TECS Sets an Exciting Lineup for School Year

TECS News TeamBy TECS News Team      September 2, 2022

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TECS Sets an  Exciting Lineup for School Year
Photos by Martina Paradiso Rylie Applegate leads the Pledge of Allegiance alongside Principle Kevin Kassebaum.
Students, staff, and parents have returned to Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS) filled with excitement and optimism as they begin the new school year. The mood among the returning school community is calmer and more positive than a year ago, as Covid-19 fears continue to subside for most families. TECS Principle Kevin Kassebaum is encouraged by the outlook for the year ahead. “We are seeing an increase in student enrollment, parents are eager and willing to volunteer their time, while our teachers and staff work collaboratively to ensure we provide meaningful instruction to all students,” he said. The first sign of bouncing back could be seen at the “Prep and Polish” event, the annual curtain-raiser where students and parents met their new teachers for the first time. Last year, this event was held on the sidewalk outside of the school gates. But this time, families were able to explore the TECS campus and visit their classrooms. The first assembly of the school year was another example of the community coming together again. All parents are welcome to join the weekly gathering that takes place in the school courtyard at 8 a.m. every Friday. Many were in attendance for the first of the year as second grader Rylie Applegate led the Pledge of Allegiance in front of her fellow students. “I’ve learned all the words from listening in assembly,” said Rylie, eight. “It’s kind of like a poem about the American flag.” Topanga Enrichment Programs (TEP), the school’s booster club, are continuing their important work funding instructors and initiatives that LAUSD funding doesn’t cover. Among the important resources paid for by TEP are the instructional aides for classrooms, and the specialist science, art, and physical education teachers who benefit every child in the school. These expert staff wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of TECS families who are asked to donate $1200 per child to the Giving Fund for the school year ahead. This is a return to the figure asked of parents before the Covid-19 lockdowns, to help TEP reach their $235,000 annual budget target. This is a guide, not a requirment, and families are asked to donate whatever they can afford. TEP also raises money from a series of fundraisers throughout the year. Among the first TEP events of this school year is an adult-only Casino Night, to be hosted at Froggy’s on September 24. Other events arranged by TEP focus on building community spirit and giving back, like the Back to School Picnic scheduled for September 15, and the annual Topanga Beach Cleanup, to be held on September 17, which is California Coastal Cleanup Day. This year’s new TEP president Bridget Cook, whose son Booker is in fifth grade, said: “We’re hoping this year will offer more opportunities to come together as a community to enjoy the wonderful canyon we’re lucky to call home, and to raise money to improve the opportunities of our children at our fantastic school.” Those wanting to donate to TEP can do so at topangaelementary.org, or learn more about TEP by visiting topangaelementary.org/tep; or tepboard@topangaelementary.org.
New science teacher Jeffrey Esparza works with a small group of TECS pupils, including third grade student Benicio Dibos seated next to Esparza.
New Science Teacher Lands
at TECS
Jeffrey Esparza, a passionate biologist and ecologist, has joined TECS as a science teacher this school year. He has previously worked at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and at the California Science Center, sharing his wisdom with guests via their education programs. He will be teaching specialist science lessons with every child in the school’s dedicated science classroom. He is also looking forward to utilizing the school’s unique setting surrounded by wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains, which includes five acres of oak woodland and nature trails.

“It’s a very special campus with great opportunities for learning from an ecological perspective,” said Jeffrey. “There’s just so much life here. I’ve already seen turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks, and there are lots of other cool animals around, which is so inspiring
for me.”

Esparza has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, as well as a Masters in Biology, from California State University, Northridge.

Jeffrey’s hiring is being funded by TEP, with outgoing Science Committee chairs Kent Hill and Alisa Land Hill instrumental in his recruitment. Kent and Alisa have been among the school’s most active parents in recent years, supporting the science curriculum and co-organizing events like the annual Science Fair, Raptor Day, and Butterfly Day. They have also been central to establishing native plant gardens, including butterfly microhabitats, on campus.

Kent and Alisa are now moving on, and everyone at TECS is incredibly grateful for their contributions over the years. Anyone with an interest in joining the Science Committee and building on their vital work should email tepboard@topangaelementary.com.

Join the TECS News Team
We are looking for TECS students to join our news team, and help us to cover school events for The Canyon Chronicle, whose editor and fellow journalists welcome students and offer guidance to those interested in submitting written reports and photography. Contact tepboard@topangaelementary.com.
TECS News Team
      September 2, 2022

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