Our last school year has been completed and we sit in the middle of summer. Soon it will be time to gear up for another year filled with learning, growing and community at Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS). As I reflect on the end of our last, very different school year, I am proud of how well we all (children and adults) transitioned to a different kind of learning, more than once. We started the year last August, with distance learning. Teachers spent the prior summer participating in professional development to learn new technologies and a different way to structure our school days. We searched for engaging materials and once school began, found ways to connect with our students and their families.
Learning on Zoom gave us a peek into our studentsâ€™ lives and gave parents a chance to experience school with their children. We all learned a lot. The children gained technology skills and, in many cases, surprised us with their expertise! Parents learned a lot about our curriculum. We all became partners in our studentsâ€™ success.
When we returned to in-person learning, we transitioned again. We learned to teach two cohorts of students (some remained on Zoom). We introduced different materials and navigated COVID safety protocols. We watched our children smile, laugh, and learn together. They were able to play together while staying safe. Children are so much more adaptable than adults! Their mask wearing became second nature and most needed no reminders.
In June, many were lucky to watch a heartfelt performance of Hamilton by the fifth graders at the Topanga Community Center and I heard wonderful comments about the culmination (sadly I was not able to attend as it took place during the school day). I did get to watch the traditional fifth-grade slide show, and that is when it hit me. Some of these families culminated their youngest student and would no longer be active TECS families! Though I know they will always feel the connection to our lovely school, and some will still volunteer sometimes, the majority will move on to involvement in the middle-school their child attends.
The students, too, will be spreading their wings and moving on to different schools. Some we will still see at the bus pick-up for Paul Revere middle school, at Food Truck Fridays, or around the community. But these families who have contributed so much, for so long are moving on.
Some of the parents of our culminating fifth graders went to TECS together and have been friends for many years. The involvement of these families over the years, has made TECS the fantastic school it is today. They have volunteered in the creation of our science program, including the outdoor education shared annually with Hart Street Elementary. They have served on the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program bringing the arts to our school through education and performance.
Our school musicals have a wide-spread reputation for professionalism. Our technology program has benefited from their expertise and their enthusiasm for fitness has encouraged the physical education program, including volunteer parents. They have been Topanga Enrichment Program (TEP) members and served on the Board and invaluable Leadership Council members making school-wide decisions and helping to write Charter applications.
These amazing parents have also hosted Teacher Appreciation Day (thank you!), cooked, and provided food for countless school events, worked booths at the Coyote Run, Halloween Carnival, and Track and Field Days. In years past, there were Pancake Breakfasts. The annual Silent Auction party and fundraiser is legendary!
A parent once told me her preschool told parents to â€śvolunteer until you resent it.â€ť These families stuck with our school, volunteering and supporting the students, teachers, staff, educational and extracurricular program for many years.
I looked at the list of fifth graders and remember their older siblings, and I remembered when they started school in my transitional kindergarten (TK) class and in kindergarten. I give my thanks on behalf of the TECS staff, to these amazing families. They are so appreciated and will be greatly missed!
* I attempted to create a legacy list of families that have contributed so much, but not wanting to overlook someone or have a name left off, decided to trust that those who contributed so much over so many years, know who they are. Our gratitude to you is never-ending.