October 2022 Meeting Minutes

TPES/PBES October PTA Meeting

Tuesday, October 11, 2022
7:00 pm
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1. Intro (Margaret)

We’ll discuss social emotional learning curriculum. There will be a breakout room to jump into volunteer training with Dr. Gadsden. Tomorrow is Walk to School day. Tomorrow evening there will be a joint fiesta at Piney Branch. Thursday the 13th there will be a virtual Board of Education Candidates Forum that is sponsored by the League of Women Voters; relevant to anyone who votes for at-large or district candidates.

2. Piney Branch Garden (Robin Hernandez)

Crossroads community food network is a nonprofit serving the TKPK and Langley Park communities. Farmers market, community kitchen. Prior to Covid we were cooking in classrooms and going on field trips to the farmers market. During Covid, we held virtual classes and created a school garden with over 500 hours of volunteer work. Crossroads currently maintains the garden with donations, fundraising, grants, and a team of volunteers. Volunteers offer lessons to 5th graders, exploring the garden with all senses, and providing math, science and history lessons. We need volunteers to support our Monday afternoon classes. The garden has existed for 2 seasons. We hope to include more grades in the programing in the future, and are looking for volunteers for an hour on Monday afternoons. We do offer SSL hours for middle and high school students on half days and no school days. We have done family days in the past, including Dios de los Muertos. 

3.  Panther Appeal (Mary Kathryn Lee)

Looking to raise at least $5,000. Any donations are welcome. Funds are used to support initiatives like equity, literacy support, supplies, staff teacher appreciation, community events, and enrichments like PTA funded after school scholarships. As part of panther appeal, we thought it would be fun to have a friendly competition between grades. We will track participation and amount between grades. Grades could win a fun dance party, or a visit from PB&J. Look for matching donations. Still looking for a few volunteers. 

4.  Treasurer Reports (Kate and Stephen)

Kate says for Piney Branch the income side things look good. It’s the 2nd or 3rd year we haven’t had to ask for membership dues. For fundraising we’re also off to a good start. On the programming side we spent a sizable amount on club scholarships, we’ve also been funding supplies for teachers’ classrooms. Translation for various events. 

Stephen says the income up to now has mostly been donations and membership signups. Membership dues are $30 for single membership. The rest have been donations associated with membership signups. Fundraising will increase after dolphin drive. Expense side is bigger because several expenses were rolled over in summer months. Atrium project Lunch and Learn, helping out with different activities like field day, end of year celebrations. We haven’t spent that much yet this school year. In September we helped teachers for classroom setup. 

5.  Piney Branch SEL Curriculum  (Mrs. Oberdorf, Mrs. Johnson)

Social Emotional Learning at PBES. Karen Johnson is the counselor for 3rd and 5th grade. Mrs. Oberdorf says Ms. Coco-Content had her baby yesterday and everyone is well. 

Counselors do monthly lessons in the classroom. First lesson we did this month was to meet the counselor, in November common sense lessons-3rd grade responsibly, 5th grade bullying. Other lessons include unsafe touch, internet safety, kindness, empathy, problem-solving, careers, self-regulation. We consult with teachers when they have concerns. Since covid, we haven’t run any groups, but when we do the groups are about friendship management. We also are there for crisis response, suicide. We do case management for 504 plans for students. We work closely with the Pupil Personnel Worker, Ms. Wilson, and we also coordinate with her for any students who need additional support of basic needs. School backpacks filled with supplies, coat, gloves. Work with her so parents have access. Member of the student wellbeing team. Teacher referral – teacher may have a concern about students attendance.. Monitor and outreach. Bring about support for that student. 

Mental health awareness week is moved to next week. We will be having several announcements. On Monday we will have a MCPS message and community circle. On Wednesday mediation activities. Thursday students will create care cards in class. Will include a self care tip to share with a friend or family member. Friday will salute the week and encourage students to wear their favorite hats to school.

Mrs. Oberdorf says we also have additional support from MCPS. We’ve been assigned a parent community coordinator. We also have a social worker, Alana Tipton, as well as Tariq Harris who is an instructional specialist in the Department of Student Engagement. We also have a lot of school wide programming. We always start with hello week, to combat social isolations. On Unity day, we wear orange as part of an anti-bullying national initiative. We do a Kindness Pledge every morning on the morning announcements. PB Jelly has a Mailbox, where students write notes recording acts of kindness for peers and staff. Those notes get posted on a bulletin board for recognizing respect and kindness. In addition, we have restorative practices. We talk about our core values. The student wellbeing team addressing needs to students. We are initiating the Leader in Me Classroom for more consistency in the classroom. This is the 1st year of implementation. This summer all of our teachers attended 2 full days of training. For the 1st quarter, we will have 2 major actions. The first is an implementation of lessons so we can start using common language to assign classroom roles. Have a common language in the school to describe how the students are contributing to the classroom community. 

6.  TPES Volunteer Training (Dr. Gadsden)

Rita Pierson says in order for kids and people to be productive and move forward they need positive relationships. Dr. Gadsden says we need you to volunteer. All schools operate with volunteers, private, parochial, etc. We’ve been given staffing based on the staffing policy, but we need more. Outdoor lunch is not a requirement but a request from parents. We want to support it but it takes all of us. We need extra parental support and involvement for loads of extra activities. We are not fully staffed. We’ve been looking for lunch and recess staff but no one has applied. 

We need outdoor lunch volunteers. Today it was canceled because we only have 1 volunteer. Small group reading volunteers. Junior great books is a program used for kids who need enrichment. They will read “great books” like old stories like Icarus and Little red riding hood with some deep questions. There are opportunities with Phonics lessons. Junior greet books is only for 1st and 2nd grade. We need 3 consecutive days in 1 week. For phonics lessons we are asking for 2 days, although it would be great to get a commitment for a month. 

Small group math support:

Our data says our math scores were not good during covid and last year. Kids are struggling. We would like help with small group math support. Looking for computerized math programs that have been shown to help. Math support could be a 1 day volunteer opportunity. You may not be with your child, but you would be making a contribution to your child’s environment. It gives teachers more time to focus on kids that need help. 

Special events coming up:

We want to go back to the old normal. Fun is incredibly healing. Many of our children are in need of more fun in their lives. Fall festival on October 31st. Teachers need more time to plan, and we need help unloading pumpkins. We have a popcorn machine and need volunteers to operate and help distribute. There will be extra recess. Nov 1st will be for 2nd grade because they are going on a field trip Oct. 31. No costumes or makeup. This is about fall so we can be equitable and inclusive. 

Let the teacher know in advance that you are coming. If the teacher is doing a whole class lesson, sit and wait. Encourage children to pay attention to the teacher. If kids are at a center, help kids at center. When there is a sub, circulate the room. 

Requirements for volunteers:

You can’t talk about someone else’s kid. You need to have confidentiality. We want to make sure that kids are socially, emotionally safe in your presence. Child Abuse and Neglect training for all volunteers for anybody coming more than once. The training is good for 3 years. 

Common volunteer scenarios:

Pick up reading materials, go and get kids you were assigned at their classrooms. Then go to a designated spot out in the open like the atrium. Do your lesson, return materials, and go on your way. For outdoor lunch it’s not just your presence. You must stop things that are not appropriate. Talk to the kids as if they are your neighbors kid. Math volunteers expected to take a group of kids to play a math game with kids. Might support kids getting a computer program, showing them how to log in. Do reinforce positive behaviors. If things escalate, do get staff help. There are people there that the kids know. With outdoor lunch kids can be warned, if kids don’t behave they can go back inside. Please step in when you see behaviors that are inappropriate. Say something basic like we keep our hands, feet and objects to ourselves. Do not ever touch anyone’s child. An innocent touch on the shoulder might seem innocent to you but maybe not to the kid. Please don’t yell, if avoidable. Please don’t use inappropriate language. Do not allow yourself to be alone in a closed room with an individual child. 

A sign up form for the reading volunteers and for the fall festival will come out shortly. Room parent coordinators will be reaching out to all parents. Opportunities for classroom volunteering. Some teachers struggle to use volunteers. We will provide professional development for teachers. Grandparents can also volunteer. One parent suggested that Americorps might be a good partner for volunteers. 2nd grade field trip might need volunteers to Sharp’s Farm on October 31st. Every kid can go, and they do not have to pay. Parents can donate an equivalent amount to support folks who can’t pay. 

You can reach out to your room parent to coordinate classroom volunteering. The PTA will follow up with sign-up geniuses for all opportunities. If you are interested, we need help with the parking lot at pick-up or drop-off. Parent volunteers are needed to guide traffic and help with kids getting out of cars.