Francis Villaseñor Sorentino, 31, culminated TECS in 2000

Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.By Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.      March 19, 2021

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Francis Villaseñor Sorentino, 31, culminated TECS in 2000
Last year, a fire destroyed the home of Lisa and Frank Villasenor, and they lost everything, among them all of the family photos. Friends found these photos: Francis’ school photo
It is always interesting to learn about our TECS alumni and the various paths they are taking, the careers they are pursuing and to learn how their time spent at TECS impacted their lives. Learning about Francis’ path in education and the positive impact of the time spent in elementary school is one of my treasured teacher moments. I am so happy to have had the chance to see what Francis is doing and even more thrilled to learn that she is a kindergarten teacher. It is a great feeling to know that TECS alumni are giving back to the community and having known her as a student, I am sure Francis is a kind and caring teacher. Francis Villaseñor, now Francis Sorentino, attended Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS) along with her sister, Lizzy, and brothers, Lawrence and Charlie. Their mom, Lisa, was a tireless school volunteer and at one time, my classroom aide. Their father, Frank, is a longtime Topangan and official unsung hero. Francis was in Julie Buntin’s (Schaller) class when we team-taught a group of first- and second-grade children. I was lucky to have Francis as a student, and later, her sister Lizzy. I remember Francis as a hard-working student who always had a smile on her face, the same smile she now shares with her husband, new baby, and her own kindergarten students.
Francis creating a mask, possibly for an art show.
What do you remember about your experience at TECS? What had an impact on you?
I have many fond memories of TECS. There were so many wonderful teachers and Teacher Assistants (TAs) there. I remember my kindergarten teacher, Miss Moon, who let me bring my baby sister to show and tell. There was Petra, the T.A., who helped me acclimate to being at a new school (she was always encouraging me to go talk to other kids on the playground during recess and lunch); and my fifth-grade teacher, Miss Poutakoglou, who taught me to find my voice and be confident in my learning. The playground made of tires was a magical place, where there were so many places to explore. I remember playing hide and seek with friends there. It was/is the best playground I have been to.

The Halloween carnival was incredible. The multi-purpose room was decorated like a professional haunted house, there were games all over the black top, and a scary black hole that you could walk/run through. I remember once a year we had a Track and Field Day where the whole school would get colored sweat bands and participate in different track events. My favorite was running the big track race to see what place I would get.

I ran for Vice President of student council. I lost, but my slogan stuck amongst my family. To this day they will still say, “Don’t take chances, vote for Francis.” I remember writing a persuasive letter in our fifth-grade class to Wells Fargo about helping to preserve a plot of land. Many of the friends that I made at TECS I still keep in touch with. I feel fortunate that I have been able to have friends like Jesse Johnson and Andrea Dyer. I also feel fortunate that I got to grow up in Topanga and go to TECS.
Francis with husband, Cappy Sorentino, and their son, Ellison, born December 19, 2020.
What higher education or training have you pursued?
I received my Bachelors in Liberal and Civic Studies from St. Mary’s College and my Masters and Teaching Credential from Pepperdine University. I love being a teacher. I appreciate being able to encourage students to be creative and ask questions as they explore learning. It is the best at the end of the year when you get to see the progress of each individual student.
Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.

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March 19, 2021

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