Dylan in Developmental Kindergarten—hatching chicks
Teachers look for treasure. Not the typical chests filled with gold, but the gems found within their students. Children enter kindergarten as diamonds in the rough and as the matte finish begins to wear off, the shine emerges. Children begin to gain confidence and their friendships blossom as they share experiences, learn, and grow together. My first developmental kindergarten class in 2006 was a group of five-year-old individualists who especially enjoyed “free choice,” the time of the day when they self-selected activities and tended to group themselves according to shared interests.
Augie in costume!
I have a strong memory of a group of boys who sat together during free choice to draw maps of their own creation. These were treasure maps and were detailed with paths, obstacles and, of course, the X marking the location of the treasure. I was fascinated, not only with the emerging imaginations, but with their never-ending interest in treasure maps.
The immediate reward for me as their teacher, was watching these young students interact, and now as their former teacher, another reward is watching them travel on their own paths, discovering their treasure. Dylan and Augie were two of the five-year-old students huddled together drawing maps.
Dylan Fox Williams, 20, culminated in 2012
The friends that I made at Topanga Elementary remain my friends and played a huge role in shaping the person I’ve become today. While I was there, I remember particularly loving the theater program. I think the plays we put on every year were probably the first things that allowed me to really try and step out of my comfort zone and use art to express myself. Specifically, I have a lot of great memories from one of the first musicals I was in, Seussical. I was only in first grade and I didn’t have a very big part (Yertle the Turtle), but I remember feeling so proud and accomplished after every performance.
Augie and Dylan-Best Buds!
I’m studying film at Syracuse University in hopes of eventually writing and directing movies. I’m currently taking a gap year to focus on writing and producing my own music, which you can find on Spotify and Apple Music (my band is called The Lloyds and my solo stuff is under the name Dylan Fox).
Perhaps in part, as a result of the positive experiences I had in the Topanga Elementary theater program, I’ve always had a passion for telling stories. I really like the way it makes me feel when I see that something I’ve created is having an impact on others. I love that, both in my music and my filmmaking, I’m able to pursue that goal to my heart’s content and collaborate with others who share that passion. The arts being a valid career path that I can strive towards is something I’m grateful for every single day.
August (Augie) Isaac, 20, culminated in 2012
I remember the theater program especially and spending every day after school singing and dancing and acting with my closest friends. It molded me into the person I am today and helped me discover my passion for acting and creating! I specifically remember Mrs. Weisberg and Mr. Harrell. They always cultivated such a safe positive space and I always had the most fun times with them. They were my first two teachers ever! I also found my best friend for life, Dylan Williams there. We still spend so much time together and has been my closest pal and creative collaborator. He always pushes me to higher heights and inspires me.
I’m currently in film school at Chapman University. I’ve also been a professional actor for the past decade, working on and off on different projects. I feel so lucky to be able to comfortably pursue a path in the arts, because nothing makes me feel as good as when I’m creating!
Augie and Dylan today
Watching Dylan and Augie cultivate such a long-lasting friendship and follow their creative dreams has been such a great experience for me as their former teacher. Their strong, early educational foundation gave them confidence along with friendship and the strong theater program at Topanga Elementary Charter School ignited their passion for performing and creating. Both Dylan and Augie started performing when they were young actors in the TECS musicals and continued in middle school when they collaborated to create a YouTube Channel, 240 Reviews, and continued performing at Calabasas High School in the theater department. Dylan participated in the Arts, Media and Entertainment program and Augie was active in the renown music program, including the acapella group, Unstrumental. Now, they are furthering their education and continuing on their creative journey. I am so excited to see where their paths take them!
If you are a TECS alumni with a story to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear about what you are doing!