Topanga Mountain School

knowledge naturally

A unique and innovative program that provides for a solid academic foundation in core subjects, inspires a love of learning and cultivates compassionate, well-rounded citizens.

Mountain Mail: 9/18/18

Dear Families,

The school year is now truly underway. Students are following their schedules and diving into their academic classes. The energy has shifted from the more collective team building and exploring of the new school year that dominated last week, into a purposeful and focused rhythm.

Now is the time to start asking to see your child’s homework planner and to check in with them about their classes. Your child has their schedule in their binder and this will give you a sense of what to expect when. Things to take note of:

What day does your child have “sports”? Make sure they are wearing the right gear, or have it with them, so they can fully participate.

Once a week classes like Geography and Spanish often need an extra reminder to bring in homework etc.

Remember our schedule only has Monday, Tuesday and Thursday on it. The Wednesday “Mind and Body” schedule which will start on the 26th will be on next week’s MM.

Keep reading there is a lots to cover… but first, here are a few photos of our first full week!

GRATITUDE - a great thing to start and end every day with! Thanks to Steve Ackrich who stealthily came in while we were out hiking on Friday and made our wood patio table look like new!!


Our LUNCH program is underway and Deborah Ackrich provided us with a wonderful repast today. Deborah will cook for us every Tuesday.

The parent provided lunch has now changed to Thursday. Look for a sign up genius from Lori Mellman - thank you Lori for taking this on. Please sign up for your date of choice. If you signed up at Parent Orientation you will need to add your name again and confirm that Thursday works for you.

Follow Up on Kid's’ Brains and Screens

Last night Liz and I attended the talk at New Roads School. We were disappointed in the evening, the speakers were not particularly engaging nor shared any information that we did not already know. As always what we did hear confirmed that we have it right at TMS. However, I do think the conversation about smartphones, games and all things related is a very necessary dialog for the well being of our children and one that we should engage in together. There will be a lot more on this subject in weeks to come.

Parent Volunteer Opportunities

There are still some key jobs that we need your help with. Now you have settled down into the school year are you ready to volunteer? We really need to fill our Hospitality as well as a Harvest Festival Chair spots. Maybe call a friend and sign up together. We need you!!

This is also the time when we pick up steam and there is lots of information to share.

Coming up - this week

Wednesday - Tomorrow

NO SCHOOL - Yom Kippur

Thursday - Director’s Tea #1 @ 2pm Room 10

We all the happenings at the beginning of school it seemed logical to move this month’s tea to this week. Please join me (RSVP requested) for a simple get together: afternoon tea, coffee and light refreshment will be served. We can come up with subjects we would like to cover over the year, think of speakers we would like to engage, and generally get up to date on life in school and at home. Subjects already on the table to cover - diet and technology. Parenting isn’t always easy - but it helps when we do it together!!

Friday field trip - The Getty

Drop off and pick up at school. 8:15am and 3:30pm respectively. Please make sure your child has a full water bottle, healthy snacks and packed lunch.

Coming up - next week

I will be out of town from Saturday through Wednesday. I will still be answering emails but school will be in the capable hands of our amazing staff. Please turn to Liz for anything pressing.

Thursday 27 - Friday 28 Camping at Thornhill Broom.

We are so looking forward to our first overnight adventure with this stellar bunch of kids! Look for the email later this week with all the camping information. There will be papers to sign, a packing list and all your questions answered.

Mark your calendars for these October dates

Thursday October 4th @ 7pm - Back to School Night

Sunday October 7th @ 9am - 1st TMS Community Hike - Topanga State Park. Stayed tuned for details!

Thursday October 11th 2pm - Director’s Tea #2 Room 10

Tuesday October 16th - Prospective Parent Orientation 9:30am - Room 10

Monday 22nd - Friday 26 - Camping Montana de Oro

Mountain Mail: 9/11/18

Hi Everyone,

Last week we had a wonderful start to the school year. The group quickly bonded and found their stride. It feels like they’ve always been together!

Wednesday was spent on campus finding out fun facts about the staff, as well as mapping where we all live and important places in our everyday lives. Thursday took us out and about in a scavenger hunt of Woodland Hills and Topanga checking out those places, and Friday we hit the town, traveling on the Metro, exploring downtown Los Angeles and experiencing the city we live in.


Now we are back on campus and settling into routines.


We had a wonderful lunch provided for us today by our first parent chef! Thank you for a delicious and wholesome meal, Shannon Meyers (Eden’s mom).


Students supplies were also requested for today. Many students did not bring in the items on the list. Please make sure you have all your supplies at school asap. We all use them, we all share them, and it is important for everyone to contribute to the whole. This collective and community approach is at the core of TMS, please make sure you have contributed fully.

TMS Required Supply List 2018-19

Please bring the following to school on Tuesday September 11th (not before).

1- 2” Three Ring Binder2- Pack 5 Tab Dividers
1 – (5) Pack Black or Blue Report Covers
1- Pack College Ruled Paper
1- Basic Calculator
1- Pencil Case (for Three Ring Binder if desired)
2- Boxes of #2 pencils or mechanical pencils
2- Box of Colored Markers / Colored Pencils
1 -Pack assorted highlighters
3- Erasers
1– 12” Ruler
1 Sketchbook (minimum 50 pages, minimum dimension 6”x 8”) – NEW STUDENTS ONLY


Tomorrow - Wednesday

A day in the classroom.. TMS tenets, technology use, mentor & mentee luncheon: bring your own packed lunch. And much more!


More time on campus. Intro to classes, Spanish, math placement, intro to council. Hot lunch: Thai take out!

Friday- SolsticE Canyon.

Students will hike in beautiful Solstice Canyon. 8th grade lay a Scavenger hunt for 6th & 7th graders as we head out on our first hike of the school year.

Packed lunch, snacks, 2 full water bottles, sunscreen, and appropriate footwear is a must.

Start the day at either School at 8:15am or Pine Tree Circle at 8:45am.

Pick up at end of day Pine Tree Circle 3:15pm or at School at 3:30pm.

Happenings in our community

I wanted to share with you a couple of events that may be of interest to you or your children.


On Monday 17th I am attending a talk at New Roads school hosted by Paula Poundstone titled Kids’ Brains and Screens.

The more we know, the better equipped we are to guide. Here is the link if anyone is interested in joining me.



Our local TYS is once again hosting a talent show. TMS students have had a lot of fun with this in the past. And thankfully now we won’t be camping for show date!

Mountain Mail: 9/3/18

Dear Families, 

I hope you all had a wonderfully relaxing weekend and didn't do anything that even vaguely resembled labor!!  

Before we know it Wednesday will be upon us and this school year will start in earnest. If last week is anything to go by I am sure we are going to have loads of fun and lots of great times. Your children came together so seamlessly at beach day, it was really a delight!



I am so glad many of you got an opportunity to get to know each other at Ann and Vince's home. Thank you to that lovely pair for their generosity and graciousness. And added thanks to Deborah Ackrich for leading the fun and games! 

Thanks are also in order to all of you for your patience  on Thursday evening; it is a long winded affair but hopefully many of your questions were answered - and maybe some new ones were generated. Remember, we are always available, don't be afraid to ask if you need any clarifications.

Gratitude is definitely in order for the hardworking crew that showed up ready and willing to get things done on Friday. You really made a difference. Many, many thanks! 

Now lets get to the moment we've all been waiting for, the first week of school! 


Please enter school by the gate on Oxnard Street. This is our main entrance for drop off and pick up. The gate on Shoup is locked when school is in session. 

The Oxnard gate will open at 8:00am. 

Circle begins on the patio at 8:15am.

Liz and I will set up a booth by the parking lot and be available to collect forms and answer questions between 8:00 - 8:15am.  

Please remember - bring all completed forms with you that morning. We need to compile emergency packets before we take your child out and about on Thursday.

Students should not bring any of their school supplies until Tuesday 11th. 


Topanga: Andrew will start carpool Wednesday. Meet at Pine Tree Circle outside Waterlily, carpool departs at 7:50am with a stop at Santa Maria road at 7:55am. Many of you may prefer to take your child to the first day - and that is fine. We will formalize, collect payments and confirm spots later. You won't lose your spot if you don't use it on this first day. 

Valley: Katie will not run carpool this Wednesday but will start on Thursday. She will be writing to those interested to define pick up locations and times. 

Lunch Program

We will NOT be serving a hot lunch for these first three days of school. Please make sure your child brings a good lunch from home, snacks and their full water bottle.

Lunch program will begin  on Tuesday 11th and lunch cards can be purchased from the office:     10 meals = $100.  Cards will be kept at school and punched as used. 

First Three Days

These first three days of school are spent getting to know each other and our environment. This is an important time as we set the tone for the school year and get the children comfortable with each other, their teachers and our program. 


We will be on campus all day. Scavenger hunt, map making, teacher interviews and portraits and lots of other good fun! Pick up at 3:30pm.


We will be exploring some of our often frequented haunts in Topanga and Woodland Hills.  We will end our day at Warner Ranch Park, Woodland Hills at the corner of Califa and Owensmouth. Califa runs between Topanga Canyon Blvd and Canoga. Owensmouth runs parallel and between them. 

Please pick your child up at Warner Ranch Park at 3:30pm.  

Students will purchase their TAP cards ready to ride the Metro the next day, If your child has one have them bring it with them. Each student needs $5 so that they can load their card.


We head out to experience the delights of LA's public transport system and explore downtown LA. 

Drop off is early at Warner Ranch Park at 8:00am (Thursday is a good trial run!) We take the Metro from the transit center on Owensmouth. The early start is necessary in order to make our connections in time. 

Students may bring money (max $20) to buy lunch - or they can bring their own packed lunch. They will not be allowed to spend money on anything other than lunch.

Pick up is at Warner Ranch Park at 4:00pm. (Extend time is needed in order to make our day). 

Please make sure your child has a full water bottle, good footwear, light weight clothing, sunscreen/hat etc. 

Peace ~ Joy

Mountain Mail: 8/26/18

Hi Everyone, 
Here we are in our final days of summer vacation! I know for many of you with children in other schools you are already adjusting to the pace of a new school year. I hope those transitions have gone well for your family. And that your TMS students are prepping and excited about returning too. This is my last official day of summer break; as a staff we return to campus  tomorrow. I know it will certainly require an effort on my part to get myself up and moving in the early hours!

There are a few things I would like to address before this week is over in order to give us all time to organize for next week. 

Summer Reading

As summer comes to an end now would be the time to check in with your child and make sure they are on track to complete their summer reading requirements. As part of the online forum for their Restart reading I have seen much of the discussion that students have participated in and it has been a pleasure to witness their engagement.  I also know though that many have yet to join in. Help your student get off to a successful start by encouraging their involvement.

Click here for the .pdf with details and book lists


A new updated calendar will be in your Parent Handbook that you will receive next week, but until then please note this important change. 

Montana de Oro Camping
Monday October 22nd - Friday October 26th

Calendar dates for this upcoming week

This upcoming week we will have several opportunities to spend time together!! I am so looking forward to connecting. 

  • Wednesday - Student Beach Day and Parent Get-together. (See below)

  • Thursday - Parent Orientation Meeting.                                                                    Refreshment served from 6:30pm.  Meeting starts at 7:00pm.

  • Friday - Campus Clean-up and Beautification Day. 9:00am onwards

An email will follow next week with more details of Thursday and Friday's events but before then we need to get organized for our first two events on Wednesday.

Please read all the information that follows and then answer these questions and submit this form:

Name *

Student Get-Together/Beach Day
Wednesday 29th 1:00 - 3:30pm

Topanga State Beach

  • We will gather at Topanga State Beach just north of the canyon.
  • If dropping off, there is a parking lot (opposite The Reel Inn), but also plenty of free street parking. 
  • You will find us at to the right of the bathrooms at the bottom of the stairs from the parking lot north of Topanga Canyon Blvd. You can't miss us - the beach is small there and we will have awnings up for shade. 
  • We will supply healthy snacks and lemonade.
  • Water bottles, ready filled, are a good idea. 
  • Students will need sunscreen/hats and beach-shoes (the sand can be very hot).
  • We need you to sign in and give contact info as you drop off your child (school and beach).
  • If you need your child brought from the valley, vans will be leaving school (Oxnard parking lot) promptly at 12:15pm. There will be limited seating so please RSVP (see above) if your child needs a spot.
  • We will circle up at the beach no later than 1:15pm. Please do not be late. It makes it more difficult to comfortably join in once we have begun and can create anxiety for the child. 
  • TMS offers a shuttle for your child to the Lombardo’s house or back to school at the end of beach day. However, we  do need to know how many vans we will need - so please RSVP (see above).

FYI - this is a time for your children to meet and play together at the beach, students are not allowed in the water during their time with TMS. Parents sometimes will come for pick up to supervise their own children's ocean cravings!

This event is for TMS students only - you get your own party!


Parent Get-together
Wednesday 29th 1:30pm - 4:30pm

The Lombardo’s Home
21324 Hillside Drive
Topanga 90290
(310) 455-2006 

After dropping off your child at the beach or school, TMS parents are invited to come together at Ann and Vince Lombardo's home (Lucy's parents) in Topanga. Directions attached.

This is not only a wonderful opportunity to meet everyone, but for some of you it may the first drive up to the Mesa where we hold our Wednesday classes. For those of you who haven't been before it will be great to have tackled the drive up to the mesa now - because it won't be your last time!

Parking is limited in the Lombardo driveway so please park on Hillside and walk in. Make sure your car is off the road as much as possible. Carpooling is always a good idea! I will send directions next week nearer the time. 

Thank you Ann and Vince for opening your home to us once again. Refreshments will be served. Find out about our parent organization The Mountain Movers. Kirsty Iredale, our ceramic’s teacher will be there for you try out the clay too. 

Don't forget to answer the question above! Thank you. And see you all next week.

Peace ~ Joy








Topanga Mountain School  |  5920 Shoup Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 91367  |  818.346.8355