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History of GMA

Brief History of GMA

A Brief History Garrett Morgan Academy:

The initial Garrett Morgan Academy began as a small school thematic learning academy of approximately one hundred students with an interest in transportation and technology. The Paterson Public Schools under the direction of Superintendent, Dr. Donnie Evans, the Paterson Board of Education, and the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) directed by Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Robert Guarasci formed a partnership to formulate and support a school that would allow students interested in the transportation and engineering fields to acquire the pre-requisite skills to pursue further education/careers in those areas.

In fact, the first Garrett Morgan Academy was housed on a floor of the NJCDC offices, and was named after Garrett A. Morgan, and African-American inventor who created the first traffic light (which over time has contributed to saving millions of lives), and Mr. Morgan was also the inventor of the first fire safety hood.  As interest grew in the academy, it became necessary to move to a location that would support an expansion of the program. The decision was made to share a building with International High School (IHS) on Grand Street, where the two schools still share the building.

Students attending GMA take their core classes on a single floor in the four story building, and share the Media Center, cafeteria, atrium, gymnasiums, auditorium, and Teen Center with IHS. The academy has now grown to over one hundred and seventy five students. GMA offers all the courses required to satisfy New Jersey graduation requirements, in addition to classes connected with the academy’s thematic focus. Engineering courses are delivered through the nationally recognized “Project Lead the Way” (PLTW) program. The increased rigor and small size of the academy has contributed to a graduation rate much higher than comparable urban high schools, and has made it possible for the academy to fully support our students’ social, emotional, and academic needs.

The NJCDC has assisted GMA by providing an array of support services, including operating an after-school program (the Teen Center), the Robotics Club, and coordinating activities with partners such as Rutgers University and NJIT, and by bringing in corporate partners such as Amtrak and BMW, to enhance our students’ opportunities and experiences. As a result of this innovative partnership between the Paterson Public Schools and the NJCDC, GMA students have been successful as evidenced by their moving on to schools such as Rutgers University, NJIT, Allegheny, Lehigh, Delaware State, and other recognized institutions of higher education.