West Harlem Local Development Corporation (WHLDC) delivered on a promise of the Community Benefits Agreement with the opening and expansion of the Teachers College Community School at its permanent West Harlem location. The milestone was marked by a grand opening celebration on Sept. 20, 2012.
The highlight of the festivities was a musical performance by first grade students singing “What a Wonderful World,” bringing many in the audience to tears. The celebration was a culmination of a quest started in 2009 when members of the WHLDC started searching for a model public school that would be progressive, non-discriminatory, family-supportive and integrated with a leading teaching university.
At the same time, Dr. Susan Fuhrman, the president of Columbia’s Teachers College, was looking to establish a public school in Harlem that would consistently benefit from the leading edge advances in teaching methods afforded by the college.
“What we see today at the Teachers College Community School is an excellent example of the rare moment when two visions intersect to become a reality to benefit a community,” WHLDC Board Chair Donald Notice said during the celebration ceremony. “We certainly can claim progress today for the benefit of West Harlem.”
Fitting with WHLDC’s slogan of “Solutions through Collaborations,” the progressive educational facility is the outcome of the collaboration of Community Board 9, WHLDC, Teachers College, Columbia University and the New York City Department of Education. WHLDC Executive Director Kofi Boateng was among the representatives of each of the groups that attended the ribbon cutting at the grand opening.
“This school honors the spirit of the Community Benefits Agreement with Columbia University, and its development is one that’s built on the principle of the development of the whole child,” said Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, Chair of CB9.
The Teachers College Community School is a progressive public school on the corner of Morningside Avenue and West 127th Street and the only university-assisted public elementary school in New York City. The school is equipped with a music room, an art and science room and a cafeteria with a demonstration kitchen among other great features.
Students are enrolled through a lottery system that pulls from the West Harlem community. The school started in a temporary location in 2011 and now has 36 pre-kindergarteners, 50 kindergarteners and 50 first graders. It will grow by one grade each year until it reaches its capacity of 300 students from pre-K through eighth grade.
Parents who watched their first graders sing raved about their children’s experience so far.
“I like that there is so much collaboration and they make us feel like we are part of the process,” said Shameika Freeman, mother of one of the first graders who sang at the ceremony. “Because of the collaboration with Teachers College, the children are bound to succeed. There’s no way they won’t be able to.”
Do you have a question, suggestion or comment for the WHDC? Contact Us!