Minutes: October 24, 2012

Muddy Brook (MB) PTA MEETING MINUTES – Special date/time October 24, 2012

Call to Order

Susan Higa called meeting to order at 3:52 pm.

Welcome and Introductions

In Attendance

Susan Higa (President), Michaela Dohoney (Vice President), Jennifer Knopf (Treasurer), Kim Bradway (Secretary), Abby Tovell (Communications), Heather Boyko (Rewards Coordinator), Jennifer Simms, Kelly Bancroft, Mary Osha, Barb Minkler, John Broderick, Glen Chamerlin, Pat Sinico, Amy Salinetti, Cara Becker, Diane Dillon, Andrea Montondo Peacock, Nigel Peacock, Melissa Farrell, Ann Kinne, Jessica Oakley, Mary Auger, Carol Way, Meg Seminair, Tammy Osterhout, Dianna Lupiani, Jack Cowles, Sabrina Ruggiero, Sharon Connolly, Ally Benton, Patty Melville, Jessica Redman, Marty Rolf

In respect to time last month’s minutes approval was skipped. 

Treasurer’s Report

J. Knopf presented a current treasurer’s report of the PTA budget to date (see attached).

President’s Report

S. Higa reported that we have a good amount of money, some allocated to each grade level to have field trips, iPads, teacher stipends. Adding that she would love to build membership from our current enrollment at 102 members and hear from those at this special meeting held in the afternoon for outreach to teachers and parents who can not attend evening meetings.

Encouraging Volunteerism at School

Clorox “Power a Bright Future” grant, highly competitive, over 2000 grant applications have been submitted, with only 7 that will be granted, and they are based on merit, and popularity, please vote for MB once per day starting November 5 at www.powerabrightfuture.com for the Sustainable Garden and Composting Program.

There was an update on the annual auction. Starting date is November 21. Call out to teachers: if you’d like to offer an item it would be greatly appreciated Suggestions were offered of a picnic linch, basketball with Thad; these are often the most popular items, and add fun to the auction.

Online directory reportedly will soon be available to check for errors, then to printer and distribution.

C. Becker reported that the after school offerings have had a good response. The PTA has offered new classes, some new teachers, and is a balance between education and fun.

Spirit wear was delivered this week with a few orders placed after the large bulk of the order, but another order will be placed in a few months.

H. Boyko reported that there is an increase in Price Chopper enrollment at 88 so far this year, all of last year totaling 77. Please link MB with your card and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Last year we were sent a $250 gift certificate, an iPad, and school supplies. Big Y opened enrollment as well.

Also reported were Boxtops by H. Boyko. The BoxTop challenge is currently going on and we will submit prior to November 1st for a December check.

Our PTA website has been update by A. Tovell, which, along with its new look, has a lot of information including a rewards points link. Target can also link your purchases you are making. Also, boxtops link purchases such as Gap, Old Navy, we earn E-Boxtops. These come out to be significant additions to the PTA;

Mud Day will be May 18 this year, seems early, but is something to think about> We recently applied for and were awarded the Berkshire Environmental Endowment grant for $1000 towards Mud Day. Thank you to Suzie Fowle Schroeder, Corey Sprague, Angela Vaugniaux, and Susan Higa who worked on this grant.

Teachers were invited to tell about what was happening on a grade level and within their classrooms.


A. Kinne told a story from that day, while at free play, five students at the art center, noticed someone had done something nice for them, and they wanted to give their own high-five to students, just like at All-school. So, her class will have a special treat, and nice to recognize and carry-over from what the school is doing.

This is the second year using science kits, lots of hand-on, inquiry, adopt a tree, field trips, lucky that Jessica, science teacher, will come in to classroom. A. Salinetti, suggested that extra journals, supplemental to Ross kits, are needed for documenting work. With science journals, students get to explain what they are experiencing.


P. Melville shared about science, rolling through Ross curriculum, sand, silt and soil, 2-3 rocks, amazing that students don’t get tired of rocks and still bring them into classroom from the playground. Suggested a rock tumbler for the classroom, could be a nice edition, lots of fun.

Field trip to Sheffield Clay, 2 shifts, Diane, owner, takes the students into the factory, they play with clay, see demonstrations, very hands-on, interesting, so meaningful to what is done at school. Last year she was left wishing we could buy clay, self-hardening even, nice to have on hand, and not take from MB art room.

Starting reading exciting grade level books students and are doing lots of writing. The daily 5 is a program that the children circulate through phonics, starting unit on American symbols, ties in with the coming moch election, and team-work building.

C. Way commented that her students wanted to give high fives, and suggested they give to one to Principal Dingman. The students came up with idea, did writing, and presented to him, a great learning experience.


Within science they are studying insects and could use PTA funds for netting for habitats. In writing, students are working with mentor texts, and having a blast, sharing books between 4-5 students, could use authors that we are using for mentors. Thanked PTA for Audubon program, appreciate support and getting it up and running.


Agreed that the Audubon program is powerful. Making a real push on writing from the school overall. Long term, would like more iPads using them as a new way to share content through video, etc. Readers notebooks, follow up through Thad Dingman. Learning the history of Massachusetts, but students don’t even go to local venues on filed trip; would be great to travel, even locally.

M. Seminara thanked PTA for all they do and added that Staples gift cards are appreciated because teachers are running there every other week, spending $20-30 out of pocket for classrooms.


Doing core subjects, all fourth graders have climbed monument by now. Amazing locals haven’t done it yet. Mexican Fiesta Night had a huge turn out last year, but was even bigger this year. It is a pot luck, lots of fun, and important for grade. Reported that they have already met with Berkshire Theatre Festival and have dates arranged.

G. Chamberlin noted that the sound is seriously inferior, rather quite hard to hear individuals. Suggested the PTA support the purchase of microphones. The students work so hard, but the audience can only hear one or two people at a time.

C. Way spoke about literacy for reading, in addition “do the math” program is new this year, works on foundations, and they are seeing progress even so far. Students are finally getting it now, may not be lined up with classroom, but backs it up. Reading, planning to do more with non-fiction books, would appreciate money for books and series of things to have connection with classroom.

A. Salinetti commented that non-fiction books are lacking, though very enticing to students, and would love to build closets for them.

A. Montondo Peacock mentioned that non-fiction graphic novels are available online and at the Great Barrington Library and are wonderful books to teach facts with holding the child’s interest.

S. Higa suggested that if teachers specify titles, please also suggest $ amount.

The books currently in the PTA closet are being sorted for use. They need to be organized, though have started, need to move out of there

C. Becker inquired if the teachers have a wish list for classroom? Susan HIga suggested to put teachers wish lists on our website and in  the newsletter.

M. Cosel was not present but sent link to her class blog. There is so much going on in classroom, grade level websites, great to link to classrooms, vice versa, sharing info. Nigel Peacock inquired if there is a place to channel talents rather than stuff. PTO Manager is managing volunteering at this point.

A. Benton, art teacher, explained that her room is set up as a choice-based classroom with studio centers, where the students work as authentic artist, encouraging deeper thinking, lots more than what is on surface. She brought her wish list which includes yarn, ribbon, fabric scraps, paper towel rolls, lettuce containers and takeout containers to organize small items, and interesting packing materials for sculptures. Also, low temp glue sticks because she is already out of the supply for the year. Other items include coffee table books, because they are lacking in good quality books, would love 6 digital cameras for documenting learning.

S. Higa asked the teachers what is helpful for them as far as parent help, something needed/desired, such as a room parent?

G. Chamberlin stated that the websites for teachers are hard to keep up, currently they have last year’s items on them and are time consuming, not user friendly enough, and lack photo work. Suggest parent help for that (Ed-line is the program). 23 different webistes, but are all connected, listed and you choose classroom there, but superficial.

Publishing room was suggested, manned by PTA, go through writing process, choose a piece to publish, make hard cover book, really authentic for students and could be given out at All-school.

S. Connolly, from the Aloha Room (in its second year), currently with 6 students, and the goal is to mainstream students into an appropriate classroom when ready. There is a high staff to ratio, with lots of hands on, peer skills, peer playing, cooking group, wish list includes large wooden blocks, play dough, sensory tunnels, iTunes gift card.

S. Higa mentioned suggestion previously brought up to her, for parents coming to come into the school to help with change of transition of classroom, help students to music, to art, get back, may free up teacher time. Questioned if that is something they would find helpful? P. Melville loves to connect with specialist, and said that the teacher to teacher communication would be lost.

In closing S. Higa suggested that if anyone thinks of something people-wise that would be helpful, to let the PTA know in order to fill needs that work for them and that teacher support is appreciated. Please become a member, each teacher who attended this meeting will receive a gift toward their wish list in their mailbox.

Another meeting held in the afternoon to accommodate teachers and parents unable to attend evening meetings, may be offered in the spring.

Door prizes

Meeting Adjourned 4:50 pm

Next Meeting Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 7-8pm





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