Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem (formerly Sisulu Children's Academy-Harlem Public Charter School) was founded by ten men and women with one mission: to create a truly outstanding public school for children living in Central Harlem, a neighborhood with historically low-performing schools and a dearth of quality public school options. At the time Sisulu-Walker was formed, the percentage of children in Central Harlem schools scoring at or above grade level in reading was an abysmal 26%, indicating broad academic distress. The founders of Sisulu-Walker and its management company, Victory Schools, resolved to exceed these results.
When we opened our doors for the first day of class on September 1999, Sisulu-Walker became the very first public charter school in the State of New York. On that historic day and during our first year we hosted President George W. Bush (then Texas governor), Governor George Pataki, Secretary of State Randy Daniels and other national, state and local dignitaries who recognized the promise Sisulu-Walker held for a brighter future for its students and their families.
Today, we are largely fulfilling that promise. Sisulu-Walker is, by many measures, one of the top performing public charter schools in all of Manhattan. Our students' success on 2004 state math, ELA (reading), social studies and science tests exceed the New York City average, and Sisulu-Walker has almost twice the percentage of students at or above the state standards in reading, math, social studies and science as compared to nearby traditional public schools in Central Harlem.
As a result of the school's strong academic results, Sisulu-Walker's charter to operate was renewed by the New York State Education Department upon the school's fifth anniversary in 2004. In March 2005, the leaders of Sisulu-Walker announced that the school had unanimously voted to rename the school "The Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem" in honor of civil rights and community leader, Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, and his wife, Theresa Ann.