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Teachers College Community School (TCCS)
Teachers College, Columbia University
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f.a.q. > frequently asked questions

frequently asked questions

What is the Teachers College Community School?

Teachers College and the New York City Department of Education opened a new public elementary school in September 2011. TCCS is a non-screened (i.e., non-selective) choice school, with admissions preference given to families living in Community School Districts 5 and 6. The vision of TCCS is to provide a dynamic learning environment that fosters children’s academic, social, emotional and physical development and attends to the important connections among children’s learning, health and family well-being.

When did the school open?

The school began with two classes of kindergarten students in September 2011.

Is the TCCS a charter school?

No. The Teachers College Community School is a DOE-managed public school that is strengthened by a special relationship with Teachers College.

Where is the school located?

The school opened for the 2012–13 school year at its permanent location, 168 Morningside Avenue between 126th and 127th Street.  For its first year, the DOE designated space within P.S. 133 Fred R. Moore School, at 5th Avenue and 130th Street. All admission application forms should be sent to: Community School Office, Teachers College at 525 West 120 Street, Box 49, NY, NY 10027

What are the features of the facility?

The former St. Joseph’s School of the Holy Family has been completely renovated by the School Construction Authority.  It includes classrooms and offices, as well as a music room, art and science room, library, combined gym/auditorium, cafeteria with a “demonstration” kitchen for teaching purposes and a soon-to-be remodeled playground.

What grades are included?

The school started in the 2012–12 school year with 50 students in each of two kindergarten and two first grade classes. It will grow by one grade each year through grade 5. Plans are under way to include grades 6-8. Pre-K was added in the 2012-13 school year.

Are there plans to increase TCCS from K-8 to 12th? If so when will that start and will that be in the same location?

TCCS will grow to become a PreK-8 school.  There are no plans to create a high school.

What will be unique about this school?

As a university-assisted school, TCCS is unique in benefitting from the expertise and resources of Teachers College in all aspects of its operation.  For example, its curriculum is selected by the school and TC together, TC participates in selection of teachers, and TC provides a wide range of academic enrichment experiences that complement the curriculum.  This year these include a supplemental math program that teaches math concepts through iPad games, a nutrition program that teaches healthy eating, and a robotics program. TC is providing teachers for the school’s art, music and physical education programs, which it otherwise would not be able to afford in the standard school budget. TC graduate students assist in classrooms and during the afterschool program.

What does "demonstration" mean?

TCCS is meant to demonstrate how bringing together the public school system and higher education can help ensure that children in diverse and under-resourced communities can get a rich and rigorous educational experience that prepares them for success in school and life.  TC is demonstrating how to create successful university-assisted public schools and would like to see other universities take up the same commitment in their own communities.

How was the community been involved in planning the school?

Teachers College energetically engaged in community consultation since planning began three years ago. Besides regular briefings with Community Board 9, the West Harlem Local Development Corporation and elected officials, TC and Community Board 9 co-hosted three Community Conversations in 2009 and 2010. More than 100 residents attended these events which were structured to gather constituents’ priorities for the new school. TC incorporated their recommendations into its plans for the school.

How are teachers hired?

Teachers at the TCCS are employees of the New York City Department of Education, selected by the school leader, DOE representatives and the UFT, in consultation with Teachers College. The hiring process identifies excellent educators whose experiences and skills best match the school's mission.

Does the school include special education students and English Language Learners?

TCCS is an inclusive school, and accepts students with a range of learning needs and language backgrounds. The school’s model of inclusion provides all students with a home base in a regular classroom, coupled with flexible services across a continuum of needs. TCCS has an ESL program that provides instruction in English with native language support.

How do I apply to have my child attend the Teachers College Community School?

The application process begins later in the academic year and the lottery will be held in the spring.

What is the role of Teachers College?

Teachers College supports the school in all aspects of development and operations. Through its faculty and students, TC enriches learning for children, staff and families. TC continually helps to design the curriculum and instructional programs, conduct professional development for teachers, and place mentors, tutors and interns in the school. TC provides access to College facilities such as libraries, laboratories and auditoriums. TC offers its clinical services to TCCS families, and partners with Columbia University and community-based organizations to facilitate access to other local services. TCCS classrooms serve as demonstration sites for innovations in teaching, and the school is a professional development site where learning is shared and extended across schools.
TCCS is consistent with the Community Benefits Agreement between Columbia and the West Harlem Local Development Corporation.

How much has been spent by TC so far in cash and in kind with respect to the $30 million commitment in the CBA?

These figures are being gathered now for our first report to Columbia University.

Does the opening of the school mean that TC will scale back its involvement in other area schools?

No. In fact, just the opposite will occur. The Teachers College Community School will anchor a consortium of Teachers College Partnership Schools, established through a recent Memorandum of Understanding between TC and the New York City Department of Education. Starting with seven schools, the consortium is expected to expand to as many as 12 schools in upper Manhattan. TC will focus additional resources into partnership schools in areas similar to services at TCCS.

What is Teachers College?

Teachers College, Columbia University is the largest and oldest graduate school of education in the United States;  it has a rich and distinguished record in the field of education. The College’s founding mission in 1887 was to bring educational opportunities to all members of society. Since then, it has been a major contributor to advancing educational practices and educational equity.

Why did Teachers College start a new public school?

In 2006, Teachers College made an institutional commitment to supporting NYC public schools. Teachers College believes that higher education institutions should apply its intellectual, human and financial resources to improve educational outcomes for the children and families in their own communities. The need for outstanding school options in West Harlem is well documented, and TC has the expertise and capacity to respond.

Why is TCCS a public (district) school as opposed to a charter school?

Teachers College is strongly committed to supporting and building strengths within the district school system and, through demonstration, creating replicable models of enterprise and innovation with the broadest possible appeal.

What is a community school?

Community schools bring an array of academic, social and health services into the school for the purpose of ensuring student learning and developing strong families and healthy communities. In our university-assisted community public school model, graduate student interns will supplement specialist services provided by the DOE. Out-of-school-time learning experiences are provided by TC and community-based organizations to complement classroom instruction and broaden learning opportunities for children and families.

How does TC work with existing area schools?

Teachers College works with hundreds of schools in New York City. The Reading/Writing Project is a premier provider of literacy curriculum and professional development.  Student teachers work in more than 100 New York City schools every year, and they receive the highest percentage of job offers by New York City schools among all the schools of education in the area. The College’s Office of School and Community Partnerships supports Harlem schools through professional development, curriculum enrichment, after school programming and much more. For more information visit The Office of School and Community Partnerships' website.

Is there a gifted and talented program?

It is the mission of the school to develop levels of academic achievement that meet or exceed state and national grade level standards for all students.  The learning needs of every child will be addressed within the regular academic program. By acknowledging the diverse needs of each student, and using the partnership with Teachers College to support the use of the most effective evidence-based practices, teachers work to ensure that learning is engaging, challenging, relevant and significant for all students.

What do we mean by focusing on global awareness?

The educational program of the school focuses on the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes that provide students the foundation to be successful global citizens in the 21st Century. Elements of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program are incorporated into the school design in order to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

What experience does TC have in starting schools?

Teachers College established its first affiliated school, The Speyer School, in 1903. TC was also the home of the Horace Mann School and The Lincoln School. More recently, in 1997, Teachers College established the Heritage School with the New York City Department of Education.  Heritage is a small arts-focused public high school serving the East Harlem community, with ongoing participation by Teachers College.

President Fuhrman and Associate Vice President Nancy Streim previously created a very successful PreK-8 university assisted public neighborhood school in Philadelphia, associated with the University of Pennsylvania. The Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia ranks among the best neighborhood schools in that city, and serves as a model for developing the new TC Community School.

Will there be any opportunities for my child to visit Teachers College?

Children at the Teachers College Community School have regular access to facilities, events and activities on the TC campus including its science labs, art studios and library. They will also join the hundreds of area school children who attend music and theater performances in the auditorium every spring semester.