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The Chancellor Pays a Call


Dennis Walcott, Chancellor of New York City

Dennis Walcott, Chancellor of New York City's public schools

Dennis Walcott visits Teachers College Community School as part of the city’s pre-k registration drive

By Patricia Lamiell

The visitor who seated himself cross-legged on the floor during story time in Carissa Sinanan’s pre-kindergarten class at Teachers College Community School yesterday clearly had some pre-k experience. When Sinanan’s reading selection, “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” prompted a discussion of the relative benefits of handkerchiefs and tissues, he patted his suit pockets in search of a handkerchief but instead produced a white tissue.

“This is what a tissue can do,” he said, tearing it at one corner.

Earlier this year, the visitor – Dennis Walcott, Chancellor of New York City’s public schools, who is indeed a former preschool teacher – and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg  said the city would invest $20 million to add 4,000 full-day, pre-kindergarten seats in its neediest neighborhoods. Walcott visited TCCS and other schools this week to encourage parents to register their children for new pre-Kindergarten seats before the April 5 deadline. After leaving TCCS, he went to a DOE registration site nearby, where volunteers called families and passed out flyers in the neighborhood, encouraging them to register any child for pre-k who turns four by December 31 of this year.

TCCS Principal Jeanene Worrell-Breeden said Walcott chose to highlight her school because, unlike other schools in Harlem, TCCS – which has consolidated 36 half-day pre-k seats to 18 full-day seats – has been over-subscribed with pre-K applications. “Our school was in great demand,” Worrell-Breeden said. “Most parents want full-day.”

TCCS, which opened in its permanent home on Morningside Avenue in Harlem last September, is a joint venture of Teachers College and the New York City Department of Education. TCCS is a “university-assisted school,” which means it will benefit from a full range of resources provided by Teachers College and Columbia University, including an afterschool program, programs in physical education, nutrition and health, and other health and social services.
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