When it first opened 125 years ago, Teachers College had 18 incoming students and one building. Now, the school has more than 1,800 newly enrolled summer and fall students—and a portion of West 120th Street newly named in its honor.
To the drumroll of a marching band and the cheers of over a thousand new students, as well as faculty and elected officials, the section of West 120th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue was christened Teachers College Way on Tuesday morning.
Speakers at the event celebrated the school’s 125th anniversary and talked up its role in shaping future teachers.
“So many big thinkers and doers have walked this street over the decades,” TC President Susan Fuhrman said, addressing the crowd from the roof of a large tour bus. “We all walk in their footsteps today and we honor them by renewing TC’s legacy of firsts for the 21st century.”
Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs called TC students “important fighters on the front line of poverty and income inequality.”
“We’re not going to tackle the issues of income inequality if we don’t train our young people to get out of school, to go to college, and to equip themselves with skills to be able to compete,” Gibbs said.
City Council member Inez Dickens praised TC students, faculty, and staff for their work—and emphasized her own role in supporting the school.
“I fought very hard for Teachers College. I will continue to fight, even though redistricting cut you out of my district,” Dickens said. “I am always going to fight for Teachers College because of what you do to continue education for our young people.”
The renaming is intended to signify not only the 125th anniversary of the school’s founding, but also the developing bond between TC and the neighboring community, speakers said.
Thomas Rock, executive director of enrollment services at TC, told Spectator that the support of local elected officials and the mayor’s office showed how important the school was to New York.
“I think it really signifies Teachers College’s place in the city, in the neighborhood, and, you know, and the good work that we’re doing in the field of education in the city, in Morningside Heights, in Harlem, on 120th Street, and, obviously, in the world,” Rock said.
In recent years, TC has opened a new office for community partnerships and started programs for children in the neighborhood, such as the Hollingworth Center and a low-cost psychology clinic staffed by students.
“The community also enriches us,” TC Student Senate President Bobby Cox said. “It’s been a very good relationship.”
“The most unique thing about Teachers College is that we have such a history of firsts,” Cox said, citing popular fields of study, such as nursing education, nutrition education, educational psychology, and policy and education programs, that were first developed at Teachers College.
New students at the celebration said they were most attracted to the school’s reputation and the opportunity to study in New York City.
“I’m definitely looking forward to tapping into a network of individuals who are like-minded,” Christopher Lim, an education and sociology first-year, said.
Elizabeth Cooper-Mullin, an arts and humanities first-year, said she chose to attend because the school is “pretty much the most groundbreaking place to be doing research in education right now.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that TC has 1,800 summer and fall students. It actually has 1,800 newly enrolled summer and fall students. Spectator regrets the error.