Wildcat PTSA News: Meet Ms. Henson | Uniform Clarity | Giving Week

Hello, Wildcats.

The PTSA board voted this week to spend $400 for 330 tree kits to be delivered to every student. The project also received support from ForestPlanet, which chipped in another $500. The non-profit’s mission is to support large-scale reforestation efforts across the globe. The tree kits will be incorporated in Ms. Henson’s science classes.  We remain hopeful the Lorax will one day come back.



If you missed out on this year’s Girl Scout cookie sales, you are in luck. Payne’s Troop 1455 has just a few remaining boxes of Trefoils (the classic shortbread) and Savannah Smiles (a lemon confection). You can purchase Friday morning in the lobby while supplies last, or email Tony Lombardo right now to skip the line and secure your snackage. Price is $4 a box.



When you walk into Shanita Henson’s science classroom, you might be drawn to the aquarium that houses Rachel, Gary and Nigel: three crusty, cricket-loving geckos. The kids love them, but don’t ask Ms. Henson to take them out of the aquarium herself. “I’m more so a mammal type of person,” she said. “I like furry animals.”

In the past four years, her science classroom has also been the home to two guinea pigs and even two ducks. The barnyard fowl will never return.

“I had ducks about two years ago,” she said. “I had a tarp in here. I had a little swimming pool. They start off as little babies, and they were just too big to handle. The kids were, like, terrified.”

Her science curriculum often overlaps across grades but with increasing complexity as the kids get older. Right now, for example, the younger students are learning about animals and their habitats. Second graders are studying the larger concept of ecosystems, and fourth and fifth graders are tackling topics such as animal physiology and conservation.

She sees every class for 45 minutes once a week. She supports science in the kids’ regular classrooms, too. “I think it should be every day. It’s not just a special. It’s a core class, especially when you get to middle school,” said Ms. Henson, who is close to securing her master’s degree in early childhood education.

Ms. Henson got her start at Payne as Ms. Baggett’s aide. She worked in that role for four years, then spent a year each in a middle school and high school before returning to Payne to teach science. She also runs the school’s Robotics Club and is planning Payne’s Science Fair. And she is a Payne mom; her oldest daughter is a second grader at the school.



Payne’s Energy and Science Fair is May 28 and 29. The first day, students will present their projects to fellow students as an exhibit day in the auditorium. Parents are invited to attend; stay tuned for a more detailed schedule. PK3 through second grade will create group class projects, and third through fifth grade are producing individual projects.

Judging will take place May 29. Would you like to help critique the projects or provide support? Email Ms. Henson at shanita.henson@dc.gov

Students now are creating their projects, and parents are invited to mentor them 3:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Let Ms. Henson know if you are available. And don’t expect exploding volcanoes or homemade slime. “That’s so recreational,” Ms. Henson said. These kids are digging into deeper science topics. Renewable energy is a key focus this year, the result of a donation from Pepco in funds (at least $500) plus energy lesson plans and kits.


PARCC TESTING. The third, fourth and fifth grade classes began PARCC testing on Tuesday, and the whole school is cheering them on. Inspirational posters are hanging in the school. Here’s a fun one from Ms. Baggett’s PK3 class:



Loyal readers of Principal Byrd’s Payne Posts learned this week that uniforms are here to stay after a survey found that nearly 3 out of 4 parents favor a uniform.

For all those hating on white shirts, good news. Principal Byrd has clarified the uniform policy: Navy and light blue tops are acceptable for all grades, not just the younguns in PK. School t-shirts? Also acceptable.

And you can expect more dress-down days in Payne’s future.


TEACHER APPRECIATION. The PTSA will provide lunch to teachers next Tuesday as part of Teacher Appreciation Week. We’re looking for volunteers to make “THANK YOU” signs for decoration and also volunteers to help with food delivery and setup around 10 a.m. Tuesday. If you can assist, email Carolyn Bowen.


CARNIVAL VOLUNTEERS. The parents who are organizing the spring carnival still are looking for helpers to make hot dogs, run the sno cone machines and more at the Spring Carnival, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18. Sign up here: https://signup.com/go/ThuuiNx. Parent  Kerry DeVooght can answer questions.



It’s Capitol Hill Giving Week from May 4-12, and local business are donating portions of their sales to the school of your choice, so remember to designate Payne as your school when you make a purchase. Participating businesses include:

  • Hill’s Kitchen, the home kitchen supply shop, will donate 15 percent of your purchase toward Payne.
  • Summit to Soul, a fitness apparel shop, will also donate 15 percent to Payne.
  • DCanter wine shop will donate 10 percent of its sales to the nonprofit organization Byte Back.


BOOKS. CHECK ’EM OUT. Monday is Payne Library Night. Explore the library with your child from 4-5:30 p.m., read a book with your child and check one out to take home.



May 2: May LSAT Meeting

May 6-10: Teacher Appreciation Week

May 8: 7:30 a.m., Lincoln Park, Bike to School Day

May 9: 5:30 p.m., Eliot-Hine Middle School, Basketball Fever and Fundraiser

May 18: 11 a.m.- 3 p.m., Playground, Spring Carnival

May 21: 6 p.m., Auditorium, PTSA annual meeting and elections

May 27-28: No school

June 3: Picture Day

June 7: Fifth grade promotion

June 14: Last day of school