Underwood School PTO Newsletter, November 12, 2020

Note: This newsletter will be published monthly throughout the school year, for a total of 8 issues. It will include columns as they are submitted by Underwood Principal Suzie Talukdar, PTO Co-Presidents Amy Davis and Laura Goldworm, and the school staff. It will also include a school calendar, and school and district-wide news.For questions, email underwoodpto@gmail.com.

School Calendar

Letter From the Principal

Dear Underwood Families,

It was my pleasure to see many of you at our recent PTO meeting with special guest, Dr. David Fleishman, NPS Superintendent of Schools.

At that time, information was discussed that involved the experience within the Hybrid and DLA learning models as well as some upcoming changes. In addition to learning model changes that occurred on November 30 (i.e. transfers between DLA & Hybrid), we now know that beginning on January 4, 2021 the school day will be extended for our youngest learners in grades K-2 only. As we move closer to that date, I will be in touch with our families whose children participate in the Hybrid learning model to offer more details.

For those who have recently transferred from DLA to Hybrid, and as a friendly reminder to current Hybrid families, please take time to review the NPS Student Attendance, Participation and Zoom Etiquette for Families document. Please note that the Distance Learning Academy schedule will remain the same and provides equivalent time with teachers.Parent-teacher conferences are underway and are an important opportunity for communication and planning between school and home. During this time, parents and caregivers will learn about their child’s progress, discuss strengths and areas of growth, and work together to support your child’s success and overall schooling experience. We thank you for your continued partnership and look forward to keeping connected with you throughout the school year.

I want to express sincere gratitude to our wonderful Underwood PTO as they have done so much to support our community both in spirit as well through its generosity to meet the needs of our families and staff. Whether it was making a delicious meal through a virtual cooking class, raising funds through the October Fun-Run, organizing nightly storytimes during the annual Book Fair, eating Bertucci’s pizza, assembling gingerbread houses or enjoying the Women in Jazz series organized by the Creative Arts & Science (CAS), our hard working PTO members have brought many wonderful opportunities for our community to learn together, discover the joy in thinking, and to deepen our connections! 

Finally, a belated Happy Diwali to our families who celebrated this festival of lights in November. At Underwood, I am excited to honor special days of celebration for our diverse community. Hanukkah begins this Friday, the Winter Solstice begins on the 21st, with Christmas shortly thereafter on the 25th. I wish all those who celebrate these holidays good cheer and laughter.

The December school vacation will begin on December 24, 2020 and students will return to school on January 4, 2021. While travel restrictions and health considerations will limit the way in which many spend this time, I wish you all a safe, peaceful and delightful time with your family and loved ones!



Dr. Suzie Talukdar, Principal

Letter From the PTO Presidents

Dear Underwood Families,

As the fall comes to a close, we are so grateful to the Underwood community for engaging with and supporting the PTO this year.

Our recent Gratitude Tree project was no exception, and thank you to everyone who made this project a smashing success.

In the spirit of gratitude during this holiday season, we wanted to share a few of the kind words our community had for Underwood’s staff:

“…she teaches us almost everything we will need to know to be prepared for the future.”

“…you make me intrigued in the things you are reading.”

“…he continues to embody the welcoming spirit and positive energy that makes Underwood such a wonderful community.”

“…she helped me pick the best instrument in the world, the flute!”

“…she teaches us to be better readers and she helps us read harder books and without her we wouldn’t be as good of readers as we are now.”

We had another successful Bertucci’s night last week with 26 families placing orders – mark your calendars for the first pizza night of 2021 on January 7th! 

Our December community building event is a Virtual Gingerbread House Making Party. Join us on Zoom from 4-5pm on Sunday, December 13th to check out everyone’s decorating skills! Prizes will be awarded for the funniest, most colorful, and most school spirited entries. You can bake or buy your own house, or purchase a Festive Owl bundle including a Deluxe Gingerbread House making kit + Underwood Owl kid-size apron for $20 each (limited number of kits available!).

Register and find Zoom link here

Happy Holidays,

Amy Davis and Laura Goldworm

PTO Co-Presidents


Staff Spotlight

Greetings From the Underwood Virtual Art Room!

Hello Underwood Families!

I have so enjoyed working with your creative kiddos! Like everything else right now, Art looks a little different this year. We no longer gather in the Art Room with all of our amazing supplies and space to get messy. This year each class has a weekly 30 minute zoom meeting. During our zooms, I teach from our interactive classroom (above photo) and share slides, videos and books about different artists and projects.  Children get to interact and share their art. Often, they will view myself or my slides in one window and in another window they will view my hands drawing as they draw along with me. This is definitely a new way of teaching for me, but it has been such a joy to see your children engage and get excited about creating!

Some ways you can support your child during Art Zooms:

  • Have a space where they can create – it can even be a small corner in a room. It is very helpful if there is a hard surface under their sketchbook; either a table or a large book will do.
  • Have their sketchbook with them or have some  paper.
  • Have something to draw with: a pencil, pen or marker.
  • BONUS if they have something to add color (crayons, markers or watercolor are great). 
  • Show up for Zooms on time or just a couple minutes before (just don’t show up too early because Art  Zooms are back to back classes).
  • Remind them of zoom expectations and please have their video ON.    

Thanks for sharing your creative and resilient children with me! Wishing everyone a wonderful winter break and a happy and HEALTHY New Year!

Love,Ms. Bushey

Underwood and District Wide News

FUEL Program Ongoing Food Donations 

Thank you to everyone making contributions! T

he Underwood PTO is collecting food donations on an ongoing basis to benefit the FUEL Program, which distributes a weekly bag of food to Newton families, including those in the Underwood community.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program is not able to work with its typical corporate sponsors and is currently solely dependent on community donations. We invite Underwood families to support our neighbors and fellow Newton residents by contributing non perishable items for distribution. 

Click here to find the list of accepted items (please do not drop off any items not listed).

 Parent volunteers Nicole Peterson and Diane Martel collect donations of the above items at 34 Eldredge Street (blue house directly across the street from the school) or 14 Shornecliffe Road on the front porch.

For the month of December we are encouraging each grade to bring a specific item to ensure a variety of donations – see below.

Please direct any questions to Nicole at nmprairie@gmail.com.

December Donations
Kindergarten – Macaroni and cheese, Beans, preferably bagged (black, pinto, etc.), and Peanut butter (18oz)
1st Grade – Marinara sauce (24 oz, preferably in plastic) and Soup, hearty (10-15oz each)
2nd Grade – Chicken (canned 12.5oz) and Tuna (canned)
3rd Grade – Cereal (10-12 oz) or cereal bars, and Crackers (10-15 oz box)
4th Grade – Fruit (individual cups), Applesauce (individual cups or squeeze portions), and Fruit (15 oz cans of pineapple, fruit cocktail, pears, peaches or oranges)
5th Grade – Pasta (1 lb of any type, box or bag) and Rice (1 or 2 lb bag or box)

PTO Newsletter, November 12, 2020

School Calendar

 Mon, Nov 9th –
 Sunday, Nov 22nd
 Online Book Fair
 Fri, Nov 13th DLA Supply Bag Pick-Up
 Thurs, Nov 26th –
 Fri, Nov 27th
 Thanksgiving Break – NO SCHOOL
 Thurs, Dec 3rd Virtual PTO Meeting andBertucci’s Night

Letter From the Principal

Dear Underwood Families,
Whether we are talking about wild weather forecasts, rising state and national covid rates or the presidential election, November has been eventful to say the least. All too frequently we fail to recognize the toll these sorts of events have on our lives and the exhaustion it can create for many, including young children. While we are moving into more rigorous work across the disciplines, I am pleased that teachers spent the early part of our school year studying our students, learning who they are, and working to meet their social and emotional needs. Teachers and students have worked quite diligently to establish a culturally responsive Underwood community where educators value relationships and consistently promote safety, kindness, and respect with our students and families. 
This weekend marked an important milestone in our nation. Regardless of where Underwood community members stand, vice president elect Kamala Harris has made history as the first female and person of color in the second highest office of the United States of America. One hundred years after women won the right to vote, she has broken a glass ceiling for women in this country and people of color. While opinions will always vary on who should serve as US leaders, this momentous occasion serves to inspire and expand possibilities for girls and women (and all people) across the world. This election also offers a lesson on how compelling it is to participate and engage in public decision making in order to maintain our democracy. Underwood educators recognize this critical moment and remain politically neutral while morally crystal clear to ensure that inclusivity for all members of our community is maintained.
As we observed a day off from school this week, it is necessary to pause and reflect on why school was closed. Veteran’s Day is a significant holiday that honors all those who have served in times of war and peace to protect the liberty, freedom and democracy of our nation. It offers a great opportunity to tie in our social-emotional learning goals by helping students to further develop their coping skills, build empathy and show gratitude. Earlier this week, I shared resources with Underwood teachers that can be used when highlighting this important civic celebration. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are also interested. 
I have been so impressed with our Underwood school community thus far for many reasons. Thank you to the many parents who reached out to wish my family well as we dealt with one of the inevitable realities impacting our world. As your new principal, I can admit that I felt uneasy working from home for a short period of time yet I learned quickly how compassionate and understanding all of you are. It also allowed me time to visit virtual classrooms and see teachers and students in action in a way that is different from when I visit classrooms in person. This was a gift to me, and I am very thankful to be back in person especially during this important and eventful moment in time. 
In solidarity,

Dr. Suzie Talukdar, Principal

Letter From the PTO President

Dear Underwood Families,

Thank you to everyone who has participated in Underwood events this busy fall, including the Playground PlaydatesVirtual Cooking Class, Virtual Fun Run, and Bertucci’s Night. The PTO’s November event is our online Book Fair via Children’s Bookstore. Get your holiday shopping done early and choose from a fantastic selection of popular series and award winners! The PTO will receive 30% of sales from 11/9 – 11/22 and will continue to receive 15% of purchases made on this site for the remainder of the school year. Thank you to Nisa Dailey for her hard work planning this year’s Book Fair! 

In conjunction with the Book Fair the PTO is sponsoring Zoom Evening Storytimes with staff members as an opportunity for students to connect with members of the community they may not be seeing in person as much this year. We hope your family has been able to enjoy the Storytimes so far this week, and they will continue with Ms. Mann and Nurse Carrie tonight starting at 6:30pm, and other staff members next week, including Ms. Langston and Mr. Owen!

Nearly 100 students registered for the Virtual Fun Run and it was wonderful to see so many families enjoying the playground and Farlow Park safely on what turned out to be a beautiful, sunny Halloween day! If your student hasn’t received their Fun Run t-shirt yet, please email underwoodpto@gmail.com. Fun Run participants collectively raised over $7,500, before expenses, for the PTO and we owe a huge thank you to everyone who made this event a success, especially our event chairs, Kate Luethy and Anne-Marie GravelCrislin Waldman for designing the beloved Mummy Owl for the t-shirts, and Ms. Melanson’s class for having the highest participation! The funds raised went directly into the hands of teachers and staff members to make purchases for their classrooms. These classroom allocations are more important than ever in a year when our staff is thinking creatively about how to teach and connect with students and may need different tools to do so. The other main areas of PTO spending in the first half of this school year are our Underwood Community Cares Program, which supports members of our school community with grocery gift cards and Technology Spending necessary for Underwood to meet the standard set across all Newton elementary schools. This fall the PTO provided funds for the school to purchase ten document cameras, as recommended by the NPS Department of Information Technology.  

Our first Bertucci’s Dining for Dollars night of the year was a great success, with 24 families placing orders! We will be continuing this tradition the first Thursday of every month, so mark your calendars for pizza and pasta again on Thursday, December 3rd! You can dine-in, take-out, order delivery, or catering from Bertucci’s and 15% percent of sales will go to the Underwood School PTO. Thank you to our VP of Community Building, Mariel Ortega, for coordinating our Bertucci’s partnership this year!

Adult sizes have been added to our online Underwood Merchandise store via local business All Sports Wear in Newton Highlands. The store will remain open throughout the year and these cozy designs make great holiday gifts for Underwood students and caregivers alike! We have also ordered more of the sold out tie dye Underwood masks from Rafi Nova, so stay tuned for order forms when those arrive. Thank you to our VP of Fundraising, Katie Williams, for bringing these ideas forward and making them a reality, along with planning our delicious and fun Virtual Cooking Class.

We hope your family has a lovely upcoming Thanksgiving break. We are grateful to be a part of the Underwood community.

All our best,

Amy Davis and Laura Goldworm

PTO Co-Presidents

Staff Spotlight

Reminders to Parents/Caregivers from Nurse Carrie:  

Please follow the SAFELY checklist each morning. As we make our way through the colder months when viral exposure and spread naturally increases, we want to remain extremely vigilant with our safety protocols. Thank you to all families for doing their part; keep up the good work. 

  • If your child is having any symptoms of illness as listed on the SAFELY checklist, please reach out to Nurse Carrie @ 617-559-9666. 
  • Lastly, per MA Dept of Public Health, all students are required to have a FLU vaccine this year before December 31st. Please provide documentation after your child has received the flu vaccine.   
  • Feel free to contact Nurse Carrie anytime with questions or concerns @ 617-559-9666 or gatelyca@newton.k12.ma.us

Underwood and District Wide News

FUEL Program Ongoing Food Donations 
The Underwood PTO is collecting food donations on an ongoing basis to benefit the FUEL Program, which distributes a weekly bag of food to Newton families, including those in the Underwood community. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program is not able to work with its typical corporate sponsors and is currently solely dependent on community donations. We invite Underwood families to support our neighbors and fellow Newton residents by contributing non perishable items for distribution. Click here to find the list of accepted items (please do not drop off any items not listed)

Parent volunteers Nicole Peterson and Diane Martel collect donations of the above items at 34 Eldredge Street (blue house directly across the street from the school) or 14 Shornecliffe Road on the front porch. For the month of November we are encouraging each grade to bring a specific item to ensure a variety of donations – see below. Please direct any questions to Nicole at nmprairie@gmail.com.

November Donations
Kindergarten – Marinara sauce (24 oz, preferably in plastic) and Soup, hearty (10-15oz each)
1st Grade – Chicken (canned 12.5oz) and Tuna (canned)
2nd Grade – Cereal (10-12 oz) or cereal bars, and Crackers (10-15 oz box)
3rd Grade – Fruit (individual cups), Applesauce (individual cups or squeeze portions), and Fruit (15 oz cans of pineapple, fruit cocktail, pears, peaches or oranges)
4th Grade – Pasta (1 lb of any type, box or bag) and Rice (1 or 2 lb bag or box)
5th Grade – Macaroni and cheese, Beans, preferably bagged (black, pinto, etc.), and Peanut butter (18oz)

Picture Day @ Underwood 2020

Dear Underwood Families,

I hope each one of you enjoyed the long weekend and, if you were observing the holiday, I hope you had an easy and meaningful fast. I am writing to share information with all families about Picture Day 2020 at the Underwood School. 

Coffee Pond will be taking school portraits of Underwood students in the Distance Learning Academy on Thursday, October 8th and Tuesday, October 13th outside Underwood after school from 3:30-4:30pm. Please click here to sign your child(ren) up for a 10 minute time slot. Please arrive as close to your chosen time as possible to limit the number of people gathered.

Coffee Pond has introduced online ordering and a new barcode scanning system to eliminate the need to pass paper between individuals. Please order your photos at https://www.coffeepond.com/ in advance of your child’s picture day. Coffee Pond’s Covid-19 Safety Measures and Online Ordering Instructions are attached.

You do not have to order photos to have your child’s portrait taken. We encourage as many families as possible to have their child’s picture taken, as these are the pictures used for their profiles in Aspen and used internally at the school. In addition, Coffee Pond archives grade level photos (K-5) for each graduating class to use in its 5th grade yearbook. It’s a great way to look back at the students over the years!

Class photos will not be taken this year for students in either learning model due to social distancing measures. 

Please contact Lacey Rochford with any questions at rochfordl@newton.k12.ma.us.

Thank you,


Dr. Sujan S. Talukdar


Underwood Elementary School 

Newton Public Schools






DLA Sign Up

Letter From the Principal: October 2018

Dear Families,

It is hard to believe that we turn the calendar to November just next week. As we wrap up the eighth week of school, students have settled into their classrooms and teachers are making the most of each day they have with children. We are excited by the possibilities for academic and social gains for each of our students this year. 

Continue reading “Letter From the Principal: October 2018”

Letter From Principal Smith: Welcome Back, Fall 2018

Dear Underwood Families,

I hope you had a wonderful summer. The change of pace that summer brings often allows time for relaxation and fun, and I hope all of our families found time for both. As September approaches, I expect many children are ready to return to school. The beginning of a new school year is always filled with energy, excitement, and optimism. This year is no exception, and we look forward to welcoming students back in the coming weeks. Continue reading “Letter From Principal Smith: Welcome Back, Fall 2018”

Letter from Principal Smith: End of 2017/18 and Start of 2018/19

Dear Families,

It’s hard to believe that we have just over one week of school left in the 2017-2018 school year. The last day of school is Friday, June 22nd. Dismissal on that day will be at 12:00 PM. As we have in past years, we will hold a clap out for our fifth graders as they exit the building for the last time. Parents are welcome to line up at the main entrance to the building to join the clap out.
Continue reading “Letter from Principal Smith: End of 2017/18 and Start of 2018/19”