Shared School Buildings: Looking for Common Ground

Elissa Gootman:

Ben Sherman, principal of the new East-West School of International Studies in Flushing, Queens, was mortified one morning when a fire drill unexpectedly interrupted a cultural program, sending students and visitors from Korea scurrying outside.
The drill had been planned by the principal of Intermediate School 237, whose building Mr. Sherman’s school shares and who was unaware of the performance because of what both now say was poor communication.
Relations were difficult. “He expected us to throw up our arms and welcome him,” I.S. 237’s longtime principal, Joseph D. Cantara, said of Mr. Sherman. “I didn’t like the idea of another school coming into my building.”
But after a tense year, Mr. Sherman said he swallowed his ego and started popping by Mr. Cantara’s office for daily advice. Over dinner, they found that Mr. Cantara had been a student teacher at Mr. Sherman’s elementary school. Lately, when their monthly meeting arrives, “there’s almost nothing to talk about,” Mr. Sherman said.