Teachers College Community School
Multiracial student body
Some inexperienced staff
Teachers College Community School, opened in 2011, has attracted a multiracial group of parents hungry for an alternative to West Harlem's mostly low-performing schools. The school has an engaged parent body that includes both professional and working-class families. Whatever the school's struggles—and there are many—these parents are committed to making the school successful.
Founded as a partnership between Teachers College at Columbia University and the city DOE, Teachers College Community School (TCCS) is finding its way after a tough spell that included the death of the founding principal, a testing scandal, significant teacher turnover, and several dozen parents' withdrawing their children. While some parents are confident the school is moving in the right direction, others complain that neither Teachers College nor the DOE district office has offered adequate support during a difficult time.
The school has a few seasoned, master teachers—and some who are still learning their craft. On our visit we saw some classes with lively projects and engaged kids. But others had drill-and-kill lessons we associate with the most rigid charter schools.
Nancy Streim, Teachers College associate vice president for community partnerships, said in a telephone interview that the university is "100% committed" to providing support to TCCS, including staff developers and graduate students who run the school's music, art, and science programs. She said staff developers are "working with the newer teachers," including some who previously taught at charter schools, to train them in the Teachers College methods.
Michelle Verdiner, named principal in fall 2015, has her work cut out for her, but if she manages to restore the trust of parents battered by the turmoil of the past years, this could be a school to watch.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes. On our visit, we observed many children had one-on-one attention from teachers and aides.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery; preference to siblings and students from districts 5 and 6. (Clara Hemphill and Mahalia Watson, January 2016; updated August 2016)
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Manhattan NY 10027