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