New School Year Information – 2020-2021

Welcome back to school! We hope your family had a happy and healthy summer and is excited to be back at Underwood for what will be a year like no other. We are truly looking forward to working with you and getting to know you this year through our roles with the PTO Board.

Please take a few minutes to read through this Welcome Packet with information about the following: 

As Underwood parents or guardians, you are all automatically members of the PTO! Your willingness to participate and volunteer as you are able, given your unique family and work commitments, is paramount to the success, strength, and energy of our PTO and community. Our PTO Board and Committees are comprised of volunteers working throughout the year to organize and execute a wide range of fundraisers, community building opportunities, and enrichment programming and we are so appreciative of every minute the parent community at Underwood dedicates to our school. 

This year will require all of us to re-imagine the Underwood experience, as many of our beloved events will need to be re-thought in light of safety and social distancing. As a PTO Board we have been hard at work brainstorming fundraising and community building events for this new landscape and we hope you will be as excited as we are about what we have in the works! 

The PTO touches nearly every aspect of the Underwood experience and our fundraising efforts provide essential financial support for:

  • Allocations for teachers, specialists, and the Principal to spend directly on what our students and classrooms need most;
  • Updates to the school library;
  • School-wide technology purchases necessary to meet city and state standards;
  • Enrichment Programming by grade level including Understanding Our Differences (UOD), Creative Arts and Sciences (CASC), and Child Assault Prevention Program (CAPP);
  • Community building events;
  • Community support of families in need. 

We fund these important initiatives through a combination of fundraisers and Annual Fund donations from families. Our Annual Fund campaign is ongoing throughout the year, and we encourage families to participate if they are able. Donations can be made via Paypal at, via Venmo at @underwoodpto, or checks can be made to the “Underwood PTO” mailed to us at 101 Vernon Street, Newton, MA 02458. Gifts of any size are welcome and our collective support makes a difference to the experience of our students at Underwood! 

You can also support the PTO every time you do everyday shopping on Amazon by ordering through Amazon Smile. Visit Amazon Smile to direct 0.5% of your purchase to the Underwood School PTO at no extra cost to you. Note: Only purchases made via are eligible for credit. 

Underwood Merchandise

Underwood Merchandise is here! We now have even more options for your students to show their Owl pride! Underwood merchandise is available for purchase through local business All Sports Wear in Newton Highlands. Visit our online Underwood store for your “back to school” uniform of  pajamas, face masks, and hoodies perfect for remote, distanced, and outdoor learning! All proceeds benefit the PTO.

Our first batch of Underwood tie dye masks sold out in just a few days! Thank you for your support! If you missed out and are still interested in purchasing a mask please email us at so we can gauge demand for a second order. 

Principal Talukdar Updates

We hope many of you were able to virtually meet our new Principal, Dr. Suzie Talukdar, during her two recent presentations to parents and caregivers. We are sharing the slides for those presentations below for anyone who was not able to attend. While the Information Session was geared toward families in the Hybrid Model, it may be useful for all members of the community to see the procedures in place at school this year.

Principal Talukdar also wanted to provide an update that in a recent change, Grab and Go Lunches will only be available at the end of the school day for the limited number of students remaining at Underwood until 3pm. For all others, Grab and Go meals will continue to be provided M-F from 10am-12pm at Newton North and Newton South High Schools at no cost.

Upcoming Events

Virtual PTO Meeting – Tuesday, October 29th at 7:00pm

Join our first PTO Meeting of the school year to learn more about what the PTO does, what to expect for the upcoming year, and how you can get involved! We will also be raffling off a surprise fall-themed prize to one lucky attendee! Agenda to follow.

Meeting ID: 394 141 2138; Passcode: 310918

Virtual Cooking Class – Saturday, October 17th

Join other Underwood parents for a festive evening of Italian cooking and community from the comfort of your own kitchen! Details and sign-up information to follow. 

Halloween Fun Run – October 31st Weekend

We are bringing back our Underwood Fun Run in a socially distanced format. This will be a fantastic community fundraiser and an opportunity to bring together all Underwood families across learning models. Stay tuned for more information. Costumes encouraged, masks required!

Classroom Volunteer Opportunities

The PTO is expanding our classroom volunteer program to include two new roles this year in addition to our long standing Room Parent role: a FORJ (Families Organizing for Racial Justice) Liaison and a FUEL Program Liaison. Click here to learn more about these roles and how to volunteer! These opportunities are great ways to become involved in your child’s classroom and meet other parents, whether you’re a stay-at-home OR working parent, especially this year as everything will be done virtually. 

We will also be seeking Room Parents for each grade of Underwood students attending the Distance Learning Academy. These volunteers will be essential in communicating with families in the DLA about community events at Underwood and organizing opportunities for connection amongst those students who share Underwood as their home school.

Underwood Directory via Membership Toolkit

The Underwood PTO uses Membership Toolkit to maintain its online directory of students, families, and faculty. This year our directory will be more important than ever, as NPS will not be sharing classroom student information due to privacy laws. You should have received instructions for both returning and new families from the PTO on September 15th. 

Please be sure to register if you are a new Underwood family or update your family’s information so that others in our community can connect with you and find families in their child’s classroom and grade. Families may choose to keep some information private. If you have a change of information any time within the school year, please log in and edit your account. Please get in touch with us anytime at with any issues.

Absence/Tardy Call Back System

If your child will be absent or tardy, please call 617-559-9680 before 8:25 AM on the day of the absence, if you have not already notified the school. Please refer to this Call Back System Flyer or print to hang by your phone for easy access.

Building The Underwood Community

The PTO communicates frequently with you via email and monthly Newsletters so that you are kept informed and reminded of important school events. You can also connect with Underwood and stay updated this year in the following ways:

Please tag us or share your photos of your online learning and other activities in the community. 

The goal of all of our communications is to help you navigate the school year and to help build the strongest community possible. Please do not hesitate to contact us at with any questions you might have as the year progresses. 


Your PTO Board

Amy Davis and Laura Goldworm – Co-Presidents

John Papoutsis – Treasurer

Katie Graves Williams – VP of Fundraising

Kerry Curran – VP of Communications

Mariel Ortega – VP Community Building

Kate Luethy – Secretary

Crislin Waldman – DLA Liaison

Erika Holmberg – Officer at Large 

Joanne Wang – Newsletter Editor