WHY I LIVE WHERE I LIVE: TEANECK
Reprinted with permission of THE PARENT PAPER and author, Deborah Veach (get permission)
Teaneck is unique, but it's not for everyone. Teaneck demands a lot of its residents and brings out the best in them. When Teaneck is good, it is very, very good. And when Teaneck is bad--well, it just makes us try harder.
Teaneckers are proud of the township's diversity, as exemplified by a recent Holiday Sing-along at our son's elementary school. The children's songs celebrated not only Christmas and Hanukkah, but St. Nicholas Day, Buddha's Enlightenment, Las Posadas, and Kwanzaa as well. In what other community of similar size can you find a Islamic mosque, a Kingdom of Jehovah's Witnesses, a Syrian Orthodox Church, Orthodox Jewish Synagogues, Conservative Jewish congregations, Reform Jewish Temples, as well as Baptist, Christian Science, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches?
Everyone feels at home in Teaneck. There are at least 26 different languages spoken in the public schools. In the 1960's, Teaneck schools were the first in the country to integrate voluntarily, and they remain in the forefront of global/multicultural education in the 1990's. My husband and I believe that exposing our son to this diversity will best prepare him for the pluralistic society he will live in when he grows up.
Teaneck and its schools are also user-friendly for working parents, particularly the commuting parent. Teaneck has before and after-school programs in our elementary schools and early-morning breakfast clubs and after-school childcare at our middle schools. School vacation programs are available whenever school is out. Working parents can also attend evening parent-teacher conferences. Parents are welcome in the schools and encouraged just to drop in; no appointments are necessary, and teachers are happy to have visitors.
Teaneck is also a wonderful place for adults. For example, the Literary Society at Fairleigh Dickinson University sponsors a wonderful lecture series. Last year my husband and I heard Bill Moyers, Sue Miller, Amy Tan, and Arthur Miller speak at the Society. The Art Center Chamber Music Concerts at Benjamin Franklin Middle School are in their 40th year. The Shanghai Quartet performed in December; the Emerson Quartet will perform next month. We literally walk around the block to hear groups that appear at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. The American Stage Company presents several productions each year, and the Teaneck Library (the biggest in Bergen County) has over 125,000 books!
Want to spend time outdoors? Teaneck has 22 parks, covering 263 acres. And it's a good thing because Teaneck supports three separate little-league organizations, a soccer league, and basketball and football leagues. Teaneck is the only town along Route 4 that has successfully fought to preserve a Greenbelt and strictly limited commercial development. Our portion of Route 4 is now recognized in the county and state plans as a "scenic corridor."
Teaneck has an aggressive recycling program and is committed to keeping the township green. You can even rent a garden plot from the Township, thanks to the efforts of the Teaneck Garden Club. Want to eat out? Teaneck has Spanish, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, vegetarian, and kosher restaurants, as well as a French patisserie and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. There's a movie theater showing current movies for $3. During the summer, there are free outdoor band concerts in Votee Park. You can even audition for a part in an amateur theater production or sing in a barbershop quartet.
So why do I choose to live in Teaneck? Perhaps for all of the above reasons, but also because Teaneck produces more letters-to-the-editor than any other town around. Because the people care enough to get involved. Because the people of Teaneck are so darn interesting!