Comer School Development Program

Dr. Camille Cooper working with Comer Core Team members in the Darlington County School District in South Carolina

The Comer School Development Program designs and delivers customized professional development experiences for pre-K to 12 educators at the school and district levels. We synthesize and combine the latest research with our experiences as professional educators to provide participants with practical, effective, and research-based strategies that they can use immediately.

How we deliver content is as important as the knowledge we share. We model teamwork and effective instructional strategies. Our workshops and other professional development activities are interactive, engaging, and fun, and meet national standards.

Currently we offer the following professional development sessions:

  • Building a Positive and Collaborative School and Classroom Climate and Culture
  • Comer in the Classroom: Applying Child and Adolescent Development in the Classroom
  • Effective Strategies for Engaging Parents, Families, and Communities

After more than 45 years of experience working in schools, the SDP has identified the key skills that are necessary to build a positive, collaborative school and classroom climate and culture that supports the holistic development of children and adolescents so that they are prepared to be successful in school and in life. Using the Comer Process guiding principles of consensus decision making, collaboration, and no-fault problem-solving, creativity, staff morale, and collegiality flourish.

Topics addressed:

  • Essential skills for professional learning communities/peer collaboration
  • Relationships based on mutual respect and shared responsibility
  • Effective Communications Skills
  • The Comer Guiding Principles: No-Fault Problem Solving, Collaboration, and Consensus Decision Making
  • Team building strategies
  • Maximum effectiveness of team meetings

Who should attend : Administrators, instructional/curriculum coaches, classroom and resource teachers, school teams (e.g., leadership, grade-level, data, student support)


  • "It's about effective relationships: Frameworks for understanding ourselves and others" by J. Patrick Howley, Chapter 12 in Six Pathways to Healthy Child Development and Academic Success
  • "A team approach to educational change" by J. Patrick Howley, Chapter 10 in Six Pathways to Healthy Child Development and Academic Success

The SDP’s approach to classroom practices focuses on applying knowledge of the developmental and learning sciences and the Comer Process guiding principles to create a positive classroom community. The workshops blend the latest research in child and adolescent development and neuroscience with strategies from practitioners whose classrooms exemplify the core elements of the Comer Process. The workshops provide participants with opportunities for self-reflection and peer collaboration.

Topics addressed:

  • Development and positive relationships as the foundation for effective classroom practices
  • Understanding and managing student behavior from a developmental perspective
  • Applying the standards of Comer in the Classroom (e.g., having high expectations, teaching from a challenging and rigorous curriculum, knowing your students) to one’s own classroom context
  • Communication skills: Giving students feedback, positive language, and active listening
  • Planning for predictable developmental behaviors
  • Classroom organization
  • Cooperative learning

Who should attend: Administrators, classroom and resource teachers, instructional/curriculum coaches, and other student support personnel.


  • "Child development is the foundation of education" by Dr. Fay E. Brown and Dr. Joanne N. Corbin, Chapter 4 in Six Pathways to Healthy Child Development and Academic Success
  • "Comer in the Classroom: Linking the essential elements of the Comer Process to classroom practices" by Dr. Fay E. Brown and Dr. Valerie Maholmes, Chapter 6 in Dynamic Instructional Leadership to Support Student Learning and Development
  • "A demonstration of Comer in the Classroom" by Carol Pickett Ray, Chapter 7 in Dynamic Instructional Leadership to Support Student Learning and Development

In 1968 when Dr. James P. Comer and his colleagues at the Yale Child Study Center began working in the two lowest performing elementary schools in New Haven, they identified the home-school connection as essential for student success in school and in life.

As their first teachers, parents and families have an important and continuing role in their children’s education and development. The SDP has a proven track record of providing parents/families and educators with strategies for forging strong and effective home-school partnerships. By strengthening the connections between and among educators, parents, families and communities, academic achievement and overall student development are more likely.

Topics addressed:

  • Parent involvement: What does it mean to be involved?
  • Understanding children and youth from a developmental perspective
  • Strategies for turning parents into partners
  • Effective communications
  • Surefire ways to get parents and families through the schoolhouse door
  • Engaging hard-to-reach parents and families

Who should attend: Administrators, Title I directors, parent coordinators, home-school liaisons, PTO/PTA leaders, and community outreach workers


  • "Families as partners: Parent Teams and parent/family involvement" by Sheila Jackson, Dr. Nora Martin, and Jan Stocklinski, Chapter 10 in Transforming School Leadership and Management to Support Student Learning and Development

For more information

For more information about the Comer School Development Program's professional development offerings, please email Dr. Camille Cooper at

Current Initiatives

The Comer School Development Program’s work is currently focused on several place-based initiatives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Consultation Services

The Comer School Development Program faculty consult to schools and districts through site visits, classroom walkthroughs, classroom observations, teacher or principal coaching, demonstration sessions, and other services tailored to meet the specific needs of school communities.

For more information

For more information about the Comer School Development Program's consultation services, please email Camille Cooper, Ed.D., the SDP's Director of Teaching and Learning, at

More Information


For more information on the Comer School Development Program, see the Community Partnerships portion of the SDP.