TC's Community School Celebrates Year One | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC's Community School Celebrates Year One

A "moving up ceremony" for the inaugural kindergarten class represents a milestone in an evolving fairy tale
A “moving up ceremony” for the inaugural kindergarten class represents a milestone in an evolving fairy tale

By Joe Levine

As a forum for debating some of the nation’s thorniest challenges, TC’s Cowin Conference Center is not always a place from which audiences exit smiling. But there were some early clues, one recent morning in late June, that the day’s featured event was going to be strictly feel-good.

One indicator was the stage microphones, most of which stood suspiciously low to the ground.

Another was the warm-up music – James Taylor singing Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Getting to Know You.”

There was the audience – an assortment of unmistakable moms and dads armed with cell phones and camcorders.

And then, of course, there were the guests of honor: 50 five- and six-year-olds, dressed in everything from tuxedos and gowns to shorts and sneakers, fidgeting, blinking, grinning, and ducking behind their friends.

“Good morning, boys and girls,” said Nancy Streim, TC’s Associate Vice President for School and Community Partnerships, whose microphone was at regulation height. “On behalf of Teachers College, I am thrilled to welcome you to the first moving up ceremony for the Teachers College Community School.”

The Moving Up Ceremony featured brief remarks by TCCS Founding Principal Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, who told the audience, “while schoolwide policies and programs set the stage for the instructional program, the real magic of education happens every day in every classroom.

“Our teachers are the school’s experts in the subjects they teach and in the patterns of learning of their students,” Worrell-Breeden said.

The head of the school’s parent association, Tiffany Butts, also spoke, and there was some stage narration by the young students, followed by sing-along performances of “Marsupial Sue” (the story of a kangaroo in search of its identity, originally recorded by John Lithgow) and “Baby Beluga” (by Raffi, inspired by a whale he saw at an aquarium).  But perhaps the most compelling story line of the morning was that of the school itself.

As Streim recounted, the ceremony represented the culmination of “a kind of fairy tale” that began when Susan Fuhrman arrived as TC’s tenth president in 2006, vowing to create a new school to help meet the area’s continuing need for education.

That dream evolved into reality when it converged with Columbia University’s agreement with Community Board 9 to create a new school for the children of Manhattanville. The New York City Department of Education gave its support, along with a broader cast of characters that included City Council members Robert Jackson and Inez Dickens, New York State Assemblymen Keith Wright, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Streim also tipped her cap to TC education researcher Bill Stroud for introducing her to Worrell-Breeden.

There were many obstacles to be surmounted, Streim said, “but today here we are, celebrating a very happy ending – or I should say, beginning” – because this coming fall, the school, which will ultimately include grades PK-8, will move into a permanent home in West Harlem.

“It’s my honor and privilege to be associated with this spark of magic,” Streim concluded. “You parents have so much to be proud of in your children. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us today and in the future.”


Published Thursday, Jul. 12, 2012