Van Ness Elementary School


From New York to California


Our mission is to cultivate and nurture a robust school family that is unified in support of each other and in service to Van Ness Elementary School.

Who are we?

You! All parents or guardians of Van Ness Elementary School students are members of the PTO.  


  • Rebecca Sohmer - President

  • Liz Lang - Treasurer

  • Carolyn Brown - Member

  • Lesley Edmond - Member

  • Jacqueline Henderson - Member

  • Maggie McCarty - Member

  • Erin Wallace Morrison - Member

  • Cynthia Robinson-Rivers - Head of School/Member

  • Freddy Torres - Teacher/Member

What do we do?

The PTO focuses on helping the Van Ness community to be as strong as it can be, and by providing funds for educational materials and experiences and additional teaching support.

Community Events

The PTO coordinates and executes community events such as Fall Festival, the Gala/Silent Auction, Book Fair, Book-o-Ween, Trivia Night, and more.

School Support

Examples of school support include:

  • The PTO generously gives the teachers a cash award at the beginning of both the school year to purchase needed supplies and materials for the classroom.

  • The PTO provides funding to support real-world experiential learning and field trips.


The PTO recognizes staff on holidays and occasions such as Teacher Appreciation Week, Custodial Appreciation Day, Administrative Professionals Day, School Nurse Appreciation Day, and more.

Get involved!

As a parent/guardian of a Van Ness student you are automatically a member of the PTO and you don’t have to be on the Board of Directors to get involved. You will hear about different events and opportunities to participate throughout the year, but if you are interested in a specific event or task, please contact the Van Ness PTO at

Volunteering At Van ness

DCPS requires that all school volunteers pass a full background clearance. This includes receiving a TB test within the previous 12 months and completing fingerprinting. Once your clearance is completed, it is valid for 2 years. The process is detailed here:

Please include your child's name and grade in your request.