2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College Columbia University

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The School Development Champion

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James Comer, TC Trustee (TC file photos)

James Comer, TC Trustee (TC file photos)

Great ideas sound simple, but they’re hard to implement. That fairly describes the School Development Program (SDP), the legendary teacher-parent-community collaboration developed by James Comer, TC Trustee and the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine Child Study Center. SDP fosters the educational and overall development of children through a mix of academic curricula and activities such as book fairs, fashion shows, field trips, fund-raising projects and potluck suppers, all aimed at building social skills. To date, more than 1,000 U.S. schools in 82 school districts in 26 states have used the School Development Plan. (The model has also been adopted in Ireland, South Africa, Trinidad and England.)

Comer, regarded as one of the giants of school reform for the past several decades, describes how when he was a boy his parents would play with him and his siblings. “At dinner we’d hash out ideas and problems that had come up during the day,” he says. “I didn’t know it then, but every activity my parents carried out with us had an educational motive.” Their son has carried on that tradition.


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