
  • Here is the sign up link to bring some Valentines treats for PBES staff on Feb 13: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30E0C4DA4AC28A4F49-47660610-velentines#/

Budget Updates, TPES and PBES

Amy Swift, TPES PTA Treasurer 

Zones of Regulation

Ms. Altofer . TPES Counselor 

Overview – Zones of Regulation is an SEL curriculum originally developed for small groups of students with autism or sensory processing issues. We are however seeing more and more children with self regulation challenges.

  • Mr Altofer and Ms. Ampofo are working with this curriculum (Zones of Regulation) this year. 
  • Breaks feelings into color zones.
  • Will be continuing to refine lessons and have consistency throughout classrooms/school.

Q: Are there ways we as parents can support what you are doing at school?

A: You can have conversations with your student at home if they are becoming unregulated or getting close to a tantrum, ask what color they are in. Reinforce that red is not good/bad but means out of control. Remind them that not everyone experiences their feelings the same, there isn’t a right/wrong, just a difference of opinion.

Q: If this was originally developed for kids on the autism spectrum, how appropriate is this curriculum for kids who are not on the spectrum (which presumably is most kids)?

A: It was developed for that purpose but has been used in school/clinical settings with students with ADHD, students with regulatory issues. 

This is something that is good for all children, it was just designed for children originally for kids on the spectrum. “A good strategy is a good strategy”

From chat: I rarely get details from my kids about what they learn daily, but my kindergartner and 2nd grader fell all over themselves to tell us everything about the zones of regulation!

Q: I really appreciate the focus on zones of regulation this year. How it the zones curriculum being balanced with other guidance curriculum that covers other topics?

A: This year, this is the curriculum we are using. Next year we will incorporate mindfulness into zones. 

Q:Is this tool being used in PBES as well so students can maintain a consistent approach as they age up?

A: No, but it is available. Choice was made to use it at TPES based on what counselors/staff were seeing and what seemed appropriate.

Q: What trends post-pandemic are you seeing? Particular grades or throughout?

A: Throughout school. My sense that it was from being out of school, being on screen, then having to transition back. The social skills foundation and general frustration tolerance has decreased. In any given year, there is a handful demonstrating this but we are seeing more and more, behaviors are getting bigger, more students are becoming physically aggressive, etc.

Black History Month celebration – no presentation this evening

Reminder: The celebration is Feb 29th at PBES


Mrs Oberdorff: Thank you to all the volunteers for GeoBowl and Readathon

Dr Gadsden: Thank you for everyone volunteering for lunch, recess, and at school, and for your smiles when you come in.

Ingrid Gardiner,  PBES PTA President

  • Reminder that next PTA meeting will be on March 5 at 7 PM 

Additional Q&A:

Q:Is there a “no-school day” on Tuesday, May 14th?

A: May 14th is a Holiday with schools and offices closed for Primary Election Day.