Wildcat PTSA News: Volunteer Permissions | Meet the Librarian | Ways to Help

Happy Friday, Wildcats!

Don’t forget: Wednesday is Walk to School Day. Meet at Lincoln Park at 7:30 a.m. and wear your Payne shirts and walkin’ shoes.



You’ve probably heard by now about the hoops parents have to jump through to volunteer at DCPS. (If not, click here to read about the TB test and fingerprinting process.) While somewhat onerous, they are intended to protect the safety of our children.

There has been some confusion at Payne about what to do once you receive your clearance paperwork. Once cleared, you should receive a clearance letter via email. Please provide it to your child’s teacher, either as a printout or an email. The administration has informed the PTSA that it is not keeping track of these centrally; the responsibility is on teachers to know which parents or guardians are volunteer-ready.

Clearances are good for two years. Even if you turned your form in to Payne last year, you need to submit a copy to your child’s current teacher this year. Try searching “DCPS employment clearance” in your email to find the letter. And hold on to this email just in case you need to produce it for future events or volunteer opportunities.

To help facilitate the clearance process, the PTSA will be hosting TB testing and fingerprinting at Payne this fall. We hope to have TB testing on site at the school Oct. 8, which also the next PTSA meeting, but are awaiting confirmation and will send an update once details are finalized. Note: If you have a secret or top secret clearance through work, the process is much easier.



Mr. Tim Gordon joined Payne three years ago as the school librarian. An Illinois native and longtime Chicagoan, Mr. Gordon worked as an advertising and graphic designer in the newspaper business. After he earned his library degree, he thought he’d land a gig at a public library. But working at a school has been a pleasant surprise and one that has helped him fulfill his mission of encouraging kids to read. In his spare time, he is an expert in Disney World and has offered to host a “Disney World Boot Camp” for parents planning a trip down to Mickey Town.

Q. What do you like best about being Payne’s librarian?

A. Well, a big part of why I left the corporate world and went into librarianship in the first place was to be able to work with kids and maybe have some influence over their reading and their love of reading. When I was in first, second grade, there were certain books that I loved and I still go back to now as an adult.

The best way to get kids to love reading is to give them things that they love to read. Too often we’re trying to shove what we consider good literature or whatever in their faces and, you know, if a kid would rather read Spiderman, let them read Spiderman, if that’s going to get them into reading. If they want to read Sports Illustrated, I’ve got it.

Q. Describe how library works for the different grades.

A. I see every single class once a week. It’s a whole class all at once, so I have to prepare a lesson. I’m trying to do a lot of stuff about books and parts of a story and reading comprehension. For the older kids, I want to get into how to do research, how to surf online safely.

Q. Do kids check out books from the library?

A. Yeah, every class gets to check out. Right now the books stay at school, but I’m hoping, especially this year, that I’ll start with the older grades being able to send stuff home. The first year I did inventory, I found out that we were missing over 1,000 things, and that’s a lot. With the budget that we have, I only get 300-350 books a year. So you know, it would take us over three years to replace that stuff. I’ve been doing a lot on my own, going to the Maryland Book Bank and things like that to get books in addition to the big book order we get. And I’ve gotten several grants for new books, too.

But that’s really the lifeblood of the library is having new stuff. If you just have the same old stuff all the time, kids are going to quickly get bored with it.

Q. What’s new at the library this year?

I got a lot of new books over the summer. I went to the American Library Association Conference that was in D.C. this year and picked up a lot of stuff. I made contacts with some publishers, and they have sent me a lot of materials for the library.

We started an Imagineering Club last year that I’m continuing this year where we talk about Disney World and jobs at Disney World and trying to get kids interested in things like engineering for theme parks.

Q. Who is eligible to be in the club?

So right now, I have hand-picked some fourth graders who were already in after care, and I think I have two third graders. It’s a small group. I don’t want it to be more than 10 or 12 kids. I like them to be able to work on the computers or show a lot of videos about things. When we did it last year, I had the kids design their own theme park attraction.

Q. Are you accepting new participants?

A. Yes. Basically it’s third, fourth and fifth graders if they are already in after care. People that are already in after care, I’m open to. The parents could contact me or they could have their student contact me, too.

Q. What are some of your favorite children’s books?

A. I like classics like Dr. Seuss and Clifford and the Berenstain Bears. Something that I did when I started was that we didn’t have a lot of books like that in this collection. So I made sure to go out and get stuff like that. Things that we know from our childhood and even older. We didn’t have the Wizard of Oz. We didn’t have Alice in Wonderland, stuff like that.

Q. And you still have the Spiderman.

A. Absolutely.



For new Payne parents, if you haven’t chatted with Danielle Ciaurro, you will soon. She’s at most after-school events and works throughout the day to assist the administration, family and students. She shares the following message:

I am thrilled to let you all know I will be staying at Payne for the 2019-20 school year!

For those of you who have not met me yet or are unfamiliar with my role, I am an AmeriCorps VISTA serving as the school’s Community Liaison. I joined the Payne family in February and I am so excited to be back for another year. I assist with capacity-building efforts around the school so I work closely with Mrs. Oxendine and Mrs. Asante.

The largest part of my role is to manage the partnerships we have with community-based organizations like nonprofits, small businesses, and government agencies, as well as manage donations received by the school. I also assist with funding opportunities for new projects or initiatives, coordinating school-wide events with the PTSA and the school, field trips, the enrollment process, and more.

If you ever have questions, ideas, suggestions, anything, please come talk to me! You can either find me in Mrs. Oxendine’s office or at the front desk. I am here as a resource for you all as a community and I would love to hear from you about what you would like to see at the school and work with you all to make that a reality!



Danielle Ciaurro will, on a regular basis, start sharing volunteer and donation needs for Payne. Here are a few:

  • Instructional Reading Coach support: Ms. Turner needs help organizing the book room. Contact tiffani.turner@kc12dc.gov
  • Science research: Mr. Creef asked for support in watering and measuring the plants of various endangered species in his room as part of his project with the Smithsonian Institute. Contact emmett.creefjr@k12.dc.gov
  • Administrative support: Mrs. Asante needs assistance organizing files in one of the storage rooms. Contact Danielle.Ciaurro@dc.gov
  • Donations (drop off at front desk)
    • Old uniforms in larger sizes (14-16)
    • New socks and underwear for smaller sizes (3T, 4T)
    • Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.



The Capitol Hill Community Foundation, which has supported Payne with grants, will host the 2019 Literary Feast on Oct. 26. The foundation will host 39 dinner parties in homes across Capitol Hill with each dinner featuring food from a specific book. Themed dinners this year include The Godfather, A Confederacy of Dunces, All the Light We Cannot See and The Rum Diary. Registration is expected to close on Sept. 30, so click here to join in the fun.



Tuesday, Oct. 1: First grade potluck, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 2: Walk to School Day, 7:30 a.m., Lincoln Park

Oct. 8: PTSA Meeting, 6-7 p.m.

Oct. 11-14: No school

Oct. 26: Fall Festival, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Oct. 31: Fall Field Day

Flex Academies Now Offers After School at Payne

Flex Academies, with Mr. Davis as Site Director, is now offering after school at Payne.  Their program combines enrichment, supervised play, and socialization for children PK3 to 5th Grade.  After school will be held Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6 pm.  Options include 3,4 and 5 days per week as well as drop ins.

Registration opens September 27th at 9 am.  You can register and see pricing information at https://bit.ly/2mSsS2q.  

For questions, please email info@flexacademies.com or call 203-408-3900.

Wildcat PTSA News: Weed Pullers Wanted | Fundraising Tips| Security Appreciation

If you hate weeds and love (or even mildly tolerate) yard work, please join Payne’s new science teacher, Mr. Doug Creef, at the school at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. He’s looking for 5-7 volunteers to help clean up the garden space in the front of the school along C Street. Bring yourself and gear: shovels, rakes, a wheel barrel and a weed eater. Beautify the yard, and you’ll also be making room for Payne’s soon-to-arrive chickens.



While the Fall Festival will be the PTSA’s big fundraiser for the fall, the PTSA has organized simple, small ways to raise funds. Here’s a roundup of ways you can raise money for Payne when you shop:

  • Box Tops for Education. Box Tops are worth 10 cents each, but that money can add up quickly. So keep eating that cereal and mac and cheese. The PTSA can earn money in two ways: (1) Cut out Box Tops from eligible products and bring them to the collection box in the front office on Ms. Cox’s desk. (2) Skip the cutting, and scan your receipt through the Box Tops app when you’ve purchased eligible items, and presto, the school will get credited for the Box Tops.

  • AmazonSmile: The PTSA will receive a portion of eligible purchases when you shop AmazonSmile by using this URL: smile.amazon.com and selecting “Payne Elementary Schools Parents Teachers Students Association” as your charity.

  • Primary.com: The children’s clothing site offers tops and bottoms that work great for Payne uniforms. Use the Payne school link, and 10 percent of the sale will go to the school. This program raises more for Payne than any other.
  • Harris Teeter: Link your VIC card to code 8144, either online or in person at the store, and the school will get a portion of eligible purchases.  You must link your VIC card each year to the Payne code, so even if you linked it last year, you’ll need to do it again to ensure the school gets money.
  • CertifiKID Gives: CertifiKID offers deals on family-friendly events such as Disney on Ice and haunted houses. CertifiKID will donate $5 to the PTSA with every purchase of $20 or more with the code PAYNE after the code has been used at least 10 times. 



This week is National Security Officer Appreciation Week, and the PTSA would like to send a big thank you to Payne’s security team: Officer Lisa Simpson and Officer Danielle Goodwine. This is Officer Simpson’s fourth year at Payne and Officer Goodwine’s first.

The PTSA profiled Officer Simpson in October 2018. At the time, she spoke about the importance of her role: “I am the first person anyone sees, so it’s very important my eyes are open along with my ears and that I monitor everything and anything that comes through this door.”



Eliot Hine Middle School has its very own broadcast network where student journalists conduct interviews and deliver the news. The students secured press credentials and attended a Capitol Hill hearing Thursday to cover H.R. 51, a bill that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st State. (Note to self: Start training Payne students to write this newsletter.)



Sept. 24-26: Scholastic Book Fair, Main Lobby

Sept. 25: Literacy Night, 5 p.m. Games, crafts, writing workshops and more

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

Oct. 2: Walk to School Day, 7:30 a.m., Lincoln Park

Oct. 8: PTSA Meeting, 6-7 p.m.

Oct. 11-14: No school

Oct. 26: Fall Festival, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Oct. 31: Fall Field Day

Wildcat PTSA News: Grant writing | No U-Turns| Walk to School Day

Thanks to all who attended Tuesday’s PTSA meeting. Payne mom Lexi Smith gave an  overview of several big grants that she and a team of parents are applying for. Bottom line up front: If you’d like to join her crew, no experience in grant writing is needed, and your participation could help secure thousands of dollars for students.

Here’s a quick summary of grants being targeted:

Capitol Hill Community Foundation: $2,500 grants (can earn more than one)

  • What’s the money used for? Anything school-related, from bus trips to school supplies
  • Due: Sept. 30
Target: $700 per class
  • What’s the money used for? Field trip transportation
  • Due: Oct. 1

Walmart: $250-$5,000

  • What’s the money used for? Food or environmental education
  • Due: Dec. 31

Chesapeake Bay Trust: Up to $5,000

  • What’s the money used for? Environmental education
  • Due: Jan. 9

Interested in joining the grant-writing group? Email Lexi Smith.

PTSA President Mark Jordan provided an overview of the PTSA mission at Tuesday’s meeting.



A DC police officer was seen at the intersection of C and 14th streets Thursday morning, checking for illegal U-turns. U-turns near the school have been a concern in the past, especially with heavy pedestrian traffic at drop-off and pickup. The officer said he did pull over one vehicle on Thursday. “No U-Turn” signs were added to intersections near Payne last year.

On Friday, a parking enforcement officer was out front. She was checking to see if drivers were obeying the 15-minute drop-off signs. As 9 a.m. approached, she was planning to ticket any cars still in the school zone. That said, she told the PTSA the biggest problem is with drivers double-parking to drop off students, snarling traffic and creating a danger.



The Payne community typically shows up in droves for Walk to School Today. Let’s keep the tradition alive Oct. 2. Join teachers, staff, students and parents at Lincoln Park. Teachers should plan to be there by 7:30 a.m. and students and parents by 7:45 a.m., said Dr. Crumb, Payne’s gym teacher, who is coordinating for the school.



If your child is out sick or running late, you can notify Payne via a new email address: PayneAttendance@gmail.com. Notes also can be dropped in a brown mailbox in the main office.



PTSA Fundraising Chair Kerry DeVooght is looking for help preparing for and hosting the Payne Fall Festival, which will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. This is one of the PTSA’s biggest events of the year, and it takes a small army to pull it off. You can help in a wide range of ways, from recruiting sponsors to hauling pumpkins to making chili.



This Monday, a trio from the National Symphony Orchestra will perform a free concert at Eastern High School. It will start at 7 p.m. at the main entrance of the school, 1700 E. Capitol St. NE. The event will be outside, weather permitting, so bring a blanket or chair. If it rains, they will perform in the auditorium.



Payne was flooded Thursday with grandpas, grandmas, omas, opas, bubbas and papas in celebration of Grandparents Day. Teachers and staff handed out refreshments for the guests of honor, who also got to visit classrooms. In the picture below, school psychologist Kesha Weeks mingles with the special guests.


Sept. 14: DCPS Back to School Block Party, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Roosevelt High School, 4301 13th St. N.W.

Sept. 19: Early Childhood Education Potluck, 5:30 p.m.

Sept. 24-26: Scholastic Book Fair

Sept. 25: Literacy Night, 5 p.m.

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

Oct. 2: Walk to School Day, 7:45 a.m., Lincoln Park

Oct. 8: PTSA Meeting, 6-7 p.m.

Oct. 11-14: No school

Oct. 26: Fall Festival, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Grandparents Day Information

Hello Payne Family,

I hope this message finds you well. We plan to celebrate Grandparents Day this Thursday, September 12th from 8:30 am-9:30 am. Please see below for information and logistics of the day. A flyer with RSVP information will be sent home tomorrow. Please return it by Wednesday. We look forward to seeing you.

  • 8:30 am-9:00 am Welcome and Continental Breakfast for Grandparents in Auditorium
  • 9:05 am Grandparents transition to students classrooms to join their morning meeting and complete activity
  • 9:30 am Grandparents get hugs and then depart for the day

Wildcat PTSA News: Chickens at Payne? | Second Grade Switch | Parking Enforcement

Hello, Payne parents, teachers, staff and supporters.

The year’s first PTSA meeting is 6-7 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium. Your support and participation is an essential part of Payne’s success. Join us for pizza and meet PTSA leaders and fellow parents to share your questions, concerns and ideas. Child care will be provided.

A bake sale will precede the meeting, at 5:30 p.m. If you’d like to donate baked goods sign up here.

And if you haven’t joined yet, you can sign up here to be a PTSA member.


Payne is close to enrolling a few feathered friends this year. New science teacher Mr. Doug Creef is seeking a permit to bring 2-6 adult chickens to roost, and he has support from Principal Byrd. Chickens are not unheard of at D.C. schools and are so popular that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education already has extensive guidance on how to make it happen.

“Egg-laying female hens are allowed in the District and are a great way to engage students in the school garden, especially in urban environments like the District of Columbia where many students are disengaged with details pertaining to the food system,” the superintendent’s office said. You can read more here.

A few fun facts:

  • The school would have no roosters, which is good news because they tend to be louder and meaner.
  • There would be no chicks and no threat of future chicks (see the first bullet point). The program allows for full-grown, egg-laying hens.
  • Students aren’t allowed to eat the eggs in school, but they could be allowed to cook with them. Eggs also could be made available to share with families.

Mr. Creef cautions the plan is tentative, but some parents already have offered to help manage the coop, which would be on school grounds, not inside the school.


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED. One-hour shifts are still available to volunteer at the Scholastic Book Fair during the week of Sept. 23. It’s a fun and easy gig, and a portion of sales will be used to buy books for Payne classrooms. Click here for the sign up sheet.



New this year, the second grade is departmentalized like third through fifth grades.That means students spend half of their day with Ms. Perry learning math and science and the other half with Ms. Hubbard learning English language arts and social studies. Students are assigned to one homeroom, where they spend their morning, then they switch midday.

“Departmentalization allows teachers to focus on two subjects at a time,” Byrd told the PTSA. “Ms. Hubbard is teaching ELA and social studies, while Ms. Perry teachers math and science. Teachers hone their craft and become experts in their content areas. This makes for stronger instruction.”

Byrd said she expects second graders to become better at each subject as a result of the change. So far this year, they are off to a promising start, she said.



If you handle drop-offs or pick-ups, you’ve probably seen Dr. Crumb, Payne’s physical education teacher and resident grandmaster in Taekwondo, keeping the front of the school clear of cars. That’s so buses have plenty of space out front.

You can still park on C Street, where new signs specifically designate a “School Parking Zone” from 7-9 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m. That said, stay out of the area marked by cones and look out for Dr. Crumb directing traffic. Payne has stressed that C St. is for drop-offs only. If you intend to go inside the school, please park on along 14th or 15th. Finally, the school is warning parents to stay out of the parking lot. Unapproved vehicles could be ticketed or towed.



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

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

Sept. 24-26: Book Fair is open

Sept. 25: 5 p.m. Literacy Night

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

Oct. 2: Walk to School Day

Oct. 8: PTSA Meeting, 6-7 p.m.

Oct. 11-14: No school

Oct. 26: Fall Festival, stay tuned for more details and how you can help!