Get Involved

Committees At-a-Glance

The PTO sponsors diverse 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 Tuesday and Friday mornings from 7:30-8:20. The cost is $50 for the first child and $25 for each additional child.  BOKS kicks off September 26th this year.

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.

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.

Kerry Prasad

Steven Telio

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

Julie Winsett

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.

Tammy Tong (Cantonese)

Maerav Shahal-Schiffer (Hebrew)

Open Role (Japanese)

Jiyeon Herring (Korean)

Wanling Xie (Mandarin)

Svetlana Egorova (Russian)

Karen Jacobson-Sive, Malena Gargantini & Juan Ortner (Spanish)

       Samenta Abraham-Dely (Haitian)

Kawtar Bhih (Arabic)

Xiaodan Xie
Fifth Grade Activities

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

 Email Lori Zinner if interested
Grounds & Garden Committee

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

 Julie Winsett 
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.

Email Lori Zinner if interested
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.

Rakshaa Dadlani
METCO Liaison

This role would involve being in contact with the METCO families throughout the year (via emails, calls or other types of communication the liaison and families are comfortable with) to see what we can do as a PTO to make sure all Countryside families are connected.

Michelle Goncalves
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. 

Rebecca Gavin
Sue Johnston
Outside Message Board

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

Barry Mauger
Playground Committee

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

Julie Winsett
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.

 Suspended in 2020 due to COVID
PTO Newsletter – The Update

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.

Sharon Morgenbesser
LIsa Northman
Nirmala Doddannara
Garima Jain


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:

Xiaodan Xie
Walk 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.

Adam Lipson
Website Director

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

Karl Schwirz
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.

Winter Gear Swap

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




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

Committees Chairperson(s)
Annual Fund

The biggest fund raiser of the school year.

 Email Lori Zinner if interested
Art Show

Annual art show allows Countryside kids to show off their creations from art class by displaying them around the school.

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.

 Canceled due to COVID
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.

Class pictures [September/October]

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

Lori Zinner 
Hailey Crean
Family Movie Night

Enjoy movie night at Countryside!

Nik Jathar
Field Day [June]

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

Rakashi Chand

Volunteers Needed!

First Day Parent Coffee [September]

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

 Canceled due to COVID
Halloween Party [October]

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

 Canceled due to COVID
Holiday Drive

Volunteers coordinate the annual drive to provide holiday gifts to underpriviledged families in the area.

Kindergarten Playdates [September]

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

Sue Johnston
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

Taryn Norviel

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!

Anna McDonald 

Rachel Zakuta

Josh Shriber

Mystery Dinner [May]

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

Canceled due to COVID
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.

Sue Johnston
Parent Party [October]

This parents-only event is held every other year 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.


Rakashi Chand

Anna McDonald

Melissa Waltuck

Parent Speaker Series

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

Volunteers needed!
Rockin’ Raffle [March/April]

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.


Rob Flaig

Liz Flaig

Lori Zinner

Science Fair

Countryside students display science projects for the community.

Sharon Morgonbesser

Beth Kitzis

Manny Steiner


Teacher Appreciation Lunch [May]

A festive luncheon is provided for our faculty to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day. Parent volunteers organize and serve the luncheon.

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.

Adam Lipson
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.

 All remote due to COVID