New Arts Teacher at TECS

All those amazing fundraisers that Topanga Enrichment Programs (TEP) put on—the community Halloween Carnival and the “Kid Zone” at Topanga Days, to name a few—are to help subsidize Topanga Elementary Charter School’s (TECS) “giving fund.”

TEP provides things that Title 1 (low-income) schools may get automatically through government grants, but here at Topanga, it is a core group of parents that year-in and year-out cheerlead the rest of us to open our checkbooks and help support the school in its fundraising goals. Anyone who has a child at the school and gives a dollar automatically becomes a member of TEP.

What many may not know is that you don’t have to have a child at the school to give a meaningful donation. TEP is always interested in discussing opportunities to sponsor programs and give meaningful gifts that benefit all of the community’s kids. If you have a desire to support children and your local community in your year-end giving, TEP is a 501(c)3 and all donations and matching gifts are tax deductible.

Much as we may all wish that a public school like TECS automatically included Science, Technology, and Arts, the truth is, for a community school like Topanga, whose children have so many advantages, the enrichments that we all wish to have actually come from the amazing parents doing community fundraising and digging deep to ensure that these positions are funded. Some things that TEP funds are not programs at all but essentials such as support staff, teachers’ aides, and a class-reduction teacher. Other money is directed towards enrichment programs. 

Topanga Elementary now has an art teacher to add to the enrichment staff of Science and Technology through Planet Bravo. Teachers love bringing art into their classrooms through projects they do throughout the year but this new program, with an art room and an additional staff member, is focused on taking the children out of their classrooms and into a dedicated space where they can fully engage in a deeper way with their creativity. 

The teacher, Ms. Randy Butler, grew up in a musical home. “My father is a musician,” she explains, “so creative expression has always been a driving force in my life. I found my love for art in college. 

“My first impression of the students and community at TECS has been one of absolute admiration,” she said. “I’ve not seen a public school show such care and nurture for creative learning and art. The kids have been so excited to have a space of time to explore their own creativity and I’ve enjoyed seeing the talent flow into their work. 

“It’s the parents and staff, too,” she said. “I’ve been welcomed and feel an overwhelming amount of support. I’m happy just to be here. There is nothing more rewarding than giving a child the gift of learning, and being able to combine that with my love of art.”



On November 22, the Friday assembly was granted a post-performance musical serenade of “Revolting Children” from Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, directed by Kristy Beauvais and produced by Jill Williams, both of whom have older children that are TECS alumnae as well as current students. The cast of Matilda had been heroically rehoused by the generosity of Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum after their Saturday performance at the Topanga Community House was suddenly interrupted by evacuation when a fire broke out nearby on November 16. 

Of the Matilda cast of 35 student-actors, from six schools, 14 of the children are students at TECS and at Friday’s assembly they gleefully gathered and performed a song from the show that had the kids and parents clapping along.

It was also a lovely way for the formal announcement of the school’s musical, CATS, which is also produced by FOCUSfish as part of TECS after-school enrichment programming.

The dates for auditions are December 16, 17, and 18, and the performances are slated for March 13-15, 2020. This great after-school program that has been put on with incredible parent support for many years, made up of makeup artists, stage hands, set designers and sound engineers, to make the most incredible and amateur/professional performances you get to see at an elementary school level. These are some amazingly talented kids, fostered by an incredibly artistic canyon community. 


By TECS News Team


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