Korean Researcher Visits Dr. Comer and Davis Street Interdistrict Magnet School in New Haven

In Hoi (Thomas) Lee, Ed.D., a senior researcher and the director of planning and development at the Local Educational Policy Research Institute (LEPRI) at Chungbuk National University in South Korea, came to New Haven on October 22, 2009 to meet with Dr. Comer and the SDP faculty and to see the Comer Process is operation at a high level of implementation in a local school.  

While researching U.S. education reform models on the Internet, Dr. Lee learned about Dr. Comer's work. After read several books including, Comer Schools in Action: The 3-volume Field Guide, Dr. Lee wanted to meet with Dr. Comer to explore a possible collaboration between the School Development Program and the Local Education Policy Research Institute at Chungbuk National University.

Dr. Lee, who received a doctorate in education from the University of Bridgeport, began his visit in Gail DeBlasio's 6th grade classroom at Davis Street Arts and Academic Interdistrict Magnet School to observe a "morning meeting." Dr. Lee also met with principal Lola Nathan and Dr. Fay E. Brown, an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Child Study Center and the Director of Child and Adolescent Development at the School Development Program. Dr. Brown is overseeing implementation of the Comer Process for the SDP in the New Haven Public Schools.

Dr. Lee concluded his visit with a conversation about education, culture, change, and child and adolescent development with Dr. Comer and SDP faculty members Dr. Fay E. Brown, Camille Cooper, Cynthia Savo, and Dr. Christine Emmons. Dr. Lee talked about his children who were born in the United States and the challenges they face in their schools in Korea. As an educational researcher and a parent he would like to see Korean schools pay more attention to development and relationships.

Dr. Comer presented Dr. Lee with a copy of his latest book, What I Learned in School: Reflections on Race, Child Development, and School Reform, and Dr. Lee gave Dr. Comer and the SDP faculty handcrafted gifts from Korea.

After he returned to Korea, Dr. Lee wrote:

The visit to Davis School gave me such an eye opening experience that I could see and feel the reality of SDP. Mrs. Nathan is an amazing principal who empowers teachers, students and parents to run the real-life world of the school. I am very appreciative to her clear explanation. Although Dr. Comer emphasized the importance of "relationship, relationship, relationship" which I agreed to, it was joyful and happy to see the systemic record of an individual student and its progress check. I got an answer at the moment on how to connect relationship to improved student achievement."

I am thankful to Dr. Comer for giving me this opportunity to meet and talk with him. He is my inspiration to change children's life for better. I will continue to study and find a way of implementing SDP into the public schools and educational authorities in Korea. I am lucky to find his philosophy and theory: "We [schools] help students grow and learn rather than force them to learn without adequate growth."

I reported all the activities that I had done at your center to the president of LEPRI. He is happy to hear of my report and encouraged me to make something possible in order to save OUR kids in schools around the world. So, we may do something together with your center in the future. 

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This article was submitted by Cynthia Savo on July 5, 2012.