PTA News for Week of July 27, 2020

Dear BES Families,

Thank you to all 47 families who participated in our PTA elections this month! The new board is engaged and preparing to serve our BES community in what we can all agree will be a most unusual year. We know most of the community-building social activities we associate with the PTA won’t be able to take place, at least in their usual way, this year. And we also know from last week’s survey and your emails that our families are experiencing high levels of stress about expectations for distance learning, our children’s social-emotional wellbeing, and balancing parent work demands with childcare responsibilities. We hear you, and we’re here for you.

We are working right now to pivot the PTA’s energy and efforts toward activities and investments that will support students, families, and teachers in this new environment. To that end, we’ve established a COVID-19 Working Group to incubate ideas across the spectrum of BES community needs and help make them reality with the PTA’s support. You can sign up to join this important effort, and read more about the working group’s mission, in the section titled Join the COVID-19 Working Group, below.

With your ideas and energy, we are optimistic that this will not be a lost school year, but an opportunity to grow and thrive in surprising ways as a community, as families, and as students, parents, and educators.

Let’s make some lemonade, friends!
Kara Myers (President) and Terri Payne (President-Elect)

Results of Parent Feedback Survey on Fall Distance Learning

In an effort to advocate for the needs of students and parents in the fall’s virtual learning environment, our Whitman Cluster PTA leadership asked the local PTAs in our cluster to collect parent feedback on distance learning. This information has been distilled into a letter to the Board of Education, which you may read here.

The Board of Education is scheduled to meet on Thursday, August 6th to discuss plans for virtual learning this fall. You can watch Thursday’s BoE meeting starting at 3:30PM here.

We are proud and grateful that so many BES families took time to respond to our call for feedback last week. Of our 348 families, 95 (27%) submitted feedback, representing 140 students who attended BES in 2019/2020 at all grade levels. If you are interested in the feedback others in the BES community offered, the anonymized data is available here; note there are a number of sheets in the workbook, which may display at the top or bottom of your screen. Our full spreadsheet will be attached to the email our Whitman Cluster representative sends to the BoE today.

Tremendous thanks go to Juliette Searight for a very long day and night spent anonymizing and organizing the feedback offered by BES families so that the Board of Education, MCPS leadership, and our school administration can access the data in a meaningful way.

Contact: Juliette Searight

Join COVID-19 Working Group

School buildings may be closed, but life isn’t cancelled. Let’s use our collective creativity, compassion, and organizational prowess to make this year count for each and every member of our community.

We are establishing a standing committee for the 2020-2021 school year to:

(1) identify the unique challenges and needs presented by the COVID-19 pandemic disruption to normal school operations, and

(2) recommend to the PTA President for her consideration feasible, actionable steps the PTA can take to address those needs and challenges.

We will ask that the working group elect a chair to organize their work and to make official recommendations on behalf of the committee. Depending on the strength of participation, the group may divide into subgroups focused on specific areas (e.g., extracurricular enrichment, creative social activities, teacher support and recognition, etc.).

Please email by Friday, August 7th to join this working group.

Contact: Kara Myers & Terri Payne

Join Bylaws Revision Committee

Under Maryland PTA rules, we are required to update and re-file our BES PTA bylaws as soon as possible. Many of you have served in a PTA role, or considered running for a board position — or even just tried to participate in a meeting or election as a member — only to be left wondering why on earth we do things a certain way. The answer is almost always: because our current bylaws say we have to.

We have an opportunity right now to revise our bylaws to better reflect the values, community engagement, and organization of the PTA at our school and maximize flexibility to respond agilely to volunteer availability and community needs.

Of particular interest, we are committed to presenting revised bylaws that elevate the Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee to Executive Board status, as a reflection of our community’s shared commitment to that important work. The revised bylaws drafted by the Committee and approved by the Board must be adopted by PTA members before they can take effect.

If you are interested in joining this committee, please register by emailing by Friday, August 7th.

Contact: Kara Myers & Terri Payne

Reminder: Mrs. English Memory Collection

The PTA is still collecting cards and letters to deliver to Mrs. Terri English on the occasion of her retirement from Bannockburn Elementary School this summer. In her over 30 years as a Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. English has touched and shaped many lives. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 we cannot host traditional farewell festivities befitting Mrs. English’s length of service and role as an institution at BES. But we know your words of thanks and the memories your family might share would be deeply meaningful to her!

If your family would like to send a message of gratitude to be included in this special delivery, please mail a card or letter to the address below by August 24, 2020Please consider including a photo of your child from kindergarten, or now, or both — teachers are always thrilled to see the people their students have grown into!

Feel free to forward this message or post to your community’s listserv so that the many older students who have benefited from Mrs. English’s care and attention over the years also have an opportunity to participate.

Terri English Thank-You Project
c/o Terri Payne
6002 Benalder Drive
Bethesda, MD 20816