Looking Ahead at Topanga Elementary Charter School

The environment and nature study are an important piece of the TECS curriculum. Photo by Kent Hill

After five years at Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS), Principal Steven Gediman has moved on. The parents and staff are grateful to him for making a smooth transition to our Interim Principal, Ms. Elizabeth Abramowitz.

Mr. Gediman loved our school, embraced our campus, and will be remembered for developing our woodland trails with assistance from parent volunteers and a local scout group, and for restoring the Nature Education amphitheater.

From his pinky wave to his Friday assemblies with jazz playing in the background, Mr. Gediman will be missed as a model of kindness for our children. There were many ways that he “spoke kid,” and while he valued both his staff and the parent body, he always maintained that the school’s greatest asset was its kids.

We are thankful to him for the dedication with which he served our students. Even as he took up his new position, Mr. Gediman took the time to share his proudest accomplishments.

“Reflecting on my five years as principal at TECS brings back a torrent of memories: The Good: our wonderfully inquisitive students, talented teachers, and an involved and engaged parent community; The Bad: traffic, floods, and scary nearby fires; and The Ugly: I had no idea what a septic tank was until I took this job. There are so many more things to being a TECS principal than meets the eye!

“I am so grateful that under my five-year stewardship we rediscovered our nature trails. With the help of dedicated scientist/parents, my tenure at Topanga Elementary saw us begin to map our school trails, the inauguration of an annual Science Fair, and special events like Eclipse Day, P-22 Day, and Butterfly Day. I’m proud that I was the principal who saw the school become a certified wildlife habitat. Topangans are so very fortunate to live in the wild (yet in the middle of a big city), and I’m glad I played a part in passing that legacy on to our children.”

Elizabeth Abramowitz will remain as the Interim Principal until a permanent principal is selected. We sat down with her and learned she is a veteran of many schools, including Fairburn Elementary School on the Westside, where she served as the principal for 15 years. Abramowitz brings a wealth of experience with her, and Topanga Elementary is not entirely unfamiliar to her as she had mentored a former principal, Nicole Sheards.

“My first impression as a veteran principal, who has actually retired and come back, is that there is a lot of excitement here,” Abramowitz said. “There’s student excitement happening in the classes, there’s teacher excitement pulling in resources and instructional enrichment for students, and lots of parent excitement about building programs and strengthening the instructional program. It’s a wonderful school to be a part of.”

Abramowitz also introduced herself to the children on her first day, saying, “I don’t need a microphone,” she told the stunned students. “I have a New York outside voice.”

We are grateful to District West for finding such an experienced and popular principal to help us in this transition time. The district has sent surveys to parents about what they would like to see in their next principal, and we have worked together to build a vision of what a great fit for our school would look like. The parent community has expressed a clear desire to find an innovative leader, one who will be truly embraced by the children and parents of this wonderful canyon.

TECS is off to a flying start this school year with “Class Dinners,” the traditional potluck, parent-hosted evenings, where parents meet each other and divide all the behind-the-scenes duties.

The after-school enrichments are busily engaging a whole bunch of young learners in programs that include Orchestra, STAR Galaxy, and the latest addition, Kallpachay, an immersive Spanish program.

Our Community Events Calendar launches on Friday, October 4, with the Second Annual TECS Variety Show, organized by the parent-run Visual and Performing Arts Committee (VAPA). Even with over one hundred submissions this year, VAPA kept its promise to include every single student who submitted an entry. All grades will be represented!

Next up will be plantings in the Native Habitat gardens and Focus Fish has announced that the much beloved Spring Musical this year will be CATS.


Schoolhouse Scoop is written by a rotating body of parents in leadership positions at Topanga Elementary. These positions include board members of our school’s fundraising non-profit, Topanga Enrichment Programs (TEP), elected parent members of TECS’ governance arm, the Leadership Council, and parents who head up various enrichments and initiatives, such as the Science Committee, Visual and Performing Arts Committee, and Maker Club. All parent positions at TECS are volunteer.


By TECS News Team


No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.