I visited Global Community Charter School last November. It was a cool, overcast day, and the school exterior matched the season-- grayish-white and nondescript. You might have walked right by 2350 Fifth Avenue and not realized there were over 300 children inside. But that certainly wasn’t the case upon entering. The halls are lined with artwork—student produced and professional—giving off a vibrancy that can only be matched by its school leader, Phyllis Siwiec, whose enthusiasm and dedication are palpable.
The school is housed in what used to be a Harlem Self Storage facility, sitting like a giant ice cube next to the East River. But as of this week, Global Community Charter School (GCCS) has had a facelift. The school leaders, Ms. Siwiec and COO Bill Holmes, partnered with Creative Art Works, a nonprofit that gives 14-24 year olds full and part-time work over the summer to create large-scale public art, and the DYCD’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The young artists spent the summer designing and painting a brilliant and cheerful mural, entitled “Cultural Design” giving new life to the school and its community.
Dozens of Global Community’s families came out on the morning of August 9th to see the mural unveiled and to support their school. I’m so glad I was there to celebrate with them. For the last four years, Global Community Charter School has been operating as a true community school. The Parents as Partners Association encourages families to be active participants in their children’s education and to help build relationships within their community. Every classroom at GCCS is an Integrated Co-Teaching environment. They have a behavioral coach for each grade level and a stellar special education team (students are counseled-in, not out). Ms. Siwiec hopes to continue their partnership with Creative Art Works to enrich their existing after school program. With the new addition to the school’s facade, Global Community Charter School’s outside now reflects the excellence of its interior.