It Takes a TEP Village

Amy Weisberg, M.E.

Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS) recently received a $2,214,351 in LAUSD funding for a project to install approximately 84,000 square feet of new paving including the playground areas, ADA compliance work and the installation of a new drainage system.

Though this was a project on the books with LAUSD, our Topanga Enrichment Program (TEP) Board members, specifically our Board President Sean O’Connor, has been involved, working with Principal Steve Gediman and LAUSD Facilities Manager John Napoli while the project was being considered.  Now the project is in its beginning planning stages and both TEP and the staff will have input into the creation of the new playground design.

TEP has many projects in the works for school improvement including refurbishing and updating our upper amphitheater with updated materials, which will be completed this month.

On another note, the Kindergarten children are looking forward to a brand new playhouse arriving in April. This project was a project paid for by contributing parents and TEP (!



Topanga Enrichment Programs is a non-profit fundraising group that enriches the children’s education beyond what LAUSD provides. Funds are raised through The Giving Fund that most families participate in, such as fundraisers, grants and community donations. Many of the TEP-funded programs enhance the Common Core Curriculum provided by the classroom teachers. Some involve parent volunteers and all provide the children with a high-caliber education.

TEP provides teachers’ aides who work in the classrooms lowering the teacher-student ratio, providing intervention instruction, playground supervision and supporting classroom instruction.

This year, a class size reduction teacher (CSR) has been hired to reduce the size of the fourth and fifth grade classes. In California, class size in fourth and fifth grades can be as high as 30 students, but at TECS the classes average 20 students per class. The learning environment is greatly enhanced by the lower class size.

TEP funds a Physical Education coach and each class has P.E. with our coach twice a week in addition to the instruction provided by classroom teachers. The coach teaches skills development, games and coordination skills. He also helps the fifth grade students complete their California Physical Education Test required by the California Department of Education. The year culminates with the much-anticipated Track & Field Day held at the Topanga Community Club.

TECS is proud to have a strong Science program enhanced by our science teacher.  The science program includes an outdoor science/hiking program, as well as a fully stocked science lab classroom.

Last year, TECS was designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. Our science teacher, working closely with TEP-supported Science Committee, is involved with the Fish and Game Department revamping the grounds with native plants and planting oak tree saplings. As a culminating science activity, a science fair is held each spring with judging the day after Open House.

Technology is a high priority at TECS and with the funding provided by TEP, classrooms have computers in addition to a computer lab used to teach all students computer skills. Planet Bravo, our computer teacher/curriculum providers, are funded by TEP. Students participate in a strong curriculum beginning with mouse and keyboard skills in Kindergarten and culminating with PowerPoint presentations and typed research papers in the fifth grade.

Topanga is a creative, artistic community and our school supports the arts through a docent-trained art program. In addition to the art curriculum provided by classroom teachers, TEP funds an art program that teaches parent-docents an art lesson that is then taught to the children. All students participate in art and enjoy the parent-led lessons.

Once a year, the Topanga Canyon Gallery exhibits art made by all children.  Additionally, a school play is cast, rehearsed and performed each spring. This year the Topanga Elementary Theater Arts (TETA) program produced Seussical, the Musical with more than 80 students participating.

Field Trips are provided for all classes and funded by TEP. Some of the curricular trips include educational trips to the zoo, local museums, theater performances, missions, and aquariums. Parent volunteers accompany the teachers and students on field trips and all fees and buses are paid for by TEP.

TEP has many opportunities for parent involvement and volunteers really help the program reach its goals. Elections for the TEP Board are held during Open House (this year on May 18) and all interested parents are encouraged to get involved!



Thank you to the TEP Board of parent-volunteers for hours of hard work and dedication to our school community. Thank you for the meetings, the e-mails and for being a visible front to the other volunteers who join you in the work it takes by our village to provide a school we are so very proud of.

Our school is so fortunate to have so many volunteers and the amazing programs they provide for the children. These programs, along with a supportive administration, an excellent teaching staff, strong support staff, motivated hardworking students and community support are what enable our school to be a high-performing, 10/10 rating: a highly desired school.

Some may call you “unsung heroes” but the whole community can sing your praises now!

The TEP Board (L-R): Lara Farasat-Board Member; Fuji Whittenburg-Treasurer; Jared Vest-Controller; Sean O’Connor-President; Nikki Hexum-Board Member; Lisa O’Connor-Board Member; Suzannah Tackett-Board Member; Jill Burgeson-Secretary; Stefanie Becker-Board Member; Mac Carter (not pictured) Board Member. Photo by Amy Weisberg


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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