TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: April 2021

Takoma Park Elementary School(TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, April 13, 2021 

7:00-8:00pm on Zoom

Meeting ID: 882 2515 2163

Passcode: pta


Be SMART Presentation & County Advocacy Updates

Mark your calendars for our next meeting, Tuesday, May 4, 7-8pm. 


7:00 Welcome & Introduction of Interpreters and Speaker

7:05 Upcoming Dates and Announcements from the MCPS Calendar

Gabe Seiden, PBES VP Communications 

April 11-17: TPES & PBES PTA Fundraiser with Sang Froid Distillery

Wed, April 14: PBES Student Materials Distribution (for virtual students)

Fri, April 16: TPES Student Materials Distribution (for virtual students) and

         Professional Day for Teachers & Staff (NO CLASS for students)

Tues, April 20: Piney Branch Virtual STEM Night from 6:30-8:30pm

Thurs, April 22: Parent Zoom with Principal Gadsden @ 7pm

Tues, May 4: Virtual TPES/PBES PTA Meeting at 7pm

May 3 – 7: Teacher Appreciation Week

Fri, May 13: Professional Day for Teachers & Staff (NO CLASS for students)

  • Readathon donations are due Thursday, 4/15! Every donation counts and will help us restock our libraries and support our classrooms. Make sure to get your donation this week!

TPES Readathon (all students will be receiving a Readathon prize bag)

PBES Readathon

  • Please join us for Sharing Our Stories, Mondays at 7:00pm on Zoom. On Monday, April 19, Jose from Piney Branch Elementary and mother Ms. Hernandez (teacher at Piney Branch Elementary) will share stories of the Dominican Republic. Spanish interpretation is provided. Zoom details will be posted on the PTA listservs and in messages from the Principal. If you would like to be a guest storyteller or educator, please email Shana at
  • Nominating PTA Officers for the 2021-2022 School Year

Lia Salza & Lauren Greenberg, PBES & TPES PTA Nominating Committee Chairs

  • Still looking for President and Vice President for both schools (which can be shared positions), PBES Treasurer, TPES VP of Membership and other positions.  If you have any inclination to leadership, please reach out to Lia ( and Lauren (  Happy to have both people who are new to PTA positions and those with experience.  There is support to learn these roles and great opportunity to make a difference.


7:15 Be SMART Presentation

Jessica Gilbertsen, Be SMART Montgomery County Lead (& MCPS parent),   

  • Ways to prevent unintentional gun violence with a focus on child safety and public health
  • Nearly 1600 children under 18 are killed each year by guns, over half are homicides
  • SMART stands for safe gun practices:
    • S = Secure all guns in your homes and vehicles by storing locked and unloaded with ammunition separate.  Hiding a gun isn’t securing a gun as children often know where guns are hidden in the house.
    • M = Model responsible behavior and make it part of the normal safety conversation you have with your children
    • A = Ask about unsecured guns in other homes your child visits.  It should be as natural as asking about any other safety issue.  You can also offer this up about your home when hosting play dates to help normalize the topic.
    • R = Recognize the role of guns in suicide.  Most people who attempt suicide don’t die, unless they have a gun. 40% of child suicides involve a gun.  
    • T = Tell your peers to Be SMART
  • Feel free to reach out to Jessica with further questions:


7:45 County Advocacy Updates (from MCCPTA)

Joyce McDonough, TPES PTA rep to MCCPTA

Jaime Koppel, PBES PTA rep to MCCPTA

  • A few weeks ago the National PTA revoked the charter of the MD PTA, meaning that the state PTA cannot use the logo, brand, etc. of the PTA.  This means our Montgomery County PTA (MCCPTA) now reports directly now to the national level.  Our County PTA is very strong, so our school PTAs will likely not experience much change as a result of this.
  • This afternoon the MCCPTA shared information about an event this Saturday that will be a chance to get answers about the curriculum that will be used in the next school year.  Register here:
  • Acknowledging some of those who have lost their lives tragically and those who are struggling as a result before beginning a discussion of school safety
  • MCCPTA has been debating the School Resource Officers (police officers in schools) program, including proposals to end and to expand the SRO program
  • County Executive Elrich put out a budget proposal for next year that would eliminate the SRO role
  • MCCPTA passed a resolution (65% to 35%) that sets up MCCPTA to advocate for discontinuing the SRO program on any middle and high school campus and instead pursue holistic approaches to school safety

7:55 Treasurer’s Reports  

Kelley Skelton, TPES Treasurer & Erin  Kelley, PBES Treasurer

  • TPES PTA has exceeded fundraising goals for the year.  We have $32k in assets which will help ensure next year’s PTA is in a good position to start the year.
  • The food bank has strong assets
  • PBES Readathon has exceeded its fundraising goal.  They have a budget for teacher appreciation week and 5th grade graduation gifts.  PBES President Sarah Goupell ( would be happy to receive ideas for either of those events.

Our May meeting will feature infectious disease expert and PBES PTA Secretary Dr. Kawsar Talaat to discuss the COVID vaccine.  She Please come and feel free to invite others to join.

Become a PTA member: 

Takoma Park Elementary
Piney Branch Elementary

PTA Teams With sang•froid Distillery for Fundraiser

Help support local schools while enjoying locally made artisanal spirits! Our fundraiser is off to a great start. Join your friends and neighbors and check out Sang•Froid distillery this week!

The Takoma Park Elementary & Piney Branch Elementary PTAs are excited to be partnering with sang•froid distilling for a fundraising event from Sunday April 11 until Saturday, April 17. The schools will receive 10% of all sales from every order with “PTA”in the comments. Sang Froid Distilling is co-owned by a parent of two children at Takoma Park Elementary and is located in Hyattsville.

As a bonus, they crafted a special bottled cocktail, a Negroni made with trifoliate oranges that were picked right here in Takoma Park (you may have seen these unique citrus fruit in yards and parks – they have the three-inch thorns on the trees!).

You can order here just put “PTA” in the comments when you order. For this special fundraiser, we have 3 options for pick-up:

  1. Pick-up at the distillery on Saturday, 4/17, 12pm – 4pm at the distillery, 5130 Baltimore Ave, Hyattsvolle, MD.

  2. Pick-up in Takoma Park on Sunday, 4/18, 12pm – 4 pm at 807 Davis Ave, (home of TPES PTA President, Meg McDonald).

  3. Home delivery (free of charge!) by the PTA on Sunday afternoon/evening, 4/18 between 3 pm – 5 pm. Make sure to add your address to the comments for this option.

*Please note: all items contain alcohol and individuals must be 21 years of age to purchase and consume.

TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: March 2021

Takoma Park Elementary School(TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

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


Principal’s Updates: Hear from Dr. Gadsden & Mrs. Oberdorf

Mark your calendars for our next meeting, Tuesday, April 13, 7-8pm.


7:00    Welcome & Introduction of Interpreters 

Upcoming Dates and Announcements from the MCPS Calendar

    Chris Campbell, TPES VP Communications 

March 1-31: READATHON for both schools (Chris Campbell, Sara Lewis  & Sarah Goupell) -Piney Branch 4600 minutes so far goal 200,001; Mr. Pendleton’s 4th grade class has most students participating

Readathon has changed this year

All money raised from Readathon will be supporting the PTA

At TPES- majority of funds will go to media center. Huge need for funds

Last year- 600 titles not returned to library from 2019-2020 school year

90% of nonfiction connection needs to be replaced – outdated, bad shape

Recording minutes: online- Required for TPES, Optional for PBES

Paper calendar optional but encouraged if possible to have visual

What counts as reading: reading by themselves, listening to story by adult, online books either reading or being read to online

Donations- not required, but greatly appreciate

On the PTA website there will be celebrity readers reading each day and

Readathon page is on kids homeroom page in MyMCPS/Canvas for TPES

March 3 – Kindergarten families Zoom with Dr. Gadsden re: reopening, 7pm

Open house for students who are returning to in-person instruction

(all day; Sign Up Genius forthcoming from school)

March 4 – 1st & 2nd grade families Zoom with Dr. Gadsden re-reopening, 7pm

March 7 – Welcome-back decorating at school entrances from 5p-6p at TPES & PBES

March 8 – No school; teacher professional day

March 9 & 10 – Asynchronous learning days for all student

March 10 – Open house for students who are returning to in-person instruction

(all day; Sign Up Genius forthcoming from school)

March 12 – Half day for students

March 15 – Schools re-open for phase 1.1; some students return (K-3)

April 6 – Grades 4 & 5 students who opted in return to in-person learning

April 13 – Joint PTA meeting for TPES & PBES, 7pm

April 20 – PBES STEM Night 6:30-8:30pm


  • Please join us for Sharing Our Stories, Mondays at 7:00pm on Zoom. On March 22nd, PBES PTA President Sarah Goupell will read “Waiting for the Biblioburro” by Monica Brown in honor of the 2021 Readathon. Spanish interpretation is provided. Interested in being a guest storyteller or educator or need the Zoom details? Email Shana at


  • Nominating PTA Officers for the 2021-2022 School Year   

Lauren Greenberg & Lia Salza Goldstein

Recruiting officers and committees for both schools’ PTA

Executive committees good way to learn what is happening at schools and get to know people at school

TPES: Executive membership secretary- take minutes at executive committee meetings and PTA meetings

President/Vice President

Looking for anyone who wants to become involved- please reach out to Lauren or Lia.;

Can share positions, especially those that require heavier lift, e.g. Treasurer


7:15    Principal’s Updates for Plans to Re-Open
Principal Gadsden and Principal Oberdorf

Dr. Gadsden:

Hybrid model- not all virtual not all direct learning

Teachers will spend them sometime on the computer working with all kids, and sometime breaking them into small groups to work together in person.

First 2 weeks will be getting accustomed to being in school- please be patient

After spring break, they will hopefully be used to handling

Will send survey for transportation

Kiss and ride- most have opted not to come on bus

Likely will block traffic as they are dropping off kids

Be patient

Don’t get out of cars

Kindergarten parents- either park in neighborhood and walk them to door; if you can’t let them out of the car.

2 open houses- so can see classrooms. Teachers may or may not be there. You can come in and see what classroom looks like/where they will sit.

If child is not returning in person, will not be allowed to tour the classroom

If child need special time and attention- send an email

March 3 (for KG) and March 4 (1st and 2nd parents) meetings are for adults only- all parents should attend so they know what to expect. Meetings at 7 pm.

Going back to school will not look the same as it used to

Staying home will not look the same as it has done

For open house tomorrow- come into main office.

If didn’t chose the bus to leave room for other kids and now want to choose bus, how to make change? The request goes to transportation can submit through synergy

Waitlist: As people change their minds re: in person, there is a lot of traffic both ways. Will call people on Friday to let them off the

K open house- Wednesday, rest of open house Tomorrow 10:45-3:30

If can’t remember if signed up for bus- check on status of request for transportation: Parentvue or email Ms. Paz.

New bell times start March 15.


Ms. Oberdorf:

PBES instructional model different: priority was for students to remain with current teachers

Support for virtual and simultaneous. Hard to promise simultaneous right now because this is all brand new.

A couple of situations where teacher is not returning to building- assigning a paraeducator someone who is already a staff member- to be co-working and coteaching with the virtual teacher.

Arrival/dismissal changing: student will be entering 4 different entrances depending on where you are coming from

Welcoming 3rd grade first so a small advantage

Survey for traffic

State Testing: will need to continue the MCAP state assessment to 3rd-5th English and math

Push to shorten assessment this year

No details yet.

No 5th grade MISA (science) test this year

Open house- production of video to show students what it will be like once come off bus/car/walking in door

All teachers will be hosting open house- virtual and in person

Friday March 12 dismissal- entire class will be attended to see how things are different on zoom or what things will look like once they return in person.



Hybrid: blend simultaneous and support to virtual. Best practice for simultaneous for 2 teachers in one classroom- don’t have that

Direct instruction but also virtual


PBES: grades are in pods and rooms are adjoining- have an additional staff member for every 2=3 room

Crossing guards are coming back; will be fully staffed as before. No safety patrols at PBES and no discussion at TPES to decide on patrols.

In communication with Lucy Nehrer from TP to help with logistics

A/B rotation: can we do every week for 4th and 5th grade if few enough come

Rationale – youngest learners need to be in person

PBES: Not able to have all students here every week, except for those special education services

Even though percent is 45%, when look at class to class not able to offer across the board to have everyone come every week

Working with KA and identify space in building- interim for between when 3rd grade starts and 4th grade, and before and after care

PBES: number returning 306 students returning overall; out of 620 students total

Trying to not have a wait list- do have 1 class where more students want to come back than have space

Small wait list-for 3rd grade; 4th and 5th no wait list.


Will 4th and 5th go earlier than April 6? No idea

What will 9th and 10th look like? Teams planning to make sure scope and sequence not interrupted- so not just review but allows students to continue learning asynchronously.


TPES: 9:25-3:50 ; lunch will only be 1 hour

Some time for them to be on zoom with the teacher in the class, and independent work off computer or on computer (nearpod, etc).


PBES: 9:25-3:50


How will weekly covid testing work- will all students who opt in be tested weekly, or will they be rotated.


What happens with cases of COVID in the classroom- definite protocol in place, and work with the department of health and human services.


Spring break March 29-April 2, also no school April 5.


TPES: Kindergarten children will not go in the building through the front door.

Kids who get out of cars- will go in through the cafeteria/KA door and go straight through to their classrooms


Only walkers are going through the front door.


Summer Camp Resource Sheet:


7:55    Treasurer’s Reports

Kelley Skelton, TPES Treasurer & Erin Kelley, PBES Treasurer

KELLY: TPES: sufficient funds to operate 29.049 in operating funds

Food funds: 90,000


PTA has expended almost 6000 to get classrooms ready- would like to update budget currently budgeted at 12,000 up to 18,000 – approved


ERIN: PBES: good cash flow- have enough funds to operate for the rest of the year- still need $3000 or more from readathon

Cumulative and expenses are close- just below where we started

If you haven’t joined the PTA not too late, those membership dollars really help MCCPTA and MDPTA in their advocacy.


Next meeting Tues April 16 after spring break!


Have a terrific spring break everyone!


2021 Read-a-thon Videos

As a way to encourage students to participate in this year’s Read-a-thon, we will be posting videos daily of books being read aloud. These videos can count as minutes your child has read and toward our overall goal, so use these if you want, and don’t forget to log into your child’s Canvas account and log their minutes each day.

Videos will be posted in reverse chronological order, with the most recent day at the top.

March 26 (English, Spanish)

March 25 (English, Spanish)

March 24 (English, Spanish)

March 23 (English, Spanish)

March 22 (English, Spanish)

March 21 (English, Spanish)

March 20 (English, Spanish)

March 19 (English, Spanish)

March 18 (English, Spanish)

March 17 (English, Spanish)

March 16 (English, Spanish)

March 15 (English, Spanish)

March 14 (English, Spanish)

March 13 (English, Spanish)

March 12 (English, Spanish)

March 11 (English, Spanish)

March 10 (English, Spanish)

March 9 (English, Spanish)

March 8 (English, Spanish, Amharic)

March 7 (English, Spanish)

March 6 (English, Spanish)

March 5 (English, Spanish)

March 4 (English, Spanish)

March 3 (English, Spanish, Amharic)

March 2 (English, Spanish)

March 1

2021 Read-a-thon

Final Update:

Thank you to everyone who has helped to support the 2021 Read-a-thon!  We hope your child had a great time reading during the month of March.

Now that the Read-a-thon is over, the minutes have been tallied and we are pleased to report that students read for nearly 140,000 minutes this month. The money we raise from the Read-a-thon will go towards funding much-needed school supplies like PPE for teachers and students as well as helping Ms. Anderson, the TPES Library Media Specialist, recoup lost, damaged, or outdated titles from the media center that sorely need replacing.

Donations can be made online at Please donate and encourage friends or family to donate by Friday, April 16thAny amount, whether it is $3 or $300 helps.  Thank you!

Read-a-thon Video Page

Watch people read books aloud as a way for your child to earn minutes.

We are excited to launch our 8th annual Read-a-thon event! It is our largest fundraising event and it gets the children excited to read!

In Read-a-thon, a child reads for a month to raise funds for the Takoma Park Elementary School PTA.  Read-a-thon runs March 1 – March 26, 2021.  Please encourage your child to read today!

On this page, you will be able to find more information about our Read-a-thon event.

Read-a-thon Donate ButtonTO DONATE:  You may…

  • DONATE ONLINE NOW. We are only accepting online donations/pledge submissions this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The deadline for donation is April 16, 2021.

We hope that you enjoy Read-a-thon as much as we enjoy presenting the Read-a-thon.  Your participation is crucial to the success of Read-a-thon.  Happy reading!

The PTA Read-a-thon Committee Co-Chairs

Sara Lewis and Chris Campbell

TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: February 2021


Takoma Park Elementary School(TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, February 2, 2021 

7:00-8:00pm on Zoom 


Parenting Communication Tips and SRO Discussion

Mark your calendars for our next meeting, Tuesday, March 2, 7-8pm. 


7:00 Welcome & Introduction of Interpreters and Speaker

7:05 Communication for Cooperation

Paige Trevor, Speaker &  Parent Educator, Owner of Balancing Act, LLC   


7:45 Upcoming Dates and Announcements from the MCPS Calendar

Gabe Seiden, PBES VP Communications 

Mon, Feb 8 – Sun, Feb 21: TPES Virtual Scholastic Book Fair (Feb 10: Free Book Distribution)

Wed, Feb 10: PBES In-Person Phase-In Town Hall with Principal Oberdorf; time TBD

Fri, Feb 12: Professional Day for Teachers & Staff (NO CLASS for students)

Mon, Feb 15: Presidents’ Day (Schools & offices closed; NO CLASS)

Wed, Feb 24: tentative date for Virtual Black History Night, time TBD

March 1-31: Readathon for both schools


  • Please join us for Sharing Our Stories, Mondays at 7:00pm on Zoom. On February 8th, Takoma Park poet laureate Kathleen O’Toole will assist students interested in submitting a poem for Takoma Park’s Sidewalk Poetry Contest. Spanish interpretation is provided. Interested in being a guest storyteller or educator or need the Zoom details? Email Shana at


7:50 Nominating PTA Officers for the 2021-2022 School Year

Lia Salza, Lauren Greenberg & Kelly Young, PBES & TPES PTA Nominating Committee Chairs

  • Position vacancies, how to get involved, and how we hope to increase diversity
  • Positions other than Treasurer don’t require special skills
  • Encourage anyone who is interested to step forward.  It is a very rewarding thing to do and a great way to connect to the schools and the community.  
  • Please reach out to Lia ( or Lauren ( if interested in learning more 


7:55 Treasurer’s Reports  

Kelley Skelton, TPES Treasurer & Erin  Kelley, PBES Treasurer


  • TPES PTA is doing well and has sufficient assets to operate until the end of the year.  Will be doing the Readathon in the spring to set next year’s PTA up so can respond quickly to the needs of next year. Feel free to email for more details or a copy of the report.
  • PBES PTA is breaking even with expenses and income.  Have brought in just over $19k and spent just under $19k.  Budget is healthy and on target.


8:00 Community Discussion about School Resource Officers (SROs) in Schools

Jaime Koppel, PBES PTA Advocacy Delegate  

  • Goals for this discussion:
  • (1) learn from and with each other;
  • (2) discuss what it means to be pro-positive school climate & safety rather than pro- or anti-SRO;
  • (3) consider how this conversation connects to MCPS’s current anti-racist system audit:
  • (4) determine how we want to show up as school communities in these overdue conversations at the County level – including through proposing amendments to the language of the proposed resolution.


  • Background: our schools’ PTAs are part of the Montgomery County PTA
  • A School Resource Officer is a law enforcement officer, employed by the County police department.  They carry a weapon and have arrest abilities/responsibilities. 
  • The County PTA committee is proposing a resolution to urge MCPS to discontinue placing SROs in high schools.  To learn more about the resolution and leave comments:
  • This Thursday, our County Council is also debating Bill 4620, which would end the school SRO program, professionalize the school security role (managed by MCPS) and would invest in student-centered supports and restorative justice training for staff.  Link:
  • Our state delegates are also introducing bills about holistic school safety and climate right now too:
  • There is data that shows the current SRO model disproportionately results in arrests and entries into the criminal justice system for black/brown students, and students in special education.  Many justice concerns with the SRO model.
  • The national justification for SROs is to protect students from external threats.  But there is no evidence that this is a deterrent for a school shooting.
  • Questions were raised about how some of the services provided by SROs to the schools would be replaced without adding more burden to existing teachers and staff.  The county bill would provide some funding for additional mental health services.
  • Poll was taken for TPES and PBES PTA members
  • TPES is 67% in favor of the resolution and 33% abstained, PBES is 47 in favor, 8% voted no and 44% abstained.  Some abstentions were those who didn’t have kids in that school.
  • Jaime’s email:

Become a PTA member: Takoma Park Elementary
Piney Branch Elementary


TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: January 2021


Takoma Park Elementary School(TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES)

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, January 5, 2021,


Location: Zoom


Town Hall & Participation in PTA Leadership

Mark your calendars for our next meeting, Tuesday, Feb 2, 7-8pm.

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


7:00    Welcome
Introduction of tonight’s Spanish and Amharic interpreters

7:05     Upcoming Dates and Announcements from the MCPS Calendar

         Chris Campbell, TPES VP Communications

Mon, Jan 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Schools & offices closed; NO CLASS)

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

Mon, Feb 1: First Day of Black History Month

Tues, Feb 2: TPES & PBES PTA Meeting 7-8pm via Zoom

Fri, Feb 12: Professional Day for Teachers & Staff (NO CLASS for students)

Mon, Feb 15: Presidents’ Day (Schools & offices closed; NO CLASS)


  • Please join us at Sharing Our Stories, a weekly Zoom PTA event on Mondays at 7:00pm for TPES and PBES families, where we learn about all the amazing identities that make up our school community. Our special guest on Monday, January 11 is Mercedes Castelo, whose family will join the TPES community next fall. Ms. Castelo will share poems, games, and stories of Mexico. Spanish interpretation is available. Interested in being a guest storyteller or educator or need the Zoom details? Email Shana at


7:10     Town Hall  

  • Please post your questions and comments in the chat or click the “raise hand” icon to be unmuted
    • Participants are invited to discuss their questions and concerns
      • Overview of health metrics as they factor into reopening plan
      • In order to go back to in-person schooling, county using 14 day average of cases
      • Right now, average 434 daily/cases and 40 cases/100,000 needs to be <50 cases/day and 5-10/100,000
      • There will be a board meeting next week to make this decision re: school reopening
      • Governor has moved teachers to group 1b for vaccination
      • About half of the students are not going to return
      • G: 319 students will stay remote; 294 want to come back
      • O: still proceeding and planning for a Feb 1 start date.
      • 295 will come back
      • Getting a lot flexibility in designing the best plan for our needs
      • Phase in plan- first group going in is K-3
      • Grades K-3- 4 days/week in person MT, TF with Wednesday reserved for online and cleaning of schools
      • Grades 4 and 5- A and B schedule. A week and B week
      • Will get more information before the final start date for students
      • Focus school: has more support or support for special programs: PBES is a focus school
      • Equity hub – about 35 students in building; about at capacity.
      • Likely be options for families through the summer to make up for lost ground
      • If we go back to in person, school will start later because of busing; will need to align online school with in person schedule
      • Everytime changes are made lose a few kids who aren’t able to navigate the change
      • G: have to divide staff between those coming back and those staying home. They have identified teachers who will return in person, classrooms used that allows for social distancing
      • Goal in person and virtual not in the same classroom; but may need to move classes around with teacher, some virtual in the presence of a teacher

No extension of school year- summer programs will be optional; never extend through whole summer Usually 4-5 weeks

No Vaccine for children until late fall at the earliest; no mandated COVID vaccines for return to school


  • Potential timeline for COVID vaccine for elementary school children
  • What new challenges are families facing with virtual learning? What challenges continue to persist? How can our community address these challenges together?
  • What topics would you like to see at future PTA meetings?


7:40     PTA Leadership for the 2021-2022 School Year

Sarah Goupell, PBES PTA President  

  • Position vacancies and how to get involved

For next year: Nominating committee; President at both schools will have expiring terms, treasurers, exec VP at TPES, and other positions, as well for various committee.

If you have questions, please get in touch with Meg and Sarah if you have questions

Positions and description:


Garden club:

7:50     Treasurer’s Reports

Kelley Skelton, TPES Treasurer & Erin  Kelley, PBES Treasurer

See treasurer report

136,409 for the foodbank

Piney Branch PTA: Kids Hats and gloves available in the vestibule of the school

Masks for the teachers

300 high quality balls and jump ropes to be used for PE for kids without at home



You can become a PTA member online:

Takoma Park Elementary

Piney Branch Elementary

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