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