Expressing Our Gratitude

Amy Weisberg, M.E.

The week of November 26, Topanga Elementary School students and staff were able to return after a week of Canyon and school evacuation. We were all happy to return, to see each other and to return to our normal routine.

The first activity in many classrooms was to allow the children to share about their evacuation experience. Some children stayed with family or friends, others in hotels or Airbnbs, and although most made the best of the time, all of us were thinking of our Canyon and so grateful to be back when the evacuation was lifted.

When my Transitional Kindergarten/Kindergarten class got together with our Big Buddies, Ms. Talon’s fourth grade class, the children worked together to make thank you cards for the firefighters at Station 69. The students dictated their thank-you wish and the older children wrote it for them. They worked together to draw a picture on the front of the card.

Mrs. Tobisman’s second grade made a banner that said, “Thank You Firefighters!” and each child wrote a message on the back of each letter. She said, “My kids weren’t too scared. They were telling me how they went to different locations but never felt too nervous.”

The fifth grade made a book for the firefighters, Ms. Harlow’s fourth grade made cards, and Mr. Harrell’s class made pictures. Mrs. Welch’s third grade watched Mystery Doug’s video, Why is it so hard for firefighters to put out wildfires?  and had discussion breaks throughout the video to answer questions.

“The kids expressed gratitude for some of our everyday heroes,” she said.

Ms. Galindo’s kindergarten from Room 2 signed “thank you” posters which were made by one of their families. “The entire class signed all three posters and we took a picture with the posters so the firefighters of station 69 could see the little friends who are so thankful and grateful for all the firefighters who saved many lives, homes, and pets,” she said.

Mrs. Kort’s kindergarten made cards. Ms. Chatham and Mrs. De la O had discussions in their class. Ms.Winikoff’s first grade made a poster expressing their thanks.  

“In class we discussed how thankful we were for the first responders,” Ms. Winikoff said. “The students had a chance to share their feelings about being evacuated and gratitude that their homes and families are safe. We created a poster in which students traced their hands and wrote a few sentences to the firemen. A few students expressed that they were worried about their homes and very happy the firemen protected their houses. It was very sweet to see the students expressing their emotions.”

All of the teachers and staff felt it was important to allow the children to have the opportunity to discuss their experience with their friends and to process the evacuation and close proximity of the fires.

We are very grateful that our Canyon stayed safe and especially grateful to the first responders who kept us safe.


Amy Weisberg

Amy Weisberg M.Ed., LAUSD Teacher of the Year 2019 and LACOE Teacher of the Year 2019- 2020—A mother with three grown daughters and a teacher with 40 years’ experience, consults with teachers and parents, as well as provides support for students. For more information:;

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