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Colfax History

Rooted in Valley Village!

Property Before School BuiltColfax was built in 1950 on what was once a 10-acre arboretum. Tree lovers and environmentalists at the time protested the building of the school, declaring that the loss of 1500 trees would impact the neighborhood quail, birds, and squirrels that lived on the property. Dr. A.F. Schiffman, owner of the property, planted and cared for over 200 species of trees since he purchased the land in 1902. After much public debate and with the support of neighborhood families, the Los Angeles Unified School District moved forward to build Colfax and agreed to save as many of the mature trees as possible. Colfax families and staff have taken up this torch and fight for the  proper maintenance and preservation of our beloved trees at every opportunity.

The trees that remain on the campus today are symbolic of our history and they create an idyllic school setting that embodies the school's motto "Rooted in Education and Reaching for the Stars." Our school colors, Green (trees) and Yellow (stars) reinforce our motto every day. In 1951 Colfax Elementary opened its doors to 849 students with Principal Francis Pfortner as the school's leader. The local neighborhood community has always supported Colfax. The school is a community hub and a source of pride for Valley Village homeowners.  

PrincipalThe school's first Principal, Mrs. Pfortner, is legend among Valley Village residents who attended Colfax in the 50's and 60's. She served as the school's leader for 16 years until 1966. Her dream of having a proper school library would not be realized until 2002 when parents and then Principal Joanie Freckmann raised $10,000 to turn two classrooms into the current day Wonder of Reading Library. With the support of former student, Tony Walker, who currently lives across the street, the library opened it's doors and was named the Francis Pfortner Library.

The 70's and 80's were a time of transition and change for Colfax. After the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake and as part of Integration programs, Colfax received students from Hoover Street Elementary in Los Angeles. This began a long standing tradition at Colfax that all children learn best in diverse classrooms. The school’s educational program continues to serve students of all abilities, ranging from those who are eligible for special education, academically low-achieving, English learners, gifted, and highly gifted children. Our kindergarten teachers are accustomed to welcoming children with varied preschool experiences and a full spectrum of multicultural exposure, English-learning, social orientation and special education needs.

The 90s brought a significant change in Colfax's trajectory with the incorporation of PACE (Parents Association Colfax Elementary in 1991. The formation of this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization as a booster club for Colfax ushered in an important time of growth, access to additional resources and new enrichment programs and staff. Over the past three decades, PACE has fundraised millions of dollars to benefit our school and students. With PACE also came the Colfax World Fair, our premiere community event of the year and a tentpole fundraiser for our school.

In 2006, Colfax earned California Distinguished School status for the first time. In 2010 and 2018, the school again earned this high honor, a testament to our extraordinary teachers and staff. In October 2019, Colfax Charter teachers and students completed the Common Sense Digital Citizenship curriculum and became a Digital Citizenship Certified School. To learn more about how to encourage good digital citizenship in your family, you can find more resources here. Colfax continues to be recognized as one of the most outstanding elementary schools in Los Angeles and was ranked in U.S. News & World Report as the 13th best elementary school in LAUSD and the 17th best charter school in all of California in 2021.

In 2022, Colfax was one of only two LAUSD elementary schools to earn the honor of National Blue Ribbon School from the U.S. Department of Education. This high honor, given only to 29 schools in California and 297 schools nationwide, celebrates the outstanding efforts of those who work everyday to make Colfax a wonderful, enriching place to learn. Our principal, Eddie Gorton, said it best: “This award speaks to the tremendous educational environment we have created here at Colfax Charter Elementary School. I could not be more proud of our exemplary faculty, amazing students and supportive parents who all work tirelessly to create a one-of-a-kind learning community for all.”

The teachers, families and staff of Colfax are dedicated to the academic and personal success of all students. We strive to prepare our students to face a future filled with ever-changing challenges by providing them with a curriculum that integrates technology, the arts and environmental sustainability. Together we enable each child to aspire to his/her highest potential in a safe and caring environment.

Parents are a driving force at Colfax. They actively participate in numerous ways that directly impact student achievement. In 2008, Colfax became the first affiliated charter in the San Fernando Valley, giving our parents and staff increased independence over our core school programs and policies through the Local School Leadership Council (LSLC). In addition to serving on LSLC, Colfax parents volunteer in classrooms, work on committees and raise funds to provide enrichment during and outside of the instructional day for all students. Our booster club, PACE (Parents Association Colfax Elementary) celebrated its 30th year of fundraising excellence in 2021! Our PTA (Parent Teacher Association) is an integral part of our school, supporting our teachers and students through important initiatives and programs all year long.


1951-1966 Francis Pfortner became the first principal

1966-1971 Claire Becker 

1971-1981 Mr. Vradenberg

1982-1985 Mr. Gordon

1986-1989 Pauline Stovall

1990-1996 Elizabeth Norton Douglas

1996-1999 Shirley Dirado

1999-2008 Joanie Freckmann

2008-2015 Susana Gomez-Judkins

2015-2020 Robyn Friedman

2020-present Eddie Gorton



California Distinguished School