March 2023 PTA Meeting Minutes

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Association Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023 from 7-8pm on Zoom 


PBES Facilitated PTA Mtg: Chris Campbell, PBES PTA VP of Communications & Emma Cheuse, PBES PTA President

  1. Upcoming Dates and Announcements – Refer to MCPS 2022-2023 Calendar and see details at the end of the minutes

  2. Happy Women’s History Month! Here are some resources to share with your children:

  1. Volunteers and Donations Needed for March: Please see the list at the end of this meeting agenda – the following are immediate events.

TPES Key Dates/Announcements:

  1. TPES Readathon co-chair Amanda Wagner : Readathon at TPES is Feb 27-March 24!  If you are able to volunteer to help by tracking minutes, please email Amanda Wagner at
  2. DC United TPES Fundraiser: Purchase tickets (each ticket costs $15 and includes an additional $5 donation for the TPES PTA for a total cost of $20) for the March 25 game vs. New England Revolution. Click HERE to purchase tickets. First 50 seats are located in Section 114. Contact Emma Cohen-Dumani to make the purchase and donation ( for the tickets.
  3. TPES STEM Night is next Thursday, March 16th, 7-8pm. All children are welcome. If any parents would like to volunteer (or teenagers looking for SSL hours), please contact Ms. Joines (  or Mrs. Blacksten ( .
  4. TPES’s Scholastic Bookfair Chair update

PBES Key Dates/Announcements

  1. Geo-Bowl volunteers needed for March! Please email if you can volunteer.
  2. The PBES Readathon wrapped up with 318,000+ minutes read – exceeding goal of 200,000 minutes. Please finalize your pledges if you have not already done so.
  3. Pool & Fundraising Update — We are close but still need to raise about $2,000 in additional funds to meet our goals. Please give if you can or email Mary Kathryn or if you are able to help recruit Pool Sponsors – we are making progress toward our spring PE swimming session.
  4. Rainbow club meet up March 26th


4.   PBES  MISA/MCAP (Maryland Integrated Science Assessment/ Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program) – Ms. Java Robinson, PBES Staff Development Teacher

  • Mandated state assessment annually for grades 3-8 and once in high school

  • Marks students progress re marking pathway to college readiness and provides teachers info on student progress and supports needed

  • MISA – all students 5th, 8th and high school (March 6 – March 10). Testing in pods Pod A 2:20-3:35, Pod B: 10:40-11:55

  • MCAP ELA demonstrates reading comprehension and literacy skills (oral responses for early grades) (70 minutes long)

  • MCAP Math – demonstrate understanding of math by solving real-world problems (40 minutes long)

  • MCAP is not for magnet program qualifications


5.   TPES (DIBELS: Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) – TPES Literacy Specialist Ms. Bozel

  • Ms. Bozel helped families interpret and understand DIBELS reports that were sent home with report cards

  • Fall, winter, spring for all K-2 students; reports come home three times a year

  • The grade level targets change based on when the testing occurs (eg different targets in the fall, winter and spring)

  • Used to track students progress, especially those who are below expected proficiency

  • Flags for students in need of intensive support

  • Sometimes a lower score is a result of the timed element – the student may not have been able to respond in the time allotted for the test

  • Link to overview: Parent DIBELS Explanation (1).pdf


6.  Elementary Students Book Club, Sponsored by the TPES PTA and focuses on books featuring black and brown characters, Dr. Gadsden, TPES Principal. and Dr. Roberts-Harris

  • B.R.I.D.G.E.S. geared towards African American and Hispanic children but all students are invited to attend. In this book club, children of color can see themselves and/or develop empathy and respect for other cultures

  • When children see themselves reflected in the pages of a book they feel that they belong

  • Takes place on 3 Saturdays/month with grants/money from the PTA; free for all

  • Can take a max of 30 participants (currently full)

  • Always looking for middle and high school volunteers (contact Ms. East)

  • If interested in book club, please contact Ms East at with cc to Dr Roberts-Harris: and Dr Gadsden.

  • Link to presentation:


7.   PBES Spring Garden Update (Crossroads), Robin Hernandez

  • Nonprofit based in TP, Crossroads Community Food Network, started in 2007

    • Host a farmer’s market on Wednesdays

    • Community kitchen on Tulip avenue

    • Host middle schoolers in cooking classes in TkPk Rec

    • Healthy eating programs hosted by Ms. Hernandez

    • Garden along the entrance to the pool is for pollinator plants, herbs, spring greens

    • Hosting an open house and SSL day on April 15th

  • SNAP benefit holders can get 15% off when purchasing their food at the TP Co-op.

  • Making plans with the 5th grade team for a final visit; hope to bring them to the farmer’s market in May.


8.  TPES Food Forest Update, Amy Zimmerman,

  • Organizing a food forest in TPES playground – imagine the edge of the woods with trees, shrubs, trees  that produce food that you can eat

  • Should exist in harmony with wildlife and provides a space for children to explore and learn and harvest food

  • Hands-on learning to teach children that when we look after the land it also looks after us; hoping to learn about soil, biodiversity, native plants by incorporating the food forest into the curriculum

  • Radio interview on Takoma Radio on the food forest at TPES:

  • If interested in volunteering contact Ellen Marcus (need grant writers and info to be spread on social media): To volunteer or learn more about the food forest, email Ellen or me

  • To listen to the radio interview about the food forest radio (minutes 1:09-1:30)


9.  Treasurer’s Reports & Vote, Stephen Tippett, TPES PTA Treasurer Budget Report

  • Income is on track at $22,300

  • Expenses are similarly on track $32,740

  • Spent about $10K more than raised but that’s less than what was projected and there was a balance coming into the school year

  • Readathon donations easiest through PayPal

  • Book Fair money is paid out to Scholastic which provides proceeds in the form of Scholastic dollars

  • Budget vote on buying a new PTA budget computer for treasurer for $1K (hopefully will last ten years) – vote passed


10.  Kate Bauer, PBES PTA Treasurer Budget Report

  • Overall met fundraising goals for the year of $57K – had $19K carryover that went towards this.

  • Would like to have a healthy carryover for next year; currently have about $7K carryover

  • Expenses low last month; bought swimsuits for children who did not have them for swim gym class, black history night and ELD night.

  • $25K in programming which will go in part towards another pool gym, club scholarships for after school clubs, staff appreciation week, 5th grade promotion.

11.  Thanks & Next Steps – Emma (PBES PTA President)

Please visit the TPES and PBES PTA Volunteer Hall of Fame and help thank all volunteers.


List of Upcoming Dates and Announcements

Reminder on Upcoming Dates/events:

  • Through March 24: TPES Read-a-Thon!

  • March 26: Panthers & Dolphins TPES/PBES PTA Rainbow Club meet-up at Main Street Pearl, 3-5pm.  LGBTQIA+ parents/caregivers/students all welcome to join for bubble tea and arts and crafts projects.

  • March 29: STEAM Night at PBES, 7-8pm. Please email Sara Lewis if you can volunteer or can host a science, technology, arts or music table:

  • March 31: No school – Professional Development Day for Teachers.

  • April 3-10: No school – Spring Break.

  • April 11: TPES/PBES PTA mtg on zoom at 7pmTo request topics for future PTA agendas, please reach out to or

  • April 24-May 12: PE Swim Session 2.

Announcements and Opportunities:

  • 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.


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: