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James P. Comer

40 Years Of Experience Working In Education & 2014 former President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Comer to the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans

Dr. James P. Comer is the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, and has been a Yale medical faculty member since 1968. During these years, he has concentrated his career on promoting a focus on child development as a way of improving schools. His efforts…

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Dr. James P. Comer is the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, and has been a Yale medical faculty member since 1968. During these years, he has concentrated his career on promoting a focus on child development as a way of improving schools. His efforts in support of healthy development of young people are known internationally.

Dr. Comer, perhaps, is best known for the founding of the Comer School Development Program in 1968, which promotes the collaboration of parents, educators, and community to improve social, emotional, and academic outcomes for children that, in turn, helps them achieve greater school success. His concept of teamwork has improved the educational environment in more than 500 schools throughout America.

A prolific writer, Dr. Comer has authored nine books, including Beyond Black and White, 1972; Black Child Care, (with Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint), 1975; paperback revision, Raising Black Children, 1992; School Power: Implications of an Intervention Project, 1980; the autobiographical Family, 1988; Rallying the Whole Village, (edited with Dr. Michael Ben-Avie, Dr. Norris M. Haynes, and Dr. Edward T. Joyner), 1996; Waiting for a Miracle: Why Schools Can’t Solve Our Problems, And How We Can, 1997; Child by Child, (edited with Dr. Michael Ben-Avie, Dr. Norris M. Haynes, and Dr. Edward T. Joyner) 1999; The Field Guide to Comer Schools in Action, (edited with Dr. Edward T. Joyner and Dr. Michael Ben-Avie), 2004; and Leave No Child Behind: Preparing Today’s Youth for Tomorrow’s World, 2004. Between 1978 and 1994, Dr. Comer wrote more than 150 articles for Parents Magazine and more than 300 syndicated articles on children’s health and development and race relations.

In addition to his writing, teaching and research activities, Dr. Comer has served as a consultant to the Children’s Television Workshop, which produces Sesame Street and The Electric Company. He was a consultant to the Public Committee on Mental Health chaired by Rosalyn Carter as well as a member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy (1987-1991). Since 1994, Dr. Comer has served as a member of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has provided testimony before state and congressional legislative bodies.

In 2014 President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Comer to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He chaired the Roundtable on Child and Adolescent Development Research and Teacher Education, organized by the National Association for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). He also co-chaired the national expert panel of the NCATE Initiative on Increasing the Application of Developmental Sciences Knowledge in Educator Preparation. The NCATE report, “The Road Less Traveled: How the Developmental Sciences Can Prepare Educators to Improve Student Achievement: Policy Recommendations,” is based on the work of the three-year period of the second expert panel. He also served on the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s Commission on the Whole Child and contributed to the 2007 report, “The Learning Compact Redefined: A Call to Action: A Report of the Commission on the Whole Child.”

Dr. Comer was one of the national experts tapped by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center to serve on the Health Advisory Group of the School Discipline Consensus Project, a 18-month effort that is coordinating with the Supportive School Discipline Initiative launched by Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Since 1971, Dr. Comer has served as Director or Trustee of the following Boards: the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (2003-present); Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT (1978-1984); Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, CT (1989-2000); Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY (1999-present); the Hazen Foundation, New Haven, CT (1974-1978); the Field Foundation, New York, NY (1981-1988); the Carnegie Corporation of New York, New York, NY (1990-1994); Connecticut Savings Bank (1971-1991); the Connecticut Energy Corporation, Bridgeport, CT (1976-2000); and the National Academy Foundation, New York, NY (1993-1998).

For his work and his scholarship, Dr. Comer has been awarded 48 honorary degrees and has been recognized by many organizations. In 2007 he received the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Education. In 2004, he received the John P. McGovern Behavioral Science Award from the Smithsonian. In 2006 he received the John Hope Franklin Award, given to those who have demonstrated the highest commitment to access and excellence in American education. In 1996, he won both the prestigious Heinz Award in the Human Condition for his profound influence on disadvantaged children, and the Healthtrac Foundation Prize (renamed the James F. And Sarah T. Fries Foundation).

Other honors include the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Education, 1991; the James Bryant Conant Award, presented by the Education Commission of the States, 1991; the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education given by McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1990; a Special Presidential Commendation from the American Psychiatric Association, 1990; the Rockefeller Public Service Award, 1980; and the John and Mary Markel Foundation Scholar Award in Academic Medicine, 1969-1974.

In 1993, Bill Cosby served as the Master of Ceremonies for the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the School Development Program. In 1998, Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at the Program’s 30th Anniversary Symposium.

A native of East Chicago, IN, Dr. Comer received an A.B. degree in 1956 from Indiana University, an M.D. degree in 1960 from Howard University College of Medicine, and an M.P.H. in 1964 from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Between 1964 and 1967, he trained in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and its Child Study Center. He also completed one year of residency training at the Hillcrest Children’s Center in Washington, D.C.

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