Intersections

Chris Caruso

In 1998, I began my professional career in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC at the intersection of 167th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

The public school that sits at that intersection is called P.S. 8, the Luis Belliard School, and I was hired by the Children’s Aid Society to be their onsite program director.

At P.S. 8, we provided health services, adult education classes and early childhood learning opportunities, among other things, to the Washington Heights community. Chief among my responsibilities was overseeing an after-school program (which was funded by TASC) serving 400 kids each day. We called the after-school program, our extended-day program (EDP, since we need to acronymize everything!)

What I quickly learned was that my job was not merely at the intersection of 167th & Amsterdam—I was, in fact sitting at the intersection of a school and a community. My office was in the school but I was not employed by the NYC Board of Education (yes, it was the BOE back then).

We taught children in the school, but used a different model of teaching and sometimes a different staff of educators. What was consistent was a set of shared results—the school, the community, the Children’s Aid Society, the parents and teachers all wanted children to have an opportunity to succeed, to be engaged and to develop into successful adults and citizens.

Since those days at P.S. 8, my career has existed at this intersection of schools and communities. My work, in both nonprofit and public sectors, has been about broadening the scope of education to bring communities into schools and share accountability for a common set of results.

Last week, my career came (almost) full circle, when I joined the staff of TASC. Through our work in ExpandED Schools, schools and communities are coming together to expand the learning day and increase educational opportunities for students in several cities around the country.

I am excited to update my professional “map” with new intersections.