October PTA Meeting Minutes


Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES)

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, October 3,  2023 


Meeting Minutes and PTA Information


  1. Upcoming Dates & Announcements 


  • Afterschool Programming at both TPES and PBES started today (10/3).  Little Scholars and any other programs have onsite coordinators to ensure that your kids get your kids to class.
    • Please note: finish times for TPES and PBES are different: TPES is 5:30 pm and PBES is 5 pm


  • September 15 – October 15 : Hispanic Heritage Month


  • Hispanic Heritage Night:
    • October 11 at 6:15 pm – PBES
      • To volunteer, contact Desiree Hernandez at d.hernandez0811@gmail.com
    • October 12 at 6:30 pm – TPES’s event Heritage & Family: Unidos por Nuestros Hijos
      • We have a poll to get to know our TPES Hispanic community with results on display at the event. Arts, crafts, food trucks and a children’s parade are also planned. A sign up genius will be going around shortly.
      • Also, please be aware that SSL hours are available for middle and high school students to help at Hispanic Heritage Night at TPES on October 12 at 6:30PM.  We would greatly appreciate your help. 
      • We could use 2-3 volunteers to help set up tables starting at 6 pm
      • To volunteer, contact Mercedes at Mercedes@alum.mit.edu
  • Watch D.C. United in their finale game of the season and support the TPES PTA
    • On Saturday, October 7, DC United will play the New York City Football Club in the finale game of the Fall season at Audi Field.  If you are interested in attending the game and including a donation to the TPES PTA, please see the Dolphin Digest sent on September 26th for more information.  All seats for TPES will be in Section 119.  
  • October 9th – NO SCHOOL
  • October 25 – PBES English Language Development Night – Gift of Being Multilingual 
  • October 27 – November 3 PBES Book Fair 
  • PBES New suggestion/feedback form at this link.  Please contact the PTA with any suggestions/ideas

  • PTA Volunteer Opportunities:
    • One-time volunteer opportunities – Be on the lookout this year for emails! 
      • Book Fair (sign up for shifts)
      • Readathon (tally up minutes)
      • Staff appreciation (deliver meal, coffee, etc.)
      • Garden and atrium beautification
      • Field trip chaperones
      • School Fun Mornings – fall, winter, spring (supervise fun activity stations so teachers can prep reading/math together as grade level team) 
  • Regular (weekly or bi-weekly) volunteer opportunities: 
  • There is an immediate need for volunteers to help during TPES lunchtime (in the cafeteria) and recess. Lunch will remain inside this year; volunteers are needed to help monitor and assist children in the cafeteria as well as outside during recess. For scheduling purposes, lunch/recess runs from 11:30 AM to 1:45 PM.   
  • Classroom volunteer (work with classroom teachers, often during reading or math) 
  • Room Parent (~monthly commitment) 
  • Classes still in need of room parents: Ms. Lewis (Kindergarten) 
  • We encourage you to join the TPES PTA to help us fund this important work that we do all year long. Link to join: https://tpespta.net/ 

For all volunteers: MCPS Volunteer Training and support guide – please complete this before you are scheduled to volunteer: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1URJRNYdUyL0ghVzZ32xLqPmkE7IwUvcRF2qid89ojA/preview

  1. Budget Updates

Amy Swift, TPES PTA Treasurer

  • Update on expenses and income:  
    • Income, to date, includes membership dues, donations, and gear sales. 
    • Expenses, to date, include classroom set-up, gear inventory, and registration costs.
    • Budget Report: 


Rachael Pierotti, PBES PTA Treasurer

  • Update on expenses and income:
    • Income, to date, includes donations and gear sales.
    • Expenses, to date, includes welcome lunch, classroom set-up, and operations expenses.
    • Budget Report:


  1. Safe Routes Presentation:

Kaysi-Ann Webley, Special Projects Coordinator for TKPK: Pedestrian and Cycling Safety

Contact: Kaysi-Ann Webley at Kaysiw@takomaparkmd.gov

  • Walk to School Day – tomorrow 10/4
  • Reminder – ongoing Library Construction. Cars will get towed in the construction zone.


  1. MAP/Dibels Presentation


DIBELS presentation by Jen Fahrenthold, TPES Reading Specialist 

Contact: Jennifer_Fahrenthold@mcpsmd.org

  • DIBELS Assessment: DIBELS stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early LIteracy Skills: 
  • 4 ratings: Blue/Green/Yellow/Red
  • Just an indicator of strength and need for skills. Skills assessed include:
    • Phonemic awareness
    • Phonics
    • Reading Fluency
    • Vocabulary
    • Reading Comprehension


  • This information will be available during parent teacher conferences


Slide Deck Link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/169zdmRU_e5sefhh1gOKLHfAdx9X7K9UOxkDh8pSey5U/edit?usp=sharing


MAP Presentation, Ms. Oberdorf, PBES Principal and Mr. Weerts, PBES Asst Principal:

  • MAP stands for “Measures of Academic Progress” 
  • MAP Math and Reading
  • Untimed
  • Adaptive and adjusts to each student’s performance
  • Aligned with state reading and math standards
  • Track Achievement and Growth
  • Results will be posted in ParentVUE
  • Assessments happen 3 times per year: Fall, Winter, Spring


How MAP scores are used:

  • Identify strengths and foundational gaps: enrichment or intervention
  • Considerations for course placements in middle school

MAP is only one measure used to monitor student achievement 


Slide Deck Link: 





Q: What is the difference between Blue and Green in DIBELS:

A: Green – has met benchmark; Blue – has achieved well above benchmark


Q: When are MAP results received?

A: Testing ends this week: Could be 2-3 weeks 


Q: When are DIBELS results received?

A: They are shared at parents conferences


Q: Who administers exams? 

A: Teachers and support staff administer tests – both MAP and DIBELS


Q: What are Norms based on? 

A: They are based on NWEA. Montgomery County also has own norms (local norms)


Q: What role do MAP scores play in G&T designation?

A:  Not MAP test based. Screening for G&T starts in 2nd grade. 


Q: If a student misses exams can they make it up?

A: Yes there will be opportunities to make up


Q: What is CES? 

A: Enrichment program offering for students entering 4th grade. Reach out to Ms. Oberdorf for more information


Q: How often are teacher conferences held? 

A: End of 1st quarter. None after that formally scheduled but can be made on an as needed basis


If you have any additional questions regarding DIBELS, please reach out to the DIBELS specialist 


  1. Wrap up:
  • Hispanic Heritage Night flyers shared
    • These will also be distributed to students/families
  • PBES: We have new Panther Gear in the online store! Be sure to check it out.
    • In addition, there is an Art Contest for students to submit proposed designs for panther gear. The PTA will choose the top 3 then students will vote on their favorite.


  1. Thank you: Ingrid Gardiner,  PBES PTA President
  • Next meeting will be on November 7 at 7 PM 


POST MEETING: TPES Kindergarten Q&A with Dr Gadsden, TPES Principal:


Q: Could you provide some clarity on the amount of screen time for K?

A: Let’s talk about what screen time look like for K:  On an average day your child might have wiggle break in am and pm (dance/count physical activity with music, etc -approximately 3 min each session, at most 12 min total); at dismissal time often children treated to story online while teacher is managing dismissal; periodically centers with students working on reinforcements will be working online. No individual screentime for the most part in Kindergarten. Should be max 20 min a day


Q: How are screens being used during the day?

A: There are videos associated with curriculum – usually science or social studies but not typical and are not replacements for teacher instruction


Q: How often are they watching shows like Magic School Bus?

A: Should not be doing this! Might happen in bus room (12 min max) Could happen during indoor recess but should not have happened/be happening yet.


Note: We don’t do instruction based on video unless it comes directly from county


Q: It looks like teachers could use help/aides?

A: Yes! Parents can come volunteer! You can come read stories, etc. during lunch, help with reading, bus room, etc.


Q: Outdoor recess or physical activities would be great as a treat. Why screens as treats?

A: We don’t use screens as treats. 


Q: How much reading happens in class by teachers?

A: Read aloud by the teacher happens every day. The technology use (read aloud video) comes when teachers might have to multi-task. It is not being used in place of teacher reading.


Q: How can we make sure indoor recess is physical/social? Would volunteers be useful?

A: Yes! We can definitely use volunteers for lunch and recess!


Q: Can we raise funds for assistants?

A: MCPS does not allow parents to raise money for assistants. Only way is to volunteer and come into school and help out.


Q: Can we have kids have lunch in the classroom due to high covid/flu cases?

A: We need whatever number of staff per class to manage the classes in each classroom and we do not have those resources.


Q: How is the content chosen for wiggle breaks?

A; It is dependent on the teacher. Check with your child’s teacher if you have questions.


An email was sent by Claire Dean (TPES PTA VP) with information on how to volunteer! 




General PTA Information:


PBES PTA Executive Committee:

President: Ingrid Gardiner

Executive Vice President: Aphra Adkins

Treasurer: Rachel Pierotti

Secretary: Lis Hooper

VP of Fundraising MaryKathryn Lee

VP of Membership: Sara Lewis

VP of Communications: Chris Campbell

VP of Equity: Desiree Hernandez


Advocacy Representatives: Matthew Stark Blumin and Paul Donowitz


TPES PTA Executive Committee: 

President: Kaitlin Caruso 

Vice President: Claire Dean

Treasurer: Amy Swift

Executive Secretary: Anna Juarez

Membership Secretary: Lesley Perry & Christine Kahler Smith 

VP of Fundraising: Diana Hickey van Houwelingen

VP of Membership: Mercedes Castelo 

VP of Equity: Jon Frederick 

VP of Communications: Joyce McDonough 

NAACP Representative: Gabrielle Williams

MCCPTA Delegate: Christina Davis 



PTA October 2023 Q&A Follow Up 




Q: Can a child be placed in CES after 4th grade? And how does CES impact what they do in 6th Grade?

A: If a vacancy opens in a CES class at any time in fourth grade through the first quarter of fifth grade, the central office selects a student for invitation through a random lottery from the waitpool. Participation in CES does not extend to any specific programming in middle school.




Q: Are there enriched reading classes at TPES (as with math)?

A: Consistent (different class) enrichment for math begins in first grade and continues in second grade. Students switch classes for math and are provided more consistent enriched instruction at that time.


Q: This is beyond the scope of what was discussed in the meeting tonight but it is a follow up on a question that came up in last month’s meeting: Would it be possible to share the details of the lead testing for the TPES water – what levels were found when, and when will that water be retested? In the meantime, could kids be allowed to bring water bottles onto the playground during recess? Thank you! 

A: I’m not sure about the results of the lead water testing (beyond that which was shared); The children are not only allowed, but encouraged and reminded to take their water bottles to recess.

For PBES and TPES:

Q: Is there a way for parents to have access to Montgomery County level data to see how children are developing compared to this peer group? 

A: I am not aware of any means of access for MCPS level data by grade level to make comparisons within the peer group. (both PBES and TPES)