Wildcat PTSA News: Q&A With Principal Byrd | Meet the New Staff | Back to School Night

Hello, Payne community. The PTSA would like to welcome new members of this group and welcome back all of you ready for another enriching school year.

Two important events are coming up soon:

Back to School Night. Wednesday, Sept. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. Meet teachers, administrators and other parents. Learn about the curriculum, and bring your questions.

First PTSA Meeting. Tuesday, Sept. 10, 6-7 p.m. in the auditorium. Childcare will be provided, and pizza and refreshments will be served. Learn how the PTSA supports students, teachers and parents, and tell us what your priorities are. Sign up here to be a PTSA member now.

Above, PK4 teacher Ms. Douglas welcomes her new class Wednesday, the first day of school for preschoolers.



Principal Stephanie Byrd is starting her fourth year as Payne’s top administrator. The D.C. native and George Washington University grad sat down with the PTSA to discuss the new drama class, new staff and more ways for parents to get involved. Excerpts from our interview:

Q. For the returning parents, what’s new at Payne?

A. We are excited about our new drama class. Mr. Golden, our music teacher, finished his master’s degree last year at Howard University and moved back home to Cleveland. Instead of bringing on another music teacher, the team decided to do drama.

Q. Why drama?

A. Drama gives kids a new avenue to express themselves. Also, I wanted to give kids an opportunity to learn how to speak up and speak clearly, to remember and memorize text and to engage in text in a different way.

Q. Will it be structured similar to how music was – half the school year?

A. Yes, for everybody, PK3 through 5th grade, it will be a semester of art, a semester of drama.

Q. Are there plans to have a school play?

A. There will be some plays, maybe not huge productions, but small productions and maybe one big production.

Q. What are some of the other staff changes this year?

A. We are bringing on quite a few folks. [See full list below.] At the top we have Ms. Latoya Coleman, who is not new to Payne, but is starting off in a new position as assistant principal.

Ms. Coleman came in four years ago, when I was looking to hire a fifth grade math teacher. As we talked, I could see a lot of leadership potential in her. Instead of bringing her on in the fifth grade math teacher position, I offered her the math coach position, and she was delighted. She was the testing coordinator. She also helped support the rollout of our new technology with the laptops and laptop carts, while still leading the math instruction.

Q.  Is there a lot of student interaction for the assistant principal?

A. Yes. One of the pieces is “school culture and climate,” so usually that’s a euphemism for “bad behavior.” But it’s not here, because we don’t have a lot of bad behavior. But really it’s because of the work that the assistant principal does to make sure we don’t have a lot of problems.

Q. Is there a new math coach?

A. There is not. Instead of having the math coach, I have the manager of specialized instruction.

Q. Can you describe that job?

A. The manager of specialized instruction is going to be responsible for leading our special education team. He will do some coaching of special education teachers and general education teachers around special education.

Q. What kind of message would you like to share with the parents who are new to Payne?

A. Welcome to Payne. We’re sure you’re going to be very happy here. I think we have a lot to offer. We are a very community-focused school. So building community, building relationships with one another is really important to the work we do, and I think that’s comforting. We’re growing in achievement, and we’re getting better and better each year at what we’re doing.

Q. What else is new?

A. Before care. We’ve always had before care, but now we’re working with a new company to provide before care. And there’s space. We have two people who will be overseeing the before care. Mr. Davis is still with us and will still be doing before care. The cost is relatively the same. There are scholarships available. If interested talk to Ms. Oxendine.

We have automated our volunteer signup. If you want to read to kids, if you want to volunteer for the spring carnival, whatever it is, you can volunteer there. We’re making it a requirement that every classroom have at least two room parents.

We are also going to have class potlucks at the beginning of the school year, so we need every parent to start thinking about a delicious dish that they’re going to bring to share with their grade level. Try to arrange for childcare if you can; if not, we’ll try to make some arrangements. But this is an adult thing where parents come in and just meet other parents in the classroom.

Q. Why is it so important for parents to get involved?

A. Children follow the lead of the parent. So if parents are involved, then children know that this is an important place to be, and they do better at school.



As Principal Byrd noted, there are quite a few new faces on the Payne staff this year. Here’s the full list:

  • Jaclyn Barbarino, Drama Teacher
  • Monica Braxton, Primary Behavior Education Support (BES) Teacher
  • Thomas Carter, Custodian
  • Doug Creef, Science Teacher
  • Steven Eskay, Manager of Specialized Instruction
  • Tonya Jones, Third Grade ELA Teacher
  • Patrice Martin, PK3 Educational Aide in Ms. Stokes’ Class
  • Adriana Smith, Behavioral Tech in Primary BES
  • Courtney Thomas, Kindergarten Educational Aide in Ms. Fox’s Class



The Scholastic Book Fair will be the week of Sept. 23. A portion of sales will benefit Payne. Volunteers are needed to help set up the fair, work the fair and clean up. Click here for the sign up sheet.



Before the school year even began, the PTSA had its first fundraising success, raising more than $450 in an online T-shirt sale. If you had your shirt delivered to Liz Aloi, they will be available to pick up at the first PTSA meeting Sept. 10. If you are unable to attend, contact Liz Aloi.

PTSA fundraising enabled the association to buy coffee and donuts to welcome parents and teachers on the first days of school.



Sept. 2: No school

Sept. 4: Back to School Night, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Sept. 10: PTSA Meeting, 6-7 p.m.

Sept. 12: Grandparents’ Day Celebration

Sept. 13: 8 a.m., Fifth Grade Potluck

Sept. 24-26: Buy books at our Scholastic Book Fair

Sept. 25: 5 p.m. Literacy Night
Sept. 25: 4:30 p.m., Fourth Grade Potluck