~ Robert Guarasci, Lead Founder ~
More than 10 years ago, New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) convened a small group of Paterson parents and community stakeholders to introduce an idea – the creation of a new charter school located in Paterson’s Great Falls Historic District. NJCDC had long enjoyed a very positive relationship with the Paterson school district, yet we wanted to provide parents with a choice of public schools. Thus was born the Community Charter School of Paterson (CCSP), which opened in 2008 as a K-3 school serving 400 students, and which has expanded to now serve 900 students in grades K-8.
As CEO of NJCDC, I had and continue to have the distinct honor of serving as Lead Founder of CCSP. I wanted to blend core elements of NJCDC’s work into the school, including a belief that schools should serve as centers of the community, that they should integrate and draw upon as many community resources as possible, and that student achievement is closely linked with engaging and strengthening families. I felt it would be important to operate CCSP as a Community School, so that we would offer services before school, after school, on evenings, weekends, and during the summer.
I remember that day a decade ago when the doors to this school opened. It was a wonderful September morning in 2008, and the keywords that morning were hope and possibility. Ten years later, I can tell you that the sense of hope and possibility are as palpable as ever. And I can tell you that my enthusiasm stems from having a great school leader in Curtis Palmore, a committed faculty fully engaged in our students’ success, a talented team of administrators and support staff, inquisitive and caring parents, and a Board of Trustees that governs the school with great care and pride. Moreover, our host of community partners continues to grow, and these relationships—from city government to community groups to service providers—honor our and sustain our belief in school/community collaboration.
I am very proud that these last ten years have enabled all of the school’s stakeholders to create a community institution that has become an indispensable part of the local educational landscape. As Lead Founder, I express my gratitude to everyone who has been part of this incredible journey. Today, my hopes and aspirations for the Community Charter School of Paterson have never been higher.