Get Involved

Committees At-a-Glance

The PTO sponsors a rich diversity of events, activities and programs, all run by parent volunteers. Everyone is encouraged to participate! No matter what your area of interest, or how much or how little time you can spare, we have a role for you!

For questions, or to volunteer, contact us



Committee Chairperson(s)

BOKS is the popular before-school fitness program offered at Countryside. BOKS (Building Our Kids’ Success) is a Reebok initiative that provides children with the opportunity to increase their daily physical activity. The program runs Monday and Tuesdays from 7:30-8:20. The cost is $50 for the first child and $25 for each additional child.

Freya Hurwitz
Box Tops for Education

This program enables children to make a difference in our school by cutting and saving box tops of commonly purchased products. A parent volunteer coordinates this program as well as “Labels for Education.”

Jenny Jing
Community Service

Countryside sponsors a number of initiatives during the year, including the Holiday Gift Drive. During the Gift Drive, Countryside families purchase gifts for local children at the December holidays. Your family can choose a child based on his/her age and interests and shop for the requested gifts together.

Julia Sappenfield
Creative Arts & Sciences

The Creative Arts and Sciences program brings high-quality, curriculum-related enrichment programs to our children’s classrooms. Although it is mandated by the Newton Public Schools, volunteers from the PTO are completely responsible for organizing the program.

Emma Ardiff-Flaherty

Elham Rezania

Directory & Database Management

A parent volunteer manages student data for the online directory, print directory and email newsletter. This project begins in the summer and concludes with publication in early fall. Knowledge of Microsoft Access and publishing software is helpful.

Freya Hurwitz
ELL (English Language Learners) Committee

The purpose of this committee is to improve communications between Countryside School and ELL families. This includes smoothing the families’ transition to a new and unfamiliar American school culture.  The committee has cultural leaders or translators in seven languages.

Sue Lowcock & Tammy Tong (Cantonese)

Hadar Agam (Hebrew)

Fumiko Futai (Japanese)

Jiyeon Herring (Korean)

Wanling Xie (Mandarin)

Maristela and Carlos Mellos (Portuguese)

Svetlana Egorova (Russian)

Carmen Barnes (Spanish)

June Li
Fifth Grade Activities

The 5th grade Co-chairs coordinate all 5th grade events for the graduating class.

Marian Brodney

Melissa Dietrich

Holly Grieb

Grounds & Garden Committee

Parent volunteers plan and maintain landscaping and gardens around the school, as well as coordinate planting and clean-up days.

Julia Jenkins
Library Help

Parent volunteers assist the librarian by re-shelving and checking books in and out. A parent leader organizes the volunteer schedules. Parent volunteers are needed at all grade levels.

Christine Giampietro
Lost and Found

A parent volunteer periodically cleans up lost and found bins and coordinates donation of unclaimed items to charity. Also occasionally checks school grounds for lost items.

Amy Malick
Mini-Grants Committee

This committee awards small grants to faculty members to fund small programs and initiatives that are not covered by the regular curriculum. The application period begins in the fall of each academic year. 

Leslie Gonzalez

Sarah Blanusa

Sara Coen Dash

Julia Jenkins

Melissa Stuchins

Outside Message Board

A parent volunteer updates the message board on the outside of the school building.

Chris Karrenberg
Playground Committee

Playground Committee: This committee assesses playground needs, raises funds, and manages the project when new playground structures are planned and installed.

Abby Schwartz
Photo Corps & Archivists

Photo Corps & Archivists: A parent volunteer takes photographs at all-school events and maintains a photo archive of images taken throughout the year.

Volunteers Needed!
PTO Bulletin Board

A parent volunteer maintains the PTO bulletin boards inside the school using photos and themed decorations.

Renuka Raghavan
PTO Newsletter

The Newsletter team produces “Update,” the weekly PTO email newsletter. The co-chairs of this committee serve as ex-officio members of the Executive Board.

Avery Jung

Leslie Gonzalez

Renuka Raghavan

Gloria Tan

Safe Routes to School Advocate

A parent volunteer serves as a liaison to Newton’s Safe Schools Committee. Organizes walking school buses and walk to school events.

Barry Elliott
Special Education (PAC) Representative

The Parent Advisory Council for Special Education is a district-wide organization comprising mainly of parents of children with disabilities. We meet monthly to learn more about how special education programs, issues, and resources will impact students at Countryside.

Renuka Raghavan
Spirit Wear

The PTO sells spiritwear through an online shop sponsored by EmbroidMe in Newtonville. The shop is open in September, before the December holidays and at the end of the school year. Be sure to read the Update to find out when you can purchase items! The link to the school store is:

Anna McDonald
Website Director

The webmaster updates and maintains the PTO website and online calendar.

Adam Howes
Welcome Committee

This committee is a resource for new parents who have questions about the school and the PTO. Creates welcome packets for new families. May host a new parent wine or cheese party or coffee early in the school year.

Nivi Rabbi
Winter Gear Swap

In the fall, Countryside Families are asked to donated gently-used coats, snow pants, boots, hats, etc.

 Lital Carmel



Committees Chairperson(s)
Back to School Picnic [September]

This event celebrates the start of the school year. Parent volunteers coordinate the event, sell food, organize games, and staff the event.

Sangeeta Jathar
Back to School Breakfast for Faculty and Staff [September]

This is a breakfast for our faculty and staff during one of their first days back to school.

Volunteers needed!
Class pictures [September/October]

A parent volunteer schedules and coordinates school picture day with our photography company.

Lori Zinner 
Field Day [June]

Parent volunteers olidayelp the Physical Education teachers coordinate this energetic end-of-the-year event.

 Fina Barouch
First Day Parent Coffee [September]

Parent volunteers set up refreshments for parents during the first two mornings of school.

Raquel Fornasaro

Esther Zaff

Halloween Party [October]

Parent volunteers organize a family-friendly Halloween party held after school.

Marian Brodney
Melissa Dietrich
Holly Grieb
Ken Volk 
Kindergarten Playdates [June and September]

A parent volunteer coordinates this meet-and-greet for incoming kindergarteners and their families.

Volunteers needed!
Kindergarten Screening [April]

Parent volunteers greet kindergartners and their parents during screening, provide information, and answer questions about Countryside and the PTO.

Volunteers needed! 
MultiCultural Festival [March]

This is one of Countryside’s most popular school-wide events. It consists of information booths and performances showcasing Countryside’s rich cultural diversity. Parent volunteers coordinate this event.

Keren Wolf

Volunteers Needed! 

Musical [February]

Parent volunteers produce and direct this all-school event. They are responsible for auditions, costumes, set design, props, music arrangement, program, and selling tickets and concessions. Auditions and practices typically start in late fall. 

Email to volunteer!

Teri Ginsburg     

Anna McDonald 

Rachel Zakuta

NewtonSERVES [April/May]

NewtonSERVES is a city-wide community service day. A team of volunteers at Countryside help make improvements to the school building and grounds.

Chris Karrenberg

Volunteers Needed!

Parent Speaker Series

The PTO hosts two evening speaking events featuring topics of importance to the Countryside community.

Volunteers needed!
Mystery Dinner [November]

This progressive dinner party is a fun way to meet new people in the Countryside community.


Holly Grieb

Barbara Mauger 

Rockin’ Raffle [February/March]

The Raffle is a popular favorite at Countryside. Parent volunteers solicit donations from businesses, teachers, and parents; compile and print the prize book; collect tickets and distribute gifts to winners.

Stella Kagramanian

Vanessa Ortega

Debbie Zammuto

Springfest [June]

Springfest: [June] Food, bouncy house, and other attractions provide entertainment for families. The Springfest coordinator plans and executes this popular end-of-the-year celebration.

 Barry Elliott
Teacher Appreciation Lunch [May]
A festive luncheon is provided for our faculty to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day. Parent volunteers organize and serve the luncheon.
Volunteers needed!
Teacher Grab & Go Lunch [January]
This lunch is set up in the Teacher’s Lounge so they can grab a lunch and eat in their classrooms while they work on report cards.
Lauren Lookner
Understanding Our Differences
Understanding Our Differences (UOD) is a disability awareness curriculum that teaches children to “see the person and not the disability.” UOD programs are presented to students in grades 3-5. Parent volunteers use scripted lesson plans and provided materials to teach the lessons. Absolutely no knowledge or experience is necessary. This is a fun and meaningful way to be involved directly in your child’s class.
3rd Grade
Stephanie Hsiang
4th Grade
Syma Donovan
5th Grade
Punam Sharma
Parent Advisory Council
The Parent Advisory Council (PAC) for Special Education is a district-wide organization comprising mainly of parents of children with disabilities. We meet monthly to learn more about how special education programs, issues, and resources will impact students at Countryside.
Renuka Raghavan
Family Night
Enjoy a fun screen-free family game night at Countryside!
 Amy Volk
Parent Party [April/May]
This parents-only event is held at a restaurant or hotel on an evening in the spring. Appetizers, dinner, dessert and drinks are served . If you like to devise menus, decorate or plan parties, this is the committee for you! There is usually a small silent auction portion of the evening. The Parent Party is an important part of the PTO’s community-building mission.
 Jess Lourie