Payne Wildcats News

Wildcat PTSA News: Health Curriculum | Meet Ms. Coan | Library Update

Kicking it off with an important correction to a flier that went home with some students this week: The dates were wrong for upcoming Day in the Life meetings. They will not be next week. Instead, they will be pushed back to the week of March 9-13. The meetings are designed for parents to meet the teachers in your child’s next grade level.



You may have seen reports that DCPS will allow schools to request that money intended for librarians be used for other purposes. You also may have seen a petition to keep librarians that is being circulated. Principal Byrd told the PTSA she has no plans to eliminate the librarian position at Payne: “The librarian position at Payne will remain full time for school year 20-21.”



The next PTSA meeting is 6 p.m. March 10. We’ll be joined by a mathematics education leader in our area, Lisa Suben Ramish, who will give parents ideas for helping their children in math. Lisa has 17 years of experience teaching students at every level how to love math and excel at it. As a parent herself, she knows we are all strapped for time. Lisa will bring some excitement and enthusiasm for small ways to do math as a family, especially as the students get ready to take the PARCC. Her presentation is focused on third through fifth grades but will offer takeaways for all parents in attendance. The PTSA will sponsor a second workshop focusing on Kindergarten through second grades later this spring.



You may have heard that Dr. Crumb’s weekly gym class has morphed into a health lesson in the classroom. The health curriculum has been scheduled during the winter months, when play time outside is limited.

Some parents have expressed concern the health classes are limiting recess time for students. Principal Byrd provided this feedback: “Students are required to receive PE and Health education. Dr. Crumb has scheduled the health education portion of PE during the 2nd and 3rd quarter, which are the months when we have the most inclement weather. This has been done to maximize outdoor time. Depending on the content taught, a video may accompany instruction.”



Alexandria Coan is Payne’s new manager of strategy and logistics. The St. Louis native started the job Feb. 14 and is enjoying her first full week with students in the classrooms. She’s been in D.C. for the past decade and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland College Park and her masters degree from the University of Southern California. She likes working with students, staff, and families and also working behind the scenes to keep school operations running smoothly. She sat down with the PTSA this week to share more insights about her career and her new gig.

Q: How is the job going?

A: It’s actually going quite well. Everyone has been very welcoming. I can feel the family and the cohesiveness of everyone, so I’m excited to get to know everyone a little better and help keep everything running smoothly.

Q: Where are you coming from?

A: I am coming from the charter world. I was a social worker and a special education coordinator [at Kingsman Academy, which is a middle school, high school, and alternative school for over-age and under-credit students on Capitol Hill]. Before that I worked at DCPS central office doing special education compliance and parent and student and third-party complaints. At central office, I worked with all of the schools. I was in charge of 113 schools at the time [as a grievance coordinator]. Any time a parent or a student or a third party felt like things weren’t being handled fairly, they would come and talk to us. I would help resolve it with the school and the parent so that everyone could be on one page again.

Q: What about this Payne job appealed to you?

A: Working in the grievances, a lot of the grievances came from how things are run at the school. So I got to learn a lot about how schools should be run. So, I was like, let me just do it without having to do all 113 schools. Let me just focus on one school. (Laughs.) So, that is what got me interested. Also, I like working with students directly, but I also like seeing the behind-the-scenes. The safety of the students is important to me, making sure that our teachers have everything is important to me. I like to be the person who just makes sure that everything is taken care of, and everyone else can get the glory and the pictures, but I want to make sure everything is done right.

Q: What are the goals you’ve set so far?

A: I’ve been working towards trying to make sure that Payne can operate as it has been … and even better. So, making sure our students are going to field trips, making sure staff have everything they need so that our students are getting the academics and instructional learning. For my goals, I still want to increase our enrollment. I want to make sure that we are increasing our student knowledge. So, giving them access to everything. If I need to try to argue that we need more computers or more programs, that’s my goal.

Q: Are there things parents can do to help you out as you start here at Payne?

A: You guys can email me if you have any questions or concerns, my door is always open.



Residents received fliers in the mail saying Payne will be an Early Action school for the 2020-2021 year. The flyer is incorrect. Payne will not be an Early Action school, which means PK3 and PK4 spots are not guaranteed for in-boundary students. The deadline for the DCPS lottery is March 2. Read more here. If your child is in PK3 this year, you will not have to re-lottery for PK4. You will however have to submit re-enrollment papers in the spring.



  • Read to Kids. If you are interested in reading to a classroom for Multicultural Reads Day on March 2, email Ms. Turner,, by Friday.
  • Judge the Science Fair. Science teacher Mr. Creef is looking for science-minded parents and community members to judge projects 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 24. Organizations related to science, the environment, and sustainability are needed 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 25. Email
  • Run Black History Month Stations: Payne still is looking for volunteers to run stations for the Black History Month event this Friday. There are chances to volunteer throughout the school day. Let the front office know if you can participate.
  • Move Dirt. After drop off Monday, parents are needed to move dirt, sand and pebbles to get ready for spring plantings.



Students in third through fifth grades will be taking the DCPS Panorama Survey. The survey will ask students about their school satisfaction, engagement and more. Parents have the option to decline their child’s participation. Read more about the surveys here: Panorama Survey.



Step Afrika! on Wednesday gave an assembly for Kindergarten through fifth grade students. Founded in 1994, Step Afrika! is the world’s first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping — a percussive dance practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities. The company gave a performance that integrated song, storytelling, humor, and audience participation. The performers said step is one of the many exciting experiences students can look forward to enjoying in college, and students had a chance to ask questions.



Friday: Deadline to turn in coins for the Pennies for Patients campaign to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Fundraising totals will be available next week.

Feb. 28: Black History Month Celebration

March 10: 6 p.m., PTSA meeting

March 20: No school

March 24: 9 a.m.-1 p.m., first day of the Science and Energy Fair

March 25: 11 a.m.-1 p.m., open house for parents at the Science and Energy Fair

Wildcat PTSA News: Get to Know Next Year’s Teachers | Valentine’s Day Dance Tradition

Next Tuesday is the most-anticipated PTSA meeting of the year. Visit the classrooms of the grade your child will be in next year, and get to know the teachers. The meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday. Pizza, drinks and child care will be provided.


You’ve probably heard Payne will host a Valentine’s Day Dance on Thursday, Feb. 13 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. But did you know this dance is a longstanding Payne tradition, one that dates back to 1991?

Coach Freda, who works in aftercare, runs many of the school’s clubs and volunteers countless hours at Payne, has coordinated the dance since its inception. And DJ Derrick on the Wheel of Steel has provided the music since 1997.

“I just don’t want it to stop,” Coach Freda said, reflecting on the many dances she has helped host. “When people come to Payne, they always say it’s a family. It’s always been a family here.”

Admission is free. A mandatory permission slip went home with students. If you did not receive one, please check with the front office. Photos will be taken for $5. A painting activity will be set up for parents in the cafeteria.


Past and present staff and students, family members and members of the community gathered Wednesday evening for the official unveiling of the Story of Our School Project. The display in the main lobby tells the history of Payne, which started as a school for black students in 1896 during segregation. The display already has proven popular among visitors, and some adults even spotted themselves as students in the rotating display of archived photos. Ms. Juanita Stokes and Ms. Monich Brown led a team of third through fifth graders starting in 2018 to research the history of Payne, and this project is the culmination of their work. Job well done, and it’s a legacy for the school to appreciate.


The PTSA voted to make $2,000 available to support school clubs. Club organizers will be contacted to make them aware of how to access these resources.


In response to parent requests to learn more about unfamiliar math methods that students learn at school and requests for more math support, the PTSA will be organizing two, one-hour workshops for parents. Content of the sessions are being finalized but may include hands on ways to learn about Common Core, a description of Eureka Math, and an explanation of why math looks different than what we learned.


Thanks to everyone who stopped by Nando’s for the PTSA fundraiser, which raised $410 to benefit the school.


The deadline to complete the DCPS Panorama survey is Feb. 14. To take the short survey, click here. It’s an opportunity to share feedback about your child’s teachers, the administration, DCPS and more.


Signups now are open for Capitol Hill Little League’s spring 2020 season. Visit for deadlines. Player scholarships are available.


Payne once again is collecting coins in February to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The LLS mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Check your child’s backpacks for an information sheet and collection box. The goal is to raise $2,020 for 2020. Click here for more information.


Feb. 11: 6 p.m. PTSA meeting. Teachers will be available to discuss your child’s next school year.

Feb. 12: 8-9 p.m., parents of kids attending second grade next year are invited to join parents of current second graders to learn about their experience at Payne.  Contact Carolyn Bowen to learn more.

Feb. 13: 4:30-6:30 p.m., Valentine’s Day Dance, Auditorium

Feb. 17-21: No school

Feb. 24: Daniel A. Payne’s birthday

Feb. 28: Black History Month Celebration. Details to come. If you can volunteer during the daytime celebration contact:

March 10: 6 p.m., PTSA meeting

March 20: No school

Wildcat PTSA News: Story of Our Schools Party | Meet the School Nurse | Payne Swag | Parent Meetups

If you’ve been inside the main entrance this week, you noticed some big changes. The Story of Our School project has been installed, featuring dozens of photos of Payne students – both past and present – and the story of the school’s history and its namesake, Daniel A. Payne. Did you know that in 1953 the Payne PTA protested the schools overcrowded conditions by organizing a “student strike … which kept the school relatively empty” for a period? Come see the exhibit and learn more.

Children and adults are invited to the reveal reception, 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6. Refreshments will be served. An RSVP is not required, but you are encouraged to click here to register to help with head count. Please join us as we celebrate this project that has been a year in the making and included research from staff and students.


Simone Anderson has been the school nurse at Payne for 11 years. A native of Guyana, South America, Nurse Anderson has lived in the U.S. for the past three decades and has a varied career in health, from working in D.C. hospitals to pediatric homecare. As a community health nurse, she is a contract employee who can find herself temporarily pulled to other area schools as needs arise. But in most cases, you can find her in her office at Payne from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Nurse Anderson recently sat down with the PTSA to share some insights on health and wellness at Payne.

1.    Make sure your child’s records are current. “It’s critical that we have up-to-date information on the students, as far as allergies, any kind of illnesses, working telephone numbers that we can reach the parents at all times,” Nurse Anderson said. Your child’s health records are kept confidential. “It’s critical we are aware so that we can call 9-1-1 or have the necessary medication information on hand.”

2.    She is not the only caregiver on staff. In Nurse Anderson’s absence, two trained staff members also can administer medication: Classroom aide Ms. Davis and school psychologist Ms. Weeks. Gym teacher Dr. Crumb is certified in first aid. “Anything they are not trained to handle, 9-1-1 must be called immediately,” she said. “And that is rare.”

3.    Immunization records are checked weekly. “I pull a report every Monday from the Department of Health. They give me the names of students who are not up-to-date with their shots. At that time, I try to reach out to the parents … Out of 331 students, as of the [Jan. 17], I only have 20 students [6%] that are noncompliant, which I think is really good. We have lots of schools that are way above.”

4.  A temperature below 100 degrees doesn’t require a trip home. It’s flu season, and Nurse Anderson recommends that if your child is “coughing, sneezing and wheezing,” it’s probably best they stay home. If a child has a temperature that is less than 100 degrees, they can go back to the classroom. Once their temp enters the 100s, however, Nurse Anderson said it will trigger a call home. [Science Alert:  It’s hard to define a “fever”.]. If a parent is unavailable, the child must stay in the health suite for the remainder of the day. The area is comfortable, and includes beds, and is removed from the school population.

5.    Nurse Anderson can perform a lice check as requested or needed. You probably heard that PK4 was recently battling a lice outbreak. Nurse Anderson reminds parents that DCPS policy prohibits excluding children with lice from the classroom. The only requirement, Nurse Anderson said, is that the child is getting active treatment to fight the bugs. She has a lice comb with a light in her office and is able to check for nits or lice. If she detects live lice, it does trigger a call home and a pickup. The child can return, though, provided he or she has received treatment.

6.    She has a concussion checklist. If a child falls while playing on the playground, Nurse Anderson administers a concussion checklist that includes neurological and muscle tests. A parent will be notified immediately. The parent could be asked to pick up their child and seek a more official diagnosis from a hospital. A letter also will be sent home.


Looking for for the latest in Payne swag, including t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, car magnets, and more?  You’re in luck: The Payne Cafe Press online store is now LIVE.  Order your Payne gear any time and have it shipped directly to you.

For those who ordered shirts in October and August and have not picked them up, please contact Liz Aloi at Any items that are not claimed by Feb. 29 (yes, it’s a leap year), will be donated to the PTSA.


Parents of children attending first grade next year are invited to join parents of current first graders to gain some insights on the coming year. Parents will meet from 7-8:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at Michelle Chapman and Rob Luhrs’ house.


Parents of children attending second grade next year are invited to join parents of current second graders to learn about the second grade experience at Payne. Parents will meet 8-9 p.m. Feb. 12 at Carolyn and Steve Bowen’s house.



Feb. 3: Art students switch to drama and vice versa

Feb. 4: 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Room 233, ASL Club resumes

Feb. 11: 6:00 p.m. PTSA meeting. Teachers will be available during the meeting to discuss your child’s next school year.

Feb. 13: 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Valentine’s Day Dance, Auditorium

Feb. 17-21: No school