TPES PTA Meeting Minutes: September 2022

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 from 7-8pm on Zoom 


7:00 Meeting Kick-off  – Kaitlin Caruso, TPES PTA VP of Communications & Emma  Cheuse, PBES PTA President

-Interpreters, including Ursula Indacochea for Spanish translation

-Kaitlin Caruso reviews dates/deadlines below

Updated MCPS School Calendar 2021-2022 

  • Little Scholars sign up until Sept. 13th; PTA-funded scholarship requests are due by Sept. 7th at TPES and by Sept. 9th at PBES 
  • Weds. Sept. 14th: Early Release (1:20 pm)
  • Thurs. Sept. 15th, 6:30-8:00pm, PBES Back to School Night
  • Weds. Sept. 21st: Deadline to enroll for Instrumental Music at PBES, available for all 4th and 5th Graders 
  • Mon. Sept. 26th, No School
  • Tues. Sept. 27th:  Little Scholars After School Clubs begin
  • Fri. Sept. 30th, Early Release (1:20 pm)
  • Sept. 15- Oct. 15: Our schools will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 
  • Weds. Oct. 5th, No School
  • Tues. Oct. 11th, Joint PTA Meeting (7pm, Zoom)
  • School Meals Applications due ASAP – free federal meals have ended. Info provided on how to pay
  • No child will be turned away – PBES and TPES will ensure every child who requests food receives it, but applications are needed so no debt is accrued. The PTA equity teams are also seeking to support families during this time – please donate to the PBES PTA and TPES PTA and to Tommy’s Pantry to help fill gaps and ensure food access for all in our community. 


Participants added their Back to School questions at this link during the meeting. If we can’t reply today we will follow up.


7:10: Principals’ Welcome to the School Year

Mrs. Christine Oberdorf, PBES Principal & Mr. Richard Weerts, PBES Vice Principal

  • Ms. Oberdorf – good first week welcoming 610 students
  • Dr. Zadia Gadsden, TPES Principal & Ms. Joi Hollis, TPES Vice Principal


7:20:  PTA Welcome, Calendar & Volunteer Opportunities

Emma Cheuse, PBES PTA President 

  • Goals is to restore PTA contributions to support the school to pre-pandemic levels, help with learning recovery and support students/families have a positive year 
  • Shared updated, hoped-for calendar including events supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, kindness; hopes to strengthen school-family connection
  • Need volunteers to help make these events happen through event support and fundraising
  • Introductions of PBES PTA 

Sara Lewis – Shared a link for a survey in chat/screen for volunteer interest at PBES and TPES; 

  • Reviewed PBES volunteer opportunities on the survey and highlighted special need for volunteers for the book fair, room parents, readathon (last year did not happen at PBES bc not enough volunteers but hoping to return it this year as a key source of fundraising), fish tank, Geobowl (has not occurred the past several years), teacher appreciation in May, organization multicultural events such as black history month, NAACP rep


PBES Key Volunteer Teams:

  • Events/In-School Volunteer Team (Contact Sara Lewis,
    • Book Fair
    • Room Parents
    • Readathon (literacy event and fundraiser)
    • Fish Tank
    • GeoBowl
    • Teacher, Staff Support and Appreciation
    • Garden Clean-up or Planting
    • Multicultural Community events like Black History Month, Cultural Heritage Night
    • Other in-school volunteer needs like STEAM Night, Kindness/Leadership/Social & Emotional Learning event
    • NAACP Representative
  • Fundraising Team (Contact Mary Kathryn Lee, & Emma Cheuse, )
    • Panther Appeal
    • Business Sponsors
    • Other possible fundraising events to fund our ambitious budget this year
  • Equity Team (Contact Desiree Hernandez and Corey Null,,
    • Social Service and counselor support
    • Translation, interpretation volunteers needed for Spanish and Amharic


Link to sign up now to volunteer for these opportunities with PBES PTA or contact Sara Lewis to link up with a volunteer opportunity that matches your time and interest ( Contact Chris Campbell to help with the School Fish Tank or to serve as a volunteer interpreter in Spanish or Amharic ( 


PBES PTA Executive Committee: 

President – Emma Cheuse, 

Executive VP – Sara Lewis

Treasurer – Kate Bauer 

Secretary – Joyce McDonough

Equity Co-VPs: Desiree Hernandez and Corey Null

Fundraising VP: MaryKathryn Lee

Comms VP – Chris Campbell 

Membership VP – Erin Kelley

NAACP delegate needed (please contact if you will volunteer)


TPES PTA Overview

Ways to Stay Informed: 

  • Join the PTA listserve!
  • Weekly TPES newsletter from Dr. Gadsden
  • New weekly PTA newsletter
  • Monthly PTA meetings first Tuesday of every month at 7pm


Joyce McDonough, TPES PTA Exec VP & PBES PTA Secretary

  • Introduces herself
  • Thanks to Estelle Jean coordinated kindergarten play dates; thanks for donations of indoor plants; thanks to teachers, administrators
  • Listed ways to stay informed including joining PTA (link provided), weekly TPES letter from Dr Gadsden, weekly PTA newsletter (summary of all of the events), monthly PTA Meetings
  • Listed ways for parents/caregivers to volunteer and get involved including using the survey/volunteer interest form
  • “School fun morning” where volunteers set up stations for kids to play/craft and allow teachers concentrated time to prepare for the next quarter
  • 5 classrooms still need room parents
  • Lunch volunteers; outdoor lunch volunteers organized by Laura Petes
  • Still need some leadership roles
  • This Friday at 4pm there is a playgroup meetup for those interested in organizing Hispanic Heritage month events
  • In school volunteers begin in October: two volunteer requirements (links supplied) child abuse neglect training and proof of vaccination
  • Join the PTA – scholarships available (links provided)


TPES PTA Executive Committee: 

President: Margaret McDonnell 

Executive VP: Joyce McDonough

Treasurer: Stephen Tippett

Executive Secretary: Dianne Kirsch

Membership Secretary: Justine Lassman

VP of Communications: Kaitlin Caruso

VP of Membership: Estelle Jean

VP of Fundraising: Diana Hickey van Houwelingen

VP Equity: Jon Frederick

County Delegate: Rebecca Schaeffer

NAACP Representative: Sharon Gaskins



Volunteer interest form: 


TPES Key Volunteer Teams:

  • Events/In-School Volunteer Team
    • Room Parents (coordinator: Annie Kneedler, )
    • Dolphin Drive (November; Diana Hickey van Houwelingen, )
    • Book Fair (February; Shivani Sutton, )
    • Readathon (literacy event and fundraiser – March; Amanda Wagner,
    • TKPK5K Race Committee Representative (race in May)
    • Health and Wellness Committee (includes garden, atrium, teacher wellness room): Mari Quenon,
      • Garden – work day for native plantings and invasives removal Ellen Marcus, 
    • Multicultural Community events
    • Social Services Coordinator: Kaitlin Caruso,
    • Staff Appreciation Committee – vacant – need chair! 


One-time volunteer opportunities: 

  • 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) 
  • Lunch and/or recess volunteers


Regular (weekly or bi-weekly) volunteer opportunities: 

  • Classroom volunteer (work with classroom teachers, often during reading or math centers; can include cutting lamination, decorating bulletin boards, etc.)
  • Lunch and/or recess volunteers 
  • Enrichment reading groups 
  • Outdoor lunch option? If we have parent volunteers, we can host optional outdoor lunch for families who opt-in. 
  • Room Parent (~monthly commitment)


Join the TPES PTA:


For all volunteers: MCPS Volunteer Training and support guide – please complete this before you are scheduled to volunteer:


7:30:  Back to School Q&A with the Principals & PTAs 

           (facilitated by Kaitlin & Emma)

  • Q: which PBES teachers were able to take the Benchmark Advanced Enrichment? Oberdorff explains that all teachers were required to take this training and took it last year
  • Can you share the PBES MAP scores and break down by demographics? Oberdorff did not have that data for tonight; MAP assessments will begin next week and offered to share it another time
  • Are there any vacancies at PBES? One vacancy for 5th grade teacher
  • TPES – new K family curious about how lunch works / myschoolbucks is organized; Dr. G explains
  • When will the pool reopen at PBES? Ms. Oberdorff has a meeting on Monday with the people re-opening the pool, pool has passed inspection; possibly opening at the end of September
  • Can PBES bring back mid-morning snack for 3rd graders? Ms. Oberdorff explains that there were no snacks during Covid. Did not plan on having a universal snack option bc of disparity in access to snacks and stigma re receiving school snacks. For students who need  snack accommodations can be arranged.
  • Question re safety crossing PBES parking lot – Oberdorff explains that we do have staff available at arrival and dismissal
  • Is PBES taking a new approach to staffing this year? Programming in 4th and 5th grade is different bc of the accelerated math courses offered; in 3rd grade they stay in their homeroom for both.
  • Will there be Covid notifications this year? Gadsden reports yes for TPES
  • MySchoolBucks question – about how to check if/when money was deducted (lunch card is not required but is handy bc it has their ID/Pin number on it
  • For those excited to volunteer reach out to PTA


7:45:  PTA Business


           PBES PTA: Vote on County PTA Delegate (Nominee: Matthew Stark Blumin)

  • Matthew Stark Blumin volunteered to represent PBES on a county level to strengthen school policies
  • Movement seconded; nomination passed


            Treasurer’s Reports and Budget Votes

  Kate Bauer, PBES PTA Treasurer

  • Shared budget
  • Last year did not do a lot of active fundraising, had a substantial carryover, did well with booster PTA donations
  • Last year we put the book fair under fundraising but it becomes a credit for the school to buy books (looks like we raised $10K but actually closer to $2.5K)
  • Readathon is an important PTA fundraiser as well as proceeds for selling Panther gear
  • Expenses – increased on income side
  • Biz sponsorships will be encouraged/recognized this year
  • This year the pool will be opened again and historically the PTA has sponsored the pool rental (it’s a county, not school pool) and helped to pay for lifeguards in December and March typically. It’s a sizable expense that the PTA takes on
  • Fundraising expenses will change in that the readathon will now be moved to this line item; need to replenish the small size Panther gear
  • School support is budgeted at $4K for appreciation and hopefully training this year
  • PTA operating funds: several hundred dollars a year spent on the software running PTA budgeting, membership, etc – but need a volunteer to help transfer to a free option being offered through the state PTA (PayPal fees, translations, childcare at BTS night, etc)
  • Total budget is $8K more than last year but due to ramp up in activities offered to increase connection between school/community
  • Membership voted: voted to pass budget


Stephen Tippet, TPES PTA Treasurer

  • Introduced himself
  • Shared budget
  • Proposed budget – PTA fundraises everything they have from their community (no continuing donation support through memberships or grants typically)
  • Membership dues are $3K, plus $2K through membership donations
  • Main incomes areas are Dolphin drive in November ($10K) and readathon in March ($10K). These are low projections based on last year
  • Similar to PBES re book fair – the money is ‘pass through’ comes in as income but goes to Scholastic to purchase books for the school
  • Outreach and social events expenses are $2.5K
  • PTA Admin expenses are $3K
  • School programming expenses (including cultural assemblies, gardening, equity & inclusion, scholarships for enrichment clubs are $19,050
  • Staff support expenses including classroom set-up at $4K, Dr Gadsden Literacy program with black and brown students at $2.5K totals $11,850
  • Budget at $43,500; expecting to leave around $25K for next school year
  • Membership voted to pass and adopt the budget


8:00:  Thanks & Next Steps – Emma (PBES PTA)

  • Volunteering encouraged 
  • Oberdorff will send out MAP schedule
  • Dr Gadsden, wanted to stay on to talk to TPES families about Math to answer questions

Become a PTA member, donate, become a sponsor, sign up to volunteer:

Takoma Park Elementary School PTA:

Piney Branch Elementary School PTA: